I recently came across Erik Pettersen's "The Four Legs of Job Satisfaction", I have a similar list of my own which I have been using for the last few years to assess possible jobs when I am trying to decide about taking a new position and thought this was a good opportunity to share them. Here they are in non-metaphorical form and in no particular order:
- Culture and management quality
- The work you are doing
- The people you work with
- The weekly hourly load/life Impact
- The physical work environment
Compensation is pretty strait forward and will include salary and benefits or strait fee or hourly rate for contractors.
Commute is generally thought of in terms of time, but can include cost and hassle, do you have to take two buses and transfer twice on the train? Also parking probably falls under this one as well, but could fall under compensation if it’s included.
The work you are doing is in my opinion one of the more crucial attributes. Are you doing work that will move you and your career forward? Is it interesting and challenging? This one can vary over time depending on the phase of the project or which project you are working on at a given time.
Culture and management quality - I am lumping these two together, as they often go hand in hand but not always. Is your manager competent and/or a decent person? This can make a big difference in your day to day stress and enjoyment of the work you are doing. Also culture can affect quality of life as well.
The people you work with are pretty important and will be more of a distribution than an absolute value. If you are lucky the people that you mostly see day to day are people whose company you enjoy.
The weekly hourly load/life Impact - this one can overlap with commute but the bottom line is how much potential overtime will you get hit with and how often? Also the life impact can be emotional in that a frustrating situation can be draining and affect your quality of life and eat into your personal time if you are thinking about work when you aren't working.
The physical work environment is important. Are you in a cube or office? Do you have a quiet work environment? Do you have any natural light? I also lump work neighborhood into this one.
Now of course you can break these things out however you want, for example where would telecommuting fit in that list? It could easily fit under commute or work environment. The nice thing about this type of approach is that you can use it analytically to compare two jobs. When I am planning a job change I often list these items out and give each one a delta value to compare them, for example a previous transition looked like this:
|Compensation||-||Slight decrease in hourly rate|
|Commute||+||Still able to bike commute, five miles shorter. Same road danger factor.|
|Culture and management quality||0||About the same|
|The work you are doing||+++||Went from doing legacy support work with Struts 1 to green fields RestfulSpring 3 & Hibernate|
|The people you work with||0||About the same|
|The weekly hourly load/life Impact||0||About the same|
|The physical work environment||+||Cube slightly worse but much better work neighborhood with good restaurants|
Unfortunately it’s often hard to tell about some of these before you start but you have to do the best you can and you can ask about some of these like work environment, if you think about it. Since the pay cut didn’t put me in a negative financial situation, the above transition was a no brainer.
I have wanted to share this in my blog from the time when I was just thinking about writing it and it’s a nice light break from some of my heavier topics.