C-Suite Lifestyle

How Do You Judge A Business?

With so many out of work right now, and looking, I think it’s more important than ever that your next employer be the one that is…THE ONE!

Historically, the barometer used to judge a successful business has been the traditional financial indicators: Gross / Net Revenue / Operating Profit / Earnings Per Share, etc., and others which signal the overall performance and health of a business.  Obviously, and for the most part, they still are.

As a job search candidate however, I believe that there are some not-so obvious performance and business health indicators that are often ignored.  In years past, I too would be guilty of this, as if I were interested in working for a company, and they happened to be public, I would make a point of reviewing their previous year’s financial statements.  While the overall financial health of a business is important, I would fail to ask critical questions during the interview process which would have shed light on what I care about more now than ever, and would have saved me quite a bit of stress and heartache in the process.

During your next interview, I encourage you to ask your potential employer about these few items.

90-Day Employee Retention Rates

They join your team, but do they stick around to help grow the business?  If not, why?  What is your potential employer’s existing rate?  Don’t be afraid to ask.  This is a major indicator of how new employees (and potentially you) are initially treated when they walk through the door.  From onboarding to the training programs that are put in place.  New employees want to be set up for success and thrive in their new roles and with their new employers.  If the writing is on the wall and is obvious within that first 90 days, they are not going to get the support they want, need or were promised, they will have no problem leaving your company that will.

Most companies have no problem doing this with new candidates.  They place them on a 90-day probationary period to ensure they made the right decision by hiring you.  There is nothing wrong with you, as a new employee, place the company on the same probationary period.  Remember, it’s a 2-way street and it has to work for both parties.  If you feel you are not getting the support and training you need to be successful, Hasta La Vista…Baby!


At one point in my career, I worked for a company that experience 30%+ employee turnover!  Whoa!  According to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics, the average turnover rate in the U.S. is about 12% to 15% annually.  Needless to say, the company was riddled with mismanagement, toxic ‘leadership’ and poor financials.  It was a ‘revolving door’ of good people that needed to stay, leaving…and the ones that needed to leave, staying.  What is your potential employer’s existing rate?  Don’t be afraid to ask.

In my experience, a ‘healthy’ turnover rate is one that is below your particular industry’s average, or, below double digits.  It’s well worth asking a potential employer what their turnover rates are.  This is a key indicator of what other employees think of the business as a whole, the culture that has been built, and most importantly, the leadership that’s in place and how you, as a potential employee, will be treated and valued….or not.

Employee Satisfaction Survey Results

Does the company even engage in this exercise?  If not, why not?  If they do, what do they do with the results?  Do they get filed away to collect dust until next year when they roll it out again because an auditor told them they should?  Or, do the suggestions and opinions offered by employees actually be taken under consideration and acted upon?  I’ve seen it handled both ways, and unfortunately, I’ve also seen them be ‘weaponized’ as a means to remove those who don’t tow the company line.  Sad, but true.

If the company is just going through the motions to satisfy an audit, then it’s totally worthless, and clearly, they don’t care, you don’t want to work there!  However, these can be incredibly powerful when implemented for their intended purpose, to improve workplace processes, policies and environment.  What the current employees think of existing leadership and company practices tells you everything you need to know when going into a potential long-term employment relationship with a business.  Are they going to care about you and acknowledge your thoughts and truly appreciate your ideas and suggestions?  If not, run, run fast and don’t look back!

Client Satisfaction Survey Results

Similar to the Employee Satisfaction Surveys, the Client Satisfaction Surveys need to be fair game as well.  Equally as important are the thoughts and feelings the business’s clients have towards the company and if they are offered good products and service.  How well does the company treat its clients?  Will you constantly have to be cleaning up messes that someone left before you?  Will you have to apologize during every interaction with a client?  Are clients leaving the business faster than employees?  How long have clients been with the company?

These are all good questions worth asking before signing on.  They are all fair game, as if you will be in a ‘client-facing’ role, you have the right to understand the existing relationships between the business and its clients.  If a business is barely hanging on to the clients they are lucky to have, there won’t be a business around much longer and you will be out on the street again.

If the business cares, and they have nothing to hide, they will have no problem sharing these statistics with you, or anyone else for that matter.  If their results are really good, they will be proud to share them!  At the end of the day, these indicators tell me more about the OVERALL HEALTH of the business than the financial indicators ever will.


Because they are the pre-existing conditions which enable the financial success of any business.

Written by Ryan Waters. Have you read?

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Ryan Waters
Ryan Waters is a business management consultant at Seen It All Consulting. Ryan specialises in topics including business transformation, executive leadership, change management, talent and performance management. Ryan Waters is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine.