Company culture career success
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Could a bad company culture ruin your chance at a successful career?

23 May 2017

Company culture doesn’t just affect your day-to-day life. It can also have a massive effect on how successful you are in your career.

Salaries, benefits and perks will probably always be an extremely important part of choosing the right job for you.

But, as you progress through your career, upskill and get promotions, you may end up in a position where you can demand your desired salary and benefits with little or no effort.

This can be particularly true for those working in the tech sector, which is crying out for talented staff.

Once you’re satisfied with your salary, other factors come into play, such as flexibility, work-life balance and the meaning of the work you’re doing.

All of that is synonymous with the company culture that exists in the place you work. It’s also important to differentiate the company culture ‘on paper’ from the real-life one that you experience.

Does your company say in its manifesto that it promotes flexible hours and working remotely? Great! But does anyone actually work flexible hours or from home? That’s the difference.

We’ve previously talked about how company culture can work for your life outside of the office, but it’s important to remember how much it affects your life in work, too.

How company culture affects you

Everyone knows a positive company culture equals a healthy work-life balance. However, it also means better productivity, nice colleagues and a clear path towards career progression.

Finding a good cultural fit is both beneficial to you as an employee and the company you’re working for. If you’re a very team-oriented person heading to work in a team-oriented environment, you’re naturally going to thrive.

Employees in their optimal environment will reach their highest potential. This could be anything from knowing they can work from home one day a week, to working for a manager who encourages creative thinking.

Furthermore, a company culture that values employees’ wellbeing will be evident. How long do employees stay in a company? How happy do your colleagues seem? Are they energetic and creative?

You can often see through the smoke and mirrors of what a company says by simply looking at the way its employees behave. The more they take initiative, come up with their own projects or ideas, or simply volunteer for things, the more you realise how a company values these traits.

You can also tell a lot about an organisation by observing how rewards or punishments are dished out. Who is being rewarded and praised? What was it for? This says a lot more – much faster and more clearly – than any website or manifesto.

Keeping good company

The best talent in any industry won’t stay long if the company culture is bad. There’s a reason all of the top tech companies shower their teams with perks, benefits and flexible working hours. It’s about retaining the very best people.

If you want to thrive in your career, you want to be among the top talent. Even if you don’t think of yourself that highly (and you should!), watch where those people are going. If they don’t stick around, it means they have somewhere better to be.

A high turnover of staff generally means you won’t always be working with the best people and, even if you are, they won’t be there for long. The colleagues you work with will have just as much of an impact on your career as the company itself.

Your success story

When evaluating a company’s culture, it’s also important to decide what your personal goals are, and match them to the company’s goals. What defines your career success? Do you want to get to a certain level? Complete particular projects? How much will your organisation allow for that?

Yes, company culture has a lot to do with how flexible your job is, and how much time off you get for a proper work-life balance. However, many people forget how important it is to your actual career progression, be it in this company or another one.

You may want a company culture that’s fun and flexible, or one that offers a gym or childminding facilities, depending on where you are in life and what a good work-life balance means to you. However, simple perks do not a successful career make.

In much the same way a good company culture can reward initiative and encourage upskilling, a bad company culture could leave you stuck in a position you can’t move on from.

Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the editor of Silicon Republic in 2023, having worked as the deputy editor since February 2020. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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