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The Hartford’s Survey Finds Midsize Businesses To Invest For Growth In 2016

October 26, 2015 (Business Wire) Majority of businesses likely to add staff, but continue to face challenges finding qualified talent.

A majority of midsize business leaders remain optimistic that the U.S. economy will continue to improve and plan to engage in growth activities in 2016, according to The Hartford’s 2015 Midsize Business Monitor.

The second annual survey of owners and C-level executives of U.S. businesses with annual sales or revenues of $10 million to $1 billion found that 60 percent are optimistic that the national economy will strengthen in the next six months, down slightly from 66 percent in 2014. Their optimism is reflected in plans for 2016, with nearly all (96 percent) midsize businesses likely to engage in one or more activities that drive growth for their businesses, including:

  • Investing in technology – 87 percent
  • Investing in their operations – 87 percent
  • Providing new product or service offerings – 72 percent
  • Hiring additional staff – 71 percent
  • Expanding into new customers segments – 71 percent
  • Expanding into new geographies – 59 percent

The Hartford’s survey also found 44 percent of midsize businesses are likely to engage in merger and acquisition activity and 42 percent are likely to engage in business activities outside the U.S.

“This continued optimism and focus on growth among midsize businesses is a positive signal for the economy overall and for businesses that provide the products and services they will need,” said David Carter, executive vice president of Middle Market insurance at The Hartford. “As we head into 2016, businesses that are investing in their operations, expanding their footprint and growing their customer base will look to business partners and service providers who can help them protect their business and manage risk as they capitalize on new and emerging market opportunities.”

Midsize vs. Small Businesses: More Likely to Add Staff, But Face Talent Shortage

A majority of midsize businesses (71 percent) are likely to add staff in 2016. By comparison, nearly half (49 percent) of small business owners are likely to add staff in 2016, according to The Hartford’s 2015 Small Business Success Study (SBSS). While most midsize businesses (86 percent) had hired employees in the prior 12 months, the SBSS found that just 35 percent of small business owners had hired employees in the 12 months prior to the study.

As midsize business leaders look to add staff in 2016, finding employees with the desired skills may continue to challenge hiring plans. Nearly half of midsize businesses that hired employees, hired fewer than desired. Among those businesses, the most common reason was a lack of qualified talent (60 percent).

By comparison, the SBSS found that among small business owners that had either not hired any employees or hired fewer than desired, just 17 percent cited a lack of qualified talent as a reason. The most common reasons for these small business owners not hiring or hiring fewer than desired were that the business was not growing (34 percent), the business could not afford to hire (28 percent) or the owner was taking on additional responsibilities (26 percent).

Retaining Talent, Promoting Wellness

Midsize businesses are offering a variety of benefits to help retain employees. Aside from health insurance, which 89 percent offer, common benefits include:

  • Paid time off – 69 percent
  • Professional training and development – 51 percent
  • Flexible work schedule – 50 percent
  • Merit-based cash bonuses – 48 percent

Midsize businesses are also offering wellness programs for employees, with the majority (71 percent) offering at least one program. The most common offerings include employee assistance (36 percent), programs to encourage physical activity/fitness (32 percent), and smoking cessation (31 percent). One in five (22 percent) midsize businesses offer employees weight management programs and 10 percent offer biometric screening.

“Attracting and retaining top talent is a priority shared by business leaders, regardless of the size or industry in which they operate,” said Carter. “Offering benefits that are meaningful to employees and support their health and well-being can help midsize businesses compete effectively for talent, increase productivity and enhance overall company performance.”

Technology Use

Midsize businesses continue to integrate technologies into their operation, including employer owned mobile devices (64 percent), cloud computing (53 percent), Internet phone service (50 percent) and employee owned devices accessing company systems (34 percent), among others. Midsize businesses are also considering the use of newer, cutting edge technologies.          

Technology Currently Using Considering in the Next Three Years
Internet of Things 16% 43%
3-D Printing 9% 33%
Wearbale Technology 7% 38%
Drones 3% 16%
Autonomous/driverless vehicles 2% 16%

“These and other emerging technologies bring potential benefits as well as risk considerations,” said Carter. “The technology landscape is changing rapidly, so it is critical for midsize businesses to work with insurers, agents and brokers who can guide them in these new areas of risk, so they can protect their business and prevail in their pursuit of new opportunities.”

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