All Careers

How to Find a Job You Love (That Loves You Back)

February 21, 2024

Written by an ICCU team member.

I’ll let you in on a lil’ Green Team secret. Employees at Idaho Central Credit Union love their jobs because of the great benefits. But we love our work because we get to be part of movements that directly make others’ lives better. Big or small, ICCU team members get a chance to do it all — from volunteering at local nonprofits to lobbying for better personal finance education and legislation.

If you’ve spent much time in Idaho or eastern Washington, you’ve probably witnessed it yourself. You’ve seen the iconic Green Machine Jeeps pull up at community events and the phrase “Sponsored by ICCU” scattered throughout your town. Maybe you’ve even stumbled across a flock of green-clad, smiling people at your nearby food bank. (ICCU employees clocked in over 36,000 volunteer hours and attended 1,600 community events in 2023 alone!)

It’s easy to brush all that off as some impressive marketing efforts. Honestly, as a marketer myself, I wish I could tell you that was true. I remember when I was hired, a family member joked, “ICCU must put something in their water. Why else have I never seen their employees frown?”

But I’m not here to sell you on the sunshine and butterflies of Idaho Central.

I’m here because I care, and as a natural skeptic of all corporate cultures, I was a pretty hard sell. But if I can find a job with a culture of caring, you can too.

The #1 Sign of a Fulfilling Workplace: Sincerity

Once upon a time, John Doe found a job at XYZ Company. On his first day, a sudden change came over him, and *poof*, he wholeheartedly believed in his company’s mission. Just like that, he knew his purpose in life. He woke up every day fulfilled by his career and lived happily ever after.

Wait, that’s not how it happened for you? You mean you didn’t wake up in a fairytale on your first day of work? Yeah, me neither.

But I, like most of the Green Team, quickly began to believe in ICCU’s mission of helping members achieve financial success — and I attribute it to the ripple effect.

Let me explain. I care because my manager cares. She works hard to take care of the team and our members, so I do too. My manager cares because her manager cares, who cares because his manager cares. Continue that pattern all the way to the CEO, and you’ve got yourself a ripple effect.

Sincerity starts at the center and ripples out until it reaches so many employees that it naturally becomes part of the culture.

Why sincerity works

Don’t get me wrong, a lot of intentional effort goes into our culture here at ICCU. A fulfilling workplace doesn’t just magically appear — it must be crafted and maintained. But if the effort isn’t anchored in sincerity, that carefully curated culture falls flat.

On the flip side, because I know that my boss and my boss’s boss look at their work as an opportunity to do good, I’m constantly aware that I’m not just here for a paycheck. And that right there is why sincerity is the lynch pin in corporate cultures. It’ll make or break you.

Other Ways to Find a Job with a Sincere Work Culture

Good work cultures aren’t built on watercooler talk and staff birthday parties alone. Now that practically every company touts the “We’re like a family here” cliché, you have to do a little digging to find a job with a sincere company culture. Whether you’re neck deep in applications, got your eye on a specific position, or just curious about how your current job stacks up, look for evidence of sincerity in three main areas: the customers, the team, and yourself.

Evidence #1: Customers love the atmosphere

People like spending time around happy, productive people. It’s as simple as that. You can walk into a room and instinctively know if the atmosphere is energetic or draining, and you can bet customers can too. If customers feel naturally buoyed when they walk in, there’s a good chance the employees are genuinely happy, too.

Of course, this looks different depending on what you do for a living. If you have, or are looking for, a customer-facing job, spend time with or around the customers to gauge how they feel walking into that business. Compare their moods to customers at other businesses. But there’s a caveat: Only compare businesses in the same industry or you won’t get an accurate view. (It’s a bit easier to hop and skip into an amusement park with a smile than at a tax preparer’s office, for example.)

If you work remotely or don’t see customers on a regular basis, no worries. Back office and back-of-house positions still serve customers, except the customers are the other employees your position supports. As a marketer, for instance, my job exists in part to make sure other ICCU departments get the marketing items they need when they need it. Sounds like a customer, no?

Evidence #2: Team member opinions are heard and expressed healthily

Does your job regularly ask for feedback from employees? If so, how often and in how much depth? People who care what you think will ask what you think.

Keep your eyes peeled for surveys — both internal and external — and one-on-one meetings (1:1s). Studies show that managers who don’t regularly hold 1:1s (or who see them as a burden) are more likely to have employees who feel disconnected from their work and team. As the Harvard Business Review puts it, “The best managers recognize that 1:1s are not an add-on to their role — they’re foundational to it.”

Keep in mind that when I say feedback, I don’t mean complaint. Stay away from potential jobs and coworkers who air their frustrations without any intention of fixing the issue. At that point, it’s not venting; it’s just negativity.

If you’re about to interview for a job, hit them with one of these questions to get a better feel for their feedback process:

  • “How does team member feedback influence your team’s culture?”
  • “How are new ideas implemented throughout the company?”
  • “How does your team deal with interpersonal conflict when it arises?”
  • “How would you describe day-to-day stress levels of your team?”

Evidence #3: You feel like you got the better end of the deal

Whether you’re looking for a job or looking to make your job better, it all comes down to you. Psychologist and professor Dr. Gottman suggests that five positive interactions carry the same weight as one negative interaction, and that with a little effort, you can make that ratio work for you.

The first sign your ratio is out of balance: You roll out of bed every morning dreading work. If that’s you, take a few days to record your work interactions. How many are positive versus negative? In each of those interactions, do you react positively or negatively, or are you ambivalent?

The goal here is to see how your average day stacks up. Odds are you won’t finish a single day of work without at least one negative experience, but that’s okay. So long as the general mood trends upward (positivity breeds positivity, after all) and you’re not the main source of negativity, you’re in the clear. If that’s not the case, ask yourself what small changes you can make to increase your team’s overall positivity. If, after everything is said and done, that doesn’t work either, it may be time for you to find a new job — one that works for you.

The Bottom Line on Finding a Job You Love

Work isn’t always fun, but it doesn’t have to suck, either. If culture is important to you, it’s time to make it non-negotiable. That doesn’t mean you have to quit your job or hold out until you find the perfect one — it means that if culture is important to you, it’s time to make it a priority. Look for small ways to improve the way you experience the work culture around you, and you may be surprised to find a job that has good bones.

If you’re on the hunt for a job with a sincere work culture, I can’t recommend Idaho Central enough. The benefits are unparalleled, but more importantly, the Green Team cares. We care about our members, our coworkers, and our communities. Curious to see first-hand what kind of difference sincerity can make? Click the button below to learn more about joining ICCU.

Idaho Central Credit Union is an Equal Opportunity Employer.