Landing your dream job not only means pursuing your passion, but it’s also about the people you work with. Company culture plays a huge role in making a career decision. In fact, it can affect your productivity and well-being since, let’s be honest, you’re spending most of your day at work. Learning about your company’s culture can help you see if your company aligns with your core values and long-term goals.
To dive deeper into this, we spoke with Cathy Holley-Ordoña, AXA Philippines Human Resources Director. With her 20 years of experience as an HR professional, she enlightened us on how company culture can affect employees and their well-being. Here’s what we learned:
Why company culture matters
Cathy defines company culture as an organization’s set of values, actions, behavior, strategy, goals, and ways of working that are shared among its employees. It’s an extremely crucial factor that dictates the overall employer-employee dynamics.
“Your core values, your beliefs, and your behaviors are something innate in you. And it’s easier to thrive in an organization where it actually resonates,” explains Cathy. “So, when you are in an environment that is different or with a company that has a culture that goes against your core values, you will face challenges and issues, and even deal with mental, emotional, psychological, and physical stress.”
“Your core values, your beliefs, and your behaviors are something innate in you. And it’s easier to thrive in an organization where it actually resonates.”
So, how can you determine a company’s culture when you’re applying for a job? Cathy shares two practical ways: getting in touch with that company’s current employees and researching thoroughly online.
“Because of technology and social media, you’re now able to read and learn a lot about a company. For us at AXA, we have our Employer Promise, which is an articulation of how we will support our employees. AXA is a place to grow your potential, to shape the way you work, to thrive within a diverse community, and to move the world forward. These pillars will make you realize your potential to drive progress.”
Cathy reminds us that while researching ahead can do us a favor, we should also learn to anticipate change once we agree to work at a company. There will be times when management decides to change their strategy and structure which can affect the culture in the organization. This is where you’ll need to continuously assess whether or not the company is still aligned with your goals, values, and beliefs. She says, “In our role as HR, we help employees to realize the factors that affect the culture. We encourage them to regularly assess themselves and share their feedback. After fully understanding the concerns, it’s easier to pinpoint what we need to work on as a company.”
Thriving in a work-from-home setup
The pandemic has prompted a lot of companies to shift to a work-from-home setup, which has brought a new set of challenges. Cathy begins by saying, “Let’s face it, now that people are working from home, it’s sometimes difficult to separate work from their personal affairs.” She continues, “You are at the comfort of your home, you can lose track of time and work non-stop. So, stress and burnout are probably heightened.”
To provide support to employees and help create healthy boundaries, AXA has proactively introduced ways to connect and engage with its employees online. Their goals are to continuously promote a sense of belonging among their employees and continue providing opportunities that will support personal and professional growth, despite being apart. One of the initiatives Cathy highlighted is Employee Week which celebrates the people behind AXA’s success—its employees. Various activities are in store for employees such as motivational talks and activities that allow them to pursue their passions.
“We want to make everyone feel that they belong, that they are part of a community, they are part of a family.”
Then, there's also Family Week where employees can invite their families to join different sessions and activities. “We want to make everyone feel that they belong, that they are part of a community, they are part of a family. And celebrating activities with employees and their families is something that we’re very open and proud to have,” Cathy gladly shares.
Putting employees first
According to Cathy, AXA has various approaches to checking in with its employees. There’s the frequent employee pulse survey, where employees “can share suggestions, concerns, what they like, what they don’t like, what drives them, and what motivates them.” There are also the company values that empower employees to directly talk to their respective HR business partners and leaders, as well as the Employee Assistance Program where employees who are not too comfortable with talking to their colleagues are free to reach out to life coaches and medical professionals. By doing these employee check-ins, “there’s the basis for our people programs and initiatives because it’s the voice of our employees from those touchpoints,” Cathy says.
As an AXA employee herself, Cathy reveals: “It’s a tough environment because you’ll really feel that you’re being pushed to drive your capabilities. But at the same time, I had to make myself ready, because personally, I wanted to learn and achieve more. There’s hunger, passion, and excitement from my end. And the anchor that supported me to go through that challenge was the people I work with. If it wasn't for them, I can’t imagine how I’ll succeed.”
“Work has been rewarding because of the sense of fulfillment I get by helping team members, helping our employees, and at the same time, learning from the experience.”
Cathy makes it a point that when she supports employees, it impacts company culture. She encourages employees to feel empowered to do their part in expressing their needs and concerns so management can better assess the situation and figure out ways to support them.
Finally, when asked about career advice any employee should learn by now, Cathy reiterates: “There’s no guarantee that the next company you’ll join will give you a better, stress-free, and perfect experience. You can anticipate but never be able to tell 100% if it’s right for you—so recognize the company culture, assess against your core values, embrace it, and make it work.”
Planning to take the next leap in your career? AXA Philippines offers various opportunities for job seekers like you. You can expect that the company will do its part to make you feel included and support your growth—as a professional and as an individual.