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Hiring Trends 2018: What’s Ahead for Small Businesses?

Find out what's top of mind for small business owners for 2018.

Hiring Trends 2018: What’s Ahead for Small Businesses?

By: John Rossheim

Does this describe your life? You’ve got a ton of work on your desk and hardly enough time in a 10-hour workday to make the calls, see the people, make the offers and push the paperwork off your desk. Big picture trends? Yeah you know you’re supposed to be on top of that too, so you can get ahead of the best talent in 2018, but when?

Well fret not, as we at Monster have talked to some of the top experts to uncover the top trends you’ll definitely hear more about in 2018, including promises of massive federal deregulation of business, increased domination of industries by their giants, and penny-pinching by everyone—from individual consumers to the Fortune 100.  

Read on and be ready to make the most of the year ahead. 

Small business owners feel cautiously optimistic about 2018. The NFIB small business confidence index, though still generally optimistic, “lost a little steam” in September due to concerns about healthcare and tax reforms, says Holly Wade, director of research policy and analysis at the National Federation for Independent Business. “Half of small businesses say that the cost of health insurance is a critical issue. They’re a little bit frustrated with Congress for not getting these things done.”

Owners identify talent shortage as the greatest obstacle to growth. Many businesses believe that a dearth of qualified applicants will constrain their ability to expand in 2018. Indeed, the NFIB survey found that 86 percent of businesses reported that there were few or no applicants for their open positions. 

With tempered optimism, intrepid owners will strive to hire. Even as NFIB’s outlook for general business conditions has slide from an index of 50 immediately after the November 2016 elections to 31 in September 2017, small business is still planning on hiring in coming months due to the difficulty of filling positions in a tight labor market. 

Construction is having a really difficult time finding qualified applicants,” Wade says, a situation likely to escalate as reconstruction begins in the wake of hurricane and wildfire destruction in Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico and California.

GOP control over regulation is heartening to entrepreneurs. Small businesses are pleased with Washington’s stance on the federal regulatory front, both due to rules that are being rolled back and with much reduced prospects for new regulations, Wade says. Still, business owners in more progressive cities and states continue to feel regulatory pressure on issues like minimum wage and mandated paid sick or parental leave.

Small firms must exploit their agility to recruit successfully in 2018. While growing companies can compete for talent, startups are challenged by the fact that most people want to join a company that has proven and sustainable growth, says Chris Wunder, senior director of recruitment at Leap Hospitality. The solution? “Smaller companies have got to make the job offer much faster,” says Wunder.

Immigration is a concern – but not top of mind. Although companies of all sizes have been trying to reduce their use of foreign workers who require sponsorship, “the federal government’s interest in curbing H-1B visas is declining—it’s not like it was at the beginning of the year,” says Ashwin Bharath, chief operations and information officer at Revature.

Entrepreneurs must invest in 2018 technology to stay in the game. “Small companies can’t afford to have an IT training department, and this is a huge issue,” says Bharath. So owners need to find new ways to provide quality software training to their workers at an affordable cost, whether by procuring training online or by training tech-adept staff members to train their peers.

More businesses will seek to control health costs through self-insurance. By offering self-funded health plans, employers can invest in employee health and see a return in the form of lower health costs, says Steve Kelly, CEO of ELAP Services. In addition, “with self-funding, employers can save on state taxes on insurance. These plans are not subject to state insurance mandates.” This is an especially big boon to small businesses operating in multiple states.

Self-funded insurance comes to even smaller companies. It used to be that 100 employees or above was the minimum for a company to self-insure, but that has been trending downward, maybe to 50 today, Kelly says. Newer turnkey self-insurance products have also greatly simplified administration for small businesses, while also making health coverage “more budgetable and predictable.”

With so much as stake, owners owe it to themselves to speak up. “Organizations need to let their elected officials know how what they’re doing or not doing is affecting their ability to do business,” says Mike Aitken, vice president of government affairs at the Society for Human Resource Management.

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