“Company culture” can seem like a pretty intangible thing, especially when you’re thinking about your first job. You might not have the experience to know what actually makes it more than just an HR slogan.
Company culture is made up of the tangible experiences you have working there—and it couldn’t be more important.
Using Dell—an industry leader in company culture—as an example, here are four signs that show a company is serious about its culture.
#1: A Meaningful Work/Life Balance
Maintaining the balance between your work and your personal life is extremely important for your health, job performance, and overall satisfaction. Plenty of companies understand that happy employees are good employees, and few things make people happier than being able to have a rich life in and outside of the office.
But it has to be more than just expressing a commitment.
At Dell, if you work at any of the tech giant’s offices around the world, there are a ton of options with regards to scheduling your work. Some employees work from home for all or part of the week to cut down on commuting and inefficiency. Other employees work the same amount of hours in four days each week (instead of five).
Dell aims to have 50 percent of their workforce on flexible schedules by 2020. That’s the kind of proof you should be looking for when it comes to understanding work/life balance at a company.
#2: Genuine Commitment To Diversity
A company or team without diversity not only deprives you of the personal growth that comes from understanding people unlike yourself, but also makes concretely worse decisions. Companies AND people succeed when there’s diversity—so, yes, it should be an important factor.
It can be hard to tell whether a company employs a diverse group of people, particularly because diversity can mean a lot more than what is visibly apparent. Beyond that, corporate websites and verbal commitments can often oversell certain aspects of the company culture. One way to cut through the noise is by looking at what objective third parties and former employees have said. Check out the company’s diversity and inclusion ratings and see how credible organizations have rated them.
Dell was placed on DiversityInc’s Top 50 and was recognized by The Economist for their excellence in diversity and inclusion. Dell also does more than just hire people—they support them. Whether that means advocacy groups, accommodations for holidays and disabilities, or flexible work hours to fit people’s myriad obligations, the company is constantly thinking about its employees’ happiness.
#3: Openness To Innovation
Most companies rely on innovation to drive their business forward. But some companies truly expect it from every corner of their team. How do you figure out which is which? Here are a couple ways you can find out more about what exactly innovation means at a certain company.
For starters, ask about “intrepreneurship.” How has a select group of major tech players managed to stay at the top of an industry that revolves around advances? Simple: They’ve encouraged all of their employees to use the company as a venue for innovation. (Dell has an annual “Game Changers” competition where employees from around the globe pitch to executives who can opt to fund their ideas.)
If an employer can’t provide you with specifics about new products or businesses started by employees, then that may be a sign that the “culture of innovation” is just a phrase.
#4: Ethics And Impact
It’s important to know what kind of company you work for. Do they take responsibility for their actions? Do they contribute to the communities they’re a part of? Essentially, you need to know whether a prospective company makes the world a better or worse place.
This is where hard facts matter the most. Awards and accolades given from third parties are usually for a reason. So, when Dell has taken home trophies for their efforts to cut down on their carbon footprint or for being the largest global recycler of electronics, you know that it’s because they did and they are.
There are things like community engagement, manufacturing practices, and much, much more that you should look out for. There are many ways to make an impact—positive or negative. Companies who take ethics seriously usually have employees who do, too, and it can be great to be around people who care.
Little things like dress code, snacks, and social events can make a huge difference in helping you adjust to a new city or new stage of life. So, don’t forget about these aspects of company culture, either.