All else being equal, if most of us find ourselves choosing between an employer who values work-life balance and one who doesn’t, we’re wise to choose the first. If a company genuinely respects its employees, values their skills and contributions, wants to treat them well and honestly searches for goal alignment (instead of viewing employees as opponents, parasites or obstacles), this will show in the company’s attitude toward personal health and well-being.
A company that respects you is one you want to work for. A company that aims to bend you toward its own purposes and give as little as possible in return is one to avoid. After all, you’re likely to spend at least 40 hours with this company each week, and a little mutual regard goes a long way. Here are a few ways to conduct a work-life balance assessment before you sign on.
Listen for the actual word.
Companies that care about work-life balance use the actual term during the staffing process, and the more often and more respectfully they do so, the more likely they are to take the concept seriously. Watch out for infrequent use, and make note if you hear the term, but it’s embedded in finger quotes or subtly dismissive tones.
Scan your interviewer and other employees in the building.
During your interview, look around, and look closely. Is your interviewer truly enjoying this day, this task, and this job? Are employees in the hallways animated, bright-eyed and friendly? Or are they zoned out and beleaguered? If they seem to enjoy each other’s company and they move at a measured pace with straight backs and smiles, that’s great. If they scramble around and seem irritable or sleep deprived, that’s not so great.
Don’t share your lifestyle or family details (and pay attention if you’re asked).
You may be single, married, childless, raising kids, expecting, a grandparent, engaged, caring for a relative or any of the above, and your family status may be what drives your interest in a balanced life. If so, keep that fact to yourself during interviews. You deserve a balanced and healthy life no matter what your status looks like, and your employer does not need to know (and may NOT legally ask) about the details of your household.
Check reviews on Glassdoor and other popular sites to find out what employees really think of the company and how they rate their relationship and experience. Read between the lines and look for specific references to long hours or disregard for personal time.
For more on how to find a great employer and build a meaningful career, turn to the staffing team at PSU.