Should company culture still impact your job hunt?
COVID-19 has completely changed the job hunt and interview process for most of us. A year ago, interviewees could get a feel for a workplace by visiting offices, meeting colleagues, and seeing first-hand what to expect from a prospective employer. It was easy to envisage yourself sitting at one of the desks, walking through the front entrance every morning, and visiting the local lunch spots. Now, interviewees get little more than a glimpse of the home-working space of their interviewers! We can no longer rely on ‘getting a feel’ for a workplace, and it is difficult to see how easily you can fit into a team when you can no longer sense the culture as you walk through an office.
At JDX, interviewees have always had high expectations of our company culture. Our reputation proceeds us, and we know that the moment an interviewee steps foot in one of our offices, they will feel the energy, see the way in which we interact, hear the laughter, and they will know that our office is somewhere they can feel at home. But with our global workforce largely working from home, how can we prove to interviewees that their experience at JDX will be a special one? With many Firms declaring they do not intend to return to full-time office work, is company culture less important now?
For us, the answer is simple; if company culture was important to a Firm before the Pandemic, then it should have remained a priority throughout the Pandemic, and you should find out what your prospective employer has done to keep their workforce happy and connected. Don’t underestimate the impact that company culture still has on your day-to-day working life. Here’s some tips to help those currently in pursuit of new roles.
What have they done to keep company culture alive over the past year?
We have all learnt that we cannot predict what will happen with the future of work. At first, working from home may have felt like a novelty – the time saved on commuting alone meant that we all have more time to dedicate to something else, be it looking after our homes, exercising, looking after children. The downside for many has been that it is increasingly difficult to separate homelife from work-life. With work increasingly encroaching on our personal lives, it is no surprise that thousands of employees are choosing to look for roles that are more ‘fulfilling’. Whereas employees could once feel satisfied by how brilliant their company is and how fun the people are, remote working has made it difficult to feel the added benefit of company culture. Firms that are not taking steps to keep their workforce happy, engaged, and healthy risk losing them. You have every right to want to enjoy your workplace despite remote working, and it is still entirely possible to feel part of a team, feel valued, and have fun with your colleagues. Set your expectations high, and find out what the company has done to keep morale and relationships strong – are any new social initiatives, sports competitions, charity fundraising, clubs and societies or social networking for new joiners – what will they do to make you feel at home?
How will they support your mental wellbeing?
If company culture is concerned with the attitude and behaviours of a company and its workforce, then a great way to find out about a company’s culture is to ask about how they are supporting the mental wellbeing of their workforce. Not everyone wants to attend virtual get togethers, sometimes you may simply want someone to talk to. Working from home can be an isolating and difficult experience. A study conducted by University Miami found that 80% of people they surveyed reported ‘significant depressive symptoms’ and an ‘alarming’ increase in loneliness during the pandemic. At what point do colleagues get the opportunity to talk about these feelings? Catch-ups with friends outside of our team and small talk with colleagues has largely been wiped out by online working, so you need to know what to expect in terms of wellbeing support. Who can you speak to? Will the company look after your mental wellbeing?
Does the company have any plans in place for future working?
Whilst we cannot predict what will happen, some Firms are putting plans in place for what they expect to be their future way of working. If you want to know what the future of work could look like for you, then ask!
Is there a way for you to gain insights from current employees?
Testimonials are powerful tools, and many companies will add employee testimonials on their website and social media channels about what it is like to work for a firm. Do your research to see what you can find out about how employees feel or interact – are there highlights from company initiatives? Videos? Instagram is often used as a tool for sharing snippets of a company’s culture.
The short answer?
Don’t let your standards slip during this time – if you want to work for a company that values the wellbeing of its staff, has a strong company culture and has fun, then you can. Remote working should mean Firms are doing more to check in on and engage their staff, not less. Make sure you ask the right questions and do your research during the interview process, so that your next step is the right one!