Topic Outsourcing HR / PEO

What Kept Business Decisions-Makers Up at Night in 2019 vs. Now?

What Kept Business Decisions-Makers Up at Night in 2019 vs. Now?

Surviving the impact of the global pandemic is undoubtedly top of the list for most business owners today, but what else keeps them awake at night?

The National Association of Professional Employer Organizations (NAPEO) released its 2022 survey report, with over 500 key decision-makers and business owners participating. The report found that the concerns of various business owners have shifted over the last three years, from December 2019 to December 2021. 

The comforting aspect is that these changes don’t just affect individuals. They cut across industries. You are not alone because other business leaders are experiencing similar issues you are facing. When you understand the challenges and how they change with time, you can respond by setting up efficient processes and systems or seek help from HR outsourcing services such as Professional Employer Organizations (PEO) to help you anticipate and solve problems before they occur. 

What Kept Business Owners Up at Night in 2019? 

As a business owner, you understand how stressful and time-consuming it can be to grow amidst multiple changes. Regardless of how the business is performing today, some factors almost led to its instability some two to three years ago. Times change and 2019 had various challenges for companies with particular focus on the following issues: 

Cash Flow- Cash is the lifeblood that keeps the daily operations functional for any business operation. Many business owners couldn’t manage adequate cash flow or recognize the need. According to CMC Business Advisers Survey 2016, “92% of business owners surveyed experienced problems from time to time or consistently.”    

Recruitment and Employee Retention- Whether you are looking to recruit 10 or 100, finding the right talent has always been a challenge for business owners. Finding people who are the right fit for your business has less to do with technical or hard skills and greatly depends on their behavioral attributes with more emphasis on soft skills. Similarly, determine what resources are necessary for hiring, onboarding, and retention. 

Increasing Revenue- This affects budgeting and funds allocated for business operations such as funding new products and services, financing expansion projects, improving infrastructure, and running marketing programs.   

Keeping up with the changing customer behavior- According to the Gartner report, “Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2019”, businesses need to factor in changing consumer behavior in their development plans. 

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What Keeps Business Owners Up at Night Now?  

Everything changed in 2020. The global health crisis upended almost every part of daily lives, and businesses faced one of the most unstable economic climates. For those that were lucky to pull through, quick and inventive steps had to be taken to meet the innovative challenges and keep the wheels running. 

While the changing times within these few years have taught business owners that they can’t predict the future, it has also made SMEs realize the importance of planning ahead to prepare for any impossibilities. So, now might be the optimal time for businesses to look back and compare it with the present and try to figure out what else might change with time. Today, business factors keeping owners up at night include, but are not limited to: 

Investing in digital technologies- By 2019, “70% of businesses surveyed either had a digital transformation strategy in place or were working on one.” The outbreak and lockdowns enhanced this need and made the virtual world the best option for consumers. Today, establishing a solid online presence, custom software solutions, and digital marketing are top necessities for 2022 and beyond. 

High employee turnover- The Great Resignation is a nightmare for business owners. By June 2021, the quit rate rose from about 3% in February 2020 to 4.1%. Similarly, the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics report that almost 4 million citizens quit their jobs in July 2021 alone. Businesses now struggle to put together better pay and benefits packages that will help develop and retain talent. 

Changing trends and rising competition- The pandemic impacted every niche and significantly increased competition across all industries. In turn, business strategies needed reevaluation to create new opportunities to generate revenue. Businesses need to adopt an agile approach keeping an eye on competitors and market leaders to grow and succeed.  

The Right Systems- Businesses rely on large quantities of information, including customer data, financials, regulatory requirements, employee details, etc. Proper information systems management is crucial for business growth with clear T&Cs, appropriate contracts, and employment procedures. 

What caused the change in priorities?  

Various factors led to the shift in priority concerns, including:  


From increased tech use to hybrid and remote styles of working and social media marketing, COVID-19 has accelerated various trends that existed long before the outbreak occurred. The initial impact of the outbreak in 2020 caused leaders to shift their focus from personnel/employee concerns to economic/financial concerns. Moreover, lockdowns during the pandemic caused the worst economic recession on record since the great depression. 

Supply Chain Issues  

One of the top business challenges today is overcoming the supply chain crises such as late deliveries and supply shortages. Scarce supply causes an increase in prices, hence inflation. The supply chain issues that started with the viral outbreak are complex tie-up puzzles that impact every level of business operations in ways that can’t be thoroughly explained in a single newscast. High storage fees, labor shortages, and pandemic variant fears create a surge in customer demands, enhancing the supply chain crisis. 


Businesses around the world are feeling the effects of inflation. The cost of goods keeps rising, and the tight labor market pushes wages up. Inflation is partly caused by massive stimulus from both monetary and fiscal policies, increasing demand. Business owners are now looking for strategies to counter the effects of inflation, including quickly adjusting prices, shifting input and prioritizing, and focusing on high-profit margin products. 

Worker Shortages  

Another cause of the shift of priorities today is how recruiters can fill the job vacancies caused by the Great Resignation. Although the quitting period increased during the health crisis, some industries like trucking and healthcare were already experiencing labor shortages. This means that the labor shortage crisis goes deeper than workers getting tired of their jobs due to pandemic-related pressure. As such, business leaders need to be more concerned with attracting, nurturing, and retaining talent. 

Wrapping Up 

The pandemic has been an eye-opener for business owners and leaders. While digitalization, globalization, and technological changes were expected to challenge the future, the viral outbreak resulted in the accelerated transformation, which was unanticipated even by top industry pessimists. And while challenges abound, they also offer some unique opportunities. By revitalizing and modernizing business operations every step, decision-makers can efficiently navigate through the unexpected whirlwinds and reach an era of growth and success.  

The No B.S. Guide to Human Resources Strategy for Business Performance

Derek Carlstrom

Derek Carlstrom

Derek is the Vice President of Sales Growth. He is a proactive leader with refined business acumen and exemplary people skills. He has progressive experience in sales leadership with the skills to drive business growth, capitalize on new revenue potential, and execute proper territory maximization