Cyclical economies, corporate restructurings, industry upheavals and changes in personal circumstances, preferences and priorities all contribute to labour turnover in the workplace. A recent bayt.com HR research report (Human Resource Overview 2008) indicated that in the past 5 years alone, 71% of respondents, the vast majority, have changed jobs at least once, and on average people in the Middle East are changing jobs once in around two and a quarter years. In an era of higher workplace volatility, professionals often find themselves wondering where to work next and uncertain how to evaluate the different job offers. This article explores some of the dimensions to explore in deciding what company to work for.
Dynamics of Industry
Presumably before deciding what company to work for you have done your research on the industry and determined that this is the optimal industry for you. Considerations to take into account in deciding on an industry include size of industry, past and expected growth rate, competitive landscape, barriers to entry, profitability of industry, stability, vulnerability to seasonal and economic cycles and vulnerability to shocks induced by changes in the regulatory framework or technological advancements.
Size of Company
While there is no right or wrong size of company, there will be a size that agrees best with your career level, preferences, priorities, objectives and character.
Larger companies typically have sprawling HR departments and sophisticated HR policies that protect the employee and focus on maximizing employee productivity, engagement and satisfaction. They tend to pay better due to larger and revenue bases and profitability and they typically pay on time and offer more benefits including sophisticated training and development programs. Larger companies are also typically more stable and sustainable financially which makes it easier to think ahead in your career and plan for the long run.
On the downside, larger companies can be more rigid, bureaucratic and inflexible as well as impersonal, with less room for visibility at the top and more layers of management approval required for every decision. Moreover, positions tend to be clearly defined and delineated with less room for ambiguity and more specialisation required, so you are less likely to be involved in varied projects that challenge and extend your skill-set in lateral directions.
In a small company your efforts may be noticed more rapidly, there is usually more visibility by top management and you are more likely to participate in and be exposed to multiple tasks and projects and in the process learn valuable new skills. There tends to be more flexibility in smaller companies and it is typically easier to get buy-in for and implement change. Opportunities for growth and advancement are great if your performance is good and you are confident of your abilities, as it is easier to shine and be noticed in a small company.
However if your performance is not up to par or you are not a great cultural fit, that is quite likely to be quickly noticed too. Moreover, if it is a small family business, the senior executive positions may be taken by family members which limits room for advancement at the very top. Often, remuneration packages are less in smaller companies due to smaller revenue bases and profitability. Training opportunities may also be very limited in smaller companies and HR systems and policies are often very basic. Small companies that are not financially sound may miss employee salaries and bonus payments and their long-term viability and sustainability is often jeopardized, especially if barriers to entry in the industry are low and the company’s product and service line is not clearly differentiated.
Market Share of Company
Ideally, you should chose a company with a robust and growing market share that is at the forefront of its industry and in no danger of being made obsolete by the competition. A company that is losing customers and shrinking its business may not have room for you in the long run. Look for companies that lead in their industry and are performing well, acquiring new clients and retaining the business and loyalties of old ones.
Unique Value Proposition
Look for a company that has clearly and cleverly differentiated itself from its competition and can articulate its unique value propositions confidently and articulately. Lack of a clear value proposition means no ammunition in the face of incumbent competitors or copycat competitors who jump on the bandwagon where barriers to entry are low.
Products and Services Offered by Company
Make sure you are comfortable with and will enjoy working with the array of products and services the company offers. It is not too wise to take a job in a company where you will not take pride or feel a sense of ownership in the products you represent. Also make sure the line of products/services has a bright future and is not in danger of being obsoleted by new technologies or market trends and preferences.
Company Culture and Values
Not every great company will necessarily be the right cultural fit for you. Ask about the culture and the team and try to ensure that the ethics, values, team dynamics, management style and atmosphere are agreeable to you.
Reputation of Company
A company’s reputation is key. Ask a lot of questions and do your research to make sure you get a firm grasp of it. Understand the track record of the company and its image in the market. Ideally you should select a company with high and very positive brand recognition and association and a stellar reputation.
Management styles vary. It is important that you are comfortable with the style at a particular company and feel you can meet your objectives, thrive, grow and even excel in this environment. Look for management who are highly respected and revered in the industry and from whom you will have a lot to learn.
Some companies have substantially higher employee turnover than others and these should be approached very carefully if you are looking for long-term employement, job security and career stability. Understand why a certain position is open, what happened to the predecessors and what the management’s attitude is towards employee development and retention before you risk becoming another victim in the turnover wheel.