There's nothing worse than starting a new job only to find out the work environment isn't right for you; it's far better to realize it's a problem workplace before you accept their offer. Here are seven ways to spot a bad office culture before you accept the job.
The office space is run-down.
Not every company is going to have designer-selected accessories, and the desk chairs might not all match. But if the chair they give you to sit in at your interview is broken, if you see signs that copiers are out of order, and if the walls are desperately in need of a paint job, it's a sign that the company isn't investing in its workspace and doesn't care about the facilities available to its employees.
The company's founders got squeezed out.
In technology startups, the founders are often the driving force behind the company's success. Losing the founders can mean the company is in trouble and investors are hoping to salvage it; or it can mean the company will soon be in trouble, as the creative minds with vision have moved on to new projects. It can also mean all projects and employees are under close scrutiny.
The interview is all about what the company needs.
Certainly, you should expect the bulk of the interview to be questions directed at you, to help the company determine if you have the skills for the job. But there should be time allotted to explain the company and project to you, and for you to ask questions. If the hiring manager doesn't have time to hear your questions now, they probably won't want to hear them after you're hired, either.
The only part of the workplace you see is the interview room.
This may be related to the fact that the office space is rundown (see bad sign number one), but may also be because the company is afraid to let you feel the vibe of the workplace and see how employees interact with each other—if they even interact at all.
You aren't impressed by the company's leadership.
In most cases, you don't get to meet the company's CEO, even if you're interviewing with a small company. So take the time to find a video of them online, on the company site or elsewhere. If they aren't inspirational, you probably won't find working for the company to be inspiring, either.
The interviewer seems surprised you're there.
Your time is valuable, and the company should have a prepared schedule of interviewers who've reviewed your resume before you arrive; they should certainly know what job you're interviewing for! If the company isn't prepared to meet with you, they may be having a bad day or they may be poorly managed.
The interview is stressful.
Obviously, interviewing is a tense process. Some companies may add stressful challenges not directly related to job skills, such as asking you to solve a puzzle rather than writing sample code. Other companies may ask a lot of questions about how you manage stress, or talk a lot about their intense pushes to make deadlines. Pay attention to the questions you're asked for what they reveal about the stresses you'll encounter on the job.
When you're looking for a new job, it's helpful to get insight into the workplace environment even before you schedule an interview. At The Armada Group, our recruiters know the details of the jobs and companies we're recruiting for, and we'll match you to a job that matches your technical skills and your personality. Contact us to start your search today.
When your employees give everything their all, sometimes they end up giving too much, leading to burnout. The Millennial generation is often overloaded with work, continuing education, hobbies, and family obligations, leaving them overstressed and unable to do their best. Use these tips to help the Millennials at your workplace find balance that lets them be productive at work and in all aspects of their lives.
Offer Flexible Work Arrangements
It's easier for Millennials to manage their work and outside obligations when they have the flexibility to work from home, work a shifted schedule, or work part-time hours. Technology today makes it possible for almost every worker to get their job done from home; particularly in IT, there are few positions that truly require an on-site presence to interact with customers or equipment.
Offer Flexible Work Assignments
Sometimes burnout or work stress comes from having too little that's interesting to do rather than having too much to do. Give your employees the chance to mix it up with different projects that reduce boredom. Rather than spending all day coding, let your team shadow business people for a few hours or days. It will be a break in the routine that also deepens their understanding of the goals and significance of their work.
Create a Culture of Caring
If management demonstrates that it cares about employees, they'll be less likely to stress and more likely to ask for help if they need it. Allow managers to get to know their employees outside of work with offsite teambuilding activities. Except when deadlines are in danger, allow employees to goof around at the office. That casual banter helps build relationships that pull the team together and encourage everyone to work together to meet project goals.
Make Work Meaningful
Employees are less likely to burnout at work if the work has meaning to them or to society. Make sure your business contributes to social or civic causes and encourage employees to join your charitable teams.
The Armada Group has been helping companies hire top talent for more than 20 years. Our experience working with all generations of employees, including Millennials, can help you build an workforce of capable, content workers. Contact us to leverage our approach to recruiting and solve your hiring challenges.
Building an impressive resume requires acquiring impressive work experience. Does changing jobs frequently stand in the way of that? Changing jobs frequently certainly lengthens a resume, because there are more jobs to list. This used to be a negative, as companies looked for loyalty. That was fine when 25 years of service got you a gold watch and a pension.
In today's world, managers recognize that loyalty cuts both ways, and since companies often demonstrate little loyalty to employees, they can't expect much in return. The trick with job hopping is to make sure that each job change adds something new to your resume and boosts your value. This means you should consider job hopping if the new position:
Lets you develop a new technical skill.
Technical skills are the most important skills any IT worker brings to their job, but it can be difficult to keep skills current when you stay at an employer a long time, as companies are often committed to a specific tech stack. Job hop strategically to develop a new skill that can position you well for future opportunities.
Gives you a new job title.
If your current employer requires you to keep your title for a fixed number of years before you can add the word "senior" to it, jumping to a new employer can shorten the time it takes to climb the ladder. Although sometimes there's not much difference between job duties, having a senior position on your resume can help the next time you want to change jobs.
Gives you new responsibilities.
You can become a more well-rounded worker by moving to jobs that give you experience in different aspects of technology: programming, QA, support, and management. You'll gain skills that qualify you for a variety of positions in the future.
Whether you've changed jobs often or stayed with one employer for years, when you're ready to make your next change, The Armada Group's recruiters will match you to an open position that takes advantage of the skills you've acquired. Contact us to start looking for your next job now.
For management, it's tempting to want to keep your top performers in their current roles. They're doing a great job; everything's under control. If move them to a different position, someone else will have to take over their job. You'll have to train that person and they might not be as good. It seems better to keep your programmer doing that job.
The problem is, programmers work in a world where there's always something new; most programmers have curious minds and want to try out the new technology. Forcing a programmer to stay in the same job makes it likely your developer will make the decision to move out, and you'll be even less prepared to cope with their absence.
Instead, recognize that retaining your top-performing programmers doesn't mean keeping them in the same role on the same team on the same project in the same department. Focus on offering them challenges that will keep them in your company while giving them the opportunity to learn and grow.
Let your developers move to new projects with different roles, responsibilities and technologies. Encourage your top individual contributors to take leadership roles or apply their technical insight to solving a new problem.
Help your talent discover and develop all their talents. Assign mentors who can help programmers envision their long-term career path. Offer support for continuing education, and don't restrict company support to training that's immediately applicable at work.
Monetary rewards are important; top programmers can definitely find well-paying work. But other rewards are also important; praise, both public and private, assures developers that their work is both noticed and appreciated.
Despite your efforts to retain top talent, sometimes they'll decide to leave anyway. When that happens, you need an effective recruiting process that will bring in someone equally good. When you work with The Armada Group, you leverage our 20 years of experience. We make sure we understand the role you're filling so the job description will attract the best candidates, we prescreen potential hires who respond to the description, and we help your team interview and evaluate the candidates. You'll quickly stop worrying about the employee who left and start focusing on how to retain the new talent on board.
You earned your promotion because you successfully applied your skills in your previous role, but the management role is very different from a hands-on technical role. Cranking out bug-free code isn't your job anymore; motivating your team to crank out code, making sure they have the resources they need, and negotiating time, budget, and requirements with business users will fill your day. Here's what you need to do to help your team (and you) succeed.
Recognize That Things Have Changed
Sometimes the promotion comes with a new job or a new project, and it's obvious things are different. Other times, you're asked to step into the lead role on the same project you've been working on. That can create a tendency to keep doing what you were doing, and to interact with the team the same way you used to. Don't allow that to happen! Make a conscious decision to refocus your time on business problems, rather than technical problems. You may also need to change how you interact with work buddies who are no longer your peers; you need to create a relationship where they accept, respect, and work towards the direction you give.
Management gets things done less by sheer technical, analytical, or business skill than by building relationships that allow them to collaborate with others and persuade others to do things a certain way. Don't isolate yourself behind your desk with spreadsheets; attend meetings in person when possible and always introduce yourself to other attendees. If you're a typical techie, your interpersonal skills could use some work, so take classes that help build your ability to communicate on paper and in person.
Focus on Business Needs
You've probably got a specific project you need to deliver, but the way to make the biggest impact on the business is to focus on the business's long-term strategic goals. Be prepared to suggest ways your technical team can contribute to meeting those goals beyond the current deliverable. Business management lacks the understanding of changes in technology that can support different ways of doing business, so take on the responsibility of envisioning and selling the role of technology.
Whether you're looking for your first management position or have mastered the skills needed to work as a senior executive, The Armada Group can help match you to an opportunity that will stretch your capabilities. Contact us to discuss your career goals and learn how our recruiters can help you achieve them.
There's no question that stress, deadlines, and the constant race to get ahead takes a toll on you. If you're feeling burned out at work, don't let it keep wearing at you. A vacation can help, but there are also things you can do to help you feel better – even when you have to go into the office.
Improve Your Life Outside the Office
You may not be able to change the stressors at work, so take steps to reduce their impact on you once you escape home. Practice meditation or simply deep breathing to help reduce the tension in your body. Try to limit how much work you do from home, so your hours away from the office are a respite.
Talk to Friends
Coping with both the feelings of burnout and the aggravators at work is tough to do by yourself. Get advice and emotional support from your friends and family. If you need to, seek help from a professional. Therapists can help you cope with your feelings, while career advisors can help you resolve work situations that make days on the job difficult.
Turn off your electronic devices and hit the sack. Not only does the light from your phone's screen interfere with your sleep, lack of sleep interferes with both your mood and your effectiveness at work.
Get in Control
Sometimes burnout comes from a feeling that you're struggling to keep up and on top of everything that needs to be done. Figure out a new way of managing your to-do list so that you don't worry about missing something.
Find a New Job
Sometimes the only way to solve burnout is to tackle a new job and new challenges. If you've tried the above steps and you're still worn out at work, maybe it's time you switch jobs. Explore our hot jobs list to find ones that excite you, and then contact us. The Armada Group's experienced recruiters are skilled at matching job seekers to positions that make them happy to get up when the morning alarm clock goes off.
Some people shout. Some people whisper. Some people use metaphors to make a point, others appeal to emotion, and others pile on fact after fact to lead you to a conclusion. There's nothing wrong with any of these methods, and all of them can be effective. In fact, if you understand your audience, you can tailor your communications to use the method that will work best with those particular people.
Understand Who You Are Speaking To
If you are speaking one on one with a person you know well, you can choose the style that they respond to best; it's not true that everyone who works in technology thinks like Mr. Spock or Mr. Data. When you speak with a group, you can't match each individual's preferred communication style, and may need to make some assumptions. It's fairly safe to assume that a technical audience wants to hear facts and a logical argument. Managers may also prefer this. Other audiences may need a more emotionally based discussion.
Just the Facts, Please
When speaking with someone who prefers to see the data behind an argument, give them the facts in a logical order. Help them reach the conclusion you want by showing how the facts link together to support their position. Don't bring in extraneous points; keep the discussion focused. Respond to questions straightforwardly. Allow these logical thinkers time to review the facts and reach a conclusion.
When speaking with someone who's driven more by emotions than simply data, it isn't enough to simply present facts and show how they lead to a specific conclusion. While you can't ignore the facts, you need use stories and present them in a context that shows their impact. Expect and encourage an open, freewheeling exchange of ideas.
Build a Great Team that Communicates Well
Communicating with your team is easier when the team is made up of highly skilled professionals who are good at their job. The Armada Group has a deep database of candidates to match to your open opportunities. With our understanding of our candidates and the requirements of your open positions, you can quickly add top talent to your team. Contact us to get started.
Want to reduce turnover on your technology team? You should; it can take months to replace an employee who resigns, and it can cost thousands of dollars to hire their replacement. Those are only the direct costs. There are also other costs that are harder to measure, like the impact on morale when the remaining employees need to take on additional work, and the impact on the business if a project is delayed due to a key employee's departure.
So managers should do their best to keep their developers happy with their work environment to keep them on the job. A recent survey identified the top factors that developers find challenging at work – and not in a good way. Make an effort to eliminate these six factors to retain the employees you need for your projects to succeed:
Setting challenging goals is one thing. Setting impossible goals is another. When management expects more from its developers than they can deliver, whether it's an unreasonable schedule or asking more of a technology than it's capable of, the developers know there's no way they can succeed.
It's impossible to develop a quality application if you don't understand the business requirements or how the existing code works. Documentation that leaves many unanswered questions, or is missing entirely, frustrates developers. It means they can't start developing the solution without spending a ton of time just figuring out what they're working on.
Related to poor documentation, unspecific requirements make it impossible to tell what needs to be done to make the end users happy. Developers often read between the lines and guess, only to find out at the testing phase that they guessed wrong and need to redo their work.
Inefficient development processes.
If the team doesn't have efficient tools and procedures in place, developers spend a lot of time on administrative and manual tasks to track, manage, and build packages. That's time the developers would rather spend developing.
Fragile code base.
It's tough to create a quality project on a shaky foundation. No matter what the vision of a new release is, if the existing code is poorly structured, difficult to reuse, and easy to break, developers have to spend a lot of time reworking existing code before they get to the fun part of writing new features.
A lot of mental energy gets invested in designing and coding an application, so developers get attached to the features they're working on. When requirements change often, developers have to put that aside and start something new. That can be tough for them to accept.
Of course, even if you avoid all these issues, you'll still have employees occasionally resigning – life happens, after all. When you need to find top talent, The Armada Group takes time to understand your needs and match your opening to the ideal candidates. Contact us to learn how we can help you find employees who'll be happily challenged working for you.
Millennials came of age during challenging economic times. Many had trouble finding good jobs after school, settling for jobs they were overqualified for or working at internship after internship, hoping to get an "in" with a good company and a good job.
Now, the work habits that were forced on millennials are impacting employers. Millennials don't have the same experiences or expectations of the workplace that other generations had, and employers who want to hire millennials, perhaps to replace retirees of older generations, need to adapt the way they work to appeal to the younger generation.
Flexible Work Arrangements
Millennials don't expect to be tied to their workplace for a 40-hour work week. They've grown up with computer technology that keeps them connected around the clock, wherever they are; they don't see why work should have to me going to a specific place at a specific time. The "gig economy" lets them work on projects in short bursts of time when they have availability, giving them the freedom to pursue personal interests and passion projects. While those positions were initially focused on low-level, menial tasks such as running errands and standing in line, newer gig firm let even grads with advanced degrees like MBAs work on a short-term basis.
In order to compete for workers who prefer that kind of arrangement, firms need to offer flexible work arrangements that extend beyond an occasional "work-from-home" day. This might mean hiring millennials on a part-time basis; to succeed, the part-time schedule has to be desired by the employee rather than an attempt to save on the cost of benefits.
Companies can also consider having their millennials work as internal consultants. Rather than being assigned to a specific department or project, they could work for any department that has need of their skill on a specific project. This has the advantage of providing the employee a broad perspective on the company's operations. By also providing the millennial employee a large number of internal contacts, this helps the employee develop connections needed that help professional growth.
Opportunities for Growth
The gig economy lets workers accept the jobs that interest them so they can develop their interests. Within a company, implementing a formal mentorship program will also appeal to millennials who are focused on career development. Companies also need to present millennials with a clear career path, perhaps through implementing leadership programs. Companies also need to refine their mission statement to reflect the millennial values of work interests go beyond financial success.
The Armada Group's talent database includes the best potential employees of every generation. Contact us to learn how to find the best candidates and how to make your job appeal to them.
Many people are drawn to technical careers by a love of technology; they enjoy the creativity those careers require and the challenges they provide. Others are drawn to technical careers by more practical concerns: tech careers are among the best-paying opportunities out there. But even if your developers love their jobs because they love technology, they still want to be fairly compensated. That compensation isn't limited to their paycheck; benefits and perks matter, too. Work with your human resources and budgeting teams to make sure your company provides developers these crucial perks:
Start with a basic benefits package – 401K, stock options, paid time off including vacation, sick days, and personal days. Don't be tempted to leave insurance to the government-run exchanges; employer plans can offer better options and better networks. Offer, and subsidize, the cost of dental and vision insurance as well as medical insurance.
Sure, developers can work on any old computer, but they'll get a lot more done and be a lot happier with top-of-the-line equipment. The larger the monitor, the better, and the more monitors, the better, too. Make sure you have enough printers, so developers don't have to walk all the way around the building to pick up a printout. The paperless office isn't a reality for developers or anyone.
Quiet space where they can think.
Coding problems aren't solved on the computer; they're solved in the developer's mind, first. The open workspace with low cubicle walls is filled with distractions that make concentration difficult, which frustrates developers who want to get their jobs done. Even if you can't give everyone an office with real walls and a door, provide a quiet space where they can go to simply think through a tough challenge.
Freedom to use the best technology to solve the problem.
You need a stable technology platform, and mixing multiple technologies can complicate support, but don't force your team to use a tool that isn't appropriate for the task at hand just because you have the support capability. Developers want to work with new technology that makes it easier and more fun to solve the hard problems.
Training in new technology.
To use the best and newest technology, your team needs to understand it. Support your developers in learning those skills; don't force them to study on their own time but encourage them to attend off-site seminars where they can concentrate on learning without being distracted by day-to-day business issues. The commitment to their development will boost morale as well as their technical capabilities.
These perks help developers get their jobs done and demonstrate the value your company places on their skills, which boosts morale and their loyalty to your business. Contact The Armada Group to learn how we can help your business find employees who love technology and want to apply their skills to solving your problems.