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Career Tips: Understanding Workplace Culture

Post Author Lacie Rhoden
Mar 18, 2015 2:32:12 PM
Career Tips

Merriam Webster defines culture as “a way of thinking, behaving, or working that exists in a place ororganization.” Within the workplace, the culture often comes across simply in the day to day activities. Culture is vitally important because the culture can make or break an employee’s experience. As an employee, the important thing is to relax and be open. Here are some things to consider about workplace culture when looking for a job:

Embrace the Culture: When beginning a position, employees must learn the culture and adjust to the culture. Many employers provide training about the culture of the organization to new employees. Culture is learned through interaction with others, and it is difficult to change once established. Find out appropriate dress, typical lunch habits, and the acceptable level of camaraderie in the workplace by interacting with coworkers and learning the ins and outs of the setting.

Physical Appearance: The layout of a work environment can tell you a lot about the culture.If the area is open with tables and people mingling, the atmosphere is probably more collaborative and relaxed. However, if it is a hallway with offices on either side, it may be a more organized and formal atmosphere. If it is a big space with cubicles, the atmosphere is probably somewhere in-between. Doors on offices can also indicate things about the environment. Offices tend to confine employees to one small space. Yet if their door is always open, that probably means they are accepting to random pop-ins and questions. If their door is often closed, they probably prefer an appointment.

Longevity: When employees stay committed to their job year after year, it is a sure sign of a healthy, positive workplace. Look to tenured employees to help learn the company culture. On the other hand, it can also mean several things if employees are constantly in and out of the company. Perhaps the company is expanding quickly and  employees are quitting due to a lack of job satisfaction or even not feeling valued as an employee. Being content and happy at work is incredibly important. You’ll be spending at least 40 hours a week there, so you should probably like the atmosphere.

“No Fear” Environment: The nature of jobs varies. However, it is essential that employees feel comfortable to voice their opinions and share new ideas. With this comes understanding a workplace’s hierarchy. Some companies have a loose hierarchy where all employees, from entry-level positions to executives, are encouraged to share ideas and opinions, while some companies practice a more rigid workplace hierarchy where opinions are rarely shared. The success of a company strongly depends on the well-being of employees and as a result, they give more to the company if they feel valued. Research the employee satisfaction rates of an organization and find out if it is a fit for you.

People are smiling: Watch employees. If they are smiling and enjoying conversation while remaining highly productive, it is a good indication that they are employed at a place where the job isn’t just a job.

Ideally, you want a positive and engaged workplace culture to promote productivity and satisfaction.

Click here to read more career tips from MAU. 

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