Last year I was working in a finance company where the culture was really bad: ignoring people’s work-life balance, asking employees to work during the weekend without any compensation, expecting us to arrive at the office as early as possible in the morning and leave as late as possible in the evening, not to mention taking a lunch break was frowned upon.
But maybe the worst was the fact that meetings (especially between heads of departments) were emotionally difficult, one of us would expect to be mentally beaten up and humiliated in front of everyone else without warnings. It resulted in an atmosphere where we were scared to speak up (in case we said something silly), always kept on our toes and desperate to impress the most influential people within the company. Staying in their good books was essential to survive and I hated witnessing “brown nose clubs” doing whatever it took to be on the “right” side.
This experience was a great school of life though, I stayed 2 years in this company until I realised I needed to reassess my priorities. I then decided to quit and go travelling for 6 months.
Why you should always prioritise your wellbeing
I think you can see where I’m going with it: it’s great to have a job that pays well… except if it impacts your mental health, which will also affect your overall health. In response to stress, I found comfort in food and gained more than 20 kg during these 2 years. I’ve never seen so many unhappy employees. The turnover rate was so high that most teams were completely different between when I joined the company and when I left 2 years later. I left with no other job lined up, nothing else than a travel plan and yet I know I made one of the best decisions of my life – even if I’m still unemployed today.
Define what values are the most important to you
Of course I didn’t think I would struggle to find a new job upon my return when I decided to do a short career break. I’ve never found it hard to find a new job in the past, I’ve never stayed in the same company for more than a few years. Things are different in 2020 though. The economic impact of COVID is real and the unemployment rate hit its highest level in 3 years. But at least now I know my priorities in life, I had a lot of time to reflect and think about how I need to pick my next work opportunity. Below a few values I overlooked in the past but won’t in the future:
- strong leadership that empowers employees
- fun and modern company culture
- good employee retention
- respect of work-life balance
- flexibility on work schedule and possibility to work from home
- healthy environment at the office
Get a better idea of what your dream job would be
Starting this blog also helped me narrow down the industry I ideally want to work in. As a marketing professional, I have worked in many different industries because it never really mattered to me what I had to sell, I liked the variety. Marketing is a tool and the techniques stay more or less the same between companies. But now I’m starting to realise how much it actually matters to personally have an interest in the company’s business. So I would love my next job to be in health, wellbeing and/or fitness industry. Have you ever noticed how much you could influence your future with a clear plan in mind and a positive attitude?
The new “normal”
Old fashioned companies like my previous one are thankfully less common nowadays. Mental health is an important topic, we spend way too much time at work to tolerate a toxic atmosphere. Even the worst companies had to adapt during lockdown, allowing employees to work from home (that would have been unthinkable for some in the past). Nowadays, more companies realise they can trust their employees to do their job, without having to micro-manage them. This pandemic definitely had some positive influence in some areas. But it’s too soon to tell if the change is going to last after it’s all over…
How did the pandemic impact your work life?
Big Girl x