If Your Company Were a Date, Would You See Them Again?

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Woman walks out on man with spaghetti on his head at a restaurant.

When looking for a romantic partner, you seek someone with whom you have things in common, someone who aligns with your values and beliefs. So why wouldn’t you do the same when looking to work for a company? A typical work week in the US is 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. That’s a lot of time invested into an employer, meaning it’s incredibly important that you truly understand a workplace before you dive in and join it.

Evaluating a company or a new role is an important step before making any large career decision. Whether you are interviewing for a new position, thinking about leaving your current one, or simply want to ensure your current company is the right fit, here are some red flags to evaluate before making any final decisions.

  1. Lack of Transparency. Corporate transparency is important for building and maintaining trust with employees. Dating someone who is constantly hiding things from you is often a deal breaker–the same should go for your company. Transparency implies clear communication, which allows for better expectation management and even increased work quality. All of these aspects lead to an improved company culture, as employees will feel more comfortable voicing their needs and concerns.
  1. High Turnover Rate. High company turnover is often a sign that an organization suffers from culture problems, such as making their employees feel uncomfortable or undervalued. On first dates, people often ask why a previous relationship failed. Likewise, you should feel comfortable asking a company why the last person who held your role decided to leave. If you are noticing a lot of your coworkers leaving your current workplace, talk to them and see if you are able to identify the root of the issue. If you are an owner or in management and notice this problem with your employees, a workplace culture audit is a helpful way to clarify and address internal problems.
  1. Lack of Passion/Excitement. Just as we look for a partner who excites us, if a company or role doesn’t inspire some passion in you, you will likely find that you are not happy there or with the work you perform. This dissatisfaction often leads to accelerated burnout, causing a decrease in productivity and work quality. And prolonged burnout can impact your overall mental health. If you find yourself starting to lose interest in your current role, evaluate what aspects you do and do not like. From there you can seek out opportunities to grow and projects that feature the elements you enjoy, whether within your current company or somewhere new.
  1. Negative or Toxic Work Culture. Your work environment should not give you high school flashbacks of bullying or being made to feel inadequate. Just as having a supportive partner is key to a healthy relationship, feeling supported at work by your team and the company as a whole is crucial for producing quality work and fostering a healthy workplace culture. One of the biggest red flags a company can wave is failing to have a system for reporting and addressing concerns, or having a system that doesn’t work. Ensure that your company has either an HR department or designated person responsible for HR-related complaints and that it sincerely listens to its employees. You wouldn’t date someone who never listens to you, so why would you stay at a company that doesn’t listen?
  1. Trust Your Gut! Most importantly, trust yourself. Your gut instinct can tell you a lot about how you are experiencing a situation. Sometimes you simply have a feeling that someone is not the right romantic match for you, but you can’t quite put your finger on why. At times, the same goes for a company: you determine that a particular company or role isn’t the right fit because you can feel it deep down, even if you don’t yet have the words to articulate it.

It is often said that you do not have to settle to find a partner. The same goes for a workplace or role. That doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily find a job that’s so enthralling that you prefer it to sipping a margarita on the beach, but it does mean you don’t have to accept a sense of dread every time you get ready for work.

A job should produce meaningful satisfaction in your life and a company should provide a healthy workplace culture that builds you up. So, ask yourself if you see any of the red flags above. If you don’t, that’s great news–it seems like you’ll be back tomorrow. But if you see a lot of them, it might be time to excuse yourself to the restroom…and never come back.