Eighty-four percent of small-business employees are happy in their current job, according to the 2017 Aflac Small Business Happiness Report. And nearly half agree that most—or all—of their happiness stems from the fact that they work for a small business.
What’s the secret?
At a small company, it’s easier to see that you’re making a difference, and to have a feel for your value at the firm. Almost a quarter cited “seeing the fruits of their labor” as the best part of working for a small business. Others felt that their input mattered or that they were noticed by people who mattered—something that might be missing at a large corporation.
“The sense of being able to make a difference at work isn’t limited to small-business employees, but it’s a major driving factor for them,” Aflac’s report says. “Of the survey participants who have previously worked for a large company, 67% said that feeling more appreciated was a benefit of working for a small company versus a large one.”
Dustin Montgomery, who works as a digital marketing specialist for a small firm, agrees with those sentiments. “Everyone wants to do work that has an impact, and in a small company, you can often see the impact of your work on a daily basis,” Montgomery says. “The level of control and responsibility you can take for your position and the company is far greater than you would see elsewhere. In some cases, you might be doing work similar to that of a C-level executive at a bigger company.”
Other perks, according to people in the field:
Independence: “With a small company, you have so many more opportunities for autonomy,” says Keema D. Small, principal/executive talent acquisition advisor with TalentAnswers. “You in turn learn more from your colleagues, and thus you grow as an employee because you have the freedom to express your opinion, be more creative and come up with new resolutions. In a large company, you are kept in a silo and if you don’t have the right manager, you don’t have an opportunity to display your talent.”
Collaboration: “Working as part of a smaller team helps to unify the team members,” says Steve Pritchard, HR consultant for photo booth company Dreambooth. “They have the same goal to achieve, and it’s easier to create a good working relationship with a small number of people than it is to try to do the same with a large one. There’s the opportunity to get to know the rest of the team as people, rather than just coworkers, which not only helps morale, but also helps to form friendships.”
You feel heard. “We currently have around 50 people,” says Zachary Painter, a career adviser and hiring manager at ResumeGenius.com. “Recently, we hired a new marketer for our marketing department. He told me after three weeks that he really liked it here because he felt his department leads actually value his opinions. This happens less as your company grows.”
Experience. “Working at a smaller company usually means wearing more hats, which helps you become more well-rounded,” says Kelly Donovan, principal of career services firm Kelly Donovan & Associates. “Even if your position is focused on sales, for example, you might also gain experience with operations, financial management and other areas. Even if you envision yourself being at a Fortune 500 firm, rounding out your experience with a couple of years at a smaller company can give you better insight for the next role at a large company.”
Ladder-climbing potential. “For people who don’t have all the check-the-box letters (BS, MBA, Ph.D., etc.) those degrees often have less impact on your promotability than your past career results,” says Mike McRitchie, a career and small business strategist. “It is more of a meritocracy than in a large company.”
Invention. “Small companies tend to be more nimble and decisive with fewer decision-making barriers,” says Cheryl Lynch Simpson, a career, job search and LinkedIn coach. “Less tied to ‘the way we’ve always done it,’ they are open to innovation and new ways of doing business, while larger firms are sometimes stymied by an inability to move forward rapidly or change business directions as needed.”
Access to higher-ups. “Small businesses have flatter hierarchies, so you have more face time with senior business leaders than you might in a larger organization,” says Michelle Petrazzuolo, founder and CEO of career services firm Level Up Prep. “You can meet someone who could become a long-term mentor, or even be brought along to high-level meetings as a learning opportunity. You will expand your network quickly in a closely-knit neighborhood.”
An article by Kate Ashford published on Forbes.com