Six Career Sweeteners to Look for in Your Next Job
COVID-19 taught us all something about work-life balance
These are dramatic times to be navigating a career: Managers are myopically focused on getting workers back on site, organizational finances are either fine or disastrous, and everyone’s running on fumes. Yet despite the choppy waters, this is a golden moment to look for a new role, either within your organization or elsewhere. According to a new survey from Ladders Inc., more six-figure jobs are available now than before the pandemic, as companies are catching up on hiring.
If you’re among the 41% to 46% of global employees considering a career pivot or jump to a new employer, know that the old metrics like salary, benefits and title are not enough in these pandemic times. You need to look for these supports to sanely get you through the grind.
Location flexibility. Is working from home three days a week ideal for your lifestyle? Or attending the 8:30 a.m. meeting via Zoom? Or flextime? Or winters in Montana? Prepare to ask. “You need to be really clear on what it is that you want, and come in and make a business case for it,” says corporate parenting consultant Daisy Dowling, author of “Workparent: The Complete Guide to Succeeding on the Job, Staying True to Yourself, and Raising Happy Kids.” Explain why the flexibility makes you more productive, and also works for your role and team. “There’s no conceivable time in your career that will be a better time to ask. Everything has been thrown up in the air, and the proof of concept that people can work on their own time has never been more loudly on display,” she says.
Expansive childcare options. Parents are not only exhausted, but are also dragging a year’s worth of house projects and car registration renewals behind them. (This writer’s tags expired in May 2020.) Both subsidized workday and off-hours options are reasonable — parents love a weekday afternoon off. Rue Dooley, the longtime knowledge advisor for the Society for Human Resources Management, says that childcare can come in many forms, including contracts with external childcare centers, nanny services, backup providers or learning pod companies, as well as on-site.
Vacation time. Ask how many days employees at your level actually use per year. It’s a red flag if the answer for 2020 is low. “In the most intense, isolating time of most people’s lives, many people took, say, 11 vacation days when they could have had 20. That’s really concerning, because it means that people are more burned out than they need to be,” Dowling says. You want to work for leaders who talk about the importance of pacing and self-care, and, critically, take all allotted vacation days themselves. Otherwise you’ll be working as many days as they do.
A reason to be in-house. Organizations are scrambling to lure work-from-homers back on site. “There has to be a hook to keep people, and I think organizations have to figure out both broad-scale and individually what that is,” Dowling says. “If the reward is to return to an office that people might not want to be in and keep on working and working, that’s not compelling.” You’re valuable; make ’em work to keep you.
Money in your pocket. Cash talks. Verbosely. “We all need a pat on the back once in a while, and money does that in our society. It helps people feel appreciated,” Dooley says. Creative organizations put extra greenbacks in your wallet in many ways beyond bonuses, such as paying for perks that they know employees use, like Netflix or pet insurance, as well as WFH gear stipends or meals delivered to doorsteps. If it’s a potential new job, you can delicately ask what sorts of pandemic supports and perks have been aimed at workers like you.
Clear milestones. What will you be working on for the next six months or year? Right now life is a treadmill, and you’ll be happier and more productive with clear waypoints. “Managers and leaders need to create a sense of momentum and achievement,” Dowling says. You want to work in a place where managers celebrate successful quotas, applaud milestones and show teams how their work bolsters larger successes.