Most workers find them a more comfortable fit.
When it comes to where you work, size apparently does matter.
According to a recent Harris poll, those employed at companies with fewer than 50 workers are happier on the job and with their employers – a fact to consider when pondering where you would like to pursue your next job.
Here are the poll results:
Job Satisfaction: 64 percent of small-company workers find their job fulfilling, compared to 54 percent of workers employed at firms with 5000 or more workers.
Is your job a dead end? 24 percent felt they were in a dead-end job at small firms, while 38 percent at large firms felt hopeless.
Do you really care about the organization’s fate? A sizable 64 percent of small-company workers said yes, while only 47 percent of their counterparts at big firms agreed.
Are you glad you chose this company? Fifty-three percent of small-company workers said yes, compared to 41 percent of large-company workers.
This is the best company to work for. Forty-three percent of small-company workers agreed, compared to just 25 percent of those at large firms.
Top management displays integrity and morality. While almost half (48 percent) of small-firm workers agree, only 30 percent of large-firm employees think much of the top brass.
Top management is committed to advancing the skills of employees. Thirty-nine percent of small-company staff say yes, while only 24 percent of big-firm workers agree.
So what gives? What is it about small companies that makes workers feel so much better about themselves and the company?
Having worked for both a large corporation as well as a company with a handful of employees, I have some insight into the differences.
For one thing, working for a large organization can make you feel like a number. Unless it is an unusually supportive environment, the human touch – the sense that management cares – often gets lost in the crunch to meet the monthly numbers.
Small companies, on the other hand, may not pay as well – but make up for it by treating their workers like people. The owner very often knows every worker on a first-name basis.
Here are some other differences to ponder:
Job Responsibilities: When you work for a large company, you often have support staff to help accomplish your job. You or your departments might, for example, have an administrative assistant. A worker in a small operation tends to be a jack-of-all-trades out of necessity. One day, in addition to your regular job duties, you are helping to answer the phones, the next day you might be fixing a file drawer.
Salaries: Yes, the larger companies generally pay better. But why then are big-company workers less satisfied? Because job satisfaction and recognition are more achievable in a small enterprise. In essence, at a small company you can see that you make a difference. That’s harder to find in a large operation.
Creative Freedom: Enjoy doing things differently? Then the small operation is for you. Large corporations try to put people into molds. For example, when I was promoted to publisher at a daily newspaper, I requested a computer. Publishers, I was told, do not need computers. Depends upon the publisher, I said, and went out and bought my own.
Resources: Here the large company has a distinct advantage. Small companies, typically, do not have deep pockets to quickly expand staff or underwrite a special project. When I worked for a corporate-owned newspaper, we were able, for example, to rent a helicopter for an investigative article. A small paper cannot afford such extravagances.
Opportunities for Promotion: Obviously, the bigger the company you work for, the more chances there will be for advancement. The challenge is learning how to stand out in a crowd of competitors (your co-workers.) That won’t typically be the case at a small company, where you won’t have to share the spotlight with as many people. The trick at the small company is waiting for that opportunity.
Getting an Answer: When you work for a large corporation, policies and decisions are often controlled by a home office that may be in a different time zone. The distance can make it difficult to get a quick answer to a personnel or policy question. When you work for a small company, the policy maker is probably in an office just down the hall. You may not always get the answer you like, but you at least get it promptly. There is also something reassuring about having access to the boss.
Clout: It can sometimes be easier to work for a larger company that dominates a market. People, for example, who work for the only daily newspaper in a region don’t have to push as hard to sell their product. The same can be true with other industries. A word of caution: the customers who feel forced to buy your product can be quite resentful.
Stress: The bigger the company, in general, the bigger the stress. A firm that is used to generating millions per month is going to be upset if those numbers slip even a little – even if it’s through no fault of your own. A smaller operation has smaller numbers. And if something goes awry, the owner generally has a better understanding of the problems involved.
Culture: A small company can be like family. Working for a large company can be like, well, working for a corporation. In a small operation, you know everyone’s name. In a large corporation, you will probably have everyone’s email address. Which is better is a matter of personal choice.
Hopefully, this will help you better decide where you should be headed with your career. Are you looking for more pay – or more job satisfaction? As the results of the Harris Poll indicate, smaller companies offer more with less. Of course, you can’t judge an employer by size alone. A few big firms have the feel of smaller operations, and some small companies are burdened with big-time bureaucracies.
Regardless of its size, you need to research the company you are considering. One of the more revealing ways to do that is to talk to current staffers. You will no doubt learn more than you expected.