Sustain issue #63 (Get Sustain in your inbox next Thursday)
A Sustain reader reached out to me recently on LinkedIn and asked how to identify a company that cares about employee well-being when on the job hunt.
On the surface, it might seem like you have to choose between high pay/lower quality of life or less pay/higher quality of life. And in many instances that might be true. But there are companies where you can find the middle of that spectrum – earn well and live well.
Here’s how I would answer the question. Approached both from the perspective of research you can do before engaging & interviewing with a company.
Before engaging with a company
Talk with any contacts you know //
Search LinkedIn and your network to see if you know people or if people in your network can introduce you to second-degree connections so you can hear more about the culture.
Use tools like Glassdoor //
Search reviews to see what employees say about the quality of life. If the company is large enough, make sure to filter results for your potential department and/or location as cultural norms can vary between locations/departments.
I’d say it’s worth looking at sites like Blind, but they tend to amplify the negative vocal minority. So it’s potentially good info to know but maybe not a place to 100% base a decision on.
Research the people //
Look up executives and employees of the company on LinkedIn. Since many companies have invested in executive presence on social media, scroll through to see what these people are talking about. Clue in to see if they are posting about taking care of their employees and how they are doing so.
Google ‘XYZ company culture’ //
This Google search can reveal a lot. It will aggregate data from large sites like Glassdoor and Indeed. It will surface news articles where the company may have been featured. And it will bring up awards the company may have won (CAUTION: Many ‘Best Place to Work’ awards are pay-to-play).
Check to see if the company produces an ESG report //
This is a relatively new report popular with companies in Europe and growing in the U.S. where companies share their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) metrics. I view this as the report on how much the company cares about what matters.
Probe on quality of life during interviews //
Be sure to ask questions during the interview process that probe into burnout factors like quality of life, the ability for growth, and the trust leadership has in employees. Be sure not to ask the blanket question about how the work-life balance is. Ask more specific questions like: Can you log off during nights/weekends/PTO, how are new priorities handled when you already have a full plate, can you to a break in the middle of the day, etc.
Take advantage of peer interviews //
If you’re interviewing with somebody who is a peer and will share the same boss as you, understand what the hyper-local norms of that team look like. While it’s important to know the overall company culture and culture of your department, nothing is more important than the day-to-day culture of the culture at the team level you stand to join. Probe to understand if they are engaged, find some meaning in their work, and feel supported not micromanaged by the potential new boss.
For example, I know that I have the best quality of life I’ve ever had in my role right now. But I also know people within my department may feel differently. A culture of well-being may look very different from one manager to another so get the best perspective of the norms of your future team.
If you get an offer, request to interview your boss //
After I’ve received my last two offers, I’ve asked the recruiter to help me set up a 30-min call with my potential future boss to ask a few more questions I didn't have time for. This call is critical as it shifts you into the lead position for the conversation and makes sure you get all the info you need to make a decision that’s right for you. Remember, interviewing is to make sure the fit is good on both sides. I typically use this call to ask more specific questions about expectations, team structure, team norms, etc once the conversation moves from hypothetical to real.
This section to be continued next week as this call is critical and there’s lots more to explore…
Ready to downsize your relationship with work and quit burnout?
Hi, I'm Grant Gurewitz. I'm on a mission to eliminate burnout at work. I've been in tech for 10 years (ex-Zillow, current: Qualtrics) and suffered deep burnout and came back from it even though I never found a playbook for doing so. So, I'm writing it myself.
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