Monday, February 02, 2009

Are Smaller Companies A Better Option?

When choosing a career move, the size of the organization is always being considered. Which is better – a big corporation or a smaller one? Most job seekers that we interviewed usually prefer to work in bigger organizations but some of those that had tasted it find working in smaller companies a better alternative. Why is it so? Obviously there are pros and cons in both environments.

Big Companies

• Staff benefits are better.
• The company and HR policies are more established.
• Ability to cope better with long annual or vacation leave of employees.
• Money is usually not an issue as most expenses are already budgeted earlier.
• Opportunities to attend training courses, team building camps and workshops. Again, these training expenses had already been budgeted earlier. You not only get the chance to learn new things, but also the opportunity to network with new people too.
• Better access to niche expertise if needed as they have a bigger pool of “experts” within the organization.
• With deep corporate history and experiences in the industry behind their back, this is the best place to learn best practices.

• Certain company policies can be silly just because a small group of employees had flouted some rules. For example, my ex-company had to implement punch card system because a few unscrupulous people were unable to come on time and it was difficult to nail them without “some proofs”.
• Expect lots of meetings but not much is achieved.
• If certain expenses are not budgeted, the waiting time to get them approved can be a long one.
• The office politics tend to be more complicated and disruptive.
• Things can be slow moving sometimes.
• It is really hard to feel like you are having a big impact on the business because your contribution to the big picture can be sorely insignificant.

Small Companies

• No bureaucracy and more variety in your job.
• More flexible in terms of job roles and working patterns. For example, we have a working mother that needs to spend half a day with her kid due to some special situation and can only report to work after lunch. The management allowed that but it is definitely tougher to get such flexibility with a bigger company. Smaller companies will judge each case on its merits and not be so bothered with precedents set as in bigger corporations.
• Typically faster to act and decisions are usually quickly made.
• More camaraderie and the office can turn out to be your “second family”.
• Most of the time, you contribute directly to the success of the business. You immediately experience a sense of fulfillment.

• Sometimes you wonder what your actual job specification is as you are required to be flexible with tasks assigned.
• Struggled to focus on your career direction as you may find yourself with a little experience of a lot of different things.

With the above outlined, would you be able to make a wise choice when you make your career move? Personally, I think the individual personality play an important factor here. If you are the more independent type, you will find yourself fitting very well in a small company. However, if you are the type that needs guidance and prefer a more secured and structured environment, then the bigger company is where you should start with.

Finally, should there be a job cut, you get to sense it earlier and better in smaller as compared to bigger companies. Most big companies heard a lot of tales from the grapevine and they usually live with more anxiety as they are uncertain of the news they heard are truths or mere rumors. Most of the time, they are in for some shocking news especially those working in multi-national companies. Job cuts decision usually made at the head office probably outside their own country, whereby appeal opportunity almost equal to none. In Bloomberg’s news a few days ago, it was reported at least 21,000 jobs were targeted for elimination over the last weekend in the United States that probably include some offices overseas too. You will notice the list of companies is mainly big corporations. In times such as these, the bigger the company is, the tougher it is for it to reinvent itself, whereas the smaller firm with lower overheads is more agile to make adjustments and survived.

So, for times such as these, are smaller companies a better option?

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