I'm working on some litmus tests for companies during the interview process, and trying to test if the company/team respects its employees before accepting an offer.
For completeness, what I mean by "respects its employees" basically means it treats them as humans first, and resources second. We're all getting paid to do a job, and sometimes that job requires sacrifice, but as much as possible that should be detailed up front, compensated, and minimized if it wasn't originally agreed to.
Some examples of respect:
- Following through on commitments to employees, even if they were verbal
- Not requiring regular overtime unless agreed to ahead of time, or renegotiated (regular requiring the same understanding from the employee and company... maybe one week a quarter?).
- Providing resources to employees as agreed to (e.g. training/actual time off/etc)
Some examples of disrespect:
- Following the letter of the law, not the spirit (e.g. everything must be in writing, and even then because the company has more power they can semi-followthrough on their commitments)
- Continuously asking for more of employees, even if that wasn't agreed upon originally
- Generally "it's good for your resume" type requests (e.g. you should spend your free time ramping up on things that will make us money)
Something that's normally considered respecting your employees, but is simply a nice gesture:
- Nice words (it's a good start! But these don't mean much unless followed by action; see the note above about powerful parties not following through on their commitments)
My question is this: do the below tests seem like they would be effective in answering the above questions? Can you think of tests that would be more likely to answer the above questions?
Past behavior: how much overtime have you worked in the past month? Past year? How much of it was planned? Could be asked on behalf of employees, or directly to them... but there's some wiggle room in the "planned" and "overtime" categories here... it might be useful to define overtime as anything over 40 hours/week.
Attitude/policy/work-life balance: when your employees work overtime, do they get time off in lieu? What about over a certain threshold (e.g. a couple of hours here or there isn't a huge deal, but 8+ extra hours per week should probably be returned to the employee). Another note here: it might be useful to see their handbook before accepting... sometimes policies that help employees are loosely defined, while those that punish or extract more time or resources from them are conveniently well defined.
I'm not looking to have an adversarial relationship with my employer.. but I've learned that most companies are very interested in time-to-market, and generally see their employees as resources to be wrung out if the market suggests it would be profitable, or if higher ups make mistakes. I'm looking for a company of humans that understands we have other things to do than work, and wants to exchange money for hard work, rather than some sort of blood-bond that ties you to your keyboard late at night random Saturdays when you'd rather be sleeping or exercising.