Nearly half of adults surveyed are working more than 40 hours a week, according to Ernst and Young’s Global Generations study of 9,700 adults. What employees really want out of companies is flexibility, and an opportunity for better work-life balance.
Understanding a company’s policies and views on work-life balance is important to your success and happiness. You have the opportunity to discover what the flexibility and work-life balance look like before you even begin a job by asking a few key questions:
1. What benefits are focused on work-life balance?
The phrase “flexibility in the workplace” can be interpreted in a million different ways. This is why it’s necessary to directly ask interviewers what benefits are included in the job description that ensure work-life balance.
Does the company have mental health benefits, unlimited paid vacation days, or physical fitness allowances? All of these can indicate varying focuses on employees’ well-being and balance.
2. Can you walk me through your typical work day?
Get a closer glimpse by asking the interviewer to walk you through their own typical work day. If a day for the interviewer is jam-packed with meetings, tasks, a quick bite to eat while responding to emails, and attempting to end before the workday hits hour 10, it’s a good sign the balance might not be there.
3. What are your views on goals, timelines, and measuring success?
Employers who are focused on hours worked tend to hold the reigns tight when it comes to tracking hours, and not giving way to flexibility. Leaders who are goal oriented focus on the quality of work and not how many hours it takes to reach the goals. In reality, this may mean you need to work extra hours at times to meet deadlines, but a more flexible schedule is likely achievable with a results-oriented boss.
4. What’s the company policy on telecommuting?
Being able to complete work where you’re most productive and efficient is a big part of work-life balance. If the employer offers telecommuting as an option, this shows their focus is on the best end goal, not just butts in office chairs.
5. How do you set employees up for success?
This question points out micromanagers. Work-life balance can be achieved when an employer gives employees the tools they need to succeed on their own terms, rather than dictating every part of their workday. However, if you’re only allowed to follow preset habits and practices, you may end up stuck in the physical office working at a less efficient pace because you’re unable to work in a way most productive to you.
6. What is your work culture like?
Understanding how employees engage together will show you the company’s culture. Some companies engage in fun games and after-work activities together. This shows the employer knows the benefits relieving stress and a good work-life balance can have on their employees.
7. What’s your mission statement?
An organization’s mission statement can show you how the company values employees’ lives. If the mission statement places a high value on employees, it’s likely the employer will take care of employees needs, both inside and outside of the office.
8. How do you incorporate employee feedback in the day-to-day operations?
It’s important to know if your opinion about work-life balance will be valued. Employers who listen to, and implement, employee feedback care about what will make their team most effective. This leaves room for employees to come to managers and express what needs to be adjusted to better their work-life balance.
9. What are your interests outside of the office?
Yes — this does sound like a speed dating question, but it’s also a great way to gauge how much time the interviewer actually spends outside of the office. If they don’t have a lot of interests or hobbies, it may mean they’re too focused on work.
In other words, this question can show you how well the interviewer values their own work-life balance.
10. Do employees control the structure of their goals and tasks?
We all have those off days where our brains just aren’t working up to capacity. Employers who push for goals to be completed on their schedule, no matter what may interfere with your work-life balance. Interviewers who are straightforward about understanding sometimes our brains don’t work as quickly as we’d like, or occasionally, life happens, are considerate to work-life balance.