Americans are prepared to work hard—and they dream of being part of a winning team. These were the findings of a recent survey we conducted at Kimble. Around 7 in 10 U.S. workers said they would rather put in 50 hours a week for a growing company than 40 hours a week for a stagnant one.
This was a test question, intended to gauge how much people think it matters to work for an expanding business. The answer seems to be that it matters a great deal, particularly in the United States, where a significantly higher percentage ticked “yes” to this than in the European countries where we also carried out the survey.
It seems the romance of the start-up, powered by creativity and commitment, rising from a suburban bedroom to a campus in the Valley is strongly felt in the United States. Some of the biggest firms in the world today started like this—tech unicorns like Zoom, Slack, and Airbnb, as well as more traditional companies, such as Nike. We are all familiar with these stories, from movies like Steve Jobs or The Social Network to books like Shoe Dog, Phil Knight’s best-selling tale of the celebrated sports brand’s founding.
Our report showed that most U.S. workers want a piece of the action—two-thirds say that their organization’s growth affects their personal happiness, and a quarter have actually left a job because they felt the organization had stagnated.
A Growing Business Presents More Possibilities
The dedication and work ethic this demonstrates are impressive. Personally, I would agree with those who say it’s preferable to work for a growing organization. Almost 90% of U.S. workers either agree or strongly agree with the statement “I believe I’ll grow more professionally if the organization I work for is also growing.” That makes sense. With more work coming through the door and new roles being created, there is generally more of a chance to develop new skills and expertise and to take on a bigger job. There is always a lot going on—and rarely a dull moment.
I am fortunate to have spent most of my career at growing organizations, and I am familiar with the feeling that your role and responsibilities expand at the same rate as the organization. This can be challenging, of course—it can be pretty nerve-wracking to have to step up in a way that takes you out of your comfort zone. And being part of a constantly expanding team means that change is also constant. A dynamic business is an exciting place to work—but you have to be able to deal with change.
Of course, it is entirely possible to have a great career at an established business that is not planning to grow. But in my experience, rapidly growing companies tend to be less hierarchical. In order for this kind of organization to remain agile and continue to succeed, decision-making will inevitably have to be shared across the company.
That, in turn, requires a shared vision and transparency of information. Our survey showed that employees place a high value on this kind of company culture. Almost 9 in 10 workers say they would feel more invested in the company’s growth either if information were shared more freely with them or if relevant updates were passed on. Of course, if people feel they are in the loop, they will be in a better position to contribute effectively. In my experience, rapidly growing organizations are more likely to provide this kind of experience.
Work Is Not Just for Money
Feeling as if your contribution is making a difference matters. What people do every day is not just for money—it is central to their feelings of personal growth and fulfillment. Interestingly, only a third of U.S. workers say the paycheck at the end of the month is the primary reason to work (that is lower than for Europeans). A third say the most important reason is related to personal development—either career advancement or to feel fulfilled. And almost one in five said the most important reason was to help the organization grow.
Doing meaningful work is important, and I have previously written about how to foreground this. Almost two in three say they would consider moving to a new job where they see the work as more meaningful. But what does that mean? A third define it as work that makes the world a better place, but more than half see it as work they feel passionate about.
As Airbnb founder Brian Chesky put it, “Culture is simply a shared way of doing something with passion.” And that shared passion is something that is often tangible in successful, rapid-growth businesses.
Mark Robinson, serial entrepreneur and cofounder of Kimble Applications, has more than 25 years’ experience in the IT consulting industry. In addition to founding the company, he also serves as Chief Marketing Officer where is he is responsible for business development, channel management, and market analysis. Mark started his career in management consulting before working for Oracle Corporation where he witnessed first-hand their rise from start-up to software giant. He started his first IT Consultancy Company, Fulcrum Solutions, in 1997 and cofounded IT consultancy Edenbrook in 2001.