The pros and cons of working for a large company

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I’ve always emphasized the importance of being selective in your job search. One of the more underrated aspects that candidates sometimes neglect is company size.

Company size is important to consider because it has a direct impact on your work and your career. In this week’s two-part article, I will discuss the pros and cons of working for large companies and small companies.

Today’s article focuses on the benefits and drawbacks of working for a large company.

Pros

Structure

Generally speaking, larger companies tend to be more structured and by-the-book. They often have policies, standard operating procedures and service level agreements that are already established. Large-scale organizations rely on structure and process because standardized processes help operations run smoothly and clarify accountability, the “who does what”, to ensure that nothing falls through the cracks. Larger companies tend to regularly review strategies and make efforts to optimize efficiency, so they are typically good places to learn how your vertical “should” run.

Resources

Larger companies also tend to have the resources necessary to get the job done. They generally have larger budgets to ensure that employees have what they need such as formal training programs and resources, particularly if you work in an area that they consider to be their core business. They will also have teams in place to ensure that the day-to-day runs fairly smoothly such as maintenance for facilities and equipment, IT, HR and Communications departments.

Larger companies also have the resources to compete in the marketplace. They can invest in research, development and innovation to develop new products or services. In addition, they invest the necessary resources for marketing, brand development and customer service or client care. Larger companies have a tendency to focus on continuous improvement, so there will frequently be changes or upgrades to gain an edge over the competition.

Benefits

Most employees in large companies enjoy benefits such as health insurance, vacation and paid leave, retirement investment options etc. Large companies will also offer additional perks such as on-site child care and discretionary spending discounts to make employees’ daily lives easier.

Another benefit some employees enjoy is career flexibility. There are many employees who stay at one company until retirement and have the opportunity to move around within different departments and gain expertise in different jobs. If the large company is a multinational, some employees get a chance work in different countries, which is a huge career boost and makes the employee more marketable not only within the company but also if the employee wants to leave and work for another organization.

Cons

Impersonal

One of the major pain points for employees in large companies is feeling like a number. In many large companies, there is a need to rely on structure instead of individuals and there’s a lot red tape. If you have great ideas that you think would make the company better, the chance of your ideas being heard are slim. The same holds true for your performance. It’s difficult to get recognition for good performance and the reward is usually that you get to keep your job.

Cuts

Cuts also contribute to employees feeling like numbers on a balance sheet. Budget cuts, downsizing or offshoring are a reality many employees face because of the company’s need for optimal efficiency. This is especially true of you work in a field that supports the core business. Resource allocation will always favour the core business and support groups will generally be the first to experience the effects of cuts.

Cuts not only impact job security and quality of life for those who leave also for those who stay. The remaining employees are forced to do more with less and this often has a negative impact on the work environment and the quality of the work produced.

Silos

An unintended consequence of the focus on efficiency is the creation of silos. When you have many people who are focused on a small area of responsibility, there is a tendency to lose sight of the whole. A narrow focus coupled with red tape makes it much more difficult to access information from other verticals and get a grasp on the whole. Another factor that further contributes to reinforcing silos is having operations in multiple locations, especially when they are in different parts of country or the world. The only way to effectively overcome silos is if upper management makes it a priority and are to dedicated doing away with them.

Let me share a few examples how silos have an impact on employees’ daily lives.

Let’s say you work in tech support. A number of large companies lately are making the switch to answering tech support questions via social media instead of over the phone. This frees up time for the tech support employees to focus on continuous improvement projects which upgrades their skills and can help them to get a promotion into IT operations. But at your company, the Marketing department keeps control over who can speak on behalf of the company through social media channels and it isn’t a company priority right now to initiate a project to train tech support staff on correct messaging techniques. This means no special projects and in turn no career advancement.

We can use a similar example for Marketing employees. Let’s say you’re in Marketing and you want to better understand your customers to refine your marketing efforts and help improve sales. You suggest going on sales calls and asking the clients a few questions. But because sales need improving, the company decides to give the Sales department the initiative to focus on delivering customer satisfaction. They decide that it would be preferable for the sales representative to bring a product expert along on sales calls to help clients better understand the product. They also decide that it would be too risky to have a marketing person go on a sales call because there is no added value and they don’t want someone bothering the clients with unrelated questions as it could hurt closing the sale. So you, as the Marketing employee, are asked to continue business as usual.

Finally, let’s say you are a manager from any group and you want to implement a new system, so you go talk to IT. The IT Director looks at you and smiles, then points to their white board of projects being requested from literally every other department. They inform you that unless the request comes from the top, your initiative will go to the bottom of the pile and will be addressed in a few years.

I could go on but I think you get the picture about how silos have a direct impact on many employees’ day-to-day activities and can lead to frustration for employees because they feel that they can’t do their best work or are missing out on opportunities to advance their careers.

Conclusion

Hopefully today’s article has given you some food for thought about the pros and cons of working for a large company. In the next article, we will discuss the pros and cons of working for a small company.