67% Say the Economy Will Improve or Stay the Same, According to the EAA 2024 National Business Trends Survey

The 2024 National Business Trends Survey from the Employer Associations of America (EAA) shows business leaders are feeling the most confident in the economy in recent years. Sixty-seven percent of organizations say the economy will improve or stay the same, compared with 49% for the 2023 report.

According to the 2024 EAA National Business Trends Survey, 72% of executives also project flat to slight increases in sales/revenue for the upcoming year, as compared to 53% in 2023.

“It’s great to see a number of positives from this year’s national trends,” said EAA Board of Directors Chair Kim Koy, president and CEO of the Employers Council. “We are seeing a shift to an ‘improvement’ mindset. While many still anticipate a decline, indicators show positive movement upward.”

When executives were asked what they believe are the most serious challenges to their business in 2024, talent acquisition ranked highest. Cybersecurity became a top concern, breaking into the list at #2, with talent retention falling to #3. Inflation challenges came in at #4, and developing future leaders also made it into the top five challenges in the 2024 report.

While talent acquisition remains a challenge, also showing a trend toward the positive, business leaders felt that hiring was easier this year than it had been in the previous years, with 44% of organizations hiring as originally planned compared with 37% in the previous year’s survey.

Executives reported that skilled professional staff (non-manager) positions remain the most challenging when it comes to recruitment (47%). Approximately 33% of respondents report that skilled production workers are the most challenging in terms of retention.

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The top strategies that executives are using to overcome retention challenges were:

  • Adjusting pay ranges upward (74%)
  • Focusing on existing staff receiving additional training and development (65%)
  • Focusing on existing staff retention in jobs where recruitment is difficult (57%)

Variable pay is also indicated as a strategy used to overcome recruitment or retention challenges. Top variable pay strategies this year include: employee referral bonuses at 59%, followed by year-end bonuses (38%), and hiring (sign-on) bonuses (31%).

Executives were asked what they thought are the most important factors prospective employees are looking for. The top five responses in the 2024 survey were:

  1. Competitive pay (86%)

  2. Good work-life balance (77%)

  3. Flexibility in work hours (59%)

  4. Vacation/paid time off (37%)

  5. Competitive/robust health benefits (34%)

Inflation was once again taken into consideration in the current survey. When asked what pay adjustments have been or will be made to account for higher wage demands due to inflation, updated wage structures/pay ranges (49%) ranked highest, followed by increased starting rates (47%) and increased standard wages (42%).

Another hot topic was remote and hybrid work. The top response was “few if any, staff work remotely on a regular full-time basis” at 40%, with only 2% responding that all staff work remotely on a regular full-time basis. Regarding hybrid work, “some staff work on a hybrid schedule (33%)” with 28% indicating they do not have hybrid workers.

With the emergence of ChatGPT in 2023 the EAA National Business Trends Survey also ranked the top Artificial Intelligence (AI) uses organizations are considering: Marketing content production (19%), Website content production (16%), and Recruitment and talent sourcing (15%) ranked as the top three. Seven percent list cybersecurity/fraud management as an AI use already implemented, with an additional 12% considering this as a use in the future. With 47% of executives planning or continuing to implement investments in new technology in 2024 (the top measure to strengthen business results), we may see a greater increase in AI use in the 2025 report.

The EAA, a nonprofit national employer association, provides the National Business Trends as an annual survey to share information on what 1,049 organizations and executives did in 2023 and what they are planning to do for 2024 regarding the changing business climate. The report includes:

  • Business Outlook
  • Business Investment Plans
  • Staffing Plans
  • Recruitment/Retention Challenges
  • Job Creation Challenges
  • Business Improvement Measures
  • Pay Strategies
  • Business Challenges

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