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Millennials choose SMEs over big business

7th Sep 17 1:07 pm

Research reveals

47 per cent of millennials think SMEs are the ideal business size to work for, more than double the 19 per cent who believe larger companies are the ideal size.

The new research from Sodexo Engage surveyed the working preferences of all generations and compared these with their perceptions and expectations of different business sizes. 

The data shows the benefits most valued by millennials and the perception of these in different business sizes:

Benefit Benefits valued by millennials Benefits expected more in SMEs than in big businesses
Flexible working hours 60 per cent 43 per cent
Career progression 56 per cent 38 per cent
High salary 51 per cent 21 per cent
Friendlier company culture 33 per cent 79 per cent
Ability to work remotely 32 per cent 23 per cent
Individualised attention e.g. training 32 per cent 62 per cent


Employer size preferences by generation are:

Age bracket

Prefers SMEs

(1-249 eployees)

Prefers big businesses

(250+ employees)

16-24 48 per cent 12 per cent
25-39 44 per cent 24 per cent
40-54 43 per cent 18 per cent
55+ 45 per cent 12 per cent

Iain McMath, CEO, Sodexo Engage, said: “The future of our economy depends on SMEs and having a productive workforce. Millennials have captured the interest of academics and business leaders alike, but this is the first time we can definitively say that SMEs are their natural home and in fact, their preference.

“The results show that the demands of this generation match the expectations of what life in an SME is like. On the other hand, businesses face a reputational challenge to prove that those seeking a friendly company culture and ability to lead a more flexible lifestyle can do so in corporate giants.”

However, the research also showed that millennials are more likely to jump the SME ship after four years of service, whilst commitment to employers of bigger sizes stretches beyond the five-year mark.

McMath added: “Although big businesses are having trouble attracting the best candidates, they’re more likely to keep them once through the door.

“SMEs must do more to increase loyalty amongst the workforce if they want to retain the best talent. It can often be harder for employees working for these smaller organisations to see a clear progression path after reaching senior positions, and the added benefits that come with larger employers can be a big draw.

“However, considering the diversity of today’s workforce, businesses of any size need to ensure that every individual always feels motivated and appreciated.”

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