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Insights from the ASE 2024 National Business Trends Survey

November 30, 2023

Employers appear optimistic heading into 2024. The recently released 2024 National Business Trends Survey by the Employer Associations of America (EAA) revealed that two-thirds of organizations are expressing confidence in the economy, a significant leap from the 49% reported in the 2023 survey. This positive sentiment is mirrored in executives’ projections, with 72% anticipating flat to slight increases in sales and revenue for the upcoming year, compared to 53% in the previous report.

However, amidst the optimism, business leaders are not oblivious to the challenges that lie ahead. The survey revealed that talent acquisition takes the top spot as the most serious challenge in 2024, emphasizing the crucial role of skilled professionals in organizational success. Cybersecurity emerged as the second-highest concern, followed by talent retention, inflation challenges, and the development of future leaders.

Interestingly, while talent acquisition remains a formidable challenge, there is a discernible positive trend. Hiring, which was once an arduous task, has become more manageable, with 44% of organizations hiring as planned, a notable increase from the previous year’s 37%.

When delving into the strategies employed to overcome retention challenges, adjusting pay ranges upward takes the lead at 74%. Other prevalent strategies include focusing on additional training and development for existing staff (65%) and concentrating on retaining staff in challenging recruitment positions (57%). Variable pay strategies, such as employee referral bonuses (59%), year-end bonuses (38%), and hiring bonuses (31%), also play a significant role in tackling recruitment and retention hurdles.

The survey sheds light on the factors that top executives believe prospective employees are seeking. Unsurprisingly, competitive pay takes the lead at 86%, followed by good work-life balance (77%), flexibility in work hours (59%), vacation/paid time off (37%), and competitive/robust health benefits (34%).

Inflation remains a key consideration, with 49% of respondents indicating that updated wage structures/pay ranges are being adjusted to account for higher wage demands. Increased starting rates (47%) and increased standard wages (42%) also feature prominently in response to inflation challenges.

Remote and hybrid work models are commanding attention in the evolving landscape of work structures. Notably, 40% of respondents indicated that few, if any, staff work remotely on a regular full-time basis, while a mere 2% reported that all staff work remotely full-time. The concept of hybrid work is gaining traction, with 33% indicating that some staff work on a hybrid schedule and 28% reporting no hybrid workers.

The survey also delved into the influence of emerging technologies. With the advent of ChatGPT in 2023, the EAA National Business Trends Survey explored the top Artificial Intelligence (AI) uses organizations are considering. Marketing content production (19%), website content production (16%), and recruitment and talent sourcing (15%) emerged as the top three. Notably, 7% have already implemented AI for cybersecurity/fraud management, with an additional 12% considering it for future use. With 47% of executives planning or continuing to invest in new technology in 2024, the groundwork is laid for a potential surge in AI use.

As businesses navigate the complexities of the evolving landscape, the 2024 National Business Trends Survey provides valuable insights, pointing towards a future where optimism, adaptability, and technological innovation play pivotal roles in shaping success.

The survey is available to all members in ASE’s Survey Library. Non-members can purchase the survey for $825.


By Kevin Marrs, courtesy of SBAM-approved partner, ASE

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