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What is company culture?  

Organizational culture is formed on the basis of shared values and beliefs. Members of an organization derive those values from mutual assumptions regarding human nature, emotions, effectiveness, and their organization’s connection to its environment. Every company’s culture lives, breathes and evolves. A healthy culture is essential to a company’s success. Simply put, culture is what a company stands for, which guides how its employees behave.  

The Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) revealed in a recent survey that company culture was the number one reason candidates picked one job over another.  

Undeniably, culture is important when finding a job, but you may be wondering how to determine aspects of a company’s culture without working there. More importantly, how you’ll know if a company’s culture will fit your personality and needs. The good news is, you can learn about a company’s culture by investing a small amount of time in conducting your own research. Here are some tips to help you uncover the information you need to determine the “right cultural fit” for your next job. 

How to find a company with a good culture 

Don’t wait until you’ve been offered a job to look into its culture. Your investigation should begin while you’re job hunting. Make a point to learn about the workplace culture of every company you are seriously considering working for. It’s important to know if your own values and beliefs will align with the cultures of companies that interest you.  

Your first step is easy. Most organizations feature some combination of their mission, vision and values on their website. You should find that page and read it thoroughly. Ask yourself, Do these beliefs and values align with my own? Do I believe in the company’s mission and purpose?  

Then, you’ll want to spend some time on company review websites, such as Glassdoor. For free, Glassdoor will provide you with insights into a company through employee reviews. They boldly showcase the good, the bad and the ugly. There’s nothing hidden behind closed doors (hence the name). It’s important to know how current and past employees view the organization and its culture.  

To really understand a company’s culture, be sure to check the news and other social media channels for organizational updates and key events.  

Ultimately, it’s important to remember that not all cultures are going to work for you. Some will align with who you are and what’s important to you, and others will not. Your sole task is to find those cultures that fit you best. 

How to ask about company culture in an interview 

Great news! There are ways to learn even more about a company’s culture during the interview process.  

Do you know anyone who works at that company? Are you getting to know people during the recruitment process?  These casual conversations happen, perhaps in an elevator or lobby. Or perhaps, given our newly accelerated virtual working environment, it could be a conversation with the recruiter or the receptionist booking your appointment. If you have the chance, simply ask, “What do you like about working here?” and “How would you describe the company culture”? Ask multiple people during the process; the more perspectives, the better.  

Next, be sure to ask culturally related questions in your interviews. Take the time to ask questions that highlight specific elements of the culture in your interviewers’ eyes, such as “What does success look like here” or “what are some of the traits that you look for in a successful candidate?” 

Then consider the information and answers that have been shared with you. Do the answers align with the culture you’re looking for? For example, if everyone you met said it’s a very fast-paced, dynamic environment, is that the pace you’re seeking? It’s important to connect the dots between what you’re hearing and your own wants and needs in an organization. 

1. Measure and reduce
Do more with less. “Measure your energy usage, look for patterns and make sure you’re using your equipment, lighting, and anything else that’s plugged in and whirring only when you need to,” says Bruce Macfarlane, non-executive director of Energy Action.

2. Be smart about when you contract
Buy your energy during quiet contracting times. Retailers are busy during peak contracting times – financial year end and late calendar year – so they might not give you the best price.

3. Don’t leave contracting until the last minute
Last-minute pricing is never cheap. The same applies to your energy contract. Get your contracts under control early and arrange your buying well before your existing contracts end.

4. Upgrade your equipment
It can be a false economy to keep going with the same old equipment that can suck up so much more energy than the newer versions, says Holly Taylor of the Energy Efficiency Council. Change old lights to LEDs or upgrade manufacturing plant so machinery works more efficiently. “Doing this can cut costs by up to 50 per cent,” she says.

LED bulbs last much longer and use a fraction of the power of older models. Photo: iStock

5. Push as many changes as you can through the board or management
You might start with a few solar panels on the roof, but when you can demonstrate savings, it’s likely that everyone will be much happier about taking more dramatic action.

6. Look for opportunities to recycle
BlueScope produced gas through one of their processes, so came up with a project to recondition a steam alternator to soak up some of the gas that could be used as a waste process gas and generate electricity. Speak to workers on the coalface, advises BlueScope’s Bridgette Carter, as they may have very good ideas.

7. Ask for advice from your peers
Don’t be afraid to reach out to others in your industry to see what they’ve done and how it’s helped them, recommends Taylor. “Businesses are generally happy to talk about climate leadership.”

8. Get auction competition
Energy Action, for example, runs Australia’s biggest business energy-buying service. Using their reverse auction, which makes it easy for retailers to price the demand, customers, on average, pay 20 per cent less for their energy than the first bid offered, says Bruce Macfarlane.

9. Understand your model
Often, people compare the deals from different providers but don’t realise they can be comparing apples with oranges, says Tim Ellis. “Some may be charging upfront costs, or billing ongoing energy use. So, understand how the companies are getting paid.”

10. Take a good, hard look at your bill
Energy retailers have had 25 years to make your bill easy to pay but hard to understand. The total amount due is on the front page in a really big font. “Charges are hidden in the back pages using industry codes, which are often confusing,” says Macfarlane. “Energy Action can check every element of your energy bill, so you don’t have to, and will contact a retailer if there’s any over-charging to have the excess refunded.”

Installing solar panels can reduce electricity bills. Photo: Supplied

11. Check your network tariff
This makes up 50 per cent of the most bills. “But you’ll often have to know the da Vinci Code to understand all the charges,” says Tim Ellis.

12. Get a handle on your data
It’s only if you gather data that you’ll know where you can save energy, and money. Carter says BlueScope invested in tools to log energy use in all their processes, and imposed targets on every part of the system.

13. Invest in renewables
You might not be able to generate all your power with renewables, but it will certainly help. “We looked at the opportunities in the renewable space,” says Carter. “We wanted to do something meaningful and help with costs.”

14. Find out about government incentives
Various levels of government offer a number of tax incentives or subsidies for companies upgrading their business equipment to reduce energy use or cut emissions.

Portions of this article originally appeared on the Collier’s website.

The Sundance Company                                                                
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.6 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at or 208.322.7300.


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