As the job market begins to gain momentum, people finally are losing the feeling of having to remain stuck in whatever job they got for the lack of options. Employers also have begun to realise that they should find creative ways to retain their staff — even when the financial performance of many businesses has not picked up equally yet.
The good news, however, for employers is that employees almost everywhere now have a greater sense of appreciation for many other sorts of benefits that are not necessarily financial. For example, people across many professions and industries increasingly appreciate benefits like flexible hours or generous paid time off.
With that in mind, a jobseeker or a person who is re-evaluating his/her current package should begin with deciding on whether the job tasks are acceptable or not — since this is the core of the decision. Then, it is essential to make an initial decision on the financial side before balancing it with the other benefits that can simply save money or make the package more attractive.
Here are four major points to look at:
This is a broad range of everything that you will get — from paid time off to children’s tuition and retirement or pension package. It is important to look closely at these benefits not only for their financial value — despite its importance — but also for their significance in terms of how far the employer is interested in investing in their staff and retaining them. While the worst days of the job market may seem to be behind us, if you’re planning to change job, make sure that your move won’t lead to a quick dissatisfaction and job loss. Obviously, an employer who is offering an all-around solid package is well-established in the business, and is likely to be investing in a long-term hiring decision. This is the type of job you should be taking.
More and more companies are realising that having their staff stuck in traffic for hours every day is unproductive. Some employers, therefore, may offer the option to telecommute if the job doesn’t require a physical presence in the office. This is a great benefit that can drastically improve life quality. Obviously the trend increasingly is adopted by many employers. In fact, a survey conducted by Ipsos this past year found 27 per cent of working in informational or office settings in the Middle East and Africa telecommute to their jobs. In addition to the advantage of improving your life quality, it also simply saves you time, energy and petrol costs. Workers with young children or other dependents may find this option particularly attractive.
Whether you work from home or in an office, a positive work environment can have a huge impact on your psychology and perception of your job. The corporate culture goes beyond having a work environment that is free of gossip and politics. In reality, a constructive work environment enables employees to be creative and encourages team spirit. In short, it is a place where people feel valued and appreciated as individuals and professionals.
You can easily get a sense of a future employer’s corporate culture by chatting with current employees and asking questions during the interview. Use your common sense, however, and don’t ignore warning signs like a high turnover or obvious negativity. Your goal is to have an employer who is willing to respond to your weaknesses with constructive solutions like training and assistance and keep you involved in decision-making. It is also important to feel that you will get the support and help you need from supervisors and co-workers, alike.
When you’re taking a new job, seeing a clear path for advancement may be tricky. However, it is important to do as much due diligence as possible to ensure that you won’t be stuck in the same place or hit a glass ceiling in five years or so. Employers who strive to help their staff advance are likely to invest in their training and professional development, which opens doors within the organisation and elsewhere. As the job market quickly changes, having a job — any job — is no longer sufficient. Now is the time to position yourself for standing apart from the crowd, and compete for higher grounds. Being with an employer who shares this view is the way to go if you’re trying to make up for years of stagnant professional development.
— Rania Oteify, a former Gulf News Business Features Editor, is currently an editor based in Seattle.