Should I Stay or Should I Go? Part Two: 4 Qualities of a Great Company

Last time we identified some red flags that may indicate you’re in a dead-end job. This week we’ll look at some of the things that suggest you’re in a positive work environment with the potential for a very bright future. Many publications release an annual list of the “Best Companies to Work For,” and whether you work for one of those well-known corporations like Google or SAS, or a small local company few people have even heard of, there are a few key values all great companies have in common: 

  1. Respect: Top-notch companies treat employees like grown-ups and cultivate a climate of mutual respect. Their leaders aren’t driven by ego and a need to feel powerful and superior. When respect is part of the company culture, co-workers build each other up, collaborate, and never take credit for someone else’s work. If you’re in a position where you feel comfortable sharing concerns and ideas, and everyone treats each other respectfully, then chances are you’re in a good place.
  2. Humanity: It’s amazing how many corporations lose sight of the fact that the people working for them are actually human beings. They make sweeping decisions without considering the personal consequences for anyone. A great company sees their people as people, not corporate drones who simply perform tasks. They understand that people get sick, emergencies arise, and sometimes your personal life takes precedence over work. In short, they show basic kindness, compassion, and humanity. It seems like that should be a given at any job, but unfortunately it’s not. It may sound corny, but make sure you’re in a place where people care.
  3. Longevity: If employees stay at a company a long time, it’s a good sign. If employees stay at a company a long time, still love their jobs after many years, and still walk around happy every day, that’s a great sign. There are several things that help retain employees: high salaries, great benefits, flexible hours, and a positive work environment. Stability also promotes longevity. A well-run company budgets for lean times so it can endure some fluctuation in profits without having to layoff good people.  Employees need to be able to count on the company as much as the company counts on the employees.
  4. Growth: There are two kinds of growth that indicate you’re working for a good company. The first is business-related growth, such as increasing sales, expanding client bases, and staffing up to meet higher demands. The second kind of growth to look for is personal employee growth, such as when a company encourages continuing education, provides training, offers to sponsor you in obtaining professional certifications, or even pays for college courses – all with the intention of helping you move up in the company so you can obtain higher positions and better salaries.  Nothing demonstrates employee appreciation as much as a company that will actually invest in you. In the majority of occupations it’s clear that you work for them, but when a company focuses on developing their personnel and making everyone better, it’s clear they work for you, also. 

All of the above traits may seem very attainable, and really they should all be standard, but these winning qualities are not as common as you might hope.  If you find that these qualities apply to your current job, then consider yourself one of the lucky ones. If not, then get out there and find a job that you love at a company that truly values you. As Steve Jobs once said, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”

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