New York, N.Y. -- Large companies (5,000+ employees) offer more of the benefits that small company (49 or fewer employees) employees say they want -- yet small company employees are more satisfied and more engaged, according to a just-released, representative, nationwide survey of 7,718 American workers aged 18 and over.
"The finding that people want to be part of the solution, feel recognized, and have a stake in the outcome is overwhelmingly present in small firms," says Tamara Erickson, Executive Officer of The Concours Group. "These feelings simply do not manifest themselves at large organizations. Clearly, employees are willing to trade wages and more tangible benefits for more engagement and more satisfaction. It's not about the money and this debunks one of the great myths of the American workforce."
Nearly twice as many small company employees describe themselves as "extremely satisfied" than do their big company counterparts. Small companies employ relatively more women and workers 65+ years old than do big companies. Big companies employ relatively more 35 - 44 year olds.
"The formula of new, better and richer benefits that attract the best and the brightest clearly is not working," says Ken Dychtwald, PhD of Age Wave. "Too many big companies are detached from their people, evolving over the years to a place today where money is substituted for shared values, communication, a common pride in the work. And workers are voting with their feet, giving up substantial benefits to go work at places -- smaller places -- where that exists. To attract the best, big companies need to change."
If it's not about the money, what is it that small company employees say they care about in a job? The New Employer/Employee Equation results show that working with bright people and earning respect is more valued by small company employees. Trying new things and having worthwhile work are also valued more highly by small company employees than by those who work at big companies.
Small company employees want energizing work versus extensive benefits. They want flexibility of schedule and workplace -- the ability to work at home.
A better frame of mind seemingly follows the attention and other, less tangible, benefits that workers in small companies receive by virtue of working in a small organization. They are more inclined -- 57 percent versus 45 percent for big company workers -- to say that they are proud to be part of their organization. Twenty-nine percent of small company workers would accept almost any job to keep working at their current place of employment versus only 16 percent of big company workers.
"Managing a successful organization in a sustainable manner requires taking an interest in and accepting responsibility for engaging people in work," says Erickson. "Engagement is not something you can purchase through an HR department with another week's vacation or stock options. You must have and apply human qualities to people management."
The report card on top management at big companies is spotty. Only 24 percent of big company employees say that top management is committed to advancing their skills versus 39 percent of small company employees. Summing up the manager/worker gap in big companies is the response from 75 percent of workers who say their values and the organizations are not similar.
Finally, in the ultimate test of job happiness, 52 percent of small company workers say that time seems to pass quickly when they are at work versus only 41 percent of their counterparts at big companies.