- An Aflac survey of small-businesses employees found that 75% of those polled were very or extremely happy working for a small employer. The Aflac Happiness Report surveyed 1,000 U.S. employees and concluded that optimism at small businesses is at a 43-year high.
- Happiness increased with age, according to the survey results. Among workers 71 and older, 89% said they were very or extremely happy working for a small employer, compared with 70% of workers ages 18 to 36.
- Survey respondents cited the reasons they liked working for a small business. The top five reasons were having flexible scheduling (27%), seeing the fruits of their labor (23%), feeling their input matters (17%), being rewarded for hard work (14%) and getting noticed by people who matter (9%).
A key takeaway of the survey results for employers, big or small, is that the employees should know their value within their organizations. The respondents expressed how they felt, but their satisfaction actually stems from how their employers made them feel: valued for their work and their opinions.
An employer’s size shouldn’t be a yardstick for measuring employees’ engagement and subsequent happiness. Managers and supervisors at large organizations also can ensure that workers don’t become invisible and devalued.
Small companies have fewer management layers than large organizations, which might account for some of the satisfaction among small employers’ workers. Researchers at the University of Birmingham, Business School, studied the connection between well-being at work and job autonomy among 20,000 employees during a two-year period. The researchers concluded that when employers allow employees more control over their jobs, their happiness level increases.
SHRM’s 2017 Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement Survey found that 89% of the respondents were satisfied on the job. However, they were less happy about their pay and feelings of mistrust.
Small businesses usually don't stack up well against large employers in offering benefits, and that held true for employees in the Aflac study, as well. In a 2015 brief from the U.S. Department of Labor, small employers were credited with offering more flexible work schedules than large businesses. But as satisfied with flexibility as employees in Aflac's study were, only 33% were satisfied with their major medical and other health benefits. Small employers will need to find affordable ways to provide comprehensive benefits to compete against large organizations for talent.