When you’re looking for a new job, it’s important to know that the company you’re joining will have a positive, supportive influence on your mental health. After all, the environment you work in can have a hefty impact on your mental well-being.
It can be hard to accurately assess a company’s culture and—by extension—its stance on mental health and wellness from the outside. But there are a few signs that can tip you off to whether a company offers a mentally fit employee experience.
In this post, we explore what to look for when considering a potential employer and what to keep an eye out for before, during, and after interviews.
Before the interview: Do your desk research
There are a number of ways to find out more about the company’s culture and values before you even step into the interview.
Investigate the company’s approach to well-being
From the outside, that’s easier said than done. But there’ll be a trail of breadcrumbs for you to sort through if you know where to look.
There’s the obvious: The “about us” and “culture” pages of their website (if they have them). If a prospective employer takes the time to detail their approach to employee well-being, that’s a good start. If current and past employees confirm in company reviews that the company values the mental health of their people, all the better.
Job listings are also a good place to look for signs of prioritizing employee well-being, as they—even ones written by agencies—will clearly highlight the things the company thought was important enough to mention or call out.
And there’s the less obvious: check out the company’s blog and LinkedIn page—it could give you a feel for what the company is like, its collective voice and manner, and what it’s outspoken about.
Take a look at the makeup of the team
Is the team diverse? Is there representation across different genders and races?
A lack of diversity can be a big marker of an exclusive workplace where different opinions aren’t valued and people who don’t “fit the mold” may be excluded—all of which have a big impact on employee mental health.
How long do employees usually stay with the company?
It’s normal for people to shift jobs periodically. But a high turnover rate—with lots of employees staying for less than a year—may be something to ask the interviewer about. Check out the company LinkedIn page to get a sense of how long people usually stay with the company.
During the interview: Hear it straight from the source
The interview process can be just as valuable for you as it is for the company.
Ask them about the employee experience
Even if you’ve looked into it via the online sources mentioned above, there’s no better source of information than the interviewer. So, when you’re speaking to them, be sure to ask about what the employee experience is like.
If you feel comfortable doing so, ask what the interviewer likes most about working at the company—if they call out the team and the culture, that’s usually a good sign.
Also try asking related questions. For example, how does the company practically support employee mental health? What kind of tools or programs do they offer? Do they take a holistic approach to wellness or a singular one? Is there a sense of community among employees?
Pay attention to the interviewer’s priorities
Like job listings, the actual interview questions can highlight what the company prioritizes and considers most important. Are they asking about your willingness to work late often? Do they seem invested in ensuring you’ll be a good team fit, or are they more interested in results alone? This can signal how they prioritize mental wellness and the quality of the employee experience.
Likewise, see how they respond to straightforward questions. Are they proud of their company’s approach to employee wellness? Or does it come off more like a checked-off box? If they act cagey or dismissive, it could be a bad sign.
Is there any flexibility around the working day?
Sometimes, surprises and emergencies crop up. When they do, you’ll want to know that the company you join will understand and support you if you need to take time off or tweak your schedule.
So be sure to check what the company’s policy is on the subject. Is there any room for flexibility in working arrangements? What’s the process? And will you be penalized for having other priorities? (The latter may not be explicitly stated, but you’ll likely be able to see if that’s the case from how your interviewer reacts to the question.)
What benefits do they offer?
When your prospective employer discusses benefits with you, keep an ear out for well-being-related items, as they’re a marker of how the company cares for its employees.
Do they have an employee assistance program (EAP)? Is health insurance covered? Do they offer healthcare-related benefits like discounts to gym memberships? Does the company offer mental well-being offerings (like, you guessed it, Calm)? While these benefits alone don’t always confirm how a company values health and well-being, they can be a good starting point for gauging the company’s priorities.
Do they invest in their employees?
Ask what training and upskilling programs the company offers. Companies that actively invest in their teams’ learning and development are more likely to be positive spaces.
Looking for a new job can be a mentally draining experience, but it’s important that you don’t sacrifice your long-term mental well-being for the short-term.
By properly vetting potential employers beforehand, you can do your part to protect your mental health and find a place to work that will support you and your well-being going forwards.