A Bad Place to Work: Identify the Signs!

Anne Weeks After College, Etiquette, Interviews, Other 1 Comment

Anne Weeks
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You did everything right and landed a job interview at a top company.

You invested the time to perfect your interviewing skills.

As the interview progresses, it is clear you will get a job offer.

Now What?

Ask for a copy of their Employee Handbook!
According to Forbes, the employee handbook can provide a window into the company’s culture. Before accepting a job offer, read the employee handbook to look for the following ten things:

  • No-Moonlighting Policy

Being able to choose if you want a part-time job on the side is your right. As Forbes states, “A No-Moonlighting policy is exactly the type of overreaching, Big-Brotherish practice that corporations only employ when they believe that their team members are insignificant cogs in their machine.”

  • No-References Policy

This may be an internal policy not listed in the employee handbook, so ask. Forbes suggests: “Ask the question this way: ‘I am very interested in the culture of any organization I think about joining. I hope that if we end up working together, that relationship lasts for a good period of time, but I also know that people don’t walk into companies anymore and retire from the same company thirty years later. Does your company allow managers to give references for their employees, or are those inquiries sent to HR?’  Only fearful leaders put No-Reference Policies in place. They couldn’t care less whether the No-Reference Policy makes it harder for their former teammates to get a new job. No-Reference Policies are unethical and should be illegal but they’re not, so proceed with caution!”

  • Progressive Discipline

Progressive Discipline outlines the steps the company takes to reprimand an employee. Forbes shares: “Progressive Discipline policies that line out the punishments employees will receive for a first infraction, second infraction, etc. are holdovers from the Industrial Revolution and have no place in the Knowledge Economy we are working in now.”

  • Payroll Deductions

If the company will dock your pay for a mistake, beware of the company culture! “Any company that wants to take money out of your paycheck (for a piece of equipment that breaks while you’re using it, e.g.) is not a place you want to work for.”

  • Dictated Hours

If the employee handbook lists expected hours – even for salaried employees, beware! “Smart companies know that what’s important is that the work gets done – not how many hours people work. If you see this kind of language in an employee handbook, do not take the job — because you will hate it if you do!”

  • Managers Control Internal Transfers

A healthy company culture will allow employees to apply for internal transfers, and if the transfer is approved, the managers will work out a proper transition. Manager controlled transfers discourage independence and encourage an employee to look for a job elsewhere.

  • Formal Performance Management

Avoid a company that breaks down your job into tiny, measureable pieces with daily, weekly, monthly deadlines. Your work should be guided by a vision of where you want to be – a more holistic approach of getting done what needs to be done to reach a stated goal. Being micromanaged will make you miserable.

  • No Casual Time

You will see Vacation Time and Sick Time, but does the company offer paid Casual Time? There will be times when you need to take care of a personal emergency, such as an unexpected visit to the veterinarian or dealing with a banking issue. Healthy companies value your personal needs.

  • Pay Grades

In companies where there are Pay Grades – “status and title are everything. In some organizations you hear people say ‘Don’t call him — he’s an E5, and he won’t answer your call because you’re only an E3.’ They say these things without irony. They think it’s normal to rank and evaluate people based on their title and pay grade. Don’t work with people like that! You have a brilliant career to lead, and bureaucratic, fearful organizations will not help you get there.”

  • Interview Process

How you are treated during the interview process reflects the company culture. “No employer will ever love you more than they do at the point where they are trying to hire you. If the signals you get during the interview process are negative, don’t expect things to get better once you have the job.”

Don’t let your excitement for the job prospect overshadow the research you need to do to make sure the job is a perfect fit!

Read that employee handbook and watch for signals in the hiring process that might suggest disregard for the individual.

A well-researched job search will end with a happy job placement!

Good Luck!


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Anne Weeks

Anne Macleod Weeks is a graduate of Lawrence and Villanova Universities. She has been an educational administrator and English teacher for 38 years, specializing in the area of college admission. Ms. Weeks has been a leader in the college admission and Advanced Placement arenas and has published on pertinent educational topics in a variety of national papers and journals. She currently resides in Nova Scotia, Canada.

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