What's More Important: Compensation or Culture?
06.08.15 | Job Search & Career | Rachel Freedenberg, Consultant at Treeline, Incorporated
Today’s job market is hotter than ever and the competition is as fierce as it’s ever been. So how do you decide which opportunities you should pursue? Whether you’re fresh out of college or you’ve been in the workforce for the past twenty years, compensation and culture are two things that should always be on your mind when searching for your next opportunity. But which one comes first?
Ask yourself how much money do you need to be comfortable? Sure we would all like to make more, but what do you need to sustain your lifestyle? Cash is king and it’s something that has a driving factor in our every day decisions. Being able to afford a vacation or a new car is a nice to have, but being able to make rent and pay off some of those looming college debts is more significant. In a recent survey by thegoodjobs.com only 3% of 1274 participants said that compensation as more important than company culture/work environment. What does that mean for you and your search?
Perks are a nice to have – but they do not define a company culture. Having the company pay for your commuting expenses or parking, a fully stocked beer fridge with company happy hours or a mid-day foosball tournament should not be the sole decision of why you sign on-board with a company.
What is the mission and values of the company? If those are align with your beliefs and background they will be easy to understand and live by. At Treeline we go over our mission statement during training and it’s also posted around the office in several locations. One of our clients consistently reiterates to us that they spent 9 months developing their core values and mission statement. It’s important. It’s part of our culture. Everyone is striving towards a common goal that we all believe.
What is the environment like? Some companies have an intense bullpen environment where numbers are tracked on monitors around the office with techno music pumping from the stereo. Others are in a loft space with beanbag chairs and game rooms to unwind. Some blast the AC and have a funky smell. Whatever the case may be its important to make sure the environment is a place you can see yourself going to everyday as well as thriving in.
Who are your co-workers? Your managers are building out a team that you want to be part of. Having excellent colleagues, the “A-Players,” working alongside you makes your job both easier and more competitive at the same time.
Are the lines of communication open? If you have a suggestion or a problem you want to make sure that you will be comfortable going to the leadership team or your co-workers to discuss it. Having a clear understanding of the company’s financials may be important to you. Knowing how your activity tracked and communicated with the team is just as important as knowing what defines success in your role.
Is there a support system in place? This goes in hand with having open communication, if your supervisors are readily available are they also helping you grow your career? Some companies institute weekly one-on-one sessions, group lunch-and-learns, or just a straight forward open door policy. It’s important that you have the ability and support in place to grow professionally.
Most importantly is there room for growth? Sometimes making a lateral move compensation wise, or even a pay cut, to a company where there is a clear track for progression and upward movement is the biggest deciding factor.
It’s not a clear cut decision, compensation and culture both factor in, but my advice is to find a culture where you can be happy. In this type of environment you can sustain a lengthy career and over time your compensation will grow. Whether it's a shorter commute, a team you can thrive with or a company you can grow with, it's important to look at all the intangibles and not just the overall compensation package when choosing your next opportunity.