Looking back to when I was a fresh graduate looking for a job three years ago, work culture was not a factor that ranked highly in my wish list. Instead, salary, career progression, organisational size and reputation were the key factors that guided my job search.
However, over the years, I have come to realise that work culture is an often overlooked element in job searches. Many candidates, especially young graduates, fail to appreciate the importance of a positive work culture and how it can impact their working experience and their perspective of a career.
My experience working with various firms has made me realise how an organisation’s culture can swing both ways in terms of supporting employee growth and retention. I have witnessed how a positive work culture acts as a springboard for employees to grow holistically and achieve their fullest potential in their careers. At the same time, I have also seen how a negative work culture subtly drains employees’ energy and motivation, and sadly, I have seen many talented employees leave an organisation because of this.
It’s all about the PEOPLE
Given a company is only as good as its people, it is no surprise that an organisation’s work culture is very much influenced by its employees, especially its management team. I can attest to the importance of having strong support at work – it makes a huge difference to be surrounded by colleagues who provide constant encouragement and who are the bedrock of laughter and joy at the workplace.
Whilst I take pride in being an independent and motivated individual, I also welcome the support and positive attitude of my colleagues. They are one of the reasons why I look forward to going to work each morning (despite the workload ahead), and more importantly, they are also the cheerleaders who push me to be the best that I can be.
In my opinion, teamwork is probably one of our firm’s greatest strengths and I believe this would not have been possible without the effort put in by each and every one of my colleagues. The team functions pretty much like a well-oiled tag team, and I am privileged to be able to work alongside very capable colleagues who are willing to extend a helping hand when needed.
I am also appreciative of the flat hierarchical structure at Newgate. I strongly believe that such a structure works well as it minimises unhealthy competition between colleagues, and allows us to direct our energy inwards to better ourselves. A flat structure also helps to make the workplace environment less politically driven, as people are less restricted by their titles. At the same time, it also encourages a culture of open communication, where junior staff are empowered to speak up and share their ideas without any reservations. All these things help to support a nurturing and conducive work environment, and I think this is especially important in the early stages of an individual’s career.
Opportunities to GROW
Apart from having a supportive team, it is also important to be in an organisation that believes in investing in its employees. One that views its employees as its best asset, rather than just headcount.
This investment can be in the form of professional training, or simply being given the autonomy to introduce a new approach and to learn from that experience. While it is common for organisations to conduct training and internal teach-ins to help teams improve their professional skills, many firms overlook a key aspect of human capital development, which is giving individuals the opportunity to “dream big” and supporting them in their quest to try something out of the ordinary, within reasonable limits.
Right from my first day here, I have been challenged to think about how I can use my time as a springboard for my career. I am often reminded that there are greater things that I can and should take away from my time here – experiences that will help me to grow as a professional, and more importantly, as an individual.
If you are looking to grow and make your mark in this industry, I would recommend working for a forward-looking organisation that gives junior staff the opportunity to lead, and empowers them to stretch their limits. The many opportunities given to me have allowed me to develop both hard and soft skills, which I believe will be valuable assets for my career.
Looking back, a positive and nurturing work culture has changed my perspective on working. I no longer view my job as just a job, but rather, I see it as a stepping-stone in my life journey.
Lynette Tan is an Executive at Newgate Communications in Singapore with close to three years of industry experience. Despite being familiar and used to the fast-paced work environment, Lynette still looks forward to spending her weekends sailing and enjoying the sea breeze at Changi.