Small business owners are increasingly guarded with respect to their business activities through year-end, but many express a more optimistic view concerning their business plans for 2015, according to the most recent Business Confidence Survey released today by Insperity, Inc. (NYSE: NSP), a leading provider of human resources and business performance solutions for America’s best businesses. Only 31 percent are adding employees compared to 41 percent in July and 39 percent in April; 64 percent are maintaining current staffing levels versus 54 percent last quarter and 57 percent in April; and 5 percent are planning layoffs, the same as in July.
Insperity also announced compensation metrics from its base of 5,300 small and medium-sized Workforce Optimization® clients. Average compensation for the third quarter of 2014 increased 2.3 percent over the third quarter of 2013, while bonuses were up 8.5 percent compared to the year-ago period. Overtime pay was 11.1 percent of regular pay, above the 10 percent level that generally indicates a need for additional employees for the second quarter in a row.
“As we approach year-end, a larger number of business owners are maintaining instead of increasing compensation levels and generally being more defensive with respect to their business management strategies,” said Paul J. Sarvadi, Insperity chairman and chief executive officer. “However, numerous responses to an open-ended question inviting comments conveyed more optimistic views going forward. For example, although responses were mixed, a surprising number voiced opinions such as ‘Anticipating growth in 2015,’ ‘…looking forward to kicking off 2015 with a positive business plan,’ ‘Very optimistic,’ and ‘…projecting continued growth in our market sector.’ ”
In the survey, 71 percent of respondents said they are meeting or exceeding the 2014 performance objectives they set in January, down from 79 percent in both July and April; and 28 percent said they are doing worse in 2014, up from 21 percent in the last survey. For the first time, respondents were asked how the current economy is affecting their bottom line, and 22 percent said it had increased earnings, 41 percent said it had no effect, 31 percent said it had decreased earnings and 6 percent were unsure.
Concerning their current profit-generating activities, 70 percent listed selling new accounts and 66 percent cited increased service to existing clients, nearly the same as last quarter for each. These were followed by 47 percent who indicated adding new services or products, and 28 percent listed investing in new improvements, both of which were little changed from the July survey, but were down from April.
Hiring the right people and the economy led the list of short-term concerns, both at 50 percent. Rising health care costs was third at 49 percent, an uptick from 47 percent in July, while controlling overall operational costs was again in fourth place at 45 percent. Potential tax increases moved from second place to first at 56 percent in the list of long-term concerns, while government expansion is now second at 51 percent. Recent news headlines may have contributed to the move by national security from fifth at 36 percent to third at 47 percent, and the federal deficit dropping to fourth at 42 percent from 50 percent in July.
When asked about their pipelines for new business through 2014, 49 percent of survey respondents expected sales to increase, down from 56 percent in July and 60 percent in April; 41 percent anticipate no change versus 33 percent last quarter; 4 percent predict decreasing sales and 6 percent are unsure.
The survey results show that 23 percent plan to increase employee compensation, down from 28 percent in July and 29 percent in April; 69 percent plan to maintain compensation at current levels, up from 62 percent last quarter; 2 percent expect decreases; and 6 percent are unsure.
Insperity conducted the survey Oct. 7-9, 2014, of chief executive officers, chief financial officers and other executives in a variety of industries from its base of approximately 5,300 Workforce Optimization clients throughout the United States. The overall sampling error of the national survey is (+/- 4.5) percent at the 95 percent confidence level.
Insperity, a trusted advisor to America’s best businesses for more than 28 years, provides an array of human resources and business solutions designed to help improve business performance. Insperity® Business Performance Advisors offer the most comprehensive suite of products and services available in the marketplace. Insperity delivers administrative relief, better benefits, reduced liabilities and a systematic way to improve productivity through its premier Workforce Optimization solution. Additional company offerings include Human Capital Management, Payroll Services, Time and Attendance, Performance Management, Organizational Planning, Recruiting Services, Employment Screening, Financial Services, Expense Management, Retirement Services and Insurance Services. Insperity business performance solutions support more than 100,000 businesses with over 2 million employees. With 2013 revenues of $2.3 billion, Insperity operates in 57 offices throughout the United States. For more information, visit http://www.insperity.com.
The statements contained herein that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the federal securities laws (Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934). You can identify such forward-looking statements by the words “expects,” “intends,” “plans,” “projects,” “believes,” “estimates,” “likely,” “possibly,” “probably,” “goal,” “opportunity,” “objective,” “target,” “assume,” “outlook,” “guidance,” “predicts,” “appears,” “indicator” and similar expressions. Forward-looking statements involve a number of risks and uncertainties. In the normal course of business, Insperity, Inc., in an effort to help keep our stockholders and the public informed about our operations, may from time to time issue such forward-looking statements, either orally or in writing. Generally, these statements relate to business plans or strategies, projected or anticipated revenues, earnings, unit growth, profit per worksite employee, pricing, operating expenses or other aspects of operating results. We base the forward-looking statements on our expectations, estimates and projections at the time such statements are made. These statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve risks and uncertainties that we cannot predict. In addition, we have based many of these forward-looking statements on assumptions about future events that may prove to be inaccurate. Therefore, the actual results of the future events described in such forward-looking statements could differ materially from those stated in such forward-looking statements. Among the factors that could cause actual results to differ materially are: (i) adverse economic conditions; (ii) regulatory and tax developments and possible adverse application of various federal, state and local regulations; (iii) the ability to secure competitive replacement contracts for health insurance and workers’ compensation contracts at expiration of current contracts; (iv) increases in health insurance costs and workers’ compensation rates and underlying claims trends, health care reform, financial solvency of workers’ compensation carriers, other insurers or financial institutions, state and federal unemployment tax rates, liabilities for employee and client actions or payroll-related claims; (v) failure to manage growth of our operations and the effectiveness of our sales and marketing efforts; (vi) changes in the competitive environment in the PEO industry, including the entrance of new competitors and our ability to renew or replace client companies; (vii) our liability for worksite employee payroll, payroll taxes and benefits costs; (viii) our liability for disclosure of sensitive or private information; (ix) our ability to integrate or realize expected returns on our acquisitions; (x) failure of our information technology systems; and (xi) an adverse final judgment or settlement of claims against Insperity. These factors are discussed in further detail in Insperity’s filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Any of these factors, or a combination of such factors, could materially affect the results of our operations and whether forward-looking statements we make ultimately prove to be accurate.
Except to the extent otherwise required by federal securities law, we do not undertake any obligation to update our forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date they are made or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events.