It's safe to say the days of working for a large company for 40 years and then riding off into the sunset with a healthy pension and gold watch are over.
"The small-business hiring advantage can be attributed in part to the innovative benefits these firms have introduced to compete with higher salaries and better health coverage offered by large employers," says John Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. "Employer flexibility is a prime reason that small business is able to win out over larger firms. Flexibility to the employee means an employer who, for example, promptly will approve of unplanned time off for a special family event. We all turned inward after September 11. We all decided, to one degree or another, that the sudden nature of world terrorism means we do not want to put things off anymore, particularly family matters."
Small vs. Big
"Today's worker is looking out for themselves first, the company second," says Milt Toratti, master facilitator of the Riverbend Center for Advanced Entrepreneurial Facilitation, a southern Minnesota organization that helps entrepreneurs, small-business owners and workers in transition. "If companies are no longer showing loyalty, why should workers? If the money is similar and the stress is less, more and more executives are moving to more secure, less stressful positions."
Still, deciding whether to downsize your employer can be complicated.
Sizing Up Opportunities
Bob LoPresto deals with these kinds of scenarios every day as president of Palo Alto, California-based High Technology Practice, a division of Rusher, Loscavio & LoPresto.
Before making the move, LoPresto says it's important to weigh your options and discuss all possible factors of a potential move. When executives are considering multiple options, LoPresto suggests doing what he calls a matrix analysis. The executive should make a list of what's important to him, such as the potential for career growth, ability to grow the company and make it succeed, and last, but certainly not least, money.
"This is an emotional decision, and this way, they look at it objectively, not just financially," says LoPresto. "For most, it's not about the money; it's about the ability to make a difference in the company they work for. If you work and do your job, the money will be there."
LoPresto offers these tips for executives considering a move:
* If you feel confident enough, discuss your potential move with the board of directors or management team.
* When mulling over a potential job offer (and if you are able to do so), ask to come on as a consultant for 30 to 60 days before making a decision. This helps you get a feel for the corporate culture, the product or service the company is selling, and the people and personalities you will be working with.
* Negotiate a salary-continuance agreement in the offer letter. LoPresto says executives should ask for six months to a year of continued pay if the employment agreement is terminated for any reason other than cause. He also suggests negotiating for a severance package that continues until you find a new job. "It's taking an average of three to six months for executives to find new work," says LoPresto.
Most of all, LoPresto says, a move has to be made from the heart.
"You have to do what you feel best," he says. "It's your life, and your lifestyle."