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Bigger isn’t always better


As larger corporates are shunned in favour of smaller businesses, Gemma Middleton explores the shift in employee preferences.

Our working choices, preferences, patterns and lives have changed considerably over the years; the concept of a job for life has now gone, pay is no longer the only motivating factor and now it appears that our preferences towards the type of employer we favour is also changing.

The British Chamber of Commerce published a report at the end of July on their website, which found nearly two thirds of 14,000 respondents stating they would prefer to work for small businesses instead of large corporates, even though 70% believed that large corporates offered better salary packages. The main reasons for this switch from large corporates to small businesses is because of a change in job priorities; whilst wages are still important, it would be idiotic to state otherwise, factors such as flexibility, career opportunities and great working environments were all stated as the most attractive aspects of a role in the report.

Today people want the full employment package, which is why talent management schemes, training opportunities, as well as in-house recruitment drives / promotion paths have become so important within any organisation large or small, to help keep high performing employees. Obviously in a recession many people see a job as a job and although they may have different career aspirations, learning and development wants and the general willingness to move to get what they want, it is likely that these ‘employment dreams’ will be put on hold at least for the time being.

This means that organisations of all sizes have the opportunity to try to keep hold of their talent by recognising what employees view as important and building initiatives around them. After all it is never too late to understand what your people want! Ambition and drive are typically seen as attractive qualities to recruiters and so making sure that opportunities, such as learning and development, are available will help satisfy these people as well as improving employee retention and performance.

Positive people strategies also help an organisation’s profile marketing strategy in the long-term, thus making the organisation more attractive to not just current and future employees but to investors, customers, etc. Working for a small business myself I can see the attraction when comparing my role with friends in much larger organisations.

The biggest difference to me seems to be the working environment and flexibility. Whilst my friends feel like just a number I feel like a valued member of the team, which can largely be attributed to my company’s positive working environment as well as my role flexibility. Obviously there are swings and roundabouts for working for either a large or small organisation and what is right for some is not right for others and this is where personal preference comes in.

For me the report highlights the importance for employers to acknowledge that employees want much more than good salaries; learning and development, career opportunities and working environments are incredibly important and will continue to be so. As the economy recovers and peoples’ confidence grows, the high performing employees who put off moving because of the uncertain times will no longer have that holding them back, so moving on, whether it be to a large or small organisation, will be a lot more attractive.

The question organisations need to ask themselves is are we doing our best in offering the package that our employees really want? If the answer is no then problems in the future are inevitable no matter what size the organisation is.

Gemma Middleton is a marketing coordinator at Righttrack Consultancy.

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