What do you prioritise when considering employment opportunities?
Do you believe that achieving work/life balance and job fulfilment is a must-have, or do you regard it more as a pipe-dream, a luxury only a lucky few get to enjoy?
If you're of the former persuasion then you're part of a growing trend that's changing the face of the modern working world. A survey conducted by Perkbox into millennials and job satisfaction revealed that more than 75 percent of British millennial workers (aged 18-24) prioritise company perks and job benefits as critical indicators of job satisfaction.
At a time when more and more employers are beginning to place employee happiness at the centre of their recruitment drives, it is well worth paying attention to a company's culture.
Defining company culture as more than 'fluffy feel good' factors
How forward thinking, innovative and transparent a company is can be deemed from its corporate culture. Investopedia defines corporate or company culture as "beliefs and behaviours that determine how a company's employees and management interact and handle outside business transactions"; or simply put, how a company does things.
For you as a job seeker this points to the working environment of your prospective workplace: mission and values, schedule and working hours, dress code, and communication policy.
A company's corporate culture is also an indicator of future success. Just take a look at some of the world-famous names that illustrate the progressive culture of the modern working environment: The Virgin Group, Apple, Facebook and the popular fount of all information, Google.
These employee-friendly companies attract the best in top talent and everyone wants to work there. In The UK Graduate Careers Survey 2016, final year students numbering more than 18,000 were asked to identify employers they regarded as providers of the best opportunities of employment for graduates. Of the top 100 list of companies that got the most votes were Virgin Media, Facebook, Google and Apple among others.
How to make employee happiness a reality for you
Often the right job means finding the company that is the right fit for you. Finding the right fit means having to ask a few questions. Are you on board with the mission and values of the company? Is this a company that offers an exciting collaborative environment? What are the performance rewards and incentives offered? Then it is about going to find the answers.
1. Research and Preparation
If you're new to the job market a highly-recommended job interview technique is research and preparation. This requires the diligent job applicant to do a comprehensive research into the company they intend to work at.
This diligence aims to arm you with information and knowledge with which to formulate questions to put to your interviewer and is highly effective in expressing the desire to work at the company. After all, a job interview should not be like a blind date.
Another equally important goal is finding out about the culture of the company. A well-written job description should give you an idea of the working conditions and benefits offered. Alternatively, a Google search will provide essential information. Or, just ask relevant questions during the job interview.
One of the most commonly asked interview questions, 'Why do you want to work for us?' often has interviewees shifting uncomfortably in their seats, and begging minds-gone-blank for an answer. The best way to avoid this unwelcome brain freeze is to have readily-prepared questions on company culture.
2. Working environment
The culture of a workplace is important information for any prospective employee. You will gain a better idea of your working environment. Is this an environment that will fuel your enthusiasm and point the way to employee happiness and success?
3. Define employee happiness
An article published on Entrepreneur.com titled The 10 Company Culture Metrics You Should Be Tracking Right Now lists important business culture metrics that define high performance employers.
The list is equally enlightening for job applicants who wish to outline their own terms of 'employee happiness'. Communication, Innovation, Employee wellness, Work environment, Support, Collaboration and Performance are important measurements for a productive workforce and happy engaged employees.
If you still believe ranking personal and professional fulfilment as suspiciously idealistic then here's an eye-opening research finding: business and clinical psychologist, Natalie Baumgartner, has found that 89 percent of an employee's success in the workplace is dependent on the way things are done at their company.
Surely this fact alone should spur you to take a closer look at company culture when looking for your next place of employment!
Zulfah Abrahams writes graduate careers advice for Inspiring Interns, a graduate recruitment agency which specialises in sourcing candidates for internships and giving out graduate careers advice. To hire graduates or browse the graduate jobs Manchester and London have to offer, visit their website.
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