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Benefits, Retention Are Business Owners' Biggest Worries

December 10th, 2019

employers concerns survey

What's worrying America's smallest businesses?

If you answered "everything," you wouldn't be too far off. Retention, benefits costs, growing revenue, even the rise of the gig economy are all among the worries that keep the owners and decision-makers of small businesses up at night. A new survey of employers -- 98% of them with fewer than 100 workers -- found the cost of healthcare and other benefits, retaining workers, and the challenge of increasing revenue are at the top of the list of concerns.

Two-thirds of the 599 respondents to the survey by Principal Financial Services ranked these four issues, and taxes, at the top of the list. Digging into the "why" behind these issues, Principal's report says it's because so many owners and leaders consider workers to be family. "What makes us different is that we're not just a staff of employees, we are a family," one employer said.

That attitude, the report explains, leads these businesses to "look for supplemental ways to take care of staff." These employers, "refuse to cut benefits." In fact, cutting benefits is the last thing employers consider when trying to save on expenses. First they'll look at other parts of the budget; they'll stop hiring and cut bonuses, before reducing their share of the benefits cost.

Millennial-owned businesses are especially concerned about retaining workers, the report found. Much more so than boomer-owned businesses, more than 70% of millennial owners consider retention, attracting and reskilling workers to be leading concerns. Boomer owners, by contrast, are more concerned about costs.

"Boomers," says the report, "believe their 'family' culture sets them apart, while millennials believe benefits/perks differentiate them from larger businesses."

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