Is your family life askew, or you’re overwrought from work? Does reading a good book, watching a silly sitcom or even making time for your annual dental exam sound far-fetched? If so, you may need to recalibrate. While often defined ambiguously, work-life balance can be clarified and managed through several action steps.
1. Start by making a list of what work-life balance means to you. For example, do you have the option to:
- Work from home
- Work flexible hours
- Work longer hours Monday through Thursday, but get Friday off
- Take advantage of child-care and/or workout facilities offered by your company
You get the drift. Identify your work-life priorities and then research companies that promote them. One trick is finding what your target companies’ employees, or past employees, are saying. Online resources are readily available to help you ferret out what’s good and what’s bad.
2. Research Companies on Glassdoor. First, click on Glassdoor’s Companies and Reviews page. Then, type in ‘work life’ and see what comes up. In this example, an Olympic Aviation Employee described their job as the ‘perfect job’ for employees who have a lot of things to take care of at home. They not only describe the pros of working for this organization, but the cons, too. So, you’ll want to weigh both in as you excavate your list of companies.
Another tip is to click on Glassdoor’s Jobs tab and type in ‘Work Life’ and thousands of jobs come up, touting their work-life balance.
3. Review Social Media Posts. Additionally, if a company promotes a good work-life balance, then monitoring employees’ online interactions may be helpful-Tweets and Facebook posts can be revealing. If more than one person from the same company waxes “un”poetic about their day-to-day work-life, that may be a red flag. As well, review the company’s Facebook fan page, their blog, their employees’ LinkedIn profiles and other public profiles and musings and examine the content and conversations. Does the company interact well with their customers? Do they offer an upbeat, collegial tone? Do they promote their employees and team members on their site? Do they seem to care about more than the bottom line? Overall, do you like what you see, and is the tone in sync with what you feel mirrors a work-life balanced company?
4. Contact People Who Work at Your Target Company. Tap into Glassdoor’s Inside Connections tool to uncover Facebook friends who may work at your company of choice. Engage them through a private message, email or phone (or both). Ask for an honest assessment, specifically in the area of work-life balance. As well, don’t ignore your in-real-life friends and social circles; tell them about your search for a work-life balanced company and ask whom they have heard offers a great work-life-balance combination.
5. Ask Good Questions At the Interview. While I don’t recommend being too focused on the work-life balance topic during the initial interview date (that’s where you want to focus more on the value YOU offer), I would recommend you ask good questions that would help vet symptoms of good or bad work-life conditions. For example, you can ask:
- Can you tell me why this position is open?
- What do people seem to like most/least about working here?
- What are the core values and culture of the organization?
- Are there any issues or concerns that the new person should be aware of?
- What excites you about this job?
- What do you like most about this company?
- What do you like least about this company?
- What are misconceptions people have about the company?
Then, after a positive interview connection is established and/or during a follow-up interview where you are closer to the offer stage, you might dive a bit deeper with questions such as:
- Does the company encourage work-life balance as a ‘retention strategy?’ If so, how?
- How feasible would it be to work flexible hours as long as I achieve my 8-9 hours per day and reach my goals? … Or, work from home 1-2 days per week? … Or, whatever your priorities for work-life balance are. [Note: Tread lightly here, and only address this question if the fit feels right]
As you can see, unearthing companies with good work-life balance is possible with a bit of digging. The bottom line in today’s competitive job search is less about putting companies’ toes to the fire as to their work-life balance offerings, but more about seeking out those companies with work-life styles that you know, going in, fit your work-life balance expectations.