Addressing safety in the workplace from the virus to healthy office relationships has become a priority for employers in 2020. As a candidate, can you ask what a company is specifically doing about these issues during an interview? The short answer is absolutely, and you should.
We get it, asking questions about safety in the workplace across a range of topics can put job seekers in an uncomfortable position. However, understanding how a company handles certain issues can inform your decision on a potential offer.
Finding the right words for tough conversations is an experience we all have in common this year. We are looking at how to shape those conversations, and bring up any concerns you may have before committing to a new role.
Why It’s Ok To Ask About Safety In The Workplace During Your Interview
Increasingly, job seekers have concerns ranging from health and safety procedures, to phycological safety and addressing intersectionality in the workplace. This summer, we saw workplaces nationwide pivot their understanding of intersectionality in the workplace. Now many are taking action to address inequality at a deeper level.
Opening these conversations in work related settings, including interviews, is good for candidates and businesses. Why? As an article on leadership from the Economist explains, “companies with strong, ethical management teams enhance their ability to attract investors, customers and talented professionals.” Asking a company you are interviewing with how they approach complex, real-life challenges reinforces that those issues matter.
Besides, preparing thoughtful questions for your interview shows your level of engagement and preparedness. Asking your burning questions also ensures everyone stays on the same page.
5 Questions To Navigate The Conversation
How does your company embrace intersectionality and inclusion? Does your company have methods for ensuring diverse candidates are considered for leadership positions?
→If you get blank stares on this question, that might be a subtle warning that this business has not prioritized how to make all groups of people feel safe. How an individual feels about the response to this question is highly subjective, but in 2020 there should be a baseline for addressing inclusion and procedures for handling workplace incidents. Many companies have taken additional steps to educate their teams on unconscious bias and avoiding microaggressions in the workplace. Therefore this question is relevant and important, especially for women and BIPOC.
In what ways has your company supported its employees during this time with perks or benefits that encourage them to be happy and productive at home?
→ A lot of feeling safe at work is feeling supported. Have any programs been initiated that help employees adapt and learn? Are these programs available to everyone on the team? Curiosity about perks and growth opportunities is not greedy, but rather informs your picture of how this business operates. Bonus: ask how you can ensure a smooth transition if offered the position to get a better picture of onboarding and training.
If an employee excels on a project, how does your team acknowledge that success? Or, if an employee were struggling or unable to complete a task, how would your leadership handle this problem?
→ The answer to this question is revealing. With remote work, employee appreciation and engagement are more vital than ever. Learning how this team celebrates and propels people forward could make the job even more desirable. On the flip side, a lot of safety in the workplace is tied to how managers handle difficult situations. At the heart of this question is figuring out if companies encourage employees to take risks. Do they allow professionals to try unique approaches to problem solving? How do they handle tough conversations when things are not aligning?
How does your company address those who are uncomfortable with an in-person office setting within the next year?
→ This question helps discern how leadership is talking to those who feel uncomfortable, or have health related issues for avoiding the office. Based on how someone answers, you can determine if the company has a clear answer for this common question. Ask for details about their remote work policy, virus testing, employee exposure procedures, and if those policies are already being implemented right now. Continued safety in the workplace depends on these policies.
→ While no one can answer with certainty exactly what we will face in the coming months and next year, you can expect a potential employer to be honest with you. There are still many unknowns, but it is ok to ask how long a position will last. Alternatively, you can also ask if a short-term employment opportunity could turn into something more if conditions improve. After all, showing awareness of industry trends can present an opportunity to share your own insight.
Know Your Rights When It Comes To Safety In The Workplace
If you have the courage to bring up some of these challenging questions, you are helping yourself and the company you are interviewing with. Good questions help shape your understanding of what it would be like to work for this new company. If you have more specific concerns about how employers are obligated to handle safety during the pandemic, refer to this article on workplace safety protections.
How would you bring up traditionally taboo topics like discrimination in the workplace or extended worker safety during a global pandemic? This year, the BWB team has had some monumental conversations. We hope to continue unpacking important topics while increasing our organization’s awareness of safety in the workplace.
Here at BWBacon Group, we know and live what you are experiencing as an employer or job seeker in Denver, Boulder, Dallas, San Francisco, New York City or any of the other cities we work in. We believe great recruiting starts and ends with understanding people.
If you have any questions about living, working or playing any of the areas we serve, please contact us. We are happy to help. Seize the day, every day, that’s what we say!