Does company culture influence idealism?

2009 May 11
by Kate O'Neill

For many people, what makes a job stand out is not so much the work as it is the workplace. We talk here a lot about good and bad bosses, alternative workplaces, and meaningful work, but sometimes just knowing that you can go to work in jeans and not raise eyebrows is enough to make working life a little brighter.

At Brazen Careerist, Peter Epstein addresses this in the context of Gen Y’s preferences:

She talked briefly about what the company does and what she’s gonna do there, then she went into a 10 min rant about how employees are allowed to wear casual clothes to work, how they go to happy hour regularly, and how they have a lax scheduled time of work. It was as if the company didn’t matter, the position didn’t matter, but the only thing that did matter was the environment that she would be working in.

It’s understandable that Brazen Careerist would look at it from a youth angle, but I suspect this goes a bit beyond generations and into what motivates people to work. Even more to the point, it would seem that, for those who are driven to take part in meaningful work, a relaxed culture might lend itself better to a sense of passion and commitment.

On the other hand, some of my most idealistic work has been done in environments that were more traditional in nature, partly because it’s there that I really felt a strong need for it.

What’s your take? How important is company culture to you?

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