According to the 2022 National Business Trends Survey from the Employer Associations of America, business executives are cautious, yet optimistic, about next year’s economy.
“Business leaders have had another year of difficult decisions and tough choices,” says Gayle Gilham, chair of the board at EAA in Waukesha, Wis. “However, the trends we are seeing show just how strong and resolute executives are today.”
This annual survey shares information on what executives are doing to address business challenges. Survey responses also were asked to reflect on the continuing impact COVID-19 has had on this year’s business trends.
Nationally, 31 percent of executive surveyed believe the economy will improve, while 41 percent expect the overall outlook for 2022 to remain the same. Regarding the impact COVID-19 continues to have, 65 percent said they are “extremely to moderately concerned.” This is an increase from 52 percent last year.
The survey breaks down results on a local level. In Michigan, talent acquisition, talent retention, and cost of materials are the top three concerns of executive surveyed. More than two-thirds (67 percent) of respondents indicated they would primarily be hiring and increasing staffing levels in the coming years.
Most of this hiring is resulting from staff turnover and retirements. Michigan employers cited professional staff (non‐managers) and skilled production workers as the most difficult to recruit for in this market.
“Michigan employers are certainly not immune from the challenges brought on by the continuing pandemic,” says Mary Corrado, president and CEO of Troy’s American Society of Employers (ASE). “As the labor market continues to tighten, it is clear from the data that employers are preparing for further headwinds related to attracting and retaining talent.”
These challenges are not exclusive to Michigan, as the national top three challenges from the survey are identical. Employers have cited employees leaving for more pay, flexible work arrangements, and new challenges making talent acquisition and retention difficult.
The survey showed 50 percent of organizations nationally have been hiring in 2021, which was originally expected to only be 20 percent. Most executives reported that 90 precent of hiring is due to voluntary turnover, and 70 percent reported their hiring is due to some or all newly created jobs.
With talent being such a critical factor, executives were asked what they thought were the top five most important factors prospective employees are looking for. The top five responses include:
- Competitive pay – 84 percent
- Good work/life balance – 74 percent
- Flexibility in work hours – 57 percent
- Vacation/paid time off – 38 percent
- Competitive/robust health benefits – 38 percent
Given the national concern of COVID-19 and employee safety, the survey also asked how organizations are working to minimize risk and ensuring compliance with federal, state, and local laws. The top two responses were providing face masks for employees in the workplace (56 percent) and encouraging employees to get vaccinated but not requiring it (52 percent).