Whether you’re a member of your company’s management team or a bright-eyed young adult fresh out of college looking for your first job in the real world, a few factors come into mind when hiring a new employee or accepting a job. Benefits, working hours, job description and who can forget the all important salary number. However how often have you thought about your (or your potential) company’s culture?

Let’s start off by recognizing that company culture is a commonly used buzzword thrown around by the business community. But is a company’s culture critical for employee happiness, productivity and longevity with the company?

According to Forbes, company culture “is something that is pre-existing in your company’s genetic code; it’s not something that employees bring with them.”

It comes down to whether or not the employees get along on a personal level, enjoy their jobs as a whole, how the management team sets the tone for the work environment and how well each individual fits into a collective.

Company culture can make or break a firm, especially small and mid-sized organizations like North.

If you have been working long enough you have more than likely experienced both bad and good company cultures. Here are a few characteristics of company culture used to evaluate a workplace and whether you are a good fit.

  • Does everyone seem to stick to themselves at work but you consider yourself a social butterfly? Maybe a company with more teamwork and staff interaction would be a better fit for you. Or maybe you like an individual approach and enjoy the solitude of your cubicle.
  • How does your management team lead? Do they provide clear direction, dig in with the team when needed, lead by example, or are they more hands off, send directives in emails and request weekly check-ins.
  • Does everyone seem to value each other’s roles? You’ve always heard the saying when out on a date watch how the other person treats the waiter, it will show you who they really are. How do your teammates and bosses treat everyone all the way down the chain of command?

North has a very unique company culture. We are made up of very strong and independent women who love to work together. We embrace the team mentality (teamwork makes the dreamwork) of many of the fortune 500 companies (think Google and Facebook) that are often idealized for their company cultures.

Thankfully there are numerous types of companies out there with a wide range of environments, the key is finding the one that works best for you.

If you are interviewing for a job take the opportunity to ask questions about the company’s culture and think about what work environment would suit you every day. If you are a manager take a look around and periodically evaluate the culture of your company, how are your staff feeling, are there any changes to be made?

Company culture can make or break your career, don’t shrug it off, have a plan and know what kind of team you want to be a part of.