The job-hunting process is a challenging moment in everyone’s life: lots of applications are sent, cover letters written and rewritten, a lot of time spent searching for jobs, and of course, the hardest part, dealing with doubts and rejections.

But then comes a day when you receive the most awaited email: “You’ve been accepted! Happy to have you as our new colleague!”

You’re happy, excited, and thrilled by this new life experience. But when this new journey starts, lots of questions pop up in your mind: is the company the best workplace for you? Do you share the same values, beliefs, and behaviors with the company? Are you going to accommodate easily in the organization?

In this article, I’m going to cover why it is important to check the company’s culture before saying yes to a job.

1. Check if your expectations (of any kind) are the same with what the company can offer 2. Analyze if you vibrate with the leadership style adopted 3. Verify if there’s room for improvements (for you and for the company) 4. See if your values resonate with the company’s values 5. Look if there’s a work life balance 6. See if there’s enough place for laughs and joy, besides work and projects 7. Conclusion

Let’s go further in detail.

1. Check if your expectations (of any kind) are the same with what the company can offer

Besides the financial part and all those fancy perks that the company offers, it is also important to see if the company has a culture that carries out employee's free thinking and expression. If you're a person who likes to express himself/herself freely, then a company with a lot of strict and forced rules might not be the right choice for you.

From my point of view, I firmly believe that a company that offers freedom of expression (of any kind: clothes, sexual orientation, thinking) and encourages open communication is a really good place to work at.

From this perspective, I'll share here a personal experience that I had before joining Digitalya. It's a story about an old job that I had, where we, as a team, didn't have a "fixed, entrenched" dress code. Still, I used to buy clothes that were suitable for the office like dresses, shirts, and all those fancy shoes, because all my colleagues used to spend a lot of money buying those pretty looking clothes. It frustrated me because I didn't feel comfortable wearing them, mainly because I had to spend my money quickly, just "to match" with them.

What I appreciate in Digitalya is that everyone wears what they want to: George, for example, likes to wear pretty clothes (tie and sometimes suit), always looking like he's ready to give a speech in front of hundreds of people. Alex likes to dress in a kind of smart-casual style, and the rest of us prefer to have a simple shirt or a pair of sneakers, basically what we feel the most comfortable wearing.

The best advantage? You can feel free to express yourself and you don't need to spend money if you don't want to.

My point here is that in Digitalya we embrace a mindset where you can feel free to be yourself, whether with your old sneakers or the fanciest dress you like.

Plus, another cool thing is that we are from different backgrounds and cultures (5 different religions to be more precise), and still everyone feels like it is easy to be open and transparent to any other colleague, without the fear of being judged. For us, there were many moments when this was a good subject of in-depth discussion during our lunches or breaks. Even if we believe in a "different God," we all share the same values, and that's the most important thing.

2. Analyze if you vibrate with the leadership style adopted

There are different leadership styles adopted in organizations:

  • hierarchical form which is based on multi-levels management, a pyramid-shaped structure with a narrow center of power that trickles down to widening bases of subordinate levels,
  • non-hierarchical style which empowers the idea that the employee who has an idea doesn't have to wade through three upper managers to approach the key person making the decision; so, there are fewer or no levels of middle managers.

The flat hierarchy structure, a non-hierarchical style, is described with fewer or no levels between management and staff level employees. Is a structure that implies a faster decision making process, increased autonomy, faster innovation, and openness to communication.

This type of approach involves more responsibility from employees, trust from the employer, and more flexible and open-minded thinking. One significant advantage is that the speed of communication and coordination is much higher than a typical hierarchical structure.

In Digitalya, for example, we have a leadership team of only four members responsible for establishing the direction and setting the company's growth strategy. After every quarterly meeting, they present to us what they came up with, asking for feedback and opinions. In this way, there is a transparent communication between all team members, and the feedback culture is more than welcomed and appreciated.

Other things that came along with this flat hierarchy style in our organization are: there is no useless bureaucracy, employees have the freedom to share ideas and ask questions, freedom to come up with feedback and improvement points, freedom to come up with activities, and freedom to create mini tribes in their area of expertise or hobbies.

3. Verify if there’s room for improvements (for you and for the company)

An important aspect to look at is, of course, the learning, development, and growth plans that the company has in place. Most companies offer a learning budget for your personal development (to buy online courses or to go to conferences), which is really cool though, but others understand that giving feedback and input are essential for employees' growth and that's why they act accordingly.

As stated in Deloitte's research, employees tend to offer more credentials to a company that understands the importance of evaluation and growing opportunities instead of a company with bigger salaries but no feedback culture implemented.

At this point, I might be subjective, but this is my favorite part so far from Digitalya's organizational culture. Since we are a small company, only five years on the market, growing and having learning opportunities are significant for us. I'm not saying that it's easy to offer and to receive feedback (I know that: been there, done that), but I'm pointing out that we're daily trying to improve this part of our professional lives. In this way, we are open to each other, collect feedback, and strive for excellence, both personally and professionally.

And because it's so essential for us, we created a feedback board where every time someone receives valuable feedback from another colleague, they move that person one step forward on the feedback board. At the end of the month, the person who offered the most feedback is praised in our weekly meeting and can get a new skill course or a book that they want.

Another aspect to take into consideration is to check the negative parts of the company (if you can find out somehow - for example, from the internet, checking review websites like glassdoor or undelucram, or from people that you know they worked before in that company). Of course, they might be subjective, and opinions might be different from one another, but at least you can find out if there's something worth sharing to have a complete overview.

In Digitalya we have moments of different intensity: good ones like learning achievements, happy clients, exciting apps to work on, and bad ones like people leaving, projects ending sooner, or quarters when we are not reaching our objectives and goals. Both ones are important because they make us grow, personally and professionally, and make us realize that the team is the core of the company and act accordingly.

4. See if your values resonate with the company’s values

According to the Job Seeker Nation Study by Jobvite, 32% of job seekers are willing to take a 10% pay cut, if this means the corporate culture and work is more aligned with their goals. Even more, 15% of them turned down an offer because of the company culture.

Although this subject might not seem to be important for you when saying yes to a job, I genuinely believe that if you don’t check their values first, then it shouldn’t surprise you that sooner or later, you’ll feel this discrepancy during your employment. Values define the people we are: behaviors, beliefs, and actions. It’s essential to have a clear understanding of your values because this will give you a guide on what to look for in a company that you want to work with.

Further on, alignment makes you happier and more inspired to do the job. For example, our culture is solidly anchored in our values: We learn together, We help each other, We always seek quality, Tech is our playground, and Power to the team. We value human connection beyond projects or work, and we appreciate meaningful relationships and openness to accept differences. We believe that together, we’re powerful, which means that each member has a vital role in the outcome.

Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much. - Helen Keller

We also believe that autonomy and responsibility are two important aspects that grow us. And another cool thing is that exploring new tech trends comes naturally, for each one of us. Reading tech / IT related stuff is a common hobby we share, and we love to talk about it in our water cooler chit-chats.

Keep in mind that when you resonate with the company’s values, you’ll have a better team connection, stronger relationships, increased productivity and a higher commitment, to name a few.

5. Look if there’s a work-life balance

As I just finished writing my master thesis with the employer branding and remote work subject, I would like to point out one significant thing from my research. In the current era, many people tend to appreciate more a work-life balance. A flexible schedule, time spent with family or performing hobbies, and freedom to work anywhere they want are just a few of the benefits that came up with this working style.

Besides the open mindset and no judgmental culture, in Digitalya, we like to be flexible with ideas, opinions, and schedules. For example, Filip and I used to go to University this year, so it was essential for us to juggle with our course schedules and working hours. Mada, for example, is not a morning person. So, while some colleagues enjoy coming to the office early in the morning (8 a.m let’s say), she's not used to getting up at these hours, and we all know that if we want to have a meeting together with her, then 10 a.m is the earliest hour we can do it.

I believe that it’s important for each one of us to feel comfortable working at the times we like and when we are fully capable of doing it (even though it’s early in the morning, or late in the afternoon). That's why flexibility is important.

6. See if there’s enough place for laughs and joy, besides work and projects

Did you know that laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease? - @HelpGuide

It would be unfortunate if you're in a place where laughing and making jokes would be inappropriate, right? You're spending 8 hours a day together with your colleagues.

In Digitalya, of course, we love to have a lot of fun together. Every month, one of our colleagues is responsible for spoiling us by buying fruits every Tuesday and organising a cool activity to enjoy it together, cause we have a "mojo budget." We had paintball, theater, bowling, barbeque, beer o'clock, lots of beer o'clock actually, and so on.

What is particular about this key point from our culture is that this really represents us: we share and enjoy good jokes, or a ping-pong game, or hanging out a lot outside the work as well. Here's a sneak-peek with two of our colleagues from the last teambuilding.

7. Conclusion

I believe that feedback, respect, and open communication are essential in every workplace. In this article I shared some aspects of why it is important to check the company’s culture before saying yes to a job, with real examples from Digitalya’s culture.

As a quick sum-up, here they are: review the company's leadership style, check if you resonate with their values, if your expectations are going to be achieved, if there’s room for improvement, if they are flexible, and if there’s an environment of joy and fun. You can try to find them by checking out the company’s website, doing some research for finding testimonials and reviews about the workplace, checking their presence in Social Media, and ask people around you.

Keep in mind that, in general, the organizational culture is created both organically and through deliberate and consistent planning and action. So if a company doesn’t yet have a strong culture, see if they are planning to invest time and resources into growing one.

Want to get to know us better? Check out our career page and join the #bluemindedteam.