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Who doesn’t want to work in a company that offers good work life balance? This article offers some tips on how to find the best employers for women in India.
By Nisha Salim
One of the main reasons why working women in India opt out of the organised workforce is because of the difficulty in striking a balance between work and family life. 50% of women opt out of their careers before they turn 30. A study (PDF) by Accenture revealed that more women than men consider worklife balance to be the key factor in how they define success; 70% of female respondents felt this way, while only 40% of men did.
A good way of ensuring that you will be able to strike a balance between your work and personal life is to join a company that offers a positive work culture, and respects the employees’ right to have their own lives. But how would you find out if your prospective employer is one such?
“Since there is no one size fits all solution, the key is to figure out whether you will be able to work within the constraints. Before you start digging deep into the company’s policies, you first need to figure out what is important to you and what is not,” says Jaya Ramani Narayan, former HR Head who is now a Behavioural Coach.
Some companies offer flexible working hours and leave options, while others offer telecommuting facilities and even paid or unpaid sabbaticals. If your priority is to spend both Saturdays and Sundays with your family, you will not want to join a company with a six-day work week. Make a list of your must-haves and good-to-haves. If a company meets all or most of your must have requirements, it may be a good one to join.
If you have found a job via a referral who works in the same organisation, then it is easy to find out what the work culture is like. If a male employee had referred you, you may want to check whether he can arrange for a casual talk with a female colleague to help you make a decision.
“Most companies encourage employees to ask questions during the interview. Use this time to your advantage,” says Jaya. Ask questions about their work culture, and the measures that are in place to encourage an employee to stay productive. You can even ask specific questions about how they would support an employee who is going through a tough time.
“You would usually have a one-on-one with your reporting manager as well as the HR. Your reporting manager will be able to give you a better sense of what you can expect on the job,” Jaya points out. Depending on how responsive and approachable the interviewer is, you may even get into specifics such as how many women are in the team, and how the company helps employees achieve work-life balance. You may feel hesitant to ask pointed questions to your future employer, but if you can mentally rehearse the questions and phrase it in a non-confrontational manner, there is no reason why the interviewer should take offense. If the company is not open and responsive to your questions, you already have your answer – it may not be the one to join.
Social media has now made it easy for both employees and employers to find out more about each other. “LinkedIn is an excellent resource to find employees in the company that you are planning to join. You may find that a future colleague is only one or two degrees of separation away. Ask your direct contacts to introduce you to this person and take it from there,” suggests Jaya. Ex-employees are also a great source of information. Find out what made them leave, what they liked about the company, and what they did not.
Facebook graph search has made it easy to find people who work in a particular company. There is no harm in reaching out to them with a polite request. Companies may also have their own Facebook pages. Check the level of interaction on the page, photographs, and the overall tone of the page. Twitter is also another channel worth mentioning. Use the search feature to find out who’s talking about the company.
Do an online search about your future employers. If it is a high-profile company, they may have appeared in interviews or other news which may give you an idea of what it would be like to work for them.
“There are websites like Glassdoor.com which offer an inside look at jobs and companies. Look for your company there and check out the reviews of current and former employees,” says Jaya.
If you are joining a start-up, things maybe different. Employees in start-ups are typically required to work really hard, but because of the smaller size there may be more flexibility. Start-ups also tend to have a very informal work culture, so you can freely ask questions about what to expect on the job.
Maintaining worklife balance is an ongoing issue not only in India, but across the globe. Be proactive in researching the company, but don’t get too bogged down by the details either. Take an educated guess.You may not always be able to find the perfect workplace, so choose the best company and take a carefully considered risk.
Pic credit: Tizzie (Used under a Creative commons license)
Nisha Salim is a self-employed writer and a social media junkie.
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