Is Gen Z choosing SMEs over corporates? It seems so. Almost half (46pc) of Generation Z (18 to 24-year-olds) surveyed would prefer to work in a scaling SME business than join a large corporate firm, a new survey has revealed.

In addition, a further 19pc said they would prefer to work in a start-up.

A study by gift voucher company One4All has revealed that two-thirds of Irish people would prefer to work for an SME or start-up.

“People are happier to give up their hard-earned free time to help a smaller business flourish, which is a very positive thing for growing Irish companies, and for the Irish economy in general”

Why is this? Well 71pc agree that SMEs and start-ups offer the best office culture, almost half (46pc) believe that smaller companies care about their career development and 50pc agree that working for a smaller company allows more opportunities to broaden their skillset.

Good news for small companies in a time of full employment

The survey results are a sliver of good news for SMEs and start-ups battling for talent amid a situation of almost full employment in Ireland and a perception that all the perks and better salaries are with giant tech firms like Google or Facebook.

This nationally representative research, undertaken by Coyne, aims to explore Irish workers attitude towards office culture, with the results yielding some interesting findings in relation to Ireland’s attitudes towards SMEs in particular.

The survey results also show that Irish workers are willing to put in the hours for start-ups and growing companies, with 44pc of people surveyed agreeing that they would be more motivated to give up their free time and work longer hours for a smaller company, compared to a large company such as a multinational.

Looking at the benefits of working for a smaller company compared to a larger company, 63pc feel that if they do good work at a smaller company it is more likely to get noticed than in a large company, which has much more employees with more competition for recognition.

Over half (57pc) of Irish workers believe that they make better work relationships working for a smaller company, this is likely due to being part of a smaller team, when compared to larger companies where some staff might feel they get lost in the crowd.

“This latest survey into office culture has thrown up some hugely interesting results, some of which will be music to the ears of smaller businesses looking to compete with larger companies for the best talent,” explained Michael Dawson, CEO of One4All.

“Increasingly, we see people considering culture in a workplace as an important factor in their job search, and the results imply that – for the Irish worker – smaller businesses are cream of the crop in this regard. Not only that, but they are the desired place to work for over two thirds of the population.

“What’s also interesting is that a high number of workers feel motivated to work longer hours for a smaller company. This could tie in to the perceived office culture of smaller businesses as more close-knit, collaborative, and friendly. People are happier to give up their hard-earned free time to help a smaller business flourish, which is a very positive thing for growing Irish companies, and for the Irish economy in general.”

The survey results were welcomed by Sven Spollen-Behrens, director of the Small Firms Association.

“Feedback from our members has consistently shown that smaller firms have a strong staff retention rate, with 90pc retaining employees for three or more years. Out of that figure, 27pc retain employees for 10 or more years.

“The benefits offered to employees when they choose to work for an SME are manifold. These include greater recognition, more visibility with management and direct access to the CEO or management team. SME employees also experience a direct contribution to the success of the company and enjoy a close-knit work culture,” Spollen-Behrens said.

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Written by John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 5 September, 2019