Are you changing jobs or looking for another opportunity to expand your career?

Finding a great place to work that creates long-term value and engagement is not easy, and you shouldn’t treat the process lightly. There are steps you can take to validate your choice and make sure your new company is a great outlet to enhance your skills and potential.

So how do you know if the next opportunity is worth your attention? How do you find the right workplace for you?

You may know what you expect as financial reward, benefits or bonuses, but the following considerations are more important than you think.

Company Environment and Culture

Company culture has been the buzzword in the industry for the last couple of years. Beyond the hype, a company’s atmosphere and its environment do have a great influence in determining whether you shine at your new job, or you don’t.

Although you may be tempted to compare at this stage a more traditional workplace with an open, flexible setup (think Google and Silicon Valley), the company’s structure and its organigram are not necessarily the best determinants of its culture – its people and the way they interact are.

Lynda Gratton is a professor at London Business School and best-selling author of ‘Hot Spots: Why some teams, workplaces, and organisations buzz with energy and others don’t.’ In an article published in industry magazine HR Future, she concludes that most of us spend less than 20% of our working lives feeling engaged and energised at work.

A truly co-operative and creative company provides an innovative and energising environment where fulfilling, inspired work is possible, in contrast with mentally stifling and uninspiring organisations that drain away your energy, says Gratton in her research.

We couldn’t agree more. Fortunately, there are quite a few subtle indications of a good place to work.

Cooperative versus Competitive

Workplaces are different. Some are more competitive and aggressive, while others pride in their collaborative and innovative approach to work. Would you work for the former or the latter?

You may find that a collaborative and innovative workplace is essential to your growth. Look for the following clues to point you in the right decision.

The language in the company is a good indicator of its environment and character. When researching your next company, pay attention to the words and message they communicate to describe their company and to any other communication within media.

What language do employees and executives use? Is the company coming across as cutthroat, aggressive, and overly competitive? Does its message enforce partnership and fairness? What do the community and media portray? These answers can form a basis for your final decision.

Leadership Behaviour and Practices

Very few job seekers, if any, consider the senior executive behaviour and its practices when assessing a potential workplace. Look at details such as executive communication, management and staff turnover figures, or company reports, if available, to get a feel for the place.

While researching the company’s leadership, seek out company practices, and the way leadership makes its major decisions. Is it a cooperative process or an authoritative one?

Find out how the executive treats its employees, how training and promotions usually occur, and how payments are determined. Is the recruiting and selection process transparent? Do you have enough details to make an informed decision?

Coaching and Mentoring Programmes

Finally, looks for clues regarding teamwork, skills development, and the existence of a coaching or mentoring programme which could assist you in taking your role even further within the company.

An inspiring place to work should offer plenty of engaging work and growth opportunities to allow its employees to develop both professionally and personally.

With these insights in mind, you will be better equipped to decide if a company is worth the move.

Our agency specialises in professional placements (senior and specialist talent) and exclusive skills recruitment to a wide range of industries, including JSE’s top 100 companies, SMEs and the Public Sector. -- Patricia Jacobs

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