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Why People Love Working for Small Businesses

Posted by Glassdoor Team

Career Advice Experts

Last Updated February 24, 2022
|4 min read

As a small or medium business, it’s hard to compete with the blockbuster perks like in-house chefs, on-site gyms, and 6˜12 months of parental leave offered by big corporations. And yet, many people prefer working for companies with less headcount. That’s because salaries and perks aren’t the only things that workers look for in an employer. Small businesses sometimes engender a greater sense of community, offer more opportunities for growth, and allow employees to contribute in meaningful ways to a company’s success.

Want to know what to look for when applying to a small business or how to lead your own business to the top of the rankings? We’re taking a look at a few of the best small and medium businesses on Glassdoor’s 2022 Best Places to Work list to see what they’re doing to keep their teams happy. 

(Spoiler alert: Strong leadership and culture are the most common dealmakers.)

What catapults a business to the top of the list?

Even the best companies today have some negative reviews from a few years ago. But just like people, businesses grow and evolve. That's why Glassdoor creates the Best Places to Work list from employee reviews submitted only in the previous year to show a true snapshot of a business's current landscape.

With that, let’s look at what made our newest listmakers winners.  

Leadership is key

KlientBoost, based in Costa Mesa, California, is a performance marketing agency with less than 200 employees. Grover Gaming, a software development and design company in Greenville, N.C., has over 350 staffers. And San Francisco-based 6Sense, an account engagement platform for B2B organizations, has about 700 employees. All three are top businesses on Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work list. But what do they have in common? Overwhelming approval for leadership. 

KlientBoost, Grover Gaming, and 6sense have 99%, 98%, and 97% approval for their CEOs, respectively. But the best of the best know that it takes more than one dynamic leader to motivate a company, Glassdoor reviews reveal all three of these businesses have prioritized soliciting feedback and adapting to their employees’ recommendations.

At KlientBoost, for example, employees consistently praise leadership for listening to employee feedback and creating time for what they call “How I Can Be Better For You” meetings. 

Empowered growth

If you’ve ever spent time at a mega-corporation with tens of thousands of employees, you know the struggles of group decision-making or changing career tracks. Working for a small business, on the other hand, can feel dynamic and unlimited. When a problem arises, it’s can be easier to gather a team and make a plan. Executing an idea can take less time because there are fewer layers of approval. Individual employees may see a measurable difference in their contributions — what one 6sense employee enthusiastically describes as “extreme ownership over work and decision-making.”

Smaller teams can also mean more opportunities to consider different areas of a business. At Grover Games, employees love that they can explore other departments that they’re interested in learning about, potentially paving a path toward an internal career pivot. “You are not stuck in a certain role if you have the ability to do something else within the company,” one employee wrote. “There is a good chance there is a tract that will lead you to it.”

Small business employee benefits

Most small and medium businesses can’t offer the full range of perks available at a large company, but they likely offer health and dental coverage, some type of 401(K) matching, and unlimited paid leave. 

Businesses like KlientBoost understand that unlimited leave removes the stress of taking sick days, vacation time, or time for working parents to prioritize their families, and it demonstrates that a company trusts its employees to know how to manage their time. 

Culture, culture, culture

Culture can come across as just another buzzword, but finding the right culture can be the determining factor in how you feel about your job.

Keep in mind that different types of people seek out different types of work cultures. Some people like to work solo, others love being part of a team. Some people are motivated by the pressure of “hard culture,” while others look for autonomy in “soft culture.”  

“Great culture” reviews on the Best Places to Work list don’t mean that the work is easy or there’s no accountability. They typically indicate that a company is taking steps to ensure work-life balance and make employees feel appreciated. For example, Grover Gaming’s employees frequently cited in their reviews that they feel like they're “treated like family."

How to use the Best Places to Work list in your job search

Finding a new career opportunity that's the right fit for you can take time. But you can make the process a little easier by determining what is most important to you in your next role.

 Look at what employees at top companies on the 2022 Best Places to Work list call out in their reviews and the benefits these companies are offering. Use this as a starting point to make a list of the things that matter most to you. Then, compare your list to reviews of prospective companies you're thinking of applying to so you can better suss out a potential future employer before you apply.