Just How Important is Company Culture


As I work with people in career change mode, I get to hear stories from the passenger’s seat all the time about why individuals want to leave their jobs.

So much of it involves some element of a poor cultural fit. Company culture includes a variety of elements, including work environment, company mission, value, ethics, expectations, and goals. It all begins with senior management.

Work culture isn’t about a free snack shelf or a game table. It’s about how a company demonstrates that it lives its’ values on a day-to-day basis. Employees notice the difference.

Here’s a sampling of what I hear:

  • “My boss doesn’t appreciate me. She always wants more. I get no acknowledgment for the fact that we are ahead of goal. It’s always “what are you going to do next?”

  • “My company won’t invest in training. I’ve been here five years and have repeatedly asked for training opportunities that are both cost reasonable and job impactful. I’m going to pay for it myself. And I’m leaving.”

  • “There is no job flexibility. It’s like we are trapped in the dark ages of the 8 – 5 in the office mentality. Don’t they read workplace trends?”

  • “The real work situation around here is the opposite of what I was told. They weren’t truthful with me.”

I did some research on the subject to augment my clients’ frustrations. Here are the reasons I uncovered on why Americans are willing to look for greener pastures:

  • Work from home options, casual Fridays, great benefits, and a strong commitment from senior management is highly valued by most employees and not always accessible, even when it is something that could be implemented.

  • We’ve always heard it’s not only about the money. I’ve always had a bit of a hard time believing this personally, but I’ve turned the corner and walked right into the believer’s pew. Some people will take a pay cut to get the culture they want from senior management. The value given to culture has raised that much in importance.

  • However, money does matter. That’s why many of us work. When the dollar is coupled with employee loyalty weakening overall, it can become scary if you are an employer. The employee experience platform TINYpulse did a study last year, and again this year about how much it would take in a pay increase to get people to leave. A telling statistic was that 43% of workers might leave their job for just a 10% raise. Just the year before, only 25% of workers said they’d consider leaving for that amount.

  • Being in a culture where you don’t fit feels like carrying a backpack filled with 50-pound rocks up a steep hill. It never gets easier.

  • Employees enjoy work more when their needs and values are consistent with those in the workplace. They tend to develop better relationships with coworkers and are more productive.

If you are an employee or a job seeker, I encourage you to ask the question: What do I want in work culture? Many people don’t do that. It’s good to have that answer in your tool belt.

What bothers you about your current position? I’d like to hear about it. Email me. It’ll feel good to get it out in writing.

If you are interested in changing jobs, reach out to me at brenda@brendaholley.com. I can help.

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