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

January 19, 2018 – Over 50 business and HR leaders gathered to hear from economist Joel Naroff and for the release of the 2018 EAA National Business Trends Survey.

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.

Regional Recruitment and Retention Challenges

Members of MidAtlantic Employers’ Association (MEA) in PA, NJ, DE and MD reported strong hiring in 2017 and projected for 2018. 38% hired more than they planned in 2017 and 70% of executives indicated that hiring in 2018 would be to increase staff levels. Overall, 96% reported they will increase or maintain their staff levels. With 69% reporting that difficulty in recruitment is escalating, regional employers cite a lack of available candidates (64%) and market competition (39%) as their primary challenges. Employers have addressed these difficulties in several ways:

What strategies have you implemented to overcome “recruitment” challenges?

  • Increasing starting salaries: 62%
  • Using temporary/staffing agencies, or external recruiters: 68%
  • Starting/increasing use of social media for recruiting: 58%

What strategies have you implemented to overcome “retention” challenges?

  • Adjusting pay ranges upward: 56%
  • Focus on staff receiving additional training/development: 58%
  • Focus on staff retention in jobs where recruitment is difficult: 49%

“We are seeing many employers increase their focus and investment on both recruiting and retention strategies in an effort to meet growth demands in the face of low levels of unemployment and talent shortages.” states Kevin Robins, CEO of MEA.

Pay Challenges and Strategies

As in 2017, the spotlight in 2018 will be on competitiveness of pay to address both recruitment and retention challenges. Regionally during 2017, 87% of employers increased wages while 61% paid variable or bonus awards. For 2018, 85% are already planning increases, while 60% are planning to use variable/bonus awards. The national attention on pay equity also has resulted in approximately 40% taking action by conducting pay audits, external compensation market analysis and/or establishing formal compensation structures.

Demographic Challenges

As workplace demographics continue to change, employers are noticing distinct differences between the desires of different generations, particularly between Baby Boomers, Gen X and Millennials. Below are several categories where there is a stark difference in attitudes that employers will need to navigate:

Boomers Gen X Millennials Digitals
Flexibility in work hours 17.60% 35.20% 70.40% 51.20%
Mentoring opportunities 9.60% 13.60% 37.60% 22.40%
Competitive benefits 68.80% 60.00% 32.00% 19.20%
Opportunities to connect with others 12.00% 26.40% 44.00% 32.80%
Recognition and reward 45.60% 52.00% 56.00% 36.00%
Opportunities for advancement 16.00% 52.00% 63.20% 44.80%
Good work/life balance 36.80% 51.20% 60.00% 43.20%
Opportunities to enhance skills 15.20% 39.20% 40.00% 32.00%

Top Strategies for 2018

In preparing for 2018, regional companies report implementing the following measures: investing in new technology (69%) and equipment (62%), increasing their training budget (43%), and increasing their recruiting emphasis (38%).

According to Robins, “For the past several years, we have seen an increased intersection between workforce challenges and business success. We are pleased to work with the other EAA organizations to deliver this National Business Trends Survey which provides the critical comparative information executives need to make data-driven decisions so they can confidently approach business issues in 2018.”

Survey Information

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.

About The MidAtlantic Employers’ Association

MEA helps businesses grow in the MidAtlantic region. Employers know their employees are their greatest asset and the better their people, the better their business. As a non-profit, membership organization, MEA helps Members grow for the long term.

Today, MEA helps more than 530 companies with employment law and compliance, training and development, HR services, recruiting, staffing and retention strategies and offers a suite of assessment tools as a Certified Partner of The Predictive Index.