Poll: Just 12% of Small Businesses Say Things Are Now "Normal"

Posted by Ruby Sahiwal

3-minute read (600 words)

If it feels like things are getting back to normal in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, know that not everyone agrees. That’s the word from a new small business survey, which indicates that only 12 percent of small businesses say that things are currently “normal” for them.

The OnPay State of Small Businesses in 2020 report shares the insights gleaned after surveying over 2,000 business owners and employees during the week of June 2 about the current business climate. Although normality is not widespread right now, the silver lining is that 62 percent of small business owners believe their firms will return to normal this year, with 43 percent saying they expect a rise in annual revenue despite the disruptions that have impacted them in 2020.

Staffing Was Impacted Significantly

Many small businesses shuttered during the mandatory quarantine phase of the pandemic, which led them to no longer require robust staffs. According to the survey results, the average small business laid off or furloughed about 27 percent of its staff, while seven percent cut their entire workforces due to the pandemic. About one-third of small businesses say they were able to retain their entire workforce during the pandemic.

Although these staffing issues are paramount in the minds of entrepreneurs and their employees, most staffers say that their employers have cared for them “very well,” demonstrating that business owners are doing the best they can despite the circumstances, and their employees recognize that.

“Small businesses are hanging in there, but there’s definitely a sense that things are different now,” said Mark McKee, president at OnPay, in a statement about the company’s survey. “Along with all the new challenges, we’re also seeing some bright spots. Employees report they’re pleased with the way employers have navigated the pandemic, and new technology is making remote work easier so employers can keep their teams safe. Small business owners tend to be determined and optimistic, so they’re finding ways to adapt to their new normal.”

PPP Loans Prove Popular

Some of that adaptability has come from remote work programs, which have allowed companies to keep producing during the pandemic, while others have benefited from COVID-19 relief programs. When asked which of these options they used, entrepreneurs reported the following results, the survey indicated:

  • Paycheck Protection Program Loan: 52 percent
  • Social Security Tax Deferrals (CARES Act): 30 percent
  • Employee Retention Tax Credits (CARES Act): 27 percent
  • Economic Injury Disaster Loan: 14 percent
  • Earning FFCRA Tax Credits for Paid Employee Leave: 11 percent

Although businesses of many sizes applied for PPP loans, it appears that larger companies were 25 to 75 percent more likely to participate in programs like the Social Security Tax Deferrals and the Employee Retention Tax Credits, the survey indicated.

Accountants Garner Trust from Entrepreneurs

As part of the survey, OnPay asked small business owners about their relationships with their accountants, and about 30 percent of those polled said they use an external accountant. However, entrepreneurs rank accountants as their “most trusted advisors,” the results noted — more trusted than bankers, lawyers, friends or family.

In addition, those who have accountants seem more inclined to delegate some of their responsibilities to others. For example, those entrepreneurs who perceive an accountant’s help as important are twice as likely to have an employee who is dedicated to human resources responsibilities, the survey said.

Resource: To read the entire survey, visit OnPay's site.

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