Typically when one envisions the perfect job, salary, work/life balance, and benefits are typically at the top of the priority list. However, these days, career experts and CEOs are saying a positive work culture should be on that checklist, as well. As tough a skin you think you may have or as perfect as your role may seem, a healthy, safe, and even fun work culture can truly make or break the overall experience.
As a career coach and counselor for more than 20 years, Lynn Berger says she can’t emphasize enough the importance of a personal and environmental fit for a successful and satisfying work experience. “Most individuals spend a majority of their day at work and a supportive work environment reduces stress and enhances satisfaction at work,” says Berger to The Zoe Report.
In starting their beauty company Mented Cosmetics, Amanda E. Johnson and KJ Miller said they knew they would never have a solid business structure without an equally strong and united team. “People will make or break your business every time,” says Johnson to The Zoe Report. “The culture created at a company will either set those people up for success or have them fail slowly and painfully. At Mented we aim to create a healthy and vibrant culture by investing in our culture and our people.” Miller seconds this notion, explaining that the company “crafted our core values very early in the life of the company: Learn by doing, work quickly, have fun [...] We believe culture starts are the top, and these values embody the work style and ethos Amanda and I have always tried to exhibit.”
It can be difficult to determine a company’s overall environment at first glance or even in your first week or month of employment. But you can definitely do your due diligence in getting as much of an idea as possible. “Everyone’s needs, wants and values determine the importance of company culture and it is defined differently for everyone,” says Berger. “However, everyone needs to be aware of the corporate culture/environment and try to do their homework to find out if it will be a good fit for them. Try to talk to anyone working there or has worked there. Use your network. LinkedIn can be very helpful as well as outlets like Glassdoor.”
The concept of work culture obviously varies and can often depend on the size of your company and the industry in which you’re working. Gauging whether an environment is a good fit for you can often be as simple as observing and following your gut. That said, if you’re not sure what specifically to look for, read on for tips on how modern companies are making 9-5s feel like a second home.
Employees Feel Heard & Seen
Companies who make a point to actively listen to employees are great places to hang your hat, so to speak, says Berger. Not every day is going to be perfect or stress-free, and being able to have a safe space to voice your concerns and issues (without repercussion) is essential in any work environment.
To help employees feel fully seen and understood, Johnson and Miller instated "User Manuals," which every team member has to fill out and the company has full access to to better know and understand every individual. According to Miller, the manuals clearly lay out each individual's style, values, what they don’t have patience for, how to best communicate with them, how to help them, and what people might misunderstand about them. "I got the idea for User Manuals after reading someone’s post about it on LinkedIn," says Miller. "We remixed it a bit to make it more Mented, but the core idea is that everyone’s working and communication style is different, and sometimes working processes can break down simply because we aren’t aware how best to work with one another."
Life Outside Of Work Is Respected
As hard or demanding as a job can be, people need a break at some point — and need to feel safe to do so. Berger says a healthy work environment is "reasonable and accommodating to the employees' needs." No one is at their best when they're burnt out, stressed and overworked, and solid employers understand this. So companies that respect email-free weekends and even evenings are leading the charge on the whole work-life-balance initiative.
In fact, companies like Google (who is now famous for pioneering a flexible and laid-back work environment) goes so far as to encourage naps and rest within the workday. Nap pods and state-of-the-art rest lounges are incorporated into their office structure to create a place for employees to truly unwind at any point in their day. As for life outside of work, companies like Netflix and Virgin (as well as more and more corporations) offer unlimited vacation for their employees to take a break whenever they feel necessary.
People Communicate Clearly
While this may seem like a no-brainer, often in larger corporate environments employees can feel a bit lost in the hustle and bustle. Berger suggests looking for a company that “over-communicates corporate goals and expectations.” Your peers and your leaders should all be on the same page in regards to how everyone fits into the overall vision and goal of the company. Your duties, expectations, and opportunities should be clearly laid out and discussed regularly and freely.
Employees Have Fun ... At Work
Mented's Johnson says the company encourages its employees to bring their entire selves to work — including their out-of-office selves. "We celebrate birthdays, we go on monthly Mented Mayhem social outings, and we encourage people to constantly bring in new ideas from the outside world to share with the team," says Johnson. "We encourage everyone to feel like a true owner of the company culture and put as much passion into as KJ and I do."
Miller notes that her own experience with negative work environments has shaped the core values Mented stands for. "[I've experienced] places where apathy is the reigning sentiment, or scapegoating is the norm," she explains. "It’s incredibly draining and demoralizing, and it’s one of the reasons 'Have fun' is a core value of ours. For us, this means participate and approach the work with positivity. It also means bring your whole self to work, including your less buttoned-up side."