Talent Acquisition

How to Spot the Signs of a Great Place to Work

If you’re looking for a new job, remember it isn’t just the job description you should focus on. It’s just as important to look for an organisation which will be a good fit for you, making it a great place to work. It’s where you will spend a significant amount of time and, outside of your family, work is said to be the biggest thing to influence how happy you are. Plus, the more comfortable you are in your workplace, the better you’ll be at your job.

We champion the ‘best employers’ initiative which highlights those companies which are great places to work by actively engaging, inspiring and motivating their employees, as this helps to attract the best talent to an organisation. But how can job seekers find out more about a company’s culture and whether they are likely to be happy there before accepting a job?

1) Extend your internet research

Most candidates will do internet research ahead of job interviews to ensure they feel prepared to answer any tricky questions. Use this time to also look out for signs of what the company would be like to work for. The website may have a section about the company culture, values and staff wellbeing policies. Social media can show more about the way they like to portray the business, whether it’s fun and light hearted in tone, or serious and professional. There’s also a growing number of forums in which current and previous employees can post about what an organisation was really like to work for.

2) Look out for external accolades

An external award for being a ‘best employer’ or ‘great place to work’ is a good accolade to look out for. Whether it’s a local business or industry award, an Investors in People standard or a listing in something like the Sunday Times’ annual Best 100 Companies, these types of commendations are only awarded after the organisation has been judged by independent experts. If you do spot that a company has been given an award, do some further research as you’ll often find case studies which explain why the organisation was chosen as a winner.

3) Ask some probing questions

Use the interview to delve deeper into what it will be like to work there. Asking the interviewers to describe the company culture from their perspective and what their favourite thing is about working for the organisation can provide some excellent insights. Questioning when they would expect the busiest periods be in your new role could help you to gauge more about expected working hours, while asking how often staff get together will give an idea about the culture of meetings in the organisation and potentially open up a discussion about general socialising, both in and outside of office hours.

4) Explore the office environment

Ask for a tour of where you will be working, including any communal areas. While the work place environment doesn’t necessarily need to have the wow-factor of the famed Google offices, it does need to be appealing to you. Being able to picture where you will be spending your time will help you to build up a picture of what day-to-day life will be like. It’s also a good opportunity to pick up on some more visual clues about the workplace culture and the type of people you’ll be working with. Are desks filled with family photos and mementos? Is the office space designed to be funky and creatively inspiring, or sleek, formal and professional? What are the team members wearing?

5) Compare your salary

It’s important to assess if you will be paid a fair salary for your role. There’s various different online tools which will help you to research average salaries for the role you’ve applied for. You can also often find recent surveys conducted by professional associations and trade publications for salaries across an industry. Be cautious if you find that the salary you’ve been offered is under the average in your region, but also consider the additional benefits in addition to the basic salary which may be more important to you, for example car parking, private health, enhanced pension, flexible working. If the company doesn’t pay market rate for its staff but still expects amazing results do you want to work for them? Of course there may be a reasonable explanation – it could be a charity or a start-up without a big budget. Nonetheless this is an important issue that impacts long term job satisfaction.

6) Consider the additional benefits

The employee benefits offered by an organisation could be what really makes a difference to your day-to-day life, however big or small. Look at the company’s website for details of their benefit package: do they offer medical or dental cover? What support do they provide for new parents? Is flexible working available? What kind of pension contributions does the company make? If this information isn’t publically available, call and ask the HR team or check at the interview.

7) Ask those in the know

Ask friends and family to put you in touch with anyone they know who already works for the company. Ask them if colleagues get frequent training and subsequently take on new responsibilities? Can staff implement their own ideas in the workplace? What’s the staff turnover like?

8) Discuss with your recruitment consultant

If you are using a recruitment consultant, call and discuss everything with them. A good consultant will have done their own research into the organisation as part of the process of helping them to recruit the right people. We want the people we place to be happy and to thrive and in their new role, as this gives the organisation the skilled, motivated person they need. It’s just as important to us to find the right ‘fit’ and we’re always happy to discuss this in more detail.

[Image Credit: Shutterstock]

By Gill Buchanan

Gill is a founding Director of Pure Resourcing Solutions has worked in the recruitment field since 1988. Gill’s experience is broad based and includes eight years of specialist recruitment experience within an international specialist recruitment company including five years working within financial services recruitment in Sydney, Australia.