Identifying Great Places to Work

Our careers take up a significant portion of our life. It’s important that we not only find work that we love doing but also find a great company to be a part of. Finding the right career and company combination is the foundation of work/life integration. Below are a few characteristics to consider as you search for a great place to work.

Growth Potential vs. a Structured Career Path

Some firms have very structured career paths. It takes three to five years to move from associate to senior, another three to five years from senior to manager, and so on. This kind of structure looks only at hierarchy, technical proficiency and past performance, not potential.

Look for:

  • Investment in people. Great firms to work for offer more than 40 continuing education hours per year. They invest in their people to help them develop more than just technical competence. Look for firms that promote leadership development, support involvement in professional organizations and encourage their people to pursue specialized designations and niches.

  • Training. On your first day at the job, will you be handed a copy of the prior year work papers and left to muddle through an engagement on your own? Or is there a formalized training program that will help you learn the policies and procedures while you gain technical knowledge? A great place to work for takes the time to train their people well before expecting them to start churning out work. Look for firms with a formalized training and development program that is personalized for each employee.

Entrepreneurial Mindset vs. Corporate

The notion of an entrepreneur strictly as someone who starts a business is very limiting. As Donna M. De Carolis, Ph.D. and founding dean of the Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship ay Drexel University pointed out in Forbes, the characteristics of an entrepreneur include terms like “visionary, leader and, possibly, hero.” They are risk takers, influential and creative. Don’t think you can’t be entrepreneurial just because you’re working for someone else. The best places to work want every one of their employees to be entrepreneurial.

Look for:

  • Embracing new technology. Firms that encourage an entrepreneurial mindset are willing to embrace new technology that frees up time for their employees to innovate and enables them to work as easily outside of the office as they can inside. You can’t think big while you’re being bogged down by technology that can’t keep up with the times. A great place to work will be happy to share how and why they invest in technology.

  • Remote working. Best places to work allow their employees to work remotely, at least some of the time. That’s because they recognize that the value of their people comes not from the amount of time they spend in the office, but from what they do. Look for firms that currently have members of their team working remotely and don’t let remote work limit the career trajectory of their remote employees.

Work/Life Integration

Work/life integration is about having a measure of control over when, where and how you work so you can enjoy your life, not feel like you’re on the hamster wheel of work, sleep, work, sleep. A great place to work believes their people should have a fulfilled life inside and outside of work. That means feeling that you are doing good work, but not at the expense of your family or personal life.

Look for:

  • Wellness benefits. Health insurance is an obvious need, but the best places to work also invest in their employees’ health beyond annual exams and emergency room visits. Look for companies that subsidize gym memberships and offer other perks to incentive people to take care of themselves.

  • Work/family integration. Time is our most valuable resource, and its scarcity puts a strain on many families. Yet some firms do little to realign the world of work with the reality of family life. Look for firms with policies that help employees manage work and family obligations without having to choose between the two, such as flexible work hours. People will go through different stages of work/life integration throughout their life and having a job that supports those stages is one worth committing to.

If you’re looking for a change in your career, it isn’t just the position description you should focus on. Look for a firm that will be a good fit for you, because the more comfortable and happy you are at work, the more effective you’ll be in your role.