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Top 5 Concerns for Small Business Employers

Even in normal times, small business employers are never short on hurdles.

Small budgets. Thin workforces. Few if any economies of scale. And that was before a global pandemic put a vicious squeeze on companies of all sizes and violently thinned the small-business herd.

So, what is weighing on small business employers most right now?

MetLife recently released its annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study, which acts as a broader snapshot of many of the challenges that small businesses face today. And while it has been more than a year and a half since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the coronavirus not only is one of the top concerns of small business employers – it also is impacting many of the other most-cited issues.

Read on as we explore what small business owners are struggling with most.

Top 5 Concerns for Small Business Employers

#1: Employees or families contracting the virus (64%)

The bottom line might be the bottom line, but right now, employers’ top concern is keeping everybody safe from the virus. That’s good, because that’s largely in line with small employees’ concerns – 67% told MetLife that “safety and protection of their family” is more important than ever.

Just less than half those employees also put the onus on employers, saying that they (through policies and workplace benefits) should help address these concerns. And unfortunately, those employers could be doing better — “compared to their counterparts at larger companies, small business employees are slightly less satisfied with the safety and protection measures implemented by their employers,” MetLife says.

#2: Employee productivity (59%)

Employee productivity is another top concern among small business employers. It makes sense: The past year has seen many companies completely knocked out of their comfort zone, forced to adapt to either hybrid or outright work-from-home models.

But that’s not the only thing that might have a negative effect on worker productivity.

Some 87% of small business employees call “financial stress” a significant concern, both presently and when thinking about the future. And some 28% claim outright that they’re less productive at work because of financial stress, which is a 5-percentage-point increase from the same point last year.

#3: Ensuring compliance with ever-changing laws and regulations (58%)

This is a classic concern among all businesses, but especially among smaller firms that typically don’t have a legal team and in-house staff dedicated to keeping the company compliant.

Further exacerbating this issue is a wave of rapidly changing rules and regulations as it pertains to COVID. Varying degrees of shutdowns, vaccination and mask rules – not to mention changes in these rules over time – have forced small businesses to be on their toes even more than usual.

#4: Remaining in business (57%)

Plain ol’ vanilla survival is always at the forefront of most small business employers’ minds, and it’s no different today. COVID has merely exacerbated the issue.

The financial pinch is especially strong for smaller companies, though. Only 53% of small business employers tell MetLife they feel confident about their current financial situation, compared to 62% of their peers at larger companies.

#5: Protecting jobs/avoiding or reducing layoffs (56%)

In the same vein as company survival is small business employers’ desire to keep as many of their workers around as possible. That said, employers have an additional reason to try to reduce turnover – namely, a lack of talent to replace anyone should they need to hire again.

MetLife cites a February 2020 U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation survey showing that while demand for skilled workers is high, “appropriate talent is often scarce.” Moreover, even when employers can find these new employees, they’re facing a much more competitive hiring environment – one in which minimum pay levels and benefits have been improved almost across the board.

Small businesses constantly face a litany of challenges. We can help. McManamon & Co. is an accounting, tax, fraud, forensic and consulting firm that offers custom services to small- and midsize businesses across a broad spectrum of industries. Our consulting services, for instance, can help with anything from strategic planning to establishing corporate banking relationships to helping you maximize your cash flow and tax returns.

Leading a small business will never be easy, but we can make it easier. Learn more by calling us at 440.892.8900 or contacting us online today.

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