2018 National Business Trends Survey Shows Continued Business Optimism Tempered by Talent and Pay Challenges

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Employer Associations of America 2018 National Business Trends Survey

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With recruiting and retaining talent challenges facing businesses today, the ability for employers to creatively respond to the market conditions becomes essential, but it’s also an opportunity for businesses to differentiate themselves.

Employer Associations of America (EAA) has released the results of its 2018 National Business Trends Survey. According to the survey results, many businesses continue to have an optimistic outlook for 2018 and are preparing for a positive year ahead. When looking at their own business results, 62% expect their 2017 sales/revenue to be slightly or significantly better compared to 2016. Continued optimism prevails as 73% of executives project slight to significant increases in sales/revenue for 2018. However, that optimism is tempered by several serious challenges to business growth. The top challenges include: a shortage of both skilled labor and professional/technical staff, and the ability to pay competitive wages and benefits.

The good news is employers are hiring, with 38% hiring more than planned in 2017, and next year, 76% of executives indicate their hiring will be due in part to newly created jobs. With 68% reporting that difficulty in recruitment is escalating, employers cite a lack of available candidates (59%) and market competition (40%) as their primary challenges. Top strategies to address recruitment challenges include: increasing starting salaries, using temporary agencies or external recruiters, starting or increasing the use of social media for recruiting, increasing the emphasis on employee referrals, and filling jobs with existing staff who have potential to grow.

“With recruiting and retaining talent challenges facing businesses today, the ability for employers to creatively respond to the market conditions becomes essential, but it’s also an opportunity for businesses to differentiate themselves,” states Bruce Clarke, EAA Board of Directors Chair.

As in 2017, the spotlight in 2018 will be on competitiveness of pay to address both recruitment and retention challenges. In 2017, 82% of employers increased wages, and for 2018, 77% are already planning increases, while 43% are planning to use variable/bonus awards. The national attention on pay equity also has resulted in approximately one fifth of companies taking action by conducting pay audits, external compensation market analysis and/or establishing formal compensation structures.

In preparing for 2018, companies report implementing the following measures: investing in new technology (54%) and equipment (51%), increasing their recruiting emphasis (40%), and increasing their training budget (30%).

According to Clarke, “The key message is how companies develop successful strategies to address the market challenges and create advantages for their organization. This National Business Trends Survey provides the critical comparative information executives need to make data-driven decisions so they can confidently approach business issues in 2018.”

The EAA is a not-for-profit national association that provides this annual survey to equip business executives with insights and trends for business outlooks, business investment plans, staffing levels, hiring plans, job creations, pay strategies, and business challenges. The 2018 Survey included 1,528 participating organizations, with responses covering 2,741 employer locations throughout the United States.

About Employer Associations of America
The Employer Associations of America (EAA) consists of 33 regional employer associations serving 35,000 companies and more than six million employees. Regional employer associations are dedicated to serving their members as trusted partners that help members maximize the performance of their employees and their organization through business expertise in compliance, recruitment, retention, surveys, safety, training, and organizational development. EAA’s mission is to advance a national presence and to promote local success among members through unparalleled collaboration, excellence, and efficiency. To learn more about the EAA, visit http://www.eaahub.org.

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Vicki Vought, EAA Executive Director