Survey: Struggle to find workers (despite raising wages) has 1 in 4 business owners thinking of selling their companies

Annual NJBIA Business Outlook Survey shows hiring challenges are having considerable impact

How bad is the staffing crisis in New Jersey? Consider this: Nearly three out of four business owners struggled to find help in 2021 — despite increasing pay rates — and more than one in four said they will consider selling their businesses sooner than they had planned because of it.

For those struggling to find help, one in three reported they hired people with lower qualifications than they wanted — and one in four said they were forced to reduce the hours/days they were open.

The statistics are part of the 2022 Business Outlook Survey by the New Jersey Business & Industry Association, which released its 63rd annual look Monday morning.

The survey touched on many aspects of business ownership. This year’s effort had many notable findings related to hiring, including:

Q: How challenged were you to find appropriate staffing?

  • Considerably challenged: 48%
  • Manageably challenged: 25%

Q: How did challenges of finding staff impact bottom line? (Respondents answered all that applied)

  • Available staff was more stressed or burnt out: 57%
  • Lost revenue: 51%
  • Forced to increase wages higher than wanted: 50%
  • Service to customers suffered: 45%
  • Hired staff with lower qualifications: 32%
  • Reduced hours/days open: 24%

Q: How was the hiring process experience? (Respondents answered all that applied)

  • Had scheduled interviewees who didn’t show up: 57%
  • Had interviewees who canceled their interviews: 46%
  • Had candidates who said they wanted to remain unemployed to collect unemployment benefits: 49%
  • Had candidates who asked to be paid off the books so they could continue to collect unemployment: 27%
  • Had candidates who said child care challenges impacted their ability to return to work: 26%

NJBIA CEO Michele Siekerka said she was not surprised by the findings.

“We have seen some incredible resolve from small business owners since March of 2020 and a willingness to do whatever it takes to maintain or get ahead — especially as it relates to raising wages,” she said. “However, there is no question that the continued challenges are wearing down some business owners.

“When nearly 60% of employers are either looking to end their businesses sooner, or considering it, due to these continued obstacles, it should be a red flag for our policymakers who might consider more mandates or policies that make it more costly to do business in New Jersey. Fewer businesses mean fewer jobs and less revenue for the state as it looks to make an economic recovery.”

The challenge of finding workers figures to persist into the new year. Especially for one type of business.

The survey found that 52% of business owners felt in-person-only jobs were at a competitive disadvantage compared with those offering remote work flexibility.