Last week I wrote a post questioning the term “employee engagement.” I wasn’t so much questioning the validity of pursuing employee engagement as really questioning if employee engagement problems aren’t just a symptom of problems we’ve been seeing in organizations for years.
After reading the post a reader of mine emailed me with a great question that led to this post:
Melissa, how can I find out before I start work, if a company really cares about its employees regardless if they call it engagement or something else?
Great question. How do you get past the slick marketing materials and sunshine smooth interview smiles to determine if a company actually cares about its employees?
I can answer that based on the assumption that a company that cares about its employees has a robust HR group that actively partners with the business. I know there are a probably a million examples of companies that don’t have an HR group that still care about their employees but my audience is HR pro’s who need HR jobs at companies that have HR departments. We can tackle the tech companies, such as Instagram, that have no HR team at a later date.
A few suggestion gathered from my experience and fellow HR colleagues:
The Job Posting
“I can tell a stinker by the job description…The company’s website is also [a] great indication.” -Chris Fields, The Resume Crusade
“If they use words like strategic or innovative then the group is looking for more than just a policy policeman. If they give me words like seasoned generalist or compliance guru – they want someone to push paper.” – Sabrina Baker, Acacia HR Solutions
How do your future co-workers treat you during the process? This is true for any job search. The interview stage is kind of like dating. Everything is new and exciting. If the interview process is crappy, it doesn’t bode well for you once you have the job.
Who do you interview with? In a company where HR aligns itself with the business line, many positions will interview with business line leaders or partners. If the HR team doesn’t discuss the importance of working with the business and/or you don’t interview with someone in the business line you should consider that a red flag.
Don’t Talk Just to the HR Team
This great tip comes from Victorio Milian. He also suggests talking with Line Managers and employees. You should also research the industry and review the company’s standing within the industry. This is critically important to understand the business environment and the pressures the company faces.
Take Benefits with a Grain of Salt
It seems like I can’t open Fast Company without reading about the latest company offering great benefits like free food, free healthcare, nap pods, paid family leave and Ping-Pong tables. Many of us equate generous benefits with a company that cares about its employees.
I have to disagree.
Generous benefits are a sign of deep pockets. Companies that offer those kinds of benefits are competing for talent that lives and breathes their work 24/7. How else do you recruit an employee that already loves their work, is self-motivated and doesn’t have to be paid overtime for working 41 hours a week? One way is to create fun campuses and provide benefits that most of us can only dream of.
Before you get all judgy keep in mind that companies have to account for a number of factors when deciding a benefits package: size of the company, financial health, industry and competition to name a few things. Some industries may not have to pay 100% of benefits cost to recruit talent, it doesn’t mean they don’t care about their employees it just means they are allocating their resources differently.
What do you think? How can you tell if a company cares about its employees?