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, from the outside, a company’s culture and—by extension—its stance on mental health and wellness. But a few signs 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 follow 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 its 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 its people, all the better.
Job listings are also a good place to look for signs of making employee well-being a priority, as they—even those 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: the company’s blog and LinkedIn page—they 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 genders and races?
A lack of diversity can be a major 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, as a practical matter, support employee mental health? What kind of tools or programs does it offer? Does it 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 interview questions can highlight what the company prioritizes. 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? The questions you’re asked can signal how how the company prioritizes mental wellness and the quality of the employee experience.
Likewise, see how the interviewer responds to straightforward questions. Are they proud of their company’s approach to employee wellness? Or does it come off more like a checked box? If they act cagey or dismissive, it could be a bad sign.
Is there any flexibility regarding 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? (This last may not be explicitly stated, but you’ll likely be able to figure out if that’s the case from how your interviewer reacts to the question.)
What benefits does the company offer?
When your prospective employer discusses benefits with you, keep an ear open for well-being-related items, which are a marker of how the company cares for its employees.
Does it have an employee assistance program (EAP)? Is health insurance covered? Does it offer healthcare-related benefits such as discounts on gym memberships? Does the company offer mental well-being offerings (such as Calm)? While these benefits alone don’t necessarily confirm how a company values health and well-being, they can be a good starting point for gauging the company’s priorities.
Does the company invest in its 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 not sacrifice your long-term mental well-being for short-term relief.
By properly vetting potential employers, you can do your part to protect your mental health and find a place to work that will support you and your well-being.
As a job seeker, it’s important for you to find a company that will actively support your mental well-being. Before going to an interview, investigate a potential employer’s culture and team online. During the interview process, pay attention to how the company interacts with you and what it considers priorities.