In the article What Makes a Company a Great Place to Work Today, Sue Shellenberger reports that organizations rating work places today look for different things than in the past. In selecting the “best companies”, Working Mother Magazine and Business Week looked for companies with:
Wide-open flexibility – in terms of hours spent in the office, tasks, continuing education….
Broader programs – paid paternity leave, environmental perks, fitness centers, cafes on site….
Vacation time – lots of paid time off, starting the first year on the job
Penelope Trunk wrote a Do you have a good job? Take the test. Her criteria for a good job are:
– a short, predictable commute
– workflow you can manage
– clear, challenging goals
– at least two co-workers who are also close friends (worth three times as much as the other criteria).
I find it interesting that these lists are so different. The first has to do with a larger view – how the company treats its employees in general, and what they offer to all employees. The second list is concerned with more personal things – more about the job you’re doing. This of course begs the question – what determines “the best place to work”? Is it the corporate philosophy and benefits? If you get to work with great people, does it matter if the tasks you’re doing are boring? If you get to do fascinating, rewarding work does it matter if you’re not paid top dollar?
In thinking about this, I was reminded of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. His theory is that human beings need certain things, and as the more basic needs are met they are free to work to meet higher needs. The first level is physiological needs (breathing, food, water, sleep….). Once those are taken care of, you move up to satisfy safety, then love/belonging, then esteem, and finally self-actualization. Similarly, there are certain needs a job must satisfy for you to even consider it, others that are nice to have, and some you don’t care about.
So which job qualities are physiological for you? Which are nice to have, if you can get it? Thinking about these things, and even writing down your personal rankings, can be a valuable learning experience. When you’re in the heat of a job search, it can be tempting to jump on the first offer that comes along. If you’ve really anazlyzed your priorities ahead of time, you’ll be much more comfortable continuing to search until you find an opportunity that matches your personal priorities. And then you really will be in your own best place to work!