Why The Key To Millennial Job Satisfaction Lies With SMEs

by Tanya November 02, 2021

What do we, Millennials, want out of our careers?

Surveys appear to crop up with increasing frequency telling us that our job satisfaction can be achieved by purposeful work and the chance to make a difference.

That we seek opportunities that facilitate a positive work-life balance over monetary rewards.

I can speak only for myself (and some friends and colleagues I’ve met along the way), but these findings hold true with my own career aspirations, and I have been driven to find opportunities that offer these elements.

My working life has been set against a backdrop of innovative, passionate, and progressive SMEs – so I’d like to share with you why I believe Millennial job satisfaction lies within these small superheroes of business.

The variety of tasks and roles

Within a small business, you’re likely to have the opportunity to work across a much broader spectrum of projects than in larger organisations. The culture of many SMEs is based on the idea that everyone pitches in, so you may find yourself working outside of your usual remit.

What’s great about this is that you can gain so much more knowledge and experience. If you’re in the marketing team, for example, you may also touch upon aspects of HR, such as internal branding or employee engagement. You could find yourself representing the company at networking events or sales conferences. You could be involved with customer service initiatives and communications.

This freedom and variety do not suit everyone, and there’s a level of comfort in sticking to your core function. But if you thrive in a fast-moving, diverse environment, you could find some real satisfaction in a role at an SME.

The opportunity for progression

A benefit of larger organizations is that there is typically a very linear, clear path for career progression. The possibility of promotion plays a key role in job satisfaction, as does the feeling that good, hard work has been rewarded.

But don’t write off SMEs on this front. With a more fluid company structure, many SMEs can offer significant potential for progression. Roles can be created as the needs of the business evolve, and you may find yourself ascending the ranks more quickly than your peers in big companies, who are bound by a more rigid hierarchy.

Making an impact

Whether its purpose is philanthropic or commercial, seeing the end result of a project can be hugely satisfying.

In larger corporations, there is the danger that you become a small cog in a big wheel. You’re still ultimately working towards something – and it could be something great – but you may not receive that warm glow of personal fulfillment or recognition when the project comes to fruition.

Your contribution can have a tangible impact on the growth of a business in an SME. You’re a person, not a number, and in a small team, you can see the results of your work, receive a ‘well done’ directly from the MD, and feel a part of something significant.

There are times when you can feel like you’ve been dropped in the deep end. When, especially in the early days of your career, the thought “I am not qualified/experienced/ready for this!” can pop into your head.

But the chance to stand out and play a pivotal role in a small business can do wonders for your professional development, for your self-belief and confidence, and for your job satisfaction.

In the end…it’s about the people

I mentioned earlier that the pervading culture in a lot of small businesses centres on the idea of  “all hands on deck”. A business is nothing without its people, and SMEs need good people – talented, inventive, diverse, and dedicated.

Those with more ethnically diverse senior leadership teams are on average 36% more profitable. Equality and diversity training in organisations is beneficial for everyone – people, culture and profit.

Joining an SME can feel like joining a family, with a close-knit team and a strong sense of loyalty to the business.

But no matter how much satisfaction you derive from your job, there are always going to be the odd days where you feel off-colour, or something may be affecting you personally.

When this happens, it’s your colleagues who could be the ones to get you through the day. Caring company cultures are not unique to SMEs, but they are often a key USP for small businesses.

Try figuring out what corporate wellness programs work best for your team, be it mindfulness sessions or free gym memberships. Happy and healthy employees are the real-life superheroes of any organization.

Your passion for your work contributes to much of your job satisfaction…

…but joining an SME can absolutely enhance it.

For Millennials such as myself, seeking a role to inspire, excite and satisfy (as well as pay the bills), can feel like a quest.

The lure of big-name brands, beautiful big offices, and a hefty paycheck of large organisations can often be justified.

But in my experience, that elusive opportunity has always been found in the UK’s plucky, smart and driven SMEs.

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The first Millennial blogger in the UK. Twitter @_luckyattitude

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