Sick of working long hours? Learn how to find a more flexible employer.
Nobody starts a job hunt hoping to land a position that regularly requires 60-hour workweeks. Unfortunately, most companies that disregard work-life balance don’t publicize this information. So it’s up to job seekers to weed them out.
If you’re interviewing for a new position, here’s how to determine whether the employer in question recognizes the importance of personal downtime.
Define “lets you have a life.” Before you head to the interview, get clear on your schedule’s nonnegotiables. Do you need to clock out by 5 p.m. each day to attend classes or feed your kids? Would telecommuting at least one day a week vastly improve your life? How about taking public or company transportation and wrapping up your work during the ride home? Are you willing to answer occasional urgent messages after hours or is that where you draw the line?
Research the company and its leaders. You can learn a lot from company reviews on websites like Glassdoor and Fairygodboss. Check for media write-ups, too. Has the organization won any “best places to work” awards? Gotten any bad press for its personnel practices? Also see the blog and LinkedIn posts of corporate leaders as well as their keynote videos. All can yield valuable clues about the company’s culture.
Talk to past and present employees. Check social media for friends and acquaintances willing to talk to you about their experiences with the company. Ask current employees about their lives outside work. Do they have time for vacations, hobbies and personal projects? Do the parents and other caregivers you talk to feel supported by the company?
Assess the benefits. Your online and offline detective work can unearth a surprising amount of detail about how much paid time off a company provides and whether it offers flexible hours, telecommuting privileges and tuition reimbursement. Note the family-friendly perks too, even if you aren’t a caregiver. When it comes to championing work-life balance, a company with a lactation room, free childcare, paid parental leave or bereavement leave is light years ahead of most U.S. employers.
Ask the right interview questions. Wanting to learn more about a company’s culture during the interview process won’t brand you a slacker. Inquire about the job’s hours and what the typical workweek looks like. Ask whether anyone on the team works remotely and how often they do so. Ask interviewers what they like best about the company culture and what they wouldn’t mind seeing changed.
Dig deeper into extra perks. Free dinners, dry cleaning, game rooms and nap pods may sound enticing at first blush. But amenities like these can also indicate that the company wants to keep you tethered to the office. There’s a big difference between the occasional catered dinner when clients are in town and nightly pizza deliveries.
Don’t wait until you have an offer in hand to pose these questions. An employer that rules you out early on because you’re not interested in routinely working until 10 p.m. isn’t an employer worth pursuing.