When it comes to establishing employee benefits, companies have no shortage of imagination. We’ve seen everything from craft beer taps and ping pong tables, to on-site barbers and valet parking. While these offerings certainly sound impressive, do you really care about them?
In my experience, these types of perks can attract talent, but never retain it. This is especially true considering how much the World of Work has evolved in recent years. More than free food and gym memberships, today’s employees want to work for companies that communicate a meaningful purpose, have diverse leadership teams, prioritize ethical and social responsibility, and lead their industries through innovation and change.
And the COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated this. Last year brought agile, compassionate companies to the forefront; those that have shown they prioritize safety and transparency during difficult times are winning talent.
As companies strive to deliver against these new expectations, individuals will have to make tough decisions about where they want to work — and why. With that in mind, here are some steps you can take to figure out what values you care about most, and if your potential employer feels the same way.
Set Clear Goals
Whether your career is just beginning or you’re looking for a change of pace, it’s important that you take stock of your personal, professional, and financial goals before checking out the latest job postings. This will not only identify what your motivations are, but can also help you determine if a company’s values align with your own.
To create an Individual Scorecard, you need to reflect on the following:
Your Professional Objectives
Think about the type of work that you’re most passionate about. Do you like collaborating with others or do you value autonomy? Do you want to work at a startup, a multinational, or a Fortune 100 company? How come? The positions you want to hold and the environments you want to work in are directly tied to the values that you care most about.
Job search tip: Try reaching out to people in roles that interest you. They can provide valuable insight and paint a picture of what a particular job entails.
Your Personal Objectives
Consider the impact a new role or company will have on your life outside of the office. An employer with a “work hard, play hard” attitude may not be the best fit if you want to volunteer at your local animal shelter or watch your kid’s soccer game after your last meeting of the day. People often refer to work-life balance, but for me it’s about building one cohesive life that motivates and satisfies you. In order to do this, it’s critical to find a company that supports your personal ambitions.
Job search tip: Find out what employees and other candidates think about a company by looking at review sites like Glassdoor. If what they have to say matches your scorecard, there’s a good chance that the organization upholds the same values as you.
Your Financial Objectives
Think about your desired financial state beyond your base salary. Is it your dream to support your kids through college, purchase a second home, or retire at a certain age? Setting specific monetary goals will enable you to see how a prospective employer may help you achieve them.
Job search tip: Create a hypothetical budget based on the financial goals you set. This will let you see what your salary is used for — and how much extra you need to support the lifestyle you want today and in the future.
Know Your Purpose
In addition to setting goals, it’s important for you to reflect on your past and current work experiences. You should be able to explain the reasons you’re looking for a new position. Are you frustrated with your boss’s leadership or lack thereof? Are you unhappy with your pay or benefits? Is there specific experience you’d like to gain?
When it comes to applying for jobs and evaluating prospective employers, individuals that have a clear “why” or purpose have a significant advantage — and are much better equipped to identify which companies are evolving along with the World of Work.
Ask Hard Questions
If you really want to know whether a company’s values align with your own, ask about them — job interviews aren’t meant to be one sided. Whether you want to be direct or subtly gain insight about an employer, here are a few questions to keep in your back pocket:
- What are the company’s core values?
- How long have you been working at the company?
- How has the company changed since you joined?
- What keeps you here?
- What do you like most about working here? What do you like least?
- Is this a new position, or am I replacing someone?
- What are some of the traits I will need to be successful in this role?
- What opportunities exist for professional development?
When Values Align, Success Will Follow
Slack’s “State of Work” report revealed that employees not only want to understand their company’s vision — but contribute to it. In addition, their survey of 17,000 employees showed that 90% of “aligned workers,” those who feel connected to their company’s values, know what they need to do to succeed, and 75% feel empowered to make decisions.
In the grand scheme of things, those feelings will get you a lot further than superficial perks ever could, so make sure you take the time to figure out what values you care about most before accepting a new opportunity.