How to Find Employers that Offer Good Work-Life Balance, with Marcett Banks

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Find Your Dream Job, Episode 365:

How to Find Employers that Offer Good Work-Life Balance, with Marcett Banks

Airdate: September 14, 2022

Mac Prichard:

This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life. 

I’m your host, Mac Prichard. I’m also the founder of Mac’s List. It’s a job board in the Pacific Northwest that helps you find a fulfilling career.

Every Wednesday, I talk to a different expert about the tools you need to get the work you want.

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It can be challenging to balance our careers and our personal lives. 

But when you do it well, you reduce stress, improve your health, and enjoy more satisfaction at work and at home. 

Marcett Banks is here to talk about how to find employers that offer good work-life balance.

She’s the human resource manager at Elephants Delicatessen. It’s Portland’s premier catering company and specialty foods retailer.

Marcett is an energetic HR leader who advocates for employees and business partners through inclusive practices and diversity initiatives. 

She joins us from Portland, Oregon. 

Well, let’s jump right into it, Marcett. How do you define a good work-life balance? 

Marcett Banks:

I think you kind of need to figure out what this work-life balance means to yourself. Whether that’s having a part-time role because you have other commitments outside of work, or wanting to have an adequate amount of paid time off, or potentially have time with your family or friends. 

So, really, work-life balance is allowing you to have a position in a company but also have time to enjoy what is important to you outside of work. 

Mac Prichard:

You’ve worked in HR for a long time, Marcett. Do you think work-life balance has become more important to job-seekers since the COVID-19 pandemic started? 

Marcett Banks:

I definitely think so. I think the workforce and the world of work has changed so much, especially; let’s dive into like maybe childhood care services. Those were not easily available for most people during the pandemic, currently still bouncing back from that. 

And so, having an employer who understands your personal life and what is needed from you from your family, and allows you to amend your schedule accordingly, or have time to spend with your family, take care of them, work remotely; I definitely think that the pandemic has really shined a light on what it truly means to enjoy your job and be able to have that flexibility to do what you also enjoy outside of work. And I think employers are definitely doing what they can to improve the overall employee experience with work-life balance in consideration. 

Mac Prichard:

Well, tell us more about that, what you’re seeing employers do, not just at your own company, but I know you talk to other HR professionals all the time. What are you seeing employers do to improve work-life balance for their staffs, especially since the pandemic began? 

Marcett Banks:

Yeah, for sure. I mean, flexible scheduling, as I mentioned before, offering employees who are working full-time the ability to work maybe four ten-hour shifts and have three days off together, if they’re on a five-day work week schedule normally, offering part-time schedules, as well. I’ve seen employers have two new hires, and they’re going to split a full-time schedule. Right? So if it was a five-day-a-week schedule, they would have one employee work two days, the other employee work three days. 

Also offering expansive paid time off options, extra vacation time, extra time to take care of yourself if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID or have tested positive. Also, wellness programs. I think work-life balance is important when you’re at your, you know, place of work as well. Maybe they bring in a yoga instructor to have, you know, an hour lunch where you can participate in that type of activity. 

And then, remote work. I think that is huge. Lots of employers are offering more remote positions, including us here at Elephants Delicatessen. It’s something that we’ve never really done before prior to the pandemic, and it kind of lunged us into that, and I think it also opens up your talent pool, too, to new workers who may not live in your area. So I think that there’s a lot of different things that employers are doing to kind of make that, again, that employee experience really meaningful and positive.  

Mac Prichard:

Talk to us more, Marcett, about why employers are making these changes. You mentioned remote work, for example, and how it opens up the talent pool to companies and nonprofits. But what are some of the other reasons for why employers are making these changes that create a better work-life balance? 

Marcett Banks:

Yeah, I mean, I think retention is huge. Making sure that employees are engaged and positively contributing to the company overall. I think, also, as I mentioned before, newer talent pools. It can be maybe difficult to find people in your area to fill a position. So if you’re able to offer remote, then that really opens it up to almost anybody all across the world being able to take that position. 

And I also think, when you’re considering like the wellness programs, it can build a sense of unity, and it can show that you are interested in the well-being of your employees and that you’re trying to create an environment of support.

So I think, you know, retention is big, engagement, and just, you know, enhancing that overall experience of the employee. 

Mac Prichard:

Well, let’s talk about steps job seekers can take to find employers that offer good work-life balance. One of the first steps you recommend is to look internally at yourself. How do you do this, Marcett? 

Marcett Banks:

Yeah, you know, figure out what makes you happy, outside of work, what you enjoy to do. Whether it’s being outdoors, creating art, playing music, exercising, and kind of determine what in your own life brings you that joy. And then, you know, how you feel after you’ve achieved that joy. Right? 

Mac Prichard:

And are there steps or exercises that you recommend that can help people get clear about this? I mean, do you recommend making a list, talking to colleagues? What have you seen be most effective? 

Marcett Banks:

Yeah, I think, you know, if you’re at this crossroads maybe in your career, and you’re maybe feeling burned out, I think making a list is great, and introspectively looking at the activities outside of your job, and what, you know, makes you happy. 

I think talking to family and friends and figuring out what would be the next step in order for you to kind of achieve this work-life balance. I think, you know, being present and in the moment when you’re performing certain activities whether, as I mentioned before, exercise, or art, or, you know, being outdoors. Kind of, present in the moment, understanding how those types of activities make you feel.

And then figuring out how you can participate in those types of activities more, and, you know, creating a schedule for yourself could be a part of that. Maybe you attend like a group exercise class, and that’s on certain days at certain times, looking, you know, into finding a role that will fit that schedule. 

Mac Prichard:

Well, let’s talk about how to find that role. I know one step you recommend is to study job ads and do research that can help you filter out employers that don’t match your needs. What should you be looking for when you’re looking at a job posting to see if an employer not only offers good work-life balance but is gonna best meet your needs? 

Marcett Banks:

Yeah, looking at the schedule that they post on the ad. You know, if you know that you’re on a rugby team Tuesdays and Thursdays at six pm and the schedule conflicts with that, that might not be the best position for you. 

Looking to see if they offer PTO. Maybe if you have kids and they have certain times off, making sure that you’re allotted enough paid time off to participate in their activities or take vacations if that’s something that you’re looking for.

 And also the proximity to your home. Looking at where the workplace is located, knowing if, you know, long drives are something that you enjoy, or if they’re not. You know, avoiding positions that will take you a while to arrive at the workplace. 

And I think, also, reading and understanding the culture, or the overall environment that you may participate in. The mission. The values of the company, making sure those align. Because ultimately, you will be more engaged and feel positive while you’re there. Which ultimately, you know, I believe helps your work-life balance overall. 

Mac Prichard:

Well, this is terrific. We’re gonna take a quick break, Marcett. When we come back, Marcett Banks will continue to share her advice on how to find employers that offer good work-life balance. 

Stay with us. 

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Now, let’s get back to the show.

We’re back in the Mac’s List studio. I’m talking with Marcett Banks. 

She’s the human resource manager at Elephants Delicatessen. It’s Portland’s premier catering company and specialty foods retailer.

Marcett is an energetic HR leader who advocates for employees and business partners through inclusive practices and diversity initiatives. 

She joins us from Portland, Oregon. 

Before the break, Marcett, we were talking about one of your ideas for finding employers that offer good work-life balance, and that was studying job ads, and you laid out some great tips for what to look for that indicate that these are employers who take this into consideration and offer a good work-life balance. 

What are red flags that you might keep an eye out for when looking at job postings? 

Marcett Banks:

Yeah, I think, again, when you’re looking introspectively and kind of understanding what you are looking for and what you will want to continue to participate in outside of work if you see a schedule or an element of that job ad that doesn’t align with what you’re looking for, that definitely is a red flag. I think, if you’re looking for an employer that offers childcare, for example, and they don’t say it on their job ad, and you can’t really see on their website that they offer any service as such, then that could be a red flag. 

I think it’s really understanding what items in your life you’re looking to continue, and then if you see elements on the job ad that directly conflict with that, that probably isn’t going to be the right position for you if you’re looking to continue doing some other things outside of work. 

Mac Prichard:

What other research do you recommend doing besides looking at job postings to see if an employer is offering a good work-life balance? 

Marcett Banks:

Yeah, I think informational interviews are great. Offering to have coffee with the recruiter or the hiring manager. Just to get to know a little bit more about their expectations and the position. 

I love to look at the website of a company. Kind of read their About section, try to understand what they are bringing, you know, into the workforce, and there, as I mentioned before, their mission and values. 

And when you do that research, it’s going to make you enter that informational interview more confidently, and you’ll be able to celebrate with them elements that you really like about them as an employer or potentially other elements that you had questions about. And in that informational interview, it’s kind of a guard-down situation because you’re not necessarily interviewing for a position, actively in that moment, for you to really seek alignment with what your expectations are, and what the expectations are of the employer, and making sure that it will be a right choice for you if you decide to work there, and interview for a position that is open in the future. 

Mac Prichard:

What’s the best way to approach someone inside an employer, particularly in HR, before you’ve applied for a job to get an informational interview to explore the points you just described? 

Marcett Banks:

Yeah, LinkedIn is a great resource. Sending a direct message. I believe that most HR professionals or potential managers, or hiring managers within organizations may be active on LinkedIn. 

Doing research on what community-based organizations may be offering events where you can connect with some of these professionals and opening up that space to, you know, offer them to go out to coffee or to meet up, maybe for a happy hour, whatever you prefer. 

Also, through your personal network, or any of your colleagues or, you know, friends and family, letting them know kind of what you’re looking for, and they may be able to connect you with someone that could offer more support or is, you know, in a type of role that could explain what their organization could offer and how it may align with your life. 

I think, just kind of putting yourself out there, whether you’re directly approaching someone, as well, like if you were to look up their address of Headquarters or their maybe Central Office, if they have like a receptionist connecting with them, and seeing if you can get on their calendar. Maybe via a personal assistant, whatever that avenue may be there. It’s really kind of that putting yourself out there, which can be a little scary. But taking that leap. 

And most times, the person who would do the informational interview is kind of excited to meet with you, especially, you know, if you’re doing your research as I mentioned before about the company, and kind of leading off with like, I really enjoy this benefit that you offer, or this your mission, or whatever it may be. I would love to talk to you to learn more about this for an informational interview. I feel like, myself included, most people are like, wow, this person’s really interested. They’re potentially passionate about, you know, our organization. I would love to explain more to them. 

Mac Prichard:

Another recommendation you have to find employers that offer good work-life balance is to talk about the importance of work-life balance in your application materials. Why is it important to do this, Marcett? And is there a risk that you might turn off some employers by raising this subject in your application?

Marcett Banks:

Yeah, I mean, most applications will have like a comment section that you can leave a comment towards the end, and I think mentioning that you need a certain day off for whatever reasons, maybe you’re taking your kid to their soccer game, or you have a prior engagement, or commitment. Being explicit about that up front will allow the recruiter to potentially filter you out. Right? If it’s a deal-breaker for them that you need to work on Saturdays, for example. But also, I feel like you’re being transparent and showing that you know what you want, and you know what you need for your life. 

And I also think that in the interview as well, asking about the schedule, letting them know if you have any prior engagements, if you have vacations coming up, all of that good stuff. Because I think the more, again, transparent you’re able to be with them, that ultimately, in my opinion, is respectable, and you’re really hoping to seek something that works for both the employer and yourself. 

Mac Prichard:

I think some listeners might be surprised to hear that that transparency about their needs can be a plus. Could you talk more about that? Particularly from your perspective as a hiring manager. 

Marcett Banks:

Yeah, we in our job ads have questions that, you know, explicitly ask, what’s your desired schedule? Especially on the phone screen. And, you know, our ultimate goal is to seek alignment on that, and, you know, when we see that someone is unavailable during certain days, what we do, is we explore all options. You know, one being, can we change the schedule for this position to accommodate, you know, this new hire? Could we actually offer maybe a different position to them that still is in alignment with their background? 

And I think we come from a very employee-first stance, and ultimately, making sure that what we’re offering to this individual is what is going to work for them is most important. Because, you know, training and bringing them, you know, onboard, and then if it ends up not being a good fit because we didn’t do our due diligence to really ask what they’re expecting, is hard because we want this person to be successful and then if it ultimately doesn’t work out we always, you know, look back. And like, okay, well, what could we have asked? You know, what questions should we have, you know, brought up in order to make sure that this schedule or this position, or the time of day, or the location was really the right fit? 

Ultimately when you’re excited about a candidate, and you want to bring them onto the team, and then if they don’t work out, sometimes that’s hard to digest. 

Mac Prichard:

You mentioned a moment ago that you should ask questions in the job interview about work-life balance. When is the best time to bring up these questions, Marcett? At the start of the interview or in a second or third interview? What kind of timing do you recommend?  

Marcett Banks:

I really think that it depends on the questions that are asked of you. If they’re explicitly asking, this is the schedule. Are you able to work that? And, you know, that’s obviously a prime opportunity for you to let them know if it is going to work or not. I think, if it doesn’t get naturally brought up within their line of questioning, to make sure at the end of the interview to bring that up, like, oh, by the way, I do have this commitment I mentioned on my application as well. I just wanted to make sure that this was going to be okay. 

Or if you’re in like a multiple interview stage, I would say probably at the end of the first interview. Because like I said, you need that transparency and making sure that they understand what your expectations are and that it aligns with their expectations. I think is important to do at the beginning of the process if there’s multiple interviews. Just so that, ultimately, the time spent for interviewing or other elements of that process is time well spent. 

Mac Prichard:

Well, it’s been a terrific conversation, Marcett. Now, tell us, what’s next for you? 

Marcett Banks:

Well, here at Elephants Delicatessen, we have a lot of new and exciting opportunities ahead of us. We’re going to open up two new retail locations, and a second production kitchen, and we’re really bouncing back from the pandemic. We were affected heavily by not being able to have like catering events and such. And so, we’re really working on building our business, but we’re also building unity. We are hoping to have a lot of fun events for our employees to attend and boost that engagement. 

I’m also on the Board for the Portland Human Resource Management Association. I’ve been working on bringing in-person events back and boosting attendance there. 

So a lot of bringing things back and positively moving forward together.  

Mac Prichard:

Well, terrific. I know listeners can learn more about you and your work at Elephant’s Delicatessen, as well as at the Portland Human Resource Management Association, by connecting with you on LinkedIn, and as always, if they do reach out to, I hope they’ll send you a note and mention they heard you on Find Your Dream Job. 

Now, Marcett, given all the great advice you’ve shared today, what’s the one thing you want a listener to remember about how to find employers that offer good work-life balance? 

Marcett Banks:

Yeah, ultimately, look at what makes you happy. Take care of yourself. Do what you feel is right. And it may take some time, but you’ll find the perfect match as long as you lead with what you enjoy the most. 

Mac Prichard:

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Next week, our guest will be Liesl Forve.  

She leads market expansion and corporate partnerships for Navigate Forward. 

Her company supports executives as they explore a shift in career, pivot into retirement, or consider board service.

Even when unemployment rates hit record lows, job openings attract multiple applicants.

How do you present yourself to an employer so that you stand out from your competitors? 

Join us next Wednesday when Liesl Forve and I talk about how to market yourself into the job you want.

Until next time, thanks for letting us help you find your dream job.

This show is produced by Mac’s List. 

Susan Thornton-Hough schedules our guests and writes our newsletter. Lisa Kislingbury Anderson manages our social media.

Our sound engineer is Matt Fiorillo.  Ryan Morrison at Podfly Productions edits the show. Dawn Mole creates our transcripts. And our music is by Freddy Trujillo.

This is Mac Prichard. See you next week. 

If you don’t have a good work-life balance, you will deal with higher stress levels and less satisfaction at work. How do you find a job with a focus on that balance? Find Your Dream Job guest Marcett Banks says you begin by knowing what’s important to you outside of work. What are the things you need time for? Marcett urges honesty when speaking to hiring managers about the time you need for these things. She also recommends not settling for less than what you truly need. You can have a good work-life balance if you know what you’re looking for and how to communicate that to a potential employer. 

About Our Guest:

Marcett Banks is a human resource manager at  Elephants Delicatessen. It’s Portland’s premier catering company and specialty foods retailer.

Resources in This Episode: