What do Santa, the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy and the annual list of Best Companies to work for have in common?
It is all fantasy and marketing hype.
That’s right, all of these are commercially-driven advertising dependent cultural myths. My apologies to anyone disheartened by the news (this blog is intended for those 40+). Here are three important facts to keep in mind so you can make any work environment, the best company for you.
#1—There is no such thing as a “Best” company to work for. However, within any organization some areas are more toxic than others. This far in the game, you know that companies are complex structures and the culture varies from department to department, location to location and leader to leader. While the overall company may offer great employee benefits (did someone say, defined benefit pension plan?) and other cool perks, the idea of an entire company being BEST is amusing. Working @40+ Tip: Try to move yourself into a location, department or unit of your company that is known to have the most supportive, nurturing culture in your organization. You’ve worked too long to be stressed at work.
#2—Your primary relationship at any company is with your direct manager/supervisor or fellow owners if you are a partner. Your work experience is defined by that very important relationship no matter how many fitness centers or other exotic benefits the organization offers. How many people do you know working for an organization ranked “Best” on some publisher’s list and they are experiencing “job hell”? After a while in the workforce, you can attest that a great boss can provide a ray of sunshine in an otherwise desolate work environment. The corollary is also true, your company can have a basketball court, free gourmet lunch, free parking, a generous annual bonus, tickets to sporting events and more. If your boss is jerk, you will still have your paper on the street (or Internet) looking for a better situation. Working@40+Tip: If you have a great boss, stay put and figure out how to grow in the job even if it seems kind of dead-end. Even if your boss isn’t great, and is merely not awful, it may be worth staying with them, if they support your career development.
#3—“Best” lists are an advertising juggernaut and nothing more. At the risk of sounding cynical (too late), look at the advertising in any issue of a magazine with a list of the “Best”. We’re talking companies to work for and jobs, but the same holds true for the “Best Doctors” or the “Best Private Schools” etc. There will be a ton of ads purchased by the companies, hospitals where the “Best” doctors practice or the “Best” private schools. Advertising sales reps for the magazines are out selling to the featured target as soon as the editorial calendar is set and they know which month is going to have a list of “Best”. Working@40+ Tip: Don’t buy the hype. Don’t buy that issue of the magazine off the rack. If you subscribe, skip the reading that article and write a guest article for this blog about your experience working@40+.