According to the latest ADP Midsized Business Owners Study, the top concern keeping midsized employers and senior executives up at night is the mounting level of government regulation. Of the more than 700 business owners and executives surveyed at companies with 50 to 999 employees, 41% ranked the amount of overall regulation as their top concern, a significant increase over previous years.
While the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and healthcare costs were still the second and third most noted concerns among those surveyed, worries leveled off in the latest survey, making room for concerns over the sheer volume of regulation to spike upwards.
Another rising concern uncovered by the survey, however: Finding the right people and keeping them engaged. As the job market improves, nearly half of employers surveyed said they’re extremely or very concerned about the quality of the available workforce, and 41% said they’re very worried about employee engagement.
Here are 3 strategies to help midsized business leaders address these concerns head-on.
1) Consider a compliance partner. While 80% of employers surveyed expressed confidence that their companies were compliant with tax laws and workforce regulations, two of five said they experienced unintended penalties for non-compliance.
The takeaway: Overconfidence can be costly. Executives need to understand that compliance is not a one-time investment, but an ongoing journey. Compliance experts need to stay abreast of every piece of new legislation, analyze requirements and know the deadlines. Yet, many companies don’t realize that trying to solve compliance challenges internally can potentially cost more than paying an outsourced partner. When the costs of anticipated processes and tools are combined with the costs for additional people, companies often can save money by hiring a third party with compliance expertise.
2) Tackle talent concerns with analytics. Not only are employers concerned with the lack of talent available, but less than 20% of those surveyed were confident they have the tools needed to find, grow and retain talent. Executives worried about their talent toolbox may want to consider using data analytics to better inform their talent management decisions. Big data can help companies identify trends in recruiting, compensation and retention and signal where they may have competency gaps. A good place to start is using data to benchmark industry compensation for a particular role to ensure the salary being offered is on par with the competition.
3) Employ strategies now to improve employee engagement. While employers are worried about engaging their people, only slightly more than half surveyed feel they currently have a good, repeatable process to facilitate engagement. In addition to setting clear goals for employees, offering competitive compensation and providing regular feedback on performance, employers should make sure their company’s culture is clearly defined, articulated and understood by employees. Also, consider activities like employee recognition programs, community service outings, and fitness challenges. Encouraging employees to interact with people outside of their department can foster team collaboration and improve the likelihood they’ll feel engaged and motivated to contribute to the company’s success.
Executives at midsized companies are expected to innovate with the agility of a smaller business, while complying with the rules and regulations that govern larger organizations. If more time is being spent on understanding and filing compliance reports than on strategic business decisions and building a better workforce, executives need to reevaluate whether the processes that may have worked for them as a smaller firm are still the best strategies now.