Workplace culture: What it is and why it matters
“Workplace culture” is a phrase that’s hard to miss these days. But what does it mean exactly?

Culture in the workplace is created by the shared values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviours of employees and their leaders.

“When there’s more than one human in an organisation, there’s a culture,” says SEEK’s Resident Psychologist Sabina Read. “It’s so important to find people who work well and thrive within that culture.”

While the skills, experience and qualifications of your staff matter, finding employees that align with your organisation’s values and culture is crucial. 

Watch as Read explains this further and offers tips on finding candidates who are a good cultural fit:

Why values are a key part of organisational culture

A workplace’s values are the building blocks a business and its culture are based on. Read points out that values are different from an organisation’s mission and vision statement. “Values reflect how people want to behave, the mission reveals what the organisation does and a vision statement determines what the business wants to become,” she says.

Values are important for candidates when they are applying for jobs, and values such as honesty, loyalty, efficiency and dependability tend to make candidates more likely to apply for a role.

“When you’re hiring you should be looking for candidates whose values align with those of your business,” Read says.

How can I ensure my new hire fits in?

“It’s very common to think we need to find employees who are like us, but you can still have an employee who shares the organisation’s values and vision, but operates differently from you,” Read says. “They may have new ways of doing things and this can complement your existing talent skill set.”

When we hire someone who is not a good cultural fit, they feel like a square peg in a round hole. “An uneasy cultural fit means the employee has a level of uncertainty, unpredictability and discomfort, and that doesn’t bode well for the individual or the organisation,” Read says.

Ask these two questions when hiring for cultural fit

Read says there are two key questions you need to ask when gauging if a candidate is going to be a good cultural fit for your workplace.

  1. Can you describe the work environment in which you’re most productive and happy?
    This question allows you to define the type of setting where a candidate feels most comfortable and efficient. Is it in a team-based environment, a casual office structure or a formal workplace? How does their answer match your business?
  2. Can you describe the leadership or management style that will bring out your best work?
    Some candidates like workplaces where they have lots of accountability, some prefer autonomy and independence, and others work well under a clear hierarchy. This question not only helps you determine whether the candidate is a good fit, it also helps you see how aware they are of what helps them do their best work.

At its essence, an organisation’s culture comes down to the shared values and beliefs its people hold. Being able to build and promote a positive workplace culture means you’re more likely to attract great candidates, foster workplace engagement and drive high performance.