Not all jobs are created equal. How can you find out if a company invests in the employee experience?
At one end of the spectrum, there are jobs that cause you to sprint out every day at 5 p.m. Where you sigh and say, "Oh, you know, it pays the bills" whenever anyone asks how you like what you do.
But on the other end, there's the holy grail of jobs. The one that makes you smile when you walk into work, where you're friends with your coworkers and you can repeat your company's mission statement without cringing or laughing.
The obvious answer about how to find the perfect job is to find a role that fits you and involves doing something that you love. But hypothetically, you could have the exact same job — programming, HR, sales, you name it — at two different companies, and one could be miserable while the other is a dream. So where is the difference, and how do you find that holy grail? It's all about the company.
A company with a great employee experience is one that focuses on its culture and employee fulfillment. In the hypey age of ping pong tables and unlimited vacation days though, it can be difficult to distinguish which companies really care about their employees and which ones are just trying to check boxes. Here are a few ways to tell the two apart and choose a company where you can love going into work every day:
What to research online
Look at your potential employer's blog and social media pages. They can show you what's important to the company, including perks they offer, traits employees seem to share, and the general personality of the workplace. For example, take a look at Mailchimp's Instagram page. You might not imagine that an email marketing platform emphasizes aesthetics too much, but their page shows an artistic team that loves simple, beautiful photos with punchy colors. Buffer's Transparency page shows how far they take their transparency value — it applies to everything from their salaries to their revenue. Finally, Lucidchart's Twitter lists new hires and shows team activities like golfing, group breakfasts, and parties.
Don't stop at the company's social pages though. Look at employees' social media activity too. What are your potential coworkers writing on Medium? What sort of photos do they post on Twitter? Are there photos on Instagram tagged at the company's HQ? If employees are proud of their company, they're sure to share it online.
For other first person accounts, try using LinkedIn to look up first- or second-degree connections who have worked at the company you’re considering. Don't ask the generic "how did you like it there?" — instead, ask if they'd recommend working there, what kinds of people are most likely to succeed within the company, and what the best and worst things about the organization's culture are. If you keep it short and sweet, it's a quick ask of your acquaintances and will provide you with actionable insight about what working there is like.
What to look for at the interview
When you get scheduled for your interview, show up a little bit early and observe from the lobby. How do employees interact? Do they work together or are most of them working independently? Are they greeting each other as they walk in? Get a sense of how formally/informally people are dressed and what everyday conversation feels like. Would you fit in there?
It's easy to write policy, but consistently enforcing them and keeping them alive is a different beast. Once you get into the interview, ask for specific examples of policies and employees in similar roles with similar lifestyles to you. For example, instead of asking if you'd be eligible for a promotion after a year, ask for an example of an internal career path for someone who took the job that you're applying for.
Employee experience has been a hot topic for the last few years, and companies have been making an effort to attract new talent and retain their employees by establishing culture and giving themselves personality. To find the company that's a great fit for you will take a bit of research, but it'll be worth it down the road.