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Small businesses in the UK are outperforming larger business in keeping their staff happy, according to a new report by LinkedIn.

The company’s Work Satisfaction Survey found that the UK’s small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) boast the country’s highest levels of job satisfaction, with companies of fewer than 10 employees coming out on top.

In a survey of more than 10,000 professionals and over 3,500 employers worldwide, one in five UK workers say that they’d prefer to work for a small business than larger one.

The research also found over a third (37%) would even be willing to take a pay cut for the chance to work for a start-up.

Despite this advantage, many still perceive a struggle in attracting and hiring top candidates. More than three quarters (77%) of SME employers feel that they still have to work harder than larger companies in their industry to attract the best candidates.

Dan Dackombe, director of LinkedIn Talent Solutions said: “Thanks to social media, it’s never been easier for smaller employers to effectively engage potential new hires. However, our research shows that they feel the need to work harder to recruit despite consistently punching above their weight on employee fulfilment.

“Our country’s SMEs have a great story to tell and have an opportunity to capitalise on their size when it comes to hiring.”

LinkedIn said that the hiring challenges faced by the UK’s SMEs could, in part, be due to the fact that many are under-using their best asset: their people.

More than three quarters of UK workers in small businesses say that they’d be happy to recommend their employer to a friend, compared to only two thirds of employees at the UK’s biggest companies.

Yet is seems employee advocacy initiatives have some way to go. While half of SMEs (53% say that they invest in employee advocacy, only three in ten SME employees have actually endorsed their employer on social media.

The findings coincide with the launch of two new LinkedIn products, designed to help employers more easily connect with the most relevant candidates on the platform. The newly redesigned Careers Pages give British employers of all sizes new ways to engage with the network’s 20 million UK members.

Its ‘Open Candidates’ tool enables members to quietly signal to recruiters that they are interested in new job opportunities, without it being visible on their LinkedIn profiles, helping recruiters more easily identify the most responsive potential new hires.

LinkedIn’s Dan Dackombe shared the following tips for SMEs looking to attract top candidates:

  1. Boost your employer brand online: The majority of today’s job seekers will check out a business’s website and LinkedIn presence before committing to an interview or applying to a job. Make sure they best reflect why your company is a great place to work.
  2. Know what you stand for: More than half (52 per cent) of UK professionals wouldn’t consider a job with a company if they didn’t know or agree with its values. It’s crucial to communicate a firm sense of what your company stands for and what it means to work there.
  3. Show, don’t tell: Use pictures and videos to showcase your company culture through your people. It’s never been easier or more affordable to capture your culture on camera using smartphones and simple editing applications and then share via your LinkedIn Company Page. LinkedIn’s newly redesigned Career Pages enable employers to better show off their culture to potential new hires by showcasing current employees.
  4. Your employees are your biggest asset: Your existing employees connect you to hundreds or thousands of potential new hires. Make sure you’re encouraging them to be your biggest ambassadors by supplying them with relevant and engaging content such as company news and updates they can share with their networks.