Working for a smaller company may not pay the big bucks like big corporations, but it can offer other benefits that more than make up for it. That’s according to a new Salary.com survey of 474 employees of small and large U.S. companies.

Respondents cited as pros of smaller employers:

  • Work/life balance (46.2 percent)
  • Commute (38.1 percent)
  • Loyalty (34.8 percent)
  • Boss (31.4 percent)
  • Relationships with co-workers (29.5 percent)

Having worked for employers of different shapes and sizes, I can’t say small companies always have the edge on these “softer” benefits. But I do think they should try harder to recruit and retain good people (including talented working moms) by flaunting what the big companies can’t: flexibility, less bureaucracy, and better relationships.

As my current employer, Bridge Worldwide, has grown from 40-some people to 125 (in just four years!), I have been impressed at how it’s gotten even better at encouraging us to get a life. (There are occasional bad days … nights … and weekends, but it’s an ad agency. Goes with the territory.) As business boomed, our management saw the potential to make our small, fast-growing company a “great place to work” and made it happen.

So what’s your take on the difference between small and big companies? Have you felt like smaller = better? Or do big-company salaries cancel out big-company crappy policies?