Get a Life! Work for a Small Business

Working for a smaller company may not pay the big bucks like big corporations, but it can offer other benefits that more than make up for it. That’s according to a new survey of 474 employees of small and large U.S. companies.

Respondents cited as pros of smaller employers:

  • Work/life balance (46.2 percent)
  • Commute (38.1 percent)
  • Loyalty (34.8 percent)
  • Boss (31.4 percent)
  • Relationships with co-workers (29.5 percent)

Having worked for employers of different shapes and sizes, I can’t say small companies always have the edge on these “softer” benefits. But I do think they should try harder to recruit and retain good people (including talented working moms) by flaunting what the big companies can’t: flexibility, less bureaucracy, and better relationships.

As my current employer, Bridge Worldwide, has grown from 40-some people to 125 (in just four years!), I have been impressed at how it’s gotten even better at encouraging us to get a life. (There are occasional bad days … nights … and weekends, but it’s an ad agency. Goes with the territory.) As business boomed, our management saw the potential to make our small, fast-growing company a “great place to work” and made it happen.

So what’s your take on the difference between small and big companies? Have you felt like smaller = better? Or do big-company salaries cancel out big-company crappy policies?

6 thoughts on “Get a Life! Work for a Small Business

  1. I currently work for a LARGE non-profit health care system, and I feel like just another number. We have 7,000 employees and when I have an issue with a benefit offered or such, going to HR is like going to the DMV. Take a number and wait. Not very personal.

    I work for a really small CPA firm right out of college (20 employees total) and loved it.

  2. My hubby and I frequently compare the benefits of large vs. small companies. He works for a huge for-profit corp, and struggles with the same thing you’re talking about. If he has an HR question, he has to email someone far away and hope for a response. I can just go upstairs and talk to my man Zach. He hooks me up!

  3. In some instances I do believe smaller = better. I’ve always liked the feel of working for a smaller employer. I felt like employees were more supportive of each other than at larger companies, where it seems as if everyone is competing to get ahead and get noticed. In those instances, I feel like employees are more likely reviewed by hours worked rather than quality of work they preform. Whereas in a smaller setting, I think employees’ unique contributions to the employer are more noticeable.

    I also got a big wake up call when I switched jobs from a small employer to a larger employer. At the smaller office (less than 35 people) I recieved 75% of my pay while on maternity leave. When I left that place to work for a larger company, I found out after I had already accepted the position (that was dumb on my part) that there were no maternity benefits offered to their employees! I was shocked. Luckily I enrolled in a short-term disablility plan and was able to make a claim. If it wasn’t for that–we would of been super-screwed!

  4. I would say smaller is better – especially now that I am a parent.

    Having a company (like I work for now) that is understanding when I have to call in because my son is sick or that I need to work from home because my sitter has a doctor’s appointment is really important. Once you become a parent there are just certain situations that you cannot avoid and knowing that your job won’t be at risk because of them is a huge relief.

  5. I have worked for both a smaller company and a very large one. (Think the big soap company in Cincinnati). I’m now working for a large company in the northern suburbs. For me it had nothing to do with size. It was more about location, since we live in Butler County, and how “family friendly” the company might be. My current employer has no problem with me working a straight 8-5 schedule. Doesn’t complain when I need to leave an hour or two early for a dentist appoinment. They know I give 110% when I’m here. Plus, the benefits are excellent. I’m super proud to work for them.

  6. Selfmademom says:

    I really think it’s about management. If you have a good boss you can work for a huge, beaureaucratic organization and still have it good. Have a crappy boss and it doesn’t matter how big or small the company is, the work-life balance could suck.

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