This post originally appeared on xoJane.
There are few things I require in a workplace in order for me to be truly happy with my surroundings. These are:
- Being able to eat at my desk. Being told I can’t do that (which did happen in a previous job) is like telling me I can’t BREATHE.
- A fridge. My friend worked for a HUGE multi-million pound company and they wouldn’t provide a fridge so that staff had to buy lunch from their expensive canteen. SO MEAN.
- A pinboard where I can put up photos of dogs wearing bunny ears, etc.
- The toilets have to be decent. I spend a lot of time in them.
- Decent links to public transport — I don’t drive, so trains and buses are my friend. Somehow I worked for 3 years in the middle of nowhere and had to hitch a lift every morning with my Dad’s friend who had a sandwich van and used to do his round at the business park where I worked.
- A culture where it’s actually OK if you leave on time, rather than being looked down on if you want to run out of the office at 5pm on the dot because you need to get to the supermarket because you just got paid and want to buy 680 scented candles. Purely hypothetical, of course.
- NICE PEOPLE.
To a lesser extent, I take into consideration:
- The actual salary
- Career progression
But whatever. I’m happy!
Having worked in a number of different roles since I left college 8 years ago, I’ve had my fair fill of crappy experiences.
I remember one particular job in recruitment — I was 20 and had just left my first job, which I loved, for this “new and exciting opportunity.” It turned out to be run by megalomaniac psychopaths, the worst of whom was my direct manager. He liked me because I “thought outside the box” (cringe), but then stole my first month’s commission.
I would work two hours unpaid overtime until 7pm every night, and cry when I got home because I hated it so much, and then cry in the morning before work, and then cry on my lunch hour. I was a complete snotbag. I was working like an absolute navvy and then wouldn’t get paid the commission because somehow they’d always come up with new and creative ways of getting out of paying it.
The final straw came when I got a phone call during the day from my Dad, who had his test results back from the doctors — which had showed that his lymphoma had returned. I wanted to leave the office to go and be with him, but my bosses said I had too much to do. I worked until 7pm, when I turned to Evil Manager and asked if it was all right if I left.
“If you think you’ve done enough,” he replied.
I went to the doctors, was signed off with anxiety and stress, and never went back.
The reason I went for that job was because of the salary, the OTE. Ever since then, money never seemed as important when I was applying for something new. I decided to get into one particular industry — a notoriously low paid one but delightfully laid back — and worked at it, loving it regardless of it not being a wage that would stand up to some of my friends working in the City.
Not being able to afford to go out drinking wine midweek seemed a whole lot better when going to work put a smile on my face, doing something I actually really enjoyed doing and meant I was home by 6 pm every night to spend time with people I truly wanted to hang out with, or watch 18 back-to-back episodes of The Real Housewives of Orange County rather than sitting in a badly lit office thinking up 101 different ways of how to kill someone using just a stapler and a Post-it note.
I am lucky enough now to work somewhere where the management are complete dudes. Last summer, we had a summer picnic and took a day out of the office to play sack races, and egg-and-spoon races and had a buffet with bunting and it was great. I think a lot of companies need to do the same. Happy workforce = better productivity.
Work-life balance is to me far more important than how much cheddar I’m bringing in. I just CAN’T care that much about how much I earn, and FAR less about how much anybody else does. I have conversations with people sometimes and within the first five minutes, they’ve already brought up how much they are earning, and how much their next role will boost that up to. I literally have no [redacted] to give.
Talk to me about your weekend, your last shag, your job by all accounts — but please don’t tell me how much you earn.
It seems I am not alone though — research conducted by Accenture for International Women’s Day 2013 found that the majority (58%) of today’s working women would prefer a better work-life balance to a bigger paycheck. This was the highest voted for point in the survey, the second being money (45%), closely followed by recognition (43%). More than 80% of the women surveyed said that having a flexible working schedule is either important or very important — and a huge 85% of women said that flexible working hours would reduce stress and make them happier in the workplace.