The next big move: 50% of skilled talent seeking to give up the corporate dream for a start-up

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HONG KONG, March 25, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — The search of talent and securing the best-in-class expertise has been long going on. But lately it is being seen that the big companies are not only up against direct competitors of the industry they are in, but it is the start-ups too they have competition from.  

According to a new report from Robert Walters – Act Like a Start-Up and Win the Best Talent – nearly 50% of employees across the globe would prefer working in a start-up over the stability and assurance of being employed by a large and established company. Tying this with the Great Resignation the world has seen since last year, employees are now re-thinking how they want to work and have more control of how their work empowers them. With the uncertainty and the ripples of pandemic still being seen, large corporates are now facing more challenges in attracting and retaining top talent.

According to an industry research done by Robert Walters[1], there has been a 20% increase in headcount growth within start-ups over the past 12-months, with more predicted as over 50% of workers vow to make their next move to a start-up. It shows that today’s professionals are looking for more than just a big brand, big money and basic employee benefits. They want to be a part of a place where they can add value, thrive in a culture of innovation, creativity and most importantly see a visible career growth. 

The Career Accelerator  

With relatively flat structures and hands-on Founders & CEOs with start-ups – new starters can find themselves lining into the senior leadership team from day one. Start-up leaders can usually see an employee’s involvement in a project right from initial stages until completion and as a result, the rate of career advancement at start-ups tends to be higher. As per the survey[2], over half of the professionals (55%) were willing to join a start-up if they saw an opportunity to progress much quicker than they would within a corporate set-up. 

Potential for learning 

The changing and fast-paced nature of a start-up keeps employees on their toes, encourages them to develop new skills as they go and push boundaries beyond the initial job description. While working for a start-up, one can understand how the whole company works and develop commercial acumen which is generally not expected when in junior positions in corporate structures. The survey[2] found that 33% of the professionals are planning to leave their corporate jobs in order to ‘try something new,’ with a further 14% looking to reskill.  

Putting the ‘I’ in Innovation  

Start-ups are different from traditional businesses primarily because they are grounded on disruptive innovation, created to address a perceived ‘problem’ in the market. Joining a start-up means adopting an ‘out of the box’ mindset – an ability to think on one’s feet and get creative with small budgets and less resources. In fact, 47% of the professionals surveyed expressed they would leave a corporate job to join a newly established business for the scope of innovation it brings. 

Change Agent Culture  

Being a start-up team member comes with great responsibilities. No matter the title, everyone contributes to the company’s growth and success – and in turn, makes them feel like the job they are doing has an actual purpose and becomes a huge motivation. In fact, a third of the professionals surveyed[2] (34%) stated that the reason they move to a start-up is for doing challenging and interesting work – with many stating that the skills they adopted in self-management and task prioritisation then crossover into their personal lives as well. 

True Team Spirit 

Almost half of the professionals (42%) stated that the most important value when looking for a future workplace is ‘colleagues and culture that inspire them to do their best’ – that is why the company culture at start-ups is something that employees value. Due to their smaller size, start-ups tend to foster a close-knit, collaborative environment which encourages people to help wherever they can, even on tasks outside of their original remit. 

Start-ups often favour a fluid structure over hierarchy, enabling open discussion and cooperation amongst all team members. Corresponding to the same, 30% of the professionals surveyed state that the most appealing thing about a start-up was in fact an open & effective management structure.  

Tiffany Wong, Director – Robert Walters Hong Kong says, "Allowing employees to make mistakes and constantly reinventing themselves will lead to higher workplace engagement. A workforce that is trusted and allowed to approach tasks their own way is most likely to be engaged." 

Click here to download a copy of Act Like a Start-Up and Win the Best Talent 

Note to editor:  

About Robert Walters – Established in 1985, Robert Walters is one of the world’s leading specialist professional recruitment consultancies spanning 31 markets. The Hong Kong office specialises in placing candidates on a permanent basis in the following specialities: accounting & finance, engineering & property, financial services, human resources, legal & compliance, sales & marketing, supply chain, logistics & procurement, and tech & transformation.

[1] Robert Walters Business Intelligence Report 2021 

[2] Robert Walters Global Employee Survey 2021