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Small-business employees are optimistic about the future, and here’s why.

Research findings from Aflac’s 2018 Small Business Happiness Survey

White feather

Aflac’s survey of 1,000 small-business employees in the U.S. ages 18 and older who have been employed at an organization with 3 to 49 employees for at least one year.

How do they feel?

Small Business as a Happiness Driver

About half of employees surveyed say they are happiest working at a small business. Further, almost all respondents agree that employee happiness is at least somewhat (36%) or very (55%) important to their company’s leadership team.

Employee happiness is important to company leadership. 36% said its somewhat important; 55% said its very important.

Small-business employees are having more fun

A majority of employees surveyed perceive working for a small business to be less stressful and more fun.

Chart data; Do you think working at a small business is more stressful or less stressful than working at a large business? 7% said its very much more stressful; 29% said its somewhat more stressful; 20% said its very much less stressful; 45% said its somewhat less stressful.

Small-business employees are satisfied, and they feel their opinions matter at work

Almost all employees surveyed say they are satisfied working for a small business, with 59% saying they are very satisfied and 36% responding they are somewhat satisfied; only 2% responded that they are very unsatisfied.

Further, almost 9 in 10 employees feel like they have the opportunity to voice their ideas and opinions and have them heard and listened to.

Do you feel like you have opportunities to voice your ideas and opinions at work and have them heard/listened to? 86% said yes; 14% said no.
Chart data: Do you think working at a small business is more fun than working at a large business? 36% strongly agree; 51% somewhat agree; 2% strongly disagree; 11% somewhat disagree.

Top benefits of working for a small business

The top perceived benefits of working for a small business include more flexible scheduling and feeling more appreciated. Many small-business employees also agree that they have an impact at work and can see the fruits of their labor.

Chart data: Perceived biggest benefits of working for a small business: 25% Flexible work schedule; 19% Feeling more appreciated; 14% Feeling like your input matters; 12% Having a greater impact; 10% Seeing the fruits of your labor; 8% Rewarded for hard work; 6% Noticed by people who matter; 4% Broadening my skillset; 4% Other.

The best parts of working for a small business

When it comes down to the best part of working for a small business overall, “feeling like a family” has the highest rating among all employees surveyed.

Chart data: What is the best part of working for a small business? 32% Feeling like a family; 14% Greater ability to make an impact; 14% More recognition/appreciation for your work; 10% Greater transparency between employees; 10% More positive culture or work environment; 5% More collaboration; 5% Better opportunities for skill development; 4% Better opportunities for advancement; 3% Better benefits; 5% Other.

Business owner creating shipping labels

What are the challenges?

Salary and health care coverage rank as top challenges of working for a small business

Salary and health care coverage are almost equally ranked as the top-selected challenges of working for a small business, followed closely by finding coverage or a backup when co-workers need to take time off.

Chart data: Which of the following do you consider to be the greatest challenge when working for a small business? 28% Salary/benefits that match those offered by large employers; 27% Affordable health care coverage; 24% Coverage when coworkers need to take time off; 14% Work/Life balance; 6% Lack of training and other professional development opportunities; 2% Other.

Pay equity in small business is on the rise

Four in five small-business employees surveyed think they are being compensated equally with their co-workers. However, when asked if they think the small-business industry achieves success when it comes to equal pay, 48% of respondents believe there is room for improvement.

Chart data: Do you think the small-business industry achieves success when it comes to equal pay? 6% No, not at all; 16% No, but progress has been made; 48% Yes, but there is still room for growth; 30% Yes. completely.

Business owner creating plans

What lies ahead?

Overall, small-business employees’ perceptions of the future of the small-business industry are very positive. Though the future of health care reform and recent government regulations might make them uneasy, results show that small-business employees are looking on the bright side.

Chart data: How do you feel about the future of small business? 45% were very optimistic; 46% were somewhat optimistic. 1% were very pessimistic; 8% were somewhat pessimistic.
Chart data: Do you think recent government regulations (i.e., tax reform, health care reform) have benefited or harmed small businesses? 39% said no change; 25% said benefited; 37% said harmed.