In 2021, U.S. workers voluntarily left their jobs in droves, a trend that became known as the Great Resignation. A better way to view this shifting work landscape may be to consider it a Great Reprioritization. The pandemic put reality in the forefront as people pulled back from office culture and instead elevated their personal needs. Some found the shift to be restorative, while others were blindsided by how much work had taken over their lives.
As you consider your career and purpose, acknowledging the importance of managing your mental health is imperative. First, you must understand your needs and then take steps to align your life with them. Consider how you can prioritize these needs in every facet of your life, including your career and with your employer.
Savvy employers have taken note of the importance of mental health among their employees. Many are offering opportunities that provide the framework and flexibility to support overall mental health and rewarding careers.
1. Review Benefits Package Offerings
The standard benefits package offered by employers is now considered the bare minimum. Things like health insurance, paid time off, and employee discounts are now considered a given as today’s employees require more.
Review the benefits package offerings on company recruiting sites, employer review pages, and social networking sites. While not every employer posts their onboarding package, many provide enough detail to get a glimpse of their offerings. Several companies will also integrate language about especially robust packages in their postings, which can be a great sign.
Take the time to review summaries for mentions regarding mental health support, counseling, and time away from work. Some employers specify providers that offer mental health treatment online, paid access to apps, and employee assistance programs (EAPs). While EAPs have long been offered by many companies, the pandemic’s pressure on behavioral health systems helped boost their relevance.
Additional paid time away from work for mental health, rest, and rejuvenation can also indicate a supportive employer. Note your findings for each potential employer to determine what’s standard and what’s exceptional as you consider applying for roles.
2. Assess the Work Environment and Style
By now, you likely know your ideal work style and preferred environment. Many professionals were forced to sample full-time remote work and have a good idea if it’s a fit for them. Check multiple job listings with your target employer to see what work location, hours, and approach is most consistent with your preferences. Many employers offering remote work have adjusted their work styles to accommodate team members in different time zones. While this shift is logical, it can also offer much-needed flexibility to all employees, providing better work-life integration.
Identify what your target employers offer by way of work style and location to determine what piques your interest. Look for features included with on-site work like employee gyms, easily accessible dining, and upgraded office amenities.
When you interview, ask questions relevant to amenity usage to ensure that the culture matches the furnishings. Ask questions about how the organization manages workloads, company culture, and details about team dynamics. Mentions of team-building training, empathetic leadership, and open feedback can be good signs as you conduct your research.
3. Check Out Employee Reviews for Red Flags and High Points
Diving into employee feedback postings can result in a rabbit hole of findings, both good and bad. However, checking out current and former employee reviews will give you insight into employer culture you wouldn’t get elsewhere. Before you say “yes” to an offer, spend some time reviewing sites like Glassdoor, Indeed, and FairyGodBoss. Search terms specific to your interests to focus your efforts and avoid unnecessary distractions.
Remember that the urge to write a review typically comes from moments of frustration, regarding both employers and consumer products. Rarely do people go out of their way to provide a glowing review, even if an experience is first-class. Look for themes that can influence your perception, noting areas of concern to elevate in your interview.
Employers typically are aware of public reviews and should be prepared to respond to your questions about them. Remember that an interview is a conversation, and your questions about culture, benefits, and mental health considerations are fair game.
4. Prioritize Your Needs During Your Job Search
Most job search efforts are driven by a sense of urgency, inspired by financial or emotional needs, or both. Before you launch your effort, sit down and consider what you’re trying to solve with a job change.
Develop a pros and cons list for your current role and note specific positives or negatives you experience today. Pay attention to naturally occurring themes to identify the primary pain points you’ve been feeling. These themes can help influence what you’re looking for as you consider a move. Use this list as a litmus test and compare it to your research about potential roles and employers.
When you’re speaking with a recruiter or hiring manager, elevate your questions to fully understand the opportunity. As you get closer to an offer, clarify your needs so any specific requirements or agreements can be documented. That way you can be sure that you and the employer are on the same page.
Employment is an exchange of output for compensation, and part of that is how the work gets done. When you develop an agreement that aligns with your mental health needs, you’ll start your new role with limitless potential.