'J.T. & Dale Talk Jobs' is the largest nationally syndicated career advice column in the US and can be found at JTandDale.com. Dear J.T. & Dale: How do I tell a company that eight hours is my max? I have a life outside of work, and I want to live it. Is there a way, in an interview, to tactfully share that I will not work more than eight hours a day? — Katie Dale: You don't want to be tossing out your personal work rules till after you've won over the hiring manager and gotten the job offer. At that point, you can consider "the culture." To get an honest answer, I'd try throwing out a bit of overstatement, something like, "What's the culture like around here — do you guys come in on Saturdays and work till 9 or 10 every night?" That way, you give the hiring manager plenty of room to be candid without giving away your personal attitude. J.T.: Holding back your opinions is wise, because you might come across a terrific job and the only downside is that your prospective boss answers Dale's culture question with, "Well, we usually get out of here at five, but once a quarter we have extra record-keeping, and we end up working late a night or two." If, early in the interview, you had blurted out, "Before we go any further, I have to tell you I will NOT work for more than eight hours on any given day," you'd never learn the real situation and wouldn't get the chance to decide if the occasional long day is worth the job. Dale: Get the offer, then the information; then make the decision. But I should warn you, Katie, that you probably won't find too many employers agreeing to strict limits on work hours, unless you're paid by the hour and they hate paying overtime. It's a buyer's market. J.T.: And it's always good to remember that we get back what we put in. Limiting your time commitment also could limit your advancement and earning potential. Dale: Which is another way of saying make sure you know what you're saying no to. Jeanine "J.T." Tanner O'Donnell is a professional development specialist and founder of CAREEREALISM.com. Dale Dauten's latest book is "(Great) Employees Only: How Gifted Bosses Hire and De-Hire Their Way to Success" (John Wiley & Sons). Please visit them at jtanddale.com, where you can send questions via e-mail, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019. © 2009 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.
Recently, a list of companies that have the happiest employees was circulated online. The companies were commended on their ability to promote a healthy work environment and sustain work-life balance. Pfizer came out on top with Kaiser Permanente coming in second, followed by Texas Instruments. Looking at these lists, one wonders how these companies are able to promote such a positive productive environment for their employees.
Many would think this is due to compensation packages or other related perks. But then, is work only about earning money? Is it the most important aspect when employees join a new company? What about the other factors that play an important role in building a strong bond between the employee and the organization?
- A bond that stems from mutual appreciation and respect for the value system that both parties shape together
- A bond that is dependent on many diverse factors such as recognition, open communication, and teamwork
- A bond that strengthens over time when the employee performs well
The importance of core values is illustrated by a quote from famous author and inventor, Edward de Bono: "Effectiveness without values is a tool without a purpose."
This analogy really hits home. A purposeless tool is a worthless thing and so is a company without a campus—a culture that is formed on the basis of core principles.
Core values serve to constantly guide both the employee and the company in achieving their mutual goals, in a manner that is based on an ethical and ideological framework. Every business is different, and so are their core values. Having said that, there are some principles that are alike for all, even though they may be phrased differently.
Here are four such core values every organization should have:
1. Integrity And Ethics
Simply put, the two principles of integrity and ethics translate into doing the right thing, in an honest, fair, and responsible way. Building your entire business on the foundation of honesty and integrity goes a long way toward building a strong, trusting relationship with your employees, stakeholders, and customers.
Truthful conduct on everyone's part can create a strong, credible reputation for the company in the market, which is beneficial for everyone's interests.
Without dedicated employees, a company is nothing. Period.
Committed employees form the backbone of the entire corporation. They work together with the system in order to achieve growth and profitability.
A company has a responsibility toward its employees and, if one of its core principles is showing the utmost respect to its employees, it's likely management will have a low employee turnover rate.
Respecting all employees means respecting their individual human rights and privacy, and eliminating all kinds and forms of discrimination, whether based on religion, belief, race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, or physical disability. Moreover, ensuring a safe and healthy work environment for all employees is an important part of giving respect to them.
Many organizations across the globe adopt an attitude whereby the entire company interacts together like a close-knit family. Such an atmosphere helps boost the confidence of employees and makes them feel like an important, even indispensable, part of the organization. This inspires feelings of commitment and a drive to do even better.
3. Innovation (Not Imitation)
Companies that focus on being ahead of their competitors and introducing new ideas in the marketplace follow the principle of "innovation, not imitation." This is crucial if a company wants to be a trendsetter and introduce new products that consumers appreciate.
Employees in such companies are encouraged to be dynamic and come up with innovative ideas that can translate into successful products for the company. Constantly imitating others won't take the business far.
The thirst to constantly improve can be achieved if one is never satisfied. Organizations that have this principle as one of their core values try to provide a dynamic platform for their employees, where they can explore their creativity and skills and further enhance themselves.
While celebrating successes is an important thing, just sitting back and getting complacent over them is unacceptable for such companies. The reason why some companies habitually do well is because they know that employees are the most valuable resource.
Nothing compares to an employee who is dedicated and willing to go the extra mile. This requires a company to cultivate an environment that promotes respect and frowns upon politics. If you want to achieve this type of work environment at your company, these four core values are a great place to start.
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