Heading into 2019, 67 percent of small business owners report they’re having trouble finding the right employees to fill open positions.

As 2018 drew to a close, the quarterly Small Business Index published by MetLife and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce dipped slightly, indicating that small business owners may be tempering their optimism a bit heading into the new year. The Small Business Index for the fourth quarter was 69.3, reflecting a positive outlook slightly lower than the third quarter Index, which reached an all-time high since the inception of the research in 2017.

A key driver of the Index is the continuing challenge small businesses face in finding workers with the right skill sets to fill open positions. Among small businesses hiring in 2018, 67 percent report difficulty finding candidates that fit job requirements.

As a result, eight in 10 small business owners are working longer hours or taking on additional roles to fill the gaps. Some segments are especially hard hit. Responses from manufacturers (87%) as well as businesses run by women (86%), minorities (89%) and millennials (95%) businesses all outpace the overall results. Among this group, more than half say they are pushing their staffs to work longer hours to help compensate for not finding new hires.

Proactively recognizing these challenges as you consult with small business clients can go a long way toward strengthening your relationships. By connecting strategic benefit recommendations to their business objectives of retaining key talent and competing for new hires, you can demonstrate your understanding and guide discussions about adding new benefits or enhancing plan designs.

For details on these and other timely insights to help guide your consultations with small business clients, explore the latest MetLife and U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Index today.

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