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Scrolling through new job postings, it’s hard not to get excited about positions that advertise high salaries and hourly rates. Who wouldn’t like an increase in pay?

But, as they say, money doesn’t necessarily buy happiness, and while compensation is important, it’s not the only thing to consider when looking for a new job.

Recent surveys have found the following as most important in driving employee satisfaction: culture and values, benefits and opportunities for growth.

So, whether you are entry level or an experienced professional, look beyond the dollar signs and think big picture.

Let’s start with the number one driver of happy employees – culture and values. What does that mean exactly?

Culture is the character and personality of an organization. It’s what makes a business unique and is the sum of its values. Many things affect a company’s culture – its philosophies and beliefs, its workplace environment, its leadership and employees and its communications.

If a company’s culture doesn’t fit with your own values and what you consider important, then it could make going to work every day a grind.

Here are some cornerstones of corporate culture to get you thinking about what might be important to you.

Work-life balance — How does management encourage work-life balance for its employees? Is there flexibility with hours or remote working? If remote working is an option, and you have less of a commute into an office several days a week, perhaps the savings in gas can be considered when looking at the overall package a company is offering.

Basic job satisfaction — How happy are existing employees? Is there high turnover from an unhappy workforce? You can check reviews on job search sites to see what current and former employees are saying.

Collaboration and productivity — In a good organizational culture, teammates value collaboration and understand how to work well together. Communication is clear, transparent and honest. Does the manager you interview with speak with respect about their employees?

Effective work environment —Office space is important and it greatly affect how people do their jobs. Be sure you’ll be comfortable in whatever workplace you choose, whether it’s a quiet office with open cubicles or an office where you can bring your dog and play pinball at lunch. After all, you’ll be spending a sizable chunk of your time there.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions about workplace culture during the interview process, and if you have the opportunity to tour the office or speak with future employees before accepting a job offer, take advantage of it. Take time to think about what is important to you and ask questions that will give you better insight into what your future work environment might be like. Here are some examples:

  • What do you like about working here?
  • What time do people come in and leave for the day?
  • What do you wish you’d known before working here?
  • How is this organization different from the competition?
  • What is the dress code?
  • Does the company give back to the community? In what ways?

Another big driver of employee satisfaction is benefits. You could make six figures, but without good health insurance, you could find yourself in financial trouble if something major happens.

Beyond the added piece of mind that a case of appendicitis won’t send you to the poor house, a good health insurance package is a sign of a company that cares about its employees. Benefits are expensive for a company and offering things like insurance or childcare represent a real effort to provide a good experience for employees.

Some questions to ask about employee benefits are:

  • Health insurance: Does the company offer a one-size-fits-all plan, or are there different options for coverage?
  • Dental and vision: Visits to dentists and optometrists can be expensive. What is the coverage like?
  • Voluntary and ancillary benefits: Life insurance, short- and long-term disability, childcare, eldercare, and a 401(k) are all perks that you should consider when choosing an employer. These are benefits younger employees may discount, but they become increasingly more important as you get older and have family members depending on your income.
  • Wellness programs: A good employer will provide incentives to stay healthy, such as gym memberships or smoking cessation classes.
  • Time off: Vacation and sick time are obvious musts, but what about paternity and maternity leave?

Another important factor to consider other than a job’s starting salary is the opportunity for growth.

Everybody wants money, but what about long-term earnings? On average, yearly salary increases range from three to five percent for people who stay in the same job at the same company. So, while a high starting salary might draw you in, if there’s no upward mobility or opportunity for career growth, you could find yourself stuck after a few years without the option for a significant promotion or ability to grow as a professional.

Looking for a new job can be daunting and determining what is most important to you in a career is a very personal decision. But that’s why The Lee Group is here with both staffing and executive placement services. We think about all of these things with every placement we make. It’s about the right fit for a company and for a team member, and all the pieces have to go together, from the salary to the culture, the benefits to the environment.

Thinking about a new career or looking to find the right people for your office? Contact us.

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