Corporate Culture Sounds Fluffy. Until You Realize That It’s Literally Everything.

Alignment between your own values and the company of your prospective employers. Is it something you can really afford to neglect? Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been chatting with friends and professional acquaintances about how the job market is evolving and what people are doing with their lives and careers.

Excitement about the remote revolution is palpable. And if it eventually supersedes both in-office and hybrid as the work model of tomorrow then we’re going to bear witness to some pretty profound shifts in our world.

I’ve also been spending some time thinking about the value of asynchronous communications.

It’s a neat little methodology, currently gaining a lot of traction, that explains why deep work obsessives like me — especially those who also have ADHD — tend to love modes of communication like email that probably strike others as anachronistic.

Right Now Jobseekers Need A Filter To Connect With The Organizations They Really Want To Work For

During conversations with friends and acquaintances over the past few days — people who are currently radically reshaping their careers — I’ve noticed a striking similarity.

People are emphasizing what’s arguably an aspect of an internal culture — does the company require coming into an office? — over traditional concerns such as salary and benefits.

They’re then asserting those values they hold dearest as non-negotiables and finding organizations that happen to have roles to offer that accord with that set of values. The era during which jobseekers feel empowered enough to ask whether the company is async-friendly may be just around the corner.

I would argue, however, that the process is less than ideal.

Or at least that there’s a better way this could be done than somebody hasn’t thought about yet.

It would be wonderful to move towards a world in which jobseekers could proactively search and filter potential employers according to values they had that resonated with them. Then we can shift the filtering process from job candidates and onto HR with likely benefits for both parties.

This would require proactivity and transparency on the part of employers in spades. An activity that many wouldn’t be used to. We’re not talking about creating marketing collateral here or brochures designed to appeal to talent. We’re talking about being disarmingly frank with prospective hires about working at a company is really going to look like. The kind of material that could just as well turn prospective hires off joining the team.

This in its own right would be a radical step forward in the processes that we currently have in place for helping those looking for jobs find the kind of positions that can not only pay them enough but also leave them feeling happy and fulfilled.

Because our currently available models for finding out what really makes an organization tick and what kind of place it is to work at — take Glassdoor for instance — still mean that employees have to take the initiative in sharing the necessary data.

But if we can move past that reality, among the many benefits that remote work can graft upon society might be this one:

If opportunities widen such that skilled talent can tap into a broader job market than the one available in their immediate locality, companies might need to become more imaginative in how they recruit talent.

This may mean placing less emphasis on traditional things like benefit packages and more on values that might connect with candidates who are increasingly interested in deeper considerations than how much does an organization pay.

Values like:

  • What we really believe in as an organization. And not just what our mission statement says.
  • Are we remote or hybrid; or do we aspire to be fully in office the moment it’s safe for us to do so
  • Are we seeking hyper productive task crushers? Or are we seeking thoughtful contributors who are more interested in growing with the company long term than rising through their career ranks as quickly as possible?
  • What are the kind of growth opportunities that we can honestly offer to new hires? And what kind of effort might be honestly required on the part of employees to obtain them?

Cultural Alignment Could Boost Retention And Create A Happier Workforce

As the remote/hybrid era continues to march forward, a much more global job market is about to be created.

This could herald not only the dawn of an era of greater opportunity for employees — being able to access roles outside of their geographical radius — but also an opportunity to weigh the merits of competing employers on the basis of more than just who offers the greater benefits package. Or role.

To generalize: jobseekers whose skills are in demand can find work. Those whose skills are less common, or in a skills shortage, or specialized (or who work in professions with high barriers to entry) can find well-remunerated work.

The next frontier of this evolution — the one remote work could expedite — might be making satisfactory and fulfilling work accessible to more people than have ever been able to tap into it before.

Increasingly concerns that might have been delegated to a second or third place on jobseekers’ list if they appear there at all — evaluating how congruent the organization’s culture was with their own value system — can afford to be upped to their proper place as critical screening questions for jobseekers.

Because ultimately a good salary and a pension does not a happy worker make.

Culture sounds like the afterthought that only overfunded startups have time to think about. Until you realize that it’s what commonly drives people from jobs or keeps them working ones they are happy with.

It’s nothing less than a critical determinant of retention and success — metrics which matter to both HR teams and employees. And both jobseekers and recruiters might be finally able to give it the attention it deserves.

If our workforce and employers can reach a place of better cultural alignment then we’ll be happier and more productive as a result.




Daytime: writing for other people. Nighttime: writing for me. Or the other way round. Enjoys: Linux, tech, beer, random things.

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Daniel Rosehill

Daniel Rosehill

Daytime: writing for other people. Nighttime: writing for me. Or the other way round. Enjoys: Linux, tech, beer, random things.

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