When you hear the words "company culture," things like massage chairs, catered lunches, and beer taps often come to mind. But culture goes far beyond the perks a company offers.
Sure, offering free snacks in the break room is great (we do it, too!), but it's not absolutely critical. Company culture is really about how a company defines its core values as a company.
Establishing and documenting core values that are recognized and reinforced on a regular basis are important when companies set performance expectations for new and veteran employees. It also establishes a deeper sense of "being" among employees because the company's values hopefully resonate and reflect employees' personal values.
As a job seeker, it's important to ask questions and learn more about a company's culture. You spend a lot of your time at work, so you want to make sure you're investing that time in an environment that you enjoy and with an organization whose values coincide with your own. When that connection to values and culture is established early on, you're much more likely to feel engaged in your work.
So what elements make up a company's culture? And what should candidates look for when evaluating a prospective company's culture? Here are a few factors to keep in mind:1. A company's established set of values: At Influence & Co., our core values represent how we want employees to view their work and the impact they have on the company. Our values represent our unique team and what we stand for — as individuals and as a collective business.
We've even updated our core values to be more reflective of the needs and diversity of our team. As any team grows, it's critical to reassess what exactly it is employees stand for and how a realignment or evolution of values could better empower the team to embody those values. By documenting our values and breathing these beliefs into everything we do, our team can better work toward the same goal: helping clients create engaging, authentic thought leadership content and build influence in their industries.
2. The people who power the company: So much of a company culture depends on the people, which makes hiring a vital part of the process. While there are overarching ways to describe our company's culture and what we look for in the people we hire, each of our offices has differences in culture that reflect that group of individuals and the cities they're in. This is something we really embrace and encourage.
3. The work environment the company has created: Creating a space that fuels collaboration and a client-first mentality while also offering the freedom to think and execute creatively is so important in an organization.
For our team, we're mindful that our physical workspaces should match our company culture. We encourage creative, collaborative environments by quite literally eliminating physical barriers to communication, which is why you won't find cubicles or separate offices for the leadership team. While it may seem like it's not connected, physical working conditions really do help establish and encourage the type of work culture a company creates.
Influence & Co.'s award-winning company culture is people-centered and rooted in trust. We're a highly autonomous workplace that places equal value on encouraging employees to be high performers and make time to do the out-of-work activities that help them find balance.
While that included quite a few buzzwords, Influence & Co. truly works hard to be a company that trusts its employees to meet the performance expectations of their roles but rarely puts restrictions on the "how" of meeting those expectations. Our flexible work hours and workplace policies give employees autonomy over their own schedules to determine when, where, and how they'll be the most efficient and effective.
In addition, we're constantly seeking ways to reward our team members for the awesome work they do every day. Each office has a culture committee that's tasked with providing monthly opportunities for employees to unwind and bond as a team. From participating in local coloring clubs to attending events for coding and cocktails to throwing office parties to celebrate holidays and our favorite sports teams, our culture committees find great ways to bring us together. We also offer workshops for employees on wellness and stress relief to remind us all to find balance during busy weeks.
And this unique culture — defined by values we all support, a creative and collaborative team, and a workspace that encourages communication and autonomy — contributed to the results of our most recent employee engagement survey. We found that 98 percent of Influence & Co. employees agree that their co-workers are helpful and supportive, and 88 percent agree that they feel appreciated and valued for what they do.
Our company leaders place a high value on collaboration and transparency, and it shows in how new processes are developed and decisions are made within the company. At Influence & Co., we have a horizontal mindset, so new ideas are continually encouraged. I always tell applicants and new employees that if they have an idea for a better way to do something, our leadership team treats it as being just as valuable as if Kelsey, our CEO, or John, our Co-Founder, came up with the idea.
Encouraging all employees to feel invested in the betterment of our company and team reinforces the type of culture we've worked so hard to create.
Second to the people is the autonomy we're given to do our jobs well. An offshoot of our people-centered culture is the high level of respect we have for our employees and their work. I enjoy being at a place where I'm given a project and the freedom to execute that project by creating my own goals and parameters versus having someone stand over me telling me exactly how to complete the assigned tasks.
I also value the flexibility we provide employees. While I often find myself working a traditional 9-to-5 day, I love that our company encourages team members to take time off and do things that help them recharge.
Whether it's taking a few hours off in the morning to have a donut-filled breakfast with my niece or working from a patio when the weather gets warm, I take such pride in being at a place that understands the need for balance. And that truly translates to respecting me enough as an employee and a person to know that I can still meet my goals and deadlines without the company dictating what time of day I do my work or from what location.
When you're reviewing a prospective company during your job-hunting process, make sure culture is evident past free lunches and cocktails. In the end, you'll be happier at a company that prioritizes its people over everything else.
I love pop culture, my dog, driving with my sunroof open, and everything Mizzou-related. I'm driven by finding new ways to encourage and engage our team, and I start each morning by asking myself, "What would Beyoncé do?