Insights from Salesforce’s Small and Medium Business Trends Report, reveal that this period of turmoil may be making way for something more positive. It has given business leaders the chance to see what matters to employees and customers. It has allowed them to prioritise and meet these needs and this sharpened focus from business leaders is helping restore trust at a time when it’s needed most.
The shifting needs of staff
Salesforce surveys thousands of global SME leaders for its trends report each year. This report has become a barometer for how the landscape for such businesses is evolving. In this edition, the report focuses on the impact of the pandemic using insights from 2,500+ business leaders in 17 countries.
It shows that almost one in five global SMEs furloughed their staff during the pandemic. Almost half (43%) provided flexible working arrangements for the first time. A third reduced their employees’ hours, and 12% let people go.
SMEs classified as “stagnant or declining” made the highest number of layoffs. These businesses are those that achieved less than a 1% revenue increase ahead of the survey. They were also more likely to cut employee hours.
A positive side-effect of this, though, is that SMEs are now more focused on deepening trust with the employees that remain. Business leaders told Salesforce that employee engagement is now their top priority. The majority (51%) are now more focused on providing employees with transparent communications. Almost a third are giving staff more autonomy and 42% are increasing flexibility.
This goes hand-in-hand with a shift in employee expectations. Having seen the benefits of working from home, coupled with concerns about returning to the office, the survey found more employees are now calling for flexible work schedules. They also want to see that their bosses are serious about safety. This includes the daily sanitation of workspaces and materials and social distancing.