Culture - What does it really mean to candidates?

Being in recruitment, I speak to many candidates about their reasons for leaving a role. While salary and location rate highly as motivators, there is no doubt that culture, and the search for a better one, is a huge factor in candidate decision making. Culture means different things to different people but as a generalisation you know the culture is a good one when you feel happy in your role and team. Your company takes pride in what they do and that is reflected in those who work there.

Here are five key criteria that have been flagged up through recent conversations with candidates around what they look for in a good culture:


  • It’s not a dirty word. Good candidates want to work for successful businesses where pride is taken in the success of their products, service or professional delivery and look to leave environments where that pride does not exist;


  • Candidates do not usually mean this to be working with extroverts who dominate an office environment. Instead they class it as working with a range of personalities who gel and enjoy spending time together whilst at work. Interestingly, they do not want manufactured fun and don’t necessarily need their work mates to  be their friend  outside of work;


  • If you don’t have trust, you don’t have a good culture. It takes time to build but if candidates don’t feel trusted by their manager or peers  then there’s a good chance they won’t stay;


  • A common complaint of candidates is that they don’t feel listened to; listening is not the same as absorbing words whilst formulating your reply. To engage and inspire good people, you will need to truly learn to listen;


  • Employees want acknowledgement for a job well done. This doesn’t necessarily mean their name in lights but a simple “nice work” from a manager or peer can make all the difference and reflects a culture where others are happy to see a colleague do well.

These may seem like fairly obvious points but it is amazing the amount of organisations that don’t follow these simple rules and as a result lose good people.

Are you happy with the culture in your organisation?