Is it better to work in an independent shop or a chain of a big corporation?
When people and politicians talk about what kind of neighbourhood they would like to live in, and what kind of high street they would like, the issue of independently owned small businesses versus big corporations often comes up.
Most people fall between one of two extreme positions; either wanting more independent businesses because they are more locally rooted or wanting more big corporations because they provide jobs and investment.
This blog presents some evidence from the Workplace Employment Relations Study (A survey that regularly asks workers about their experience of work) on these questions, from the point of view of workers in large and small companies.
The overall picture is that there really is not a huge different between working in a company with fewer than 50 staff or in a company with more than 250 staff, although working in a smaller company seems to be a bit better, and working in the public sector seems to be a bit worse than either.
This graph shows the percentage of workers who said they were satisfied with different aspects of their work, for example, training, pay and job security. The different lines show the different responses depending on the size of the company that people work for.
For me, a few things stand out from this graph.
- There is not that much difference between the answers people give in companies with fewer than 50 staff than in companies with more than 250 staff. For example, 73% of workers in big companies said they are satisfied with the work they do versus 80% of workers in small companies said they are satisfied with the work they do .
- Small companies do consistently score better than large companies. A higher percentage of staff in small companies are satisfied with their pay, their job security and their opportunities to develop their skills, than in large companies.
- The public sector consistently scores worse than working for private companies. A lower percentage of staff in the public sector are satisfied with their pay, their job security and their opportunities to develop their skills, than in private companies of any size.
A similar picture emerges if we look at how staff rate the relationship between management and employees, as we can see from this graph.
What should we conclude from this?
Well, we could say that it seems like people tend to prefer working for smaller companies so we should support smaller companies. However, I am not convinced that the differences here are nearly significant enough to support that idea.