When Buying a House, It’s “Location, Location, Location.” When Pursuing a Career, Consider “Colleagues, Community, Culture”
September 9, 2022
Buying a house is a big decision. Our most significant lifetime investment, home is where we spend time with and raise family, make neighborhood connections, and from where we send our children to school. Three things matter in acquiring property expressed in a maxim often credited to British real estate magnate Lord Harold Samuel: “location, location, location.” Could a version of this long-standing rule of thumb apply equally to other parts of our life journey?
For example, home is not where we will spend most of our waking hours. That place, whether real or virtual, is work, and the lifestyle standards we set for work should be as high as those we seek when buying a home. Our job is equally an investment. The return on that investment is in personal enrichment – not only through paycheck and professional development, but also through the satisfaction of contributing to the business’s impact on society.
Each of us must carefully consider the colleagues, community, and culture they want in their work lives. You wouldn’t move into a crumbling home in a troubled neighborhood if you could avoid it. Why join a broken workplace? Just as house hunters do their homework before they move into a new home in a new neighborhood, we should do our homework before buying into a work setting.
Businesses have Attributes That Signal Good ROI
Like homes and neighborhoods, businesses have attributes that job seekers should consider. What is the importance of the company and what do they value? What is their commitment to diversity and inclusion? Do they discuss sustainability initiatives and create an ESG (environment, social and governance) analysis that shows the public and shareholders the value they bring to the wider community?
These elements – a company’s “purpose” – matter. They can make the difference between an employee showing up excited about their work and its contribution to a better world and an employee simply showing up. But purpose isn’t just good for employees’ positive outlook and well-being; it’s become clear that it drives personal and organizational success.
While ESG reporting is still an emerging discipline, it’s been shown in several studies that companies engaged in social impact efforts perform better than those that don’t. NYU Stern Business School Center for Sustainable Business and Rockefeller Asset Management recently reported that there is “a growing consensus that good corporate management of ESG issues typically results in improved operational metrics such as ROE, ROA, or stock price.”
Look at These Five Purpose-Based Balance Sheet Influencers
Here are five points that relate to prospective colleagues, community, and culture that employees should look for when considering buying into a new job:
Good Property Values
Not every workplace is fully realized. While some are established concerns, some enterprises are on the road to turnaround, while others are start-ups. When looking at companies with work to do, consider whether employees have a voice. Do their points of view matter? Is the company intentional about inclusion? No company is perfect, but are leaders working to build company value so that it becomes a “best place to work?”
Thorough Home Inspection
Companies are increasingly tracking and sharing information about their commitment to workplace diversity, giving back to the communities where they operate, reducing their carbon footprint, or supporting global climate action. Many look to improve the world by tying their products to social causes. Others have joined NGOs such as the United Nations Global Compact to contribute to planetary or public health as a corporate citizen. Publicly traded companies share metrics on these programs through their ESG Reports, which are readily available for prospective employees to review; others share their ESG actions through their websites. Remember to do a full inspection!
An Excellent School System
Many buy a starter home in a community with an excellent school system because that translates into future value. Joining a new company is no different. In his bestselling book Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Master the Flow of Talent, Sydney Finkelstein, Professor of Management at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, points to how great bosses encourage the success of future waves of talent. If you’re looking to invest in your career future, look for a company offering a great “school system” in the form of professional development and mentorship.
A Thriving Community Setting
Realtors ask you to imagine your ideal lifestyle, now and a decade into the future. Career-savvy job seekers want a current and future lifestyle match with their prospective workplace community, too. Do your supervisors appreciate and respect your time in service professions where you are often “on-call”? Are you part of a team with comradery or just a drone? Is there a genuine commitment to addressing pressing societal issues around diversity, inclusion, and career advancement at all levels of the organization? Do you hear stories of employees moving and working from remote locations because their lives took them to Montana? If the company fosters talent, values individuals, and recognizes life is an adventure, it will come across as a real community that cares for its members.
How mayors and other leaders run local government tells you a lot about whether you would be happy in that community. Business leaders are running communities, too. Communication agency head Peter Finn felt that personal and career interests should be harmonized, not separated. In his desire to revitalize the Catskills Mountain town of Hunter, NY, he combined his love of the arts with a desire to support the rural community and its local businesses. The result was Hunter’s Catskills Mountain Foundation, performing arts, and corporate retreat center. Seeing that purpose and social impact could transform communities, he launched the transformative agency FINN Partners. Are your company’s leaders basing their actions on purpose, informed by deeply held conviction? Are they setting an inspiring example for their workplace communities?
The 181 CEOs of leading American companies that make up the Business Roundtable recently revisited their 22-year-old Statement of Purpose, which identified increasing shareholder value as a company’s purpose. In their revision, they agreed that companies should not only serve shareholders, but also “deliver value to their customers, invest in employees, deal fairly with suppliers and support the communities in which they operate.”
The fact is, business has always done more than make money, and the best places to work have always been driven by purpose, including a caring community of like-minded colleagues that share a common culture. Each of us hopes to have this kind of work environment. Remember, while buying a home is probably the biggest investment you will make, buying into a workplace is the other significant investment in your future. When considering a career move, look at your prospective employer’s potential value and consider the return on the investment in time and effort you will make.