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The Importance Of Finding The Right Work Culture

Some years ago, I had my heart set on working at a certain university. They hired me to cover an event on campus and, as luck would have it, I made a good enough impression to be offered a job a few months later. I was absolutely ecstatic. Within days of being hired, I started to feel a little out of sorts but I brushed it off as the awkwardness that comes with starting a new position. Everyone else in the small department seemed content with the atmosphere so it must have been me, right? As the months went on, the manager’s leadership style really took its toll on me. She was literally always running up and down the hallway in a panic, passive aggressively complaining if she didn’t think you were going fast enough and... she used the word “retard.” That was, ultimately, my dealbreaker. Despite being told over and over that our workplace culture fostered open dialogue, things got really bad when I decided to speak to my manager about her use of the R-word. My coworkers, who had also been bothered by it, did not back me up and, when put on the spot, sat in silence while I absorbed the wrath. I put in my notice and started looking for another job immediately. I’m still pained when I look back on this memory but I will never forget the lesson it taught me. No matter how much I think I want a certain job, what matters most is that the culture is right for me. Here are some suggestions to help you avoid the heartbreak I experienced. Most workplaces have a vision or mission statement listed on their website. Read it, and when you’re done, read it again. Really think about what it’s saying and whether it truly resonates with you. During your interview, when given the opportunity to pose questions, ask for examples of how they carry out the mission statement. You will learn a lot from the answer and, if any alarm bells go off in your head, you can either ask for clarification or decline the position. It’s better to part ways at this stage than months later when you are invested but miserable.

Look for Reviews Make use of resources such as Glassdoor to see what current and past employees have to say about their workplace . Of course, take everything with a grain of salt but also be on the lookout for patterns or consistent complaints. Make note of anything that doesn’t reflect the kind of culture that you want for yourself and decide whether it’s something you can live with. One of the worst things you can do is get yourself into a situation where you put your mental health or reputation at risk.

Ask About Work-Life Balance More and more companies are adopting policies to facilitate a better work-life balance for their employees . Whether it’s the ability to work remotely or offering flexible shifts, workers are finding more of these options available to them. If this is important to you, it’s best to find out right away. How does vacation and sick time work? Are you expected to do overtime? What happens if you need an extended break due to a family emergency? It might be uncomfortable to ask for this information in an interview but you need to know in order to make the right decision for your needs.

Work Practices and Atmosphere The workplace atmosphere is one of those things that is steadily evolving. In the past, people were tethered to their desk where they kept their head down, working through the day. Now, it’s not uncommon to see bean bag chairs and team workstations in an office. Other factors to consider are noise level and the language used in regular communication. If you need a quiet work environment but the company encourages people to play music, it might not be the best fit. Also, consider how everyone talks to each other. Does it matter to you if the boss swears and uses familiar, casual language or do you prefer something more formal?

Overall, remember that you don’t have to justify your needs to anyone. You have to find the right fit for who you are and what you want to accomplish. If you feel out of place in a workplace, it could affect your performance and self-esteem. I know, because it happened to me. If you’re job hunting, do yourself a favor and ask the hard questions before you get hired so that you know right away whether it’s even worth considering. We all need to work and pay the bills but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive to be happy too .



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