Columbus Chamber Releases Small Business Workforce Survey Results

Yesterday The Metropreneur took a big-picture look at what small businesses across the nation think about Columbus, and today’s feature takes a deeper look at what local owners think about the small-business workforce in Central Ohio through a survey conducted by the Columbus Chamber.

Commissioned by the city council, the survey strives to better understand the needs of small businesses with one to 50 employees in Columbus as it concerns:

  • – Workforce quality, recruitment, retention and training
  • – Overall business environment
  • – City services relevant to business, including economic development programs, as well as regulatory issues that affect business (e.g. permits)

Of the 211 respondents, 51 classified themselves as being in the professional services industry (which included examples like law, accounting, architecture and engineering), with construction, information and technology and retail trade also accounting for a number of small businesses. Most of the respondents identified themselves as being from other industries which spanned everything from consulting services, to non-profits and a variety of specialty businesses.

Small businesses with less than 10 employees made up almost two-thirds of the survey respondents, with 36 percent employing one to four people. Of all small businesses, almost half said all of their employees were full-time.

The survey outlined the hiring trends among these businesses. Citing the results, “More than twice as many businesses experienced net employment growth compared to net reductions: 37 percent versus 18 percent. The remainder, 45 percent, experienced no net change, though
even nearly half this group, 44 percent, added and subtracted employees over the course of the year.” Overall, these small businesses experienced a 4.3 percent net growth in employment.

Sixty-one percent of the surveyed businesses added at least one new employee, while 74 percent of businesses expect to add employees for new or existing positions in 2014.

As for types of positions, 51 businesses are looking to hire office and administrative support positions, while 46 are in need of sales persons. Respondents were permitted to enter multiple selections, and 30 businesses indicated they will be looking to hire management positions, while 23 are in need of information technology positions. Another 44 indicated the need for some other type of position.

The national survey revealed that small businesses faced issues when it came to finding the right people to hire – a sentiment reflected in the local survey. Citing the information, “Position-specific skills rank as the greatest source of difficulty for finding qualified workers.” Businesses with 15 to 19 employees found it most difficult with a 4.1 rating on a five-point scale.

Industry had some indication over the types of skill sets employers were looking for. The results revealed, “Production and technology businesses place greater emphasis on the need for workforce skills. Soft skills, work ethic and similar issues tend to be a greater challenge in construction, retail, restaurants, cleaning services, warehousing and other lower-skill industries and occupations.”

“We frequently hear that companies have trouble finding the right staff—a fact that the results of this survey underscores. Yet we know there is a strong, available talent pool in Columbus,” said Michael Dalby, president and CEO, Columbus Chamber. “Through our talent connections program and partnerships with organizations like Columbus City Council, we’ll continue to help businesses create a strategic approach to attracting and retaining top candidates.”

There is one challenge that all small business face regardless of size or industry – health insurance costs. Businesses rated it their number one challenge, giving it a 3.7 on the five-point scale. Only 22 percent of business indicated that all of their employees received health benefits.

For more information and to view the full survey results, click here.