Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire

5 Things Job Seekers Really Want in a Company Culture

To attract the best talent, your company culture needs to stand out. Job seekers want to work in environments they love, but they’re not finding what they’re looking for.

In the race to attract the best talent, in a job seeker’s market, employers are focusing on the next best office perk. They’re scrambling to provide what they think professionals want, but what do they actually need from a company culture?

In the competition to offer the latest and greatest culture and benefits, employers are missing out on the basic qualities job seekers want. To attract candidates, think like a job seeker and align your culture to better address their unmet needs.

To get started, here are some things job seekers are really looking for in a company culture, that you may be overlooking:

Clear goals

What professionals want: One of the most overlooked things employees value about their jobs is the work itself. Among U.S. and Canadian employees surveyed by Virgin Pulse this year, 53 percent said interesting and challenging work is the number one reason they love their company.


The company’s mission was another top reason employees said they love their employer, and the amount of employees who ranked it as important grew 20 percent from last year. Employees don’t want to just show up to the office, mindlessly do their jobs, and go home every day. Professionals want to connect to the work they are doing and the meaning behind it. As the job market improves, job seekers care more and more about finding work they feel passionately about.

How to add it to your company culture: Although employees think the mission and values of the company they work for are important, a majority don’t know what that mission entails, a 2013 survey from TINYpulse found. Among survey respondents, just 42 percent knew the mission, vision, and cultural values of their organization.

In addition, 43 percent of employees in ClearCompany and Dale Carnegie’s “How Leaders Grow Today” survey claimed to be familiar with company goals, but couldn’t list any specifically.

Close the gap between employee goals and company goals, and build a culture that centers on them. First, educate employees on the company’s mission and values, and make it a focal point in the workplace.

Then, speak with each team member about their personal values and interests, and use them to set individual goals. Explain how these goals contribute to the company’s overall mission, and show them the impact of their hard work.

During the hiring process, talk about the company’s mission with candidates. Ask candidates about their career goals, and show them how they can align with the overall goals of the company.

Accessible leadership

What professionals want: The relationship employees have with leadership is more important to them than you think, the Virgin Pulse study found. Among employees surveyed, 60 percent said their relationships with their employer positively impacts their focus and productivity at work. What’s more, 44 percent said their relationship with their employer positively impacts their stress levels.

Professionals want to connect and work closely with company leadership. Job seekers are looking for a company culture that values employees at every level, where managers and team members work together to achieve their goals.

How to add it to your company culture: Communication is the key to solid relationships between employees and leadership. According to a survey of 1,000 U.S. employees conducted by 15Five, 81 percent of respondents would rather join a company that values open communication than other popular benefits.


Encourage employees to communicate openly and often. Set the tone for the office culture by building relationships with employees based on mutual respect and transparency. Invite team members to discuss any topic, and check in regularly with each employee to discuss and diffuse problems, concerns, and conflicts.

During the hiring process, show your company culture and remain open with candidates. Let them know what to expect from the process, give them feedback in the interview, and keep them updated on their status.

Create an open company culture, where leadership integrates into the team and builds meaningful relationships with each team member.

Financial well-being

What professionals want: Professionals care about money, but their needs go beyond salary. In fact, 40 percent of those surveyed by Virgin Pulse said they wished their employers cared more about their financial well-being.

Employees are stressed about their money, and it’s affecting their work, a survey conducted by SHRM found. Among more than 400 HR professionals surveyed in June 2014, 37 percent indicated that employees had missed work due to a financial emergency.


Financial well-being is an important part of employee satisfaction, and professionals want to work in an environment that helps employees manage their finances and the stress they feel because of it.

How to add it to your company culture: Caring about the financial well-being of employees doesn’t mean paying everyone more — it means the organization helps employees better understand their money.

Although 81 percent of HR professionals surveyed by SHRM said they provide retirement planning and consultations to their employees, a majority don’t provide financial literacy training for investing, financial literacy training for basic budgeting, or credit score monitoring. Offering workshops, education, and tools to help employees better manage their money can ease their stress, and show that you care about finances.

In addition, create a culture in which money and salary are transparent topics. After all, a survey of 71,000 employees conducted by PayScale this year found that a company’s ability to communicate clearly about compensation is one of the top predictors of employee satisfaction.

In the survey, 82 percent of employees who were paid lower than the industry average, but whose employer was open about their salary, were satisfied with their work. In comparison, employees who were overpaid, but didn’t have open conversations about salary,were less likely to be satisfied.

Keep communication about pay open and transparent with employees. Explain what they are paid and what they can do to increase their salaries. In addition, be transparent about salary information during the interview, job offer, and negotiation process, to bring the best talent onboard.

Mental health

What professionals want: Money is a big deal, but it doesn’t mean everything to employees. After their financial well-being, 36 percent of professionals in the Virgin Pulse study said they want their employers to care more about their emotional health.

Stress takes the largest toll on employee’s emotional health. From their daily commutes to their never-ending inboxes to tight deadlines, difficult coworkers and clients, employees encounter stress in nearly every part of their workday.

Job seekers are looking for employers who strive to create stress-free work environments. Professionals want a relaxed office culture where their well-being is valued over the company’s bottom line.

How to add it to your company culture:  Although stress and burnout are major problems in the workplace, the simple solution is often overlooked — taking breaks. Among employees surveyed by Quantum Workplace this year, 76.7 percent said they want time off to recharge, but just 45.3 percent of employers provide that perk. In addition, 71.1 percent said they want stress-relief breaks such as naps, massages or required breaks, but only 28.4 percent of employers offer sufficient break time.

Encourage employees to take regular breaks during the workday, and suggest that they take some time off after a stressful period. Create a nap space, bring in a massage therapist once a month, or chase employees away from their desks a few times a day, to create a low-stress environment and ease the minds of your hard-working team.

One of the most stressful parts of the day is the commute to and from work. And many employees find that when they reduce the stress from their commute they are more productive, according to a survey conducted by FlexJobs in August.


In the survey, 97 percent of respondents said a job with flexibility would have a positive impact on their overall quality of life, while 87 percent said that flexibility would lower their stress levels.

To create a culture that values work life balance and mental well-being, allow employees the freedom to determine when and where they work. Flexible working hours should be just that — flexible. One set arrangement won’t fit everyone’s lifestyle. Give employees a few options, whether that involves working from home full- or part-time, setting their own hours, or a mixture of both.

Healthy lifestyle

What professionals want: Employees are taking a greater interest in their health, and they want their employers to help them make better choices. Among employees surveyed by Virgin Pulse, 28 percent ranked maintaining good health as the top factor influencing their overall well-being and happiness at work.


Employees want to work for companies who value health and fitness, and work in an environment that helps them reach their personal health goals — not one that sets them back.

How to add it to your company culture: Professionals are aiming to improve their diets and increase their exercise, and want an employer and coworkers who support their decisions. Free food and snacks are trendy perks, but employees are more concerned with the quality of the food they eat. In the Quantum Workplace survey, 73.7 percent of employees surveyed said they want their employer to provide healthy cafeteria and vending options, yet just 45.6 percent of employers are doing so.


Avoiding the temptation of the cake in the office break room is difficult enough — give employees healthy alternatives to make the choice easier. In addition to providing healthy food options, encourage team members to bring in healthy recipes to try and swap. Doing so will position health and wellness as an important part of your company culture.

Exercise should also be included in a culture that values healthy lifestyles. While 50.5 percent of employees say they want an onsite fitness center, accommodating that desire isn’t possible for every organization. But many employees really just need more time to workout in their busy schedules — 49.8 percent said they want time for healthy activities at work.

Allow employees to take workout breaks during the day. Bring the whole team together by bringing in fitness professionals to lead group exercise classes and other activities, a few days a week. Organize after-hour or weekend physical activities, to encourage your employees to get active and show them you are invested in their health.

Understanding what job seekers want in a company culture can help you to craft a work environment new talent is excited about and current employees love.

How does your company culture attract new talent? Let us know in the comments below!

Josh Tolan

Josh Tolan is the Founder and CEO of Spark Hire, a video interviewing platform used by 6,000+ customers in over 100 countries.