High employee turnover? Unrealistic expectations from management? Toxic attitudes? If this all sounds a little too familiar, you’ll know how important it is to work somewhere with a healthy company culture.
The tricky part for job-hunters is that a company’s culture can be difficult to ascertain before you actually start in the role. Luckily, there are a few good ways to get a feel for a firm’s ethos and values before you sign on the dotted line.
If you’re considering a move, here are some strategies to help you research that all-important company culture at a prospective employer.
Listen to their employees
The best way to get an honest view of a company’s culture is to hear it from the horse’s mouth. Glassdoor is a platform where workers can provide anonymous reviews of a company, with details of their interview questions and salaries as well as the overall pros and cons of working there. You need to create an account to browse more than a handful of reviews on Glassdoor, but it’s free to do so and you can still retain your anonymity. If you’ve ever wondered how to measure culture in a company, Glassdoor even provides an average star rating for every business listed.
If Glassdoor doesn’t show you what you’re looking for, you could also try using LinkedIn to see if you have any connections who work, or previously worked, at the company. If it’s a big firm, you might be surprised to find you already know someone who can give you the lowdown on what it’s really like working there.
Failing that, if the vacancy is a local one rather than a remote one, keep an ear to the ground and you might find out that some of your friends or peers can give you an insight into the company’s culture.
Take a close look at their brand
You can find out a lot about a company from taking a deep dive into their marketing materials. Have a close look at the company’s website, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Some companies really go the extra mile to give you a glimpse into what it’s like to work there.
Of course, social snooping is by no means a surefire way to find out what a company’s culture is like, but it can often provide you with some helpful hints - especially if you’re at an early stage in the hiring process. Does their brand sound like one that might align with your own personal beliefs? Do their values seem plucked out of thin air or do they mean something to you? Does the company seem friendly and welcoming or cold and uninviting?
You should also take a look at their list of employee benefits and perks, if they provide one - this could give you an indication of how flexible they are, what kind of support they offer and their approach to diversity and inclusion.
The most direct approach to finding out what it’s like to work at a company is to simply ask them what their culture is like. This could either be done via email with the hiring manager at the early stages of an application, or it could be done in an interview setting.
Although you can ask the question directly, it might be savvy to ask something a little more creative, which will hopefully elicit an unrehearsed response. For example, you could ask the hiring manager what they personally like most about the company culture, as well as where they feel there might be room for improvement. You could ask them to describe the company culture in three words, or perhaps ask how they think the firm’s employees would describe the culture.
Ascertaining a company’s culture before you start working there is no mean feat, but there are lots of clues to be picked up if you know where to look. If you’d like to work somewhere with a great company culture (if we do say so ourselves), check out FreeAgent’s current vacancies. We’re rated five stars on Glassdoor with 50+ reviews, and we frequently have vacancies in software engineering, product design and much more.
Check out FreeAgent’s careers page to see all of our current vacancies and find out what life is like at FreeAgent. You can also get a flavour of the culture in FreeAgent’s Engineering team via their Grinding Gears blog.