Working at a Small Organization vs. Large Organization

Learn about some of the pros and cons of both organizations

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I’ve been fortunate enough to work in both small and large organizations. While both of them has its advantages, it also has its disadvantages. If you’re considering applying to either type of organization – consider all of these areas:

Benefits of working at a large organization

  • Structure: Larger organizations tend to be more organized than smaller organizations merely because they have more people. Most organizations have a plan when it comes to onboarding, performance and office policy. Some smaller organizations might not have this exact blueprint.
  • More technology: Large organizations have larger budgets to have advanced technology. This is extremely helpful when it comes to making your work easier and training.
  • You’ll become a specialist and not a generalist: At a large organization, you don’t have to worry about wearing many hats because most likely you’ll stick to the area of your job. Now and then you might be asked to help on additional projects outside your skill set, but it’ll be rare.
  • More opportunities to move around: If you’re bored with your position, don’t like your boss, want to pursue another area, want a promotion or want to move out of town, you could do so when you’re at a larger company. Large companies offer many positions and depending on the type of company they could provide you with a position in another city.
  • More benefits: Large companies sometimes offer perks – free gym membership, happy hour, discounts to retailers, raffle tickets, etc. Some even provide the option of working from home. A few companies offer a sabbatical for employees when they reach over 10 years of employment.

Disadvantages of working at a large organization

  • Don’t know all your coworkers: Some companies are so big and you won’t get to know all your colleagues or even meet them face-to-face. Sometimes you’ll be directed to someone who is not located in your city to work on a task.
  • Red tape: Bureaucratic tape tends to run deep at large companies. It can be difficult to do something simple when you have to go through five people to approve it. One time I wanted to run a social media ad for a conference I was promoting. Instead of creating the ad and paying for it I had to go through a ton of steps and approvals. I had to send the terms of agreement to the social media manager and outline all the social media ads I wanted to do over the course of the year. If it were approved I would have to contact purchasing – get a purchase order made by using a complicated outdated system and then the representative there would have to get my social media credentials to login and put in the payment information. So the red tape can be incredibly frustrating.
  • Ideas aren’t heard: You might have an idea of how to make a process smoother or an easier way to do something and you might tell your supervisor or even your boss’s boss. However, don’t expect your idea to get implemented or expedited. Large corporations are set in their ways, and most likely ideas and suggestions fall on deaf ears. And if they do consider your idea, it might take months or years to get it changed.
  • You’re just a number: Don’t expect senior managers to all know you by name because, at a large company, employees are just numbers. You might know your department, but you will never know everyone or even meet everyone. At some companies, I could count on my hand the times I’ve seen the CEO. I would be lucky if I saw them once.
  • Office politics: While office politics can happen in a smaller office, but it’s more of a jungle at a larger office. The larger the environment, the more competitive it is. You have to learn the organization, protocol and align with the right people to climb the ladder. And you have to use your insights and avoid divulging too much information because you never know when a backstabber might use it to their advantage.

Benefits of working at a small organization

  • Family like atmosphere: When you’re in a small office, most likely you will get to know your coworkers on a more personal level than if you were in a larger office. Because you’ll work so closely together you’ll most likely get to know their family and personal issues and you’ll create somewhat of a family-like bond. This is not to say everyone will like each other, but you’ll understand each other more.
  • No Red Tape: Do you need to get something done? No problem. Most likely all you have to do is ask your boss or another person. You don’t have to wait for approval from five people. Small companies are lean so approval for projects, programs, etc. usually comes down to one decision maker.
  • More access to decision makers: Because there’s no red tape, you’ll have access to decision makers right away. If you have an idea of how to make a process easier, you can pitch that idea to the right person, and it could become a reality.
  • Learn different aspects of the business: Even though you’ll have one job title, don’t expect your job responsibilities to only be your job. At a small company you’ll be a generalist – so you’ll learn every aspect of the business or at least exposed to it.
  • Create new positions: The beauty of working for a small office is growing with them as they grow into a bigger company. As they grow, they will need to create new positions, and since you’re already there, you’ll be the first they’ll consider.

Disadvantages of working at a small organization

  • Wearing many hats: While this might work for some people, for others it can be a challenge. You might have to do jobs that you don’t have the skill-set for, but because it’s a small organization, they expect all hands on deck.
  • Less training: Training might be condensed when it comes to a small organization. Most of your learning will come from on-the-job experience.
  • Less opportunity for promotion: If you’re looking to climb up the ladder, you have only two options – they’ll create a new position for you or someone will leave, and you can replace them. Opportunities for advancement are often limited.
  • Privacy is limited: NOTHING is private when it comes to a small office. If you have an issue with someone or a piece of gossip – good luck keeping it private because eventually, everyone will know.
  • Less technology: Because smaller organizations don’t have large budgets, their technology is not extremely advanced.

Please note that not all small and large organizations are the same as what I listed. I’ve worked at small companies that offered more work perks than larger ones. I’ve worked at large companies that had little to no room for advancement. However, at the end of the day, you want to find the perfect company size for you. Some people will thrive at a large company while others prefer to grow with a small company.

Do you work for a small or large organization? What would you say are some the advantages/disadvantages?

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