We tend to look at the small business sector when considering hiring as an economic indicator. Small businesses signify the American Dream, so we have a bit of nostalgia for the mom-and-pop shops on the corner. At the opposite end of the spectrum are large, enterprise corporations that receive a ton of press because of their broad brand recognition and influence in Washington D.C. and statehouses around the country.
What many don't realize is the middle market comprising companies with more than 100 employees but fewer than 1,000 is probably the healthiest sector of our economy. The nation’s 200,000 mid-market businesses are an economic engine driving the U.S. recovery, growing revenue at a rate of 5 percent during 2013, five times higher than the S&P 500 and more than twice the 2.4 percent growth of the economy as a whole. The mid-market is expected to hire more than a million people in 2014, according to the National Center for the Middle Market.
The challenge for many mid-market businesses is how they become a mature company without stifling innovation. The answer lies in attracting top talent. Mid-market companies offer a unique benefit for upstart job seekers.
Start-ups are associated with entrepreneurialism, the modern movers-and-shakers where innovation is the engine of growth. Because failure to innovate is often a failure to survive, this environment tends to welcome and nourish experimentation and risk-taking. While start-ups are exciting and enticing for a job seeker, some are unstable due to a lack of capital to fund growth.
Conversely, large organizations offer greater stability for individuals but have traditionally been thought of as somewhat of a black hole for entrepreneurialism. Many large corporations are so big, an ambitious employee can get lost amongst the thousands of others. Couple that with a rigid corporate process and innovation can be stifled way before it reaches the boardroom.
Mid-sized organizations offer the best of both worlds. Needing innovation to stay on top, they welcome entrepreneurialism and innovation at all levels of the business. They are small enough to remain agile but large enough to command scale and opportunity. These companies offer direct access to the board that can translate into personal career progression on a level that businesses either larger or smaller may not.
Mid-market companies value ''intrapreneurialism", retaining the entrepreneurial spirit of start-ups within a larger business. Mid-market businesses have graduated from the school of start-ups and matured into a larger organization where business processes and bureaucracy are a vital part of future growth.
But attracting top talent to a business built on intrapreneurialism is only half the challenge. Organizations also need to retain those skills and expertise to continue growing, expanding and competing in their home markets and internationally.
Today’s employees expect to be treated as individuals, demand flexible schedules, want feedback and intend to be heard. They value and aspire to expertise, skill, knowledge and teamwork. They demand up-to-date technology and the latitude to manage their own information and communication, as they do outside of work.
This can only be achieved with a combination of tools and technology that help employees manage and share information across the organization. Choosing the right technology can mean the difference between losing out to the competition and an agile, active workforce that can meet challenges head-on and discover solutions in a collaborative environment.
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