Employer Associations of America Releases 2014 National Business Trends Survey

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Optimism, Confidence, and Investments in Training Trend Upward

Susan Fronk, Chair, EAA Board of Directors

The 2014 National Business Trends Survey allows executives to make data-driven decisions and provides detailed information on how other executives plan to approach their business in 2014.

Employer Associations of America (EAA) announced today the completion of the 2014 National Business Trends Survey. The EAA, a not-for-profit national association consisting of 35 regional employer associations, supplies this annual report to business executives, arming them with insight on 2014 business trends in the areas of:

  •     Business outlook
  •     Business investment plans
  •     Staffing levels
  •     Hiring plans
  •     Job creation barriers
  •     Pay strategies
  •     Cost-cutting measures

“Each day employers throughout the U.S. are faced with challenges moving their business forward,” states Susan Fronk, Chair, EAA Board of Directors. “The 2014 National Business Trends Survey allows executives to make data-driven decisions and provides detailed information on how other executives plan to approach their business in 2014.”

An Optimistic Outlook
Results from this comprehensive survey of 1,740 organizations, covering all 50 states in the U.S., indicate the majority of executives surveyed are optimistic about 2014, are confident they will award pay increases, and look to invest in their existing employees with increased training budgets.

When asked to compare the 2013 business outlook to 2012, 90% of the executives surveyed reported that 2013 was about the same or better than 2012. This is up from the 79% who had projected 2013 would be the same or better at this time last year. This optimism remains strong for the new year, as 90% of survey respondents expect the overall 2014 economic outlook to be about the same or better in comparison to 2013.

This optimism continues as 62% of organizations saw their own business results with a slight to significant increase in 2013, and 71% of business executives expect increases in their own sales/revenue in 2014.

Despite an optimistic outlook, employers are still focused on the following serious short-term challenges to their businesses; ability to pay for benefits (26%), competition (31%), and cost of regulatory compliance (26%), skilled labor shortage (22%) and the ability to pay competitively (17%). The percentage of executives expecting these five challenges to be serious in the long-term increases in all cases with the ability to pay for benefits rising to 44% of the responding executives.

Growing Confidence in Compensation Strategies
Employer confidence has improved over one year ago, with 76% of participating organizations reporting pay increases in 2013. This is up from 66% of participating organizations that had planned to award increases in 2013.

Compensation strategies for 2014 also demonstrate employer confidence is high:

  •     74% of the respondents reported plans to award wage/salary increases in 2014 – up from 66% in 2013
  •     40% plan to award variable/bonus awards
  •     11% will give lump sum awards during the year

Only 10% of organizations surveyed plan to freeze or reduce pay in 2014. This number is down from the actual 19% that froze or reduced pay as cost-cutting measures in 2013.

Increases in staffing levels for 2014 are expected for 47% of employers responding to the survey, up from 34% who responded to the survey a year ago. The positions most difficult to hire are professional staff, as cited by 43% of executives. This is closely followed by skilled production workers (39% of responses).

Training Investments for Existing Employees
To overcome the challenges in recruitment and retention, 37% of executives said they plan to continue increasing their 2014 training budgets – this is a 16% increase from the percentage reported for 2013. Specifically in the areas of recruitment and retention, 58% (48% in 2013) of respondents said they are focused on providing existing staff with additional training/development and 50% (41% in 2013) are filling jobs with existing staff that lack the job skills, and 41% are focusing on staff retention where recruitment is difficult.

Survey Information
EAA data reflects national conditions. A total of 1,740 companies, covering locations in all 50 states, were surveyed in October and November of 2013. In additional to reporting significant trends on a national level, the 2014 National Business Trends Survey offers a trends summary and detail reports at the regional level for the Midwest, Northeast, Southern, and Western regions.

The percentage of respondents and their respective industries include 42% from manufacturing, 7% from Professional and Business Services, form 7% Health Services, and 44% in other industries. The survey also represents companies of all sizes: 1-99 employees (53%), 100-249 employees (25%), 250-499 employees (12%), 500-999 employees (5%), and 1,000+ employees (4%).

About Employer Associations of America
The Employer Associations of America (EAA) consists of 35 regional employer associations that serve 48,000 companies and more than 5,600,000 employees. The EAA’s mission is to advance a national presence and to promote local success among members through unparalleled collaboration, excellence, and efficiency. The regional employer associations that make up the EAA are dedicated to serving their members and are trusted partners that help members maximize the performance of their employees and organization. The employer associations’ human resource and business professionals provide businesses with expertise in the areas of compliance, recruitment, retention, surveys, safety, training, and organizational development. To learn more the EAA and membership, visit http://www.eaahub.org.

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