Work Culture: What Is It and Why Should I Care?

Publish Date: July 11, 2018


A great culture provides the context for people to deliver their best work, at work. In the same way, a toxic work culture spoils the best to go from bad to worse in a matter of days. — Anonymous

All companies have a culture – think of it as a business environment or “organizational persona.” Company cultures differ, just like people differ in their vocational interests, values and preferences.

Organizations that foster a positive culture typically have more productive and professionally satisfied employees. It’s the culture that helps encourage and motivate you to bring your best and most valuable contributions.

The opposite occurs when you are in a work culture that does not fit your business style, values or ethics.

How do you research an organization to anticipate its culture? How can you avoid toxic workplaces to find an environment that fits your sense of professional community and purpose?

  • Network with your peers – check with people who currently work for the company or were recently employed there. AORN members can start by checking with fellow chapter members for information about the organization.
  • Look for reviews on the internet and visit the company’s website. Specifically review their employment site.
  • Find the organization’s mission statement and look for examples of how they support it.
  • Practice discovery. Ask peers who work there, “What’s it like to work at ABC Hospital?” “What are three things you like best about the work environment and culture there?” “How does this company support professional growth while respecting work/life balance?” “What does the company most value in their employees?”
  • Observe employees and their demeanor and attitude when you visit the site for an interview. How do employees treat one another?

What are key elements to look for in the organization? Leadership, transparency, team work, ethics, values and a clearly stated and supported company mission statement. Weigh what matters most to your style and professional priorities.

Organizations that maintain positive and motivational work cultures also reap rewards: higher retention of good employees and better business success. According to (Gallup), high engagement of business divisions results in 21% greater profitability, 41% less absenteeism and are 17% more productive.

Are you in a toxic work environment? Need direction in your career? Want to discover the best work environment to match your business style, expertise and values? AORN members can take advantage of the complimentary career coaching benefit and sign up for 90 minutes of coaching with Dr. Phyllis Quinlan, MFW Consultants.

Visit the AORN Career Center for resources to support your career.