Company Culture Can Make or Break Your Creative Career

Posted by Tessa Wegert on February 26, 2016

For marketers, designers, writers and communications specialists, finding a company culture that fosters creativity is a must.

Think about it: you spend an average of 8 to 10 hours per day for 5 days a week immersed in an organization’s unique atmosphere. It’s where you do the majority of your work, and where you seek inspiration for your creative projects. Therefore, and because company culture influences everything from productivity to employee happiness, it’s vital to verify that your employer is a good fit.

But how can you be sure, especially when you’re about to accept a new job? You have limited time and opportunity during the interview process to gauge what working for a potential employer is really like. And it isn’t always easy to know what to look for.

These three primary aspects of company culture are a great place to start:


As a creative, you want to align yourself with an employer that prizes values such as individuality, quality, ambition and other creative personality traits. By valuing these things, companies can create a climate of ideas that leads to growth and innovation for all involved. That’s where you can shine.

Some values are more distinctive than others. San Diego-based marketing and advertising agency Red Door Interactive prioritizes employee recognition and open communication—but that’s not all. “Our most popular core value is ‘100 percent jerk-free,’ which dictates a culture of open-minded acceptance and respect 100 percent of the time,” Red Door says. The company feels so strongly about this mantra that it’s written on the wall.


This spirit of kinship and collaboration is reflected in Red Door’s offices, which include spaces you’d normally see in a house, like a family room and attic; and—ironically—feature very few doors. There’s even an amphitheater for truly open team and company meetings.



Where you work might be as important as who you work for. In a story on the science of the ideal workplace to achieve optimal levels of creativity, Fast Company recommended ambient noise levels and low lighting. In San Francisco, software developer Dropbox’s headquarters includes a dimly-lit music room complete with a grand piano.


Fast Company also points to the value of having two desks: a neat and tidy one for busywork like emailing, and a disorderly one, which studies have shown can boost creativity. Meanwhile, companies like AOL, Google and GlaxoSmithKline have all introduced standing desks into their offices (even the White House put in an order). Research shows that standing desks can improve productivity and collaboration, and even boost employee energy.

Many employers are now receptive to allowing their staff to shape not just the workspace, buthow they create. “Some people create with crayons, some with computers, some have got to get up and write on the wall,” one senior manager told Inc. Magazine. “If you go into a conference room with white boards and watch, there are certain people who, unless forced, will never write on the wall… but if you put paper on the table, they start doodling.”


Work-Life Balance

Global consultancy Accenture has reported that more than half of North American employees consider work-life balance to be the “key determiner” for a successful career, even above money and professional recognition. Work-life balance can mean anything from having plenty of time for family, to time for hobbies, to getting enough rest, so it’s vital that you know how your potential employer defines it before signing on.

Companies that prioritize happiness and talent retention will make sure their employees can achieve this by offering flex time, the opportunity to work remotely or something altogether unique—like collaborating over a four-mile hike rather than spending hours in a conference room. Others offer back-up daycare services on-site, so workers never need worry if their primary child care falls through.

Attaining work-life balance applies to personal projects as well. Few employees are satisfied applying their creativity to their corporate jobs alone; ask around, and you’ll likely find your peers are working on everything from novels to knitting businesses on the side. Look for companies that recognize their workers’ needs to express their creativity in multiple ways, and that provide plenty of chances to do it.

Your Takeaway

Whether you’re assessing your current employer or looking to make a change, consider company culture more carefully. Find one that values the same things you value, provides an environment where you can excel and encourages work-life balance. More than anything, including salary, these critical aspects of company culture can make or break your workplace happiness—and your career.

We can connect you to a great creative or marketing job in a fitting culture.

At Paladin, we can help coordinate that next job interview for you. Prepare your creative leave-behinds today and apply online.

Send us your resume to be on your way.

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