For most people, changing a job is a matter of money or power. You move if the new company offers you an attractive compensation package. Or, you move if you are just a worker and there you will be managing / leading others. Also you have others that look for the state of the art tools and methods; they will move to a new job if they find that there are using the new stuff. In summary we have three buckets; one big for the ones looking for money, another for the ones looking for power, and the last one for those state of the art addicts.
As you mature on your career, and life, you start to value some others aspects. Suddenly the money pass to a second place. Also, if you are good on what you do, there is no need to be a manager or leader in order to increase your incomes. You start looking at your company management philosophy, things contributed by your team (to you) and vice versa, turnover ratio, physical aspects of your work-space among others. All those variables lead to the fundamental question: Is this a good place, for me, to work?
What is a good place to work?
- How flat is their structure? Typical employee to manager ratio, for our industry is between 8:1 and 10:1 (one manager every 8 to 10 workers). But when I talk about a flat structure, I'm not looking at the first level managers ratio. Is about how tall is the chain from them and up. The more levels in the management chain, the more bureaucracy you'll have. Also the company ability to conform organic teams is very important. Imagine that you start working in a new project involving 3 or 4 groups (and of course their leaders); this can put you in a cross fire coming from each manager try to control or imposes his ideas. A really organic team, must not suffer for those political issues; and if so that is an indication of how immature are those managers.
- Team's social interactions: A very simple, but accurate, gauge of the company's people-oriented traits is the social interactions among team members. The more informal interactions (celebrations, meetings, chats, parties, events, etc.) you notice in a team, the more good is that company in keeping people happy. Of course, you could find a very united team inside a non people-oriented company, but those are the exception. Usually when people are unhappy, they tend to use their free time to be as far as possible from the job (and coworkers).
- Turnover ratio (1): High turnover rates creates an inexperienced work-force, this leads to more mistakes and low quality products. Also a constant and high turnover creates the perception that the company is always about to sink; and nobody wants to wait until the last moment over the Titanic, right. More about the importance of measuring the employee turnover here.
- Career path: Low turnover is associated (not only), to a career path policy. If the company has a well established training program, employees don't try to go away so often. Also a career path program indicates that the company is concerned about your growth. Its main focus is not on taking advantage of your knowledge, and later replacing you as a depleted resource (BTW, Do you like the term "Human Resource(s)"? I like better "People" or "Staff").
- Size matters: How big will be your monitor? (Couldn't say it better than here). How fast will be your new workstation? How many GB will you have? You have to pay very close attention to the resources the company allocates on workstations, for their workers to feel comfortable. These details are an indicator of how much the company cares about the people. If they prefer to save a few bucks and put people to work on low-performance PCs, and small monitors, that company don't deserve your collaboration.
- Other environmental issues:
- Respect for the Intimacy Gradient (2) (pattern #127, from A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction. [Oxford University Press, 1977]). You need to have place(s) to work alone, in small groups, in big groups and also public (social) areas. All these different intimacy levels, must be located in a way that no group or persons interrupt others. One key indicator that a company does not respect the Intimacy Gradient, is the factory-like disposition where all desks are places in a grid with just little, or none, division. With such a disposition you can not work alone (because of the surrounding noise). Group work just causes more noise. This point, naturally, connects with the next one ...
- Noise level: what is the average noise level on your future work-area? This is a very subjective aspect, but is well know that we, brain workers, can't do a decent work without the proper concentration. Noises affect directly your capacity to concentrate.
Ask your future manager / leader what are the training policies of his organization (if any). Ask if he has the turnover rates for the last 6 month. Try to gather as much information as you can about your future team social interactions. Finally, with all that information in place, take your decision.
Please note: With all this, I'm not saying that money, new tools and technology are not important. They are, as well. But we tend to forget about the mentioned topics, and just focus on our new salary and that new toy we will be playing with.
(1) Turn Over Ratio: A simplified formula to calculate the turnover rate is: for any time period get (I) Avg employees and (II) How many people left the company; then divide II by I and multiply by 100.
(2) Pattern #127 - Intimacy Gradient:
Conflict: Unless the spaces in a building are arranged in a sequence which corresponds to their degrees of privateness, the visits made by strangers, friends, guests, clients, family, will always be a little awkward.
Resolution: Lay out the spaces of a building so that they create a sequence which begins with the entrance and the most public parts of the building, then leads into the slightly more private areas, and finally to the most private domains.