It has long been known that large companies are no longer interested in jobs in the same way as they used to be. In the good days of Nokia, for example, it was a dream for almost every Finn to one day finally work there.
Today, the only places where big companies are still shining as the most interesting employers are, mainly surveys that students fill in. As students’ answers are based on fantasies and imagination.
I remember very well when I was still sitting on a school bench in Finland, how badly I really wanted to work for Finnair and the most common reason for that was that I could travel. How disappointing it was when I realized that the job offer was actually about doing very basic marketing from an office near Helsinki’s airport and not from an airplane on the way to Singapore.
At one point, one of my professors asked us: “how many of you would like to work in this sort of big company?”, only two or three hands came up when there were about 50 of us sitting in the classroom at the time.
I always found it interesting to note that as soon as one gathers just a few years of work experience, your ideas all of a sudden start to be very different. I actually returned on that very same school bench for a moment in 2014, when I completed my master’s degree in Madrid, where I have lived with my family since then.
At university we were often visiting big companies so they could show off and, of course, attract the best students for future recruitment. One day, some of Spain’s largest employers, Santander Bank, Inditex (Zara, Massimo Dutti, etc.), and Telefonica, were present. At one point, one of my professors asked us: “how many of you would like to work in this sort of big company?” only two or three hands came up when there were about 50 of us sitting in the classroom at the time.
After that, the discussion continued and we started looking for deeper reasons and asked where everyone would then like to work instead. The responses followed very much the same formula. Everyone wanted companies and tasks where you get freedom, responsibility and work with interesting people on interesting projects. Students wanted to come to the workplace to have fun, experience new challenges, develop and, of course, also work hard.
In many smaller companies, employees are listened to and dared to be given responsibility. In a small company, a person who has done a really good job, gets credit for it, not only his or her supervisor.
Several small businesses, and especially many of the new start-ups, have internalized really well the things that influence job choices today and do a lot of work for the well-being of their employees. They understand the importance of the employer brand as part of the whole recruitment journey and keep it at a high level, even when recruitment is not underway.
In addition to the fact that the jobs are pleasant, there is a great number of people and the working days do not feel like working days, there is also much more in small companies why people apply for jobs there. These issues are well reflected in the working conditions barometer conducted by the Finnish Ministry of Employment and the Economy.
It listed the following benefits for working for small businesses:
• Employees are treated more equally
• Relationships between employees and management are more open and
• Information is communicated more openly in the workplace
• Opportunity to influence your own work and work pace
I would also argue for myself that the latest of these is one that is growing in importance all the time, and especially if it is compounded by the fact that there is also an opportunity to influence where the work is done.