career crossroads: SMEs or PLCs?

Most of England’s new housing is built by a small number of large firms but back in 2019, Theresa May described SME housebuilders as the ‘backbone’ of the UK economy. All housebuilders in the UK work tirelessly to meet the demand for new homes, and in the 2022-2023 fiscal year, housebuilders completed approximately 244,000 new homes, marking a substantial increase from previous years and making strides toward meeting the government’s target of 300,000 homes per year. For those currently looking to work or working in the industry, the choice between working for an SME or PLC is a hard one to make.

An increasing number of property professionals are turning their attention towards SMEs for a number of reasons. They are widely recognised for their agility and ability to innovate, and in the fast-paced housing industry, more candidates are being drawn to the dynamic environment of SMEs. ‘Unlike large volume builders, SMEs often focus on smaller, infill sites that require attention to detail and creativity’, giving candidates the opportunity to spearhead imaginative solutions and see the impact of their work firsthand. In contrast to the structures of PLCs, SMEs often encourage flexibility, allowing professionals to explore new ideas and approaches without organisational limitations. Also, candidates have greater sense of ownership and autonomy over their projects and despite their smaller size, SMEs provide ample opportunities for career growth and development.

The choice between the two depends on individual career aspirations and preferences. From fostering innovation to cultivating an intimate work environment, SMEs continue to attract top talent seeking fulfilling careers. As the industry evolves, the appeal of SMEs is expected to grow further, driven by their ability to thrive in a constantly changing environment. While PLCs remain fundamental to the industry, offering stability and avenues for growth, both options present distinct advantages, ultimately catering to the diverse career paths and aspirations of candidates in the industry.