Having the benefit of being part of a global entrepreneurial friendship group, made up mostly from people through my travels around world, I am always interested in different models in which employees are remunerated or attracted to an organization.

What works well for one company, may not for another. The big corporate beast can be a lure and it can also deter the best talent - depending on what is most important to any particular individual. If you want to know what keeps employees in the game, and on your team, it may in fact be something that you did not realize.

Start-ups and small businesses
The top employee perks outweigh salary

Employees have different requirements when choosing to work for a small business. It may simply be a stepping stone to get into large corporates and after a bit of research on platforms like LinkedIn, often a potential employee may be able to see what type of career path is possible by working for a particular company.

For example, most employees that leave Marketing Eye after 2 years of employment, go to big corporations and often the indoctrination of this mindset happens when they are at University. To work for a big corporation is the sign of success for many aspiring marketers, and having that on their CV, is a stepping stone to owning their own business in the same field and being able to 'drop' that brand name, or perhaps having something to dine out on. Big corporations often give employees a sense of being proud of the fact that they were chosen to work in that company, when it is seen as only the best make the grade.

Startups have the potential to 'sell' a story that is basically a 'rags to riches' tale. Look at the first employees at Instagram - who are all laughing all the way to the bank. If you look at all the companies that have gone on to become huge success stories that were startups, it's easy to see why employees are willing to take the risk.

Startups often take in funding from angel investors, venture capitalists and private investors, which means that they have money in the bank. If it's a first timer in taking investment, they often see this money as 'free money' and while they invest in employees, they don't mind spending money on all the perks you can dream of. They are freer to put in place amazing benefits including unlimited holidays, work when you want, pool tables, canteens, bars and slipery dips. It's not their money afterall. While these things look great from the outset, the company has to survive. Having placed ourselves firmly in the startup village, Atlanta Technology Village, I have seen this over and over again. It really is fascinating to watch and learn from because you actually get to see people hire too many people, have too good of a time, and then find that they have to put off all the people they put on, and put their egos in check.

The rude reality is that eventually investors want a return on investment, is a shock to many entrepreneurs who haven't had the experience of learning the lesson of wasting money.

Employees love the intimacy of a startup, and the self-starting, jump in the deep end dynamics. Building from the ground up is an adrenelin rush - no question. Also, getting shares as part of the parcel, can be incredibly lucrative. Working closely with a founder gives you experiences that you cannot get in big corporations and having the opportunity to take on bigger roles in other regions, can make or break you.

The reasons employees choose startups include:

  • Ability to actually know their boss, and team on a more personal basis
  • Learning from and working for an entrepreneur
  • The fresh approach and innovation that is possible in startups and harder to find in larger corporations
  • Ability to get in early in a company and take shares
  • If it's a funded startup, sometimes employees like the novel perks and the ability to dineout on that story
  • Seeing a business grow from startup through to a success story that they have played a pivotal role
  • It's their first job, and they need to start somewhere
  • Ability to be across more areas of their discipline than what a big corporation can offer
  • Parents worked for big corporations and didn't have positive stories to tell at home, but stayed because they felt it was 'secure'.

Small business is the in-between from a startup to medium-to-large corporation, but they too have positives:

  • Ability to work in close proximity and learn from the owner
  • Ability to build a business from small to medium and perhaps large
  • Interesting work that has diversity and scope
  • Meaning in a role where what you put in can easily be seen from a results perspective
  • You spend 8 hours a day at work, and the team you work with become not to dissimilar to family
  • The business is close to where you live, giving you an ability to not waste hours travelling to and from work
  • The salary is good
  • The company has a good vibe, is innovative and you can see where it can take you

Medium and large corporates:

  • Ability to work for a brand
  • How others perceive your career from the outset
  • Salary and scope to grow salary further
  • Investment in training and development
  • Ability to climb the corporate ladder
  • Knowledge that after having that brand behind you, you can work anywhere within other big corporates or medium sized businesses
  • Ability to negotiate salary with your next move
  • Your proud to work for a brand that is recognisable
  • Your friends or family work there
  • They love pressure and working long hours

We all think that employees want high salaries, lots of perks and to work for brands they are proud of. Psych testing can help companies determine whether an employee will stay or leave, and using platforms like Jobvibe will give you real data on culture, that can be used to market your business.

(Image source: unsplash.com)
Mellissah Smith is a serial entrepreneur and business leader with more than 20 years' experience in marketing.
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Mellissah Smith

Mellissah Smith is a marketing expert, author, writer, public speaker and technology innovator. Having worked with more than 300 companies across technology, medical device, professional services, manufacturing, logistics, finance and health industries, Mellissah has a well-established reputation as an experienced marketing professional with more than 20 years experience. As the founder and managing director of Marketing Eye, she has taken the company from startup to a multi-million dollar enterprise with offices in Australia and the US. Mellissah is also the Editor in Chief of Marketing Eye Magazine, a quarterly magazine that cover marketing, entrepreneurship, travel, health and wellbeing. #mellissah #marketingeye

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