“What Does Culture Mean to You?” — Software Developers Respond
Below are surveyed developer’s raw responses to the question, “What does culture mean to you?” While sorting through the data, we found a few buckets in which these responses fell.
The responses are categorized below. For more insight into developers, download the developer report here.
It’s About Leadership
“Knowing what kind of decision to make in a tough situation; one that aligns with what the company/founders would do.”
“To me, it means the philosophy of the leadership in why they do what they do, and why we as a company do what we do.”
“What the leadership does to ensure a safe, rewarding work environment that maintains high morale and reduces attrition.”
“What we as an organization choose to work on, build or foster. Whether that be a project, people, or ideas.”
It’s About the People
“Culture means having people who respect each other and are kind to each, encourage one another. Also, a team that encourages work-life balance. Socially, mostly everyone gets along and cares about one another, but also cares a ton about what they’re working on and how they build it.”
“The relationship in a team and the things done as a routine inside of the company.”
“The quality of employees, the amount of flexibility in the work schedule, the quality of work sponsored events, the freedom to work when and where I desire, company morals that align with mine.”
“Culture applies to the people who work in the company, how they feel about the company and what they expect from their colleagues. To build a challenging but supportive environment in which employees and grow while delivering high-quality products while making money would be ideal for company culture.
“Culture is all about the people at a company, and how they treat each other. Good culture means people are treated well and not just like resources to management.
“How co-workers interact with one another and how management interacts with workers. Company social outings, professional growth opportunities.
“The ‘feeling’ of working with other people. Is it positive, negative, collaborative, etc The culture of the company can be affected by a lot of things, but in the end, it is how everyone feels about being there.
“A culture where everyone can be uniquely themselves and each person brings something to the team and the team can adapt and grow together. No person left behind.
“To me, culture means all the myriad ways the people in a workplace treat others. This includes how they collaborate, socialize, respect, and support each other from junior to senior positions.
“People you work with, the ability to weigh in on arguments, feeling valued for your feedback, mentoring developers.
“Culture is the social environment of a company. It’s a combination of the attitudes and habits of rank and file employees and the priorities and direction set by leadership.
“It’s a bond you create with your team, just like a troop of soldiers will bond from being on the front line. When you have that feeling that you’re part of a group that is working together towards 1 goal, you don’t want to let anyone down. You are excited to join your team and start working on a problem. On the opposite end when the team doesn’t gel (or your turnover is so high you never connect with anyone) things grind to a halt and work becomes tedious.”
“How interaction with team/work looks day-to-day — am I being treated fairly/with respect? Is the work meaningful in some way (learning something new, creating useful/accessible tech…)?”
“How the employees are treated and treat each other.”
“Work environment including goals, coworker interactions, leadership, values.”
“The recognition of each individual, their needs, and the willingness of the company to adapt as needed.”
Trust & Autonomy
“Too many things to really put into this little text box. It’s a whole bunch of fun words like autonomy and authority and not having to ask for permission because people trust you.
“The general tone and behavior of leadership have a huge impact on culture. Leadership that treats their employees as robots/children leads to a very dry a boring workplace. Trusting employees to get the work done while also engaging in some unrelated (to the work) distractions from time to time makes for a great culture and a place to work. Fellow colleagues will also impact the quality of the culture, of course.
“Whether you can trust your peers and management to do a good job, support you when needed, help you understand what you can do better, and help you align your professional goals with company goals.
It’s About Values
“The overall values of the organization and focus on either getting things done or having a process.
“What are the values that are upheld by the people at the company? The same way you’d describe how different groups of friends might behave.
“The values that a group holds and the framework in which they interact with each other and other groups/individuals.
“The shared values and principles across the people in the leaders and workers of the company, the customs, traditions, viewpoints, and objectives.
“The values of the company and how that’s reflected in my coworkers’ attitudes. How well people work together, and how willing people are to try new things and continually improve.
“What behaviors and attitudes are valued, normalized, and rewarded (tangibly or socially).
It’s the Bigger Picture
“Culture is somewhat intangible to me, but I’d describe it as the overall “feel” of the company and team. Do the connections between employees feel genuine and human or are they forced? Are there actual company traditions that people like to participate in, or are there just cheesy morning lightning questions and awkward happy hours? For me, the companies that actually have that right “feel” to them are the ones with good culture.
“The accumulation of the views and insights of the entire company (and whether or not the company takes them into account), no matter the position.
“The culmination of happiness, satisfaction, and general alignment of work among the company.
“The overall vibe of the company — how people treat each other, how many hours are expected of the team, making sure to keep the work daylight, having fun.
“The soul of the company.”
“How you foster the development and happiness of your employees, how you present yourself to the public, what you prioritize with company funding/revenue
“The talk becomes the walk. “We have a good work/life balance” becomes “hey why are you submitting code at night?”
“The collective personalities surrounding the mission of the company.
“The unspoken habits of a collective of individuals that drives how.
“Culture is the intangible atmosphere of how the company operates. It is the attitude all the workers have about the company and the expectations management has for the workers.
“The ability to grow and improve as an organization. Having fun. Respecting people without getting wrapped up in faux diversity.
“Culture is the intangibles of a team. A culture of fear is vastly different than a culture of support.
What do you Want in Company Culture?
The following are some of the best responses to what developers are looking for in company culture.
- Engineering — Making technology choices that reduce risk, based on merit and empirical evidence.
- Employees — Enthusiastic people working together. Constructive criticism is welcomed.
- Teams — Build teams that need minimal oversight; give them freedom and responsibility.
- Company — Compensates employees well. Recognizes the employees getting work done and rewards with pay raise. Flexible hours. Not looking to squeeze extra overtime hours out of its employees.
- Social — Let’s play some yard games to give our brains a break from that cognitive load, so we’re recharged when we sit back down at a keyboard.
- Environmental — Commitment to values aligning with minimizing climate change. Let’s shorten those commute times.
“A place you can be yourself, be wrong, learn from it and it’s okay.”
“As a remote worker, most of my interactions are over Slack and Zoom. For me, culture is… Having lively, interesting Slack channels on professional and non-professional subjects. Supporting people in new/difficult roles.”
“Work/life balance, and a fun light-hearted atmosphere in the office.
“Caring about people — empathetic policies and practices that promote inclusion, equity, and health in the workplace.
“I really want to be meeting goals and growing as a person with my time, and the right balance of challenge and psychological safety creates a culture where a company can enable employees to do both — grow and thrive.
“Being trusted that I am knowledgeable and competent and given autonomy to build/figure out things on my own.
“Good management fostering clear direction and clear leadership. Friendly, accepting coworkers that want us all to succeed and progress in our careers.
“A good environment where people remember you are human.
“People that care about the quality of the software — from devs to management. And management that cares about their team members and has realistic goals. Harsh deadlines are the absolute worst.
“Team bonding activities, paired programming, employees making an effort to help and mentor.
“A place where I feel good at and comfortable in my own skin, I work with people who challenge me, are kind, and care about the work they do.
“Strong management but not overbearing. Friendly and nice people to work with and have a passion for getting things right.
“Healthy work environment. I enjoy going to work, I don’t dread it or wish for something to be different. No bad co-workers.
“A sense of community among coworkers, where everyone is respectful and open to hearing others’ opinions.
“Getting along with my teammates and feeling like we are actually working together vs competing with each other. A good manager who cares about me, how I’m doing, the amount of work I have to deal with.
“A company that represents itself from a community standpoint and embodies servitude leadership.
“An environment that is separate from the tasks at hand. The relationships and experiences that are shared outside work.
“I feel comfortable going to anyone on my team or at my company with questions or problems. I enjoy being with my coworkers outside of work and we are honest with each other about things we like and dislike about our work. The company is transparent (where it can be).
“Coworkers look out for each other, consider each other’s feelings, and look for opportunities to help each other improve.
“Good culture means that my values, thoughts, and what I find to be important, are also upheld by others.
“A community of people who share values. In the tech world, to me, this means people who value education and continued learning, a supportive community willing to share knowledge and experiences, a camaraderie amongst peers both in and outside of the workplace, and an opportunity to grow professionally within the company.
“Working with a group of people that care about doing a good job at whatever they’re working on.
“The people I work with and management — how they approach problems and conflict. A good culture has a good diversity of thought and is open to unexpected ideas and will evaluate them fairly.”
These responses are part of a survey project, where we asked software developers about their work, culture, and compensation preferences. Download it below.