The Difference Between Company Culture and Meaningful Work

October 20, 2015

Career Advice

8141902659_39e2f28fe1_zDuring an interview, potential candidates love to ask “What’s your culture like here?” Many people believe you can reveal workplace culture by looking at the benefits the company provides and the policies they follow. For instance, what’s the dress code? Do people work from home? Can you bring your dog to work? What types of lunchtime activities are offered for the employees? Is there team building? Will they pay for my college courses?

As a result, you may find yourself making a list of pros and cons of corporate benefits rather than actual culture. Benefits are important, as is the salary, but the culture isn’t quite as easy to pin down. And one person’s response can’t paint the perfect picture. This popular interview question actually begs to be replaced by a better question: “How is the culture created in an organization?” After all, you want to know if employees are passionate about their positions and whether or not they feel the work they do is meaningful.

In his article, Three Lies About Meaningful Work, Adam Grant shares that back in the 80’s, “the organization to which people belonged was the dominant driver of whether they found their work meaningful. A sense of purpose came from belonging to a company with a mission that mattered.”

This is no longer the case. It has become clear that meaning in your work comes from the connections that are built between the people—you, your co-workers, your team, your boss, your manager, and so on. And you are more in charge of the meaning that’s attached to your job than you think. (Read our last post on job crafting.)

Adam Grant puts it well when he refers to Studs Terkel and his observation that “work is about a search for daily meaning as well as daily bread.” He says that in order to find it, “we need to realize that meaning is about what we do, not where we belong. It lives in the relationships between people, not ideas.”

Learn more about how you can find meaning in your work over at LinkedIn.

Image via Windwärts Energie/Flickr.

About Spectrum Brands Careers

Spectrum Brands is a global $5 Billion Consumer Products company headquartered in Middleton, Wisconsin. While you may not be familiar with the Spectrum Brands name, there is no doubt you will recognize some of our brands.

View all posts by Spectrum Brands Careers


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