POSTED: January 03 2023
Employee Expectations

Employee Expectations – advo’s guide to navigating the challenges of employees transitioning from a large corporate to small business

It’s hard to remember a time when the job market was so volatile in terms of movement and retention of talent. The landscape of work has undeniably seen a substantial transition in the last few years due to the lasting impacts of the COVID pandemic. Employees, in particularly Gen Z, are becoming increasingly driven by the culture of potential employers and how the package they offer aligns with their personal goals and beliefs. Whilst still there, the drive to have experiences in big corporates to help build a CV is becoming less valued. People are also becoming less risk averse and confident in setting up independently. This is clearly demonstrated by the significant increase in the investment in start-ups. As explained on

“A recent study by UK tax-tech firm Ember found that 190,639 new companies were established in the second quarter of 2021 – a period that resulted in the most start-ups founded in Q2 in British history (averaging at 87 new businesses established per hour).

On course to top 800,000 new start-ups by the end of the year, 2021/22 is forecasted to break the previous annual record of the most UK start-ups formed in one tax year, set back in 2018/2019 in which 672,890 new British businesses were established.”

Whilst this is positive news from a business perspective it’s imperative for start-ups to attract both new and experienced talent. Employees newer to the job market are essentially fresher with fewer experiences to compare hence less expectations. With the latter, more experienced talent, start-ups have the advantage of using their knowledge and skills to build a successful and sustainable business, however, with this level of experience also come higher expectations which may have been ingrained from working with larger corporates.

Whether this be salary, benefits or general culture, these more experienced potentially high net worth employees are naturally likely to have higher expectations.

The advantage of larger businesses is (not always) the ability to budget for and accommodate the needs of their employees. Smaller businesses are commonly faced with the challenge of either not being able to budget for internal processes to provide the same quality employee experience or being priced out of outsourced options due to fees being created to target larger businesses.

A key term advo have consistently used to describe our ethos is “corporate style service without the overheads”. All of our services are designed and priced for smaller businesses hence we are very experienced in working with smaller business who rightly so expect a high-level service for both their company and employees. So how can small businesses create an environment to attract and retain experienced talent? Using our 25 years of experience, we have put together 3 key areas to focus on:


1. Company Culture

This term is often thrown around in conversations relating to recruitment, HR and general employee engagement, however what does it really mean in practice? Company culture is establishing positive working practices and attitudes which reflect how you as a business want to operate. There are many examples of bad company culture e.g., ingrained sexism, bullying etc. Ways to establish a positive company culture include:

  • Being open to employee ideas and contributions
  • Being reasonable
  • Understanding the progression of the work place e.g., keeping up to date with what’s important to employees; flexible working, environmentally friendly workplaces, wellbeing etc
  • Establishing a company ethos and company goals to work on together as a team
  • Implementing constructive, proactive and positive HR policies and practices


2. Reward and Recognition

Reward and recognition can cover a vast range of areas including salary, benefits, incentives etc. Whilst establishing your own company identity, when attracting and retaining talent its important to understand what your competitors are offering. There are many online reports and tools to benchmark however companies such as advo can also assist with this.

It’s also important to think outside the box? What’s important to employees in your industry? What benefits would help your employees as well as your business? For example, tech companies. It’s likely your employees have a keen interest in technology. Have you considered a salary sacrifice technology benefit allowing them buy the latest technology at discounted rates? Is your business focused on solving an environmental issue? Have you considered how “green” your benefit providers are? Whilst this level of detail may seem a lot to consider this level of consideration also feeds in to building a strong company culture and identity. Some standard benefits to try to incorporate in your company package include:

  • Health insurance
  • Life assurance
  • Income protection
  • Virtual/Private GP access


3. Simplicity 

Experienced and in particular higher net worth employees are often incredibly busy and driven therefore simplicity in day-to-day employee functions is highly important. For instance, holiday booking, access to payslips, benefit information are common questions directed to operational functions within a business. If you are a smaller business the people/person carrying out this function may also be dealing with a wide range of other responsibilities unlike a large corporate where there may be an entire team dedicated to this one area.

There is a simple solution to ensuring simplicity and efficiency in terms of not trying to do it all yourself. Your skill set and where you want to spend your time is running a business, not payroll, not HR, not benefit advice. A good, and often more cost and time efficient idea for smaller businesses is to outsource these services. Using technology to create a more streamlined and efficient user experience for your employees allowing them to access information quickly as and when they need it is also recommended.

Understandably the desire to work with outsourced services from large recognised providers is not always the best direction for smaller businesses. Large corporate providers are likely to be focusing on and have experience in servicing large corporate clients. Smaller businesses often go under the radar and do not receive the same level of service and client engagement. Get in touch today to understand how we can help your business. As a small business ourselves with 25 years’ experience working with notable SME’s, we are ready and keen to provide in depth, practical and commercially focused advice. To us there are no “big or small fish” every client matters. Thank you for reading our guide, for more related content you can head over to our news page which we update regularly with equally useful information.