5 Factors that Add Value to Work

5 Factors that Add Value to Work

Whether you are actively job hunting or sitting at your current job wondering if the cubicle is cleaner in the building next door, remember that money is not the only metric of a job to monitor.

1. People – You work at least 40 hours per week. Enjoying your weekends with friends and family is great, but imagine a place where you actually like your coworkers. It is not pie-in-the-sky. How do you stop counting down the hours until 5pm Friday? Start with seeing how your future colleagues would be at 9am. Ask about company culture in job interviews and make sure to get a tour about the office. Are people smiling? Do people introduce themselves or glare at you and return to their computers?

Liking your coworkers can have a huge impact on whether you enjoy going into work or dread it. If your interactions with your current coworkers are stiff and awkward, they might be dreading interactions too. Gradually try to engage them: ask about their weekend, ask about how their kids are doing (kudos if you remember their names next time). Everyone needs a 5 minute break between difficult projects to feel like a functioning person again. Stop taking your breaks solo and you might meet a coworker that turns into a friend.

2. Length of Commute – You’ve done the audiobooks, playlists of new music, counting license plates from different states, calling your grandma….and your great-grandma and almost your ex-boyfriend, but no matter what you do, your hour commute is misery. Time is money. Getting paid $100 per day to work 9-5 with an hour commute on either side is not the same as $100 per day to work 9-5 with a 15 minute commute.

Gas money aside, being able to be sitting at home or off on a hike or out to dinner 15 minutes after leaving the office is a liberating feeling. Next time you interview or are looking for a job, ask yourself a quick question: is this job worth an extra 1.5 hours in the car every day? If it is not, maybe narrow your search radius.

3. Opportunity for Learning – Are you comfortable asking questions at work? How often do you get the chance to work on a project where you feel intellectually stimulated? Professional growth is the only antidote to stagnancy. You need to work on projects that expand your skill set to avoid only being able to move horizontally from company to company.

If you want to move up a company ladder, you must be proactive. So ask yourself: is being proactive valued or subtly discouraged? If your work isn’t encouraging asking questions, it might not be a place where you can grow. The ability to say you don’t understand makes sure you will understand next time.

4. Small Business versus Corporate – “I work at Nightengale Financial.” “I work at CNT Ergonomics”. So what if none of your friends outside of your city recognize the name of the company you work for. Is your employer adjusting your benefits plan to match you? Does no bureaucratic system mean you can request vacation days one month ahead and not seven? Don’t be quick to think that big name equals better company.

Working for a big corporate looks impressive on a resume, but small businesses have more freedom to make case-by-case decisions. If you are currently at a corporation, recognize that your stability, benefits plan, healthcare and prestige have the trade-off of what a small business environment provides. Small business employers can’t always pay a corporate salary, but offer a more tight-knit office and more community involvement and loyalty.

5. Flexibility of schedule: Can you take a half day? Duck out 2pm Friday or come in late Monday? Is working from home allowed or does each hour of work required to be inside the 20 square feet of your cubicle? Flexible schedules and options for personal, sick and vacation days can alleviate the marathon stretch from 3-day February holidays to the summer. If you don’t currently have those types of days as an option, consider incorporating flexible scheduling into your negotiation arsenal when you are asking for a raise. If a raise isn’t granted, you could get flexible scheduling as an alternative promotion instead.

If you are comfortable with a 4 hour daily commute, no room for questions, horrible coworkers, but $250,000 per year with a Fortune 500 company name on your resume, then relish that quarter million salary. But next time your friend brags about her new raise, remember that you may have a quality of work that is more satisfying than any paycheck could offer.

- Chessa Sanders