CHICAGO – May 23, 2012 – A major driver of the U.S. economy is feeling more optimistic. Small businesses with 250 or fewer employees are reporting stronger sales and increased hiring plans, according to CareerBuilder’s latest nationwide study. Nearly one-third (32 percent) said their sales increased over the last two quarters (October 1, 2011 to March 31, 2012) and nearly half (46 percent) expect sales to increase over the next two quarters (April 1, 2012 to September 30, 2012). Nineteen percent added full-time, permanent employees over the last two quarters and 24 percent expect to add full-time, permanent employees over the next two quarters. The study, conducted by Harris Interactive© from February 9 to March 2, 2012, included more than 1,000 small businesses with 250 or fewer employees across industries.
Small businesses are also playing a key role in retraining workers and reducing the talent deficit in the U.S. In another CareerBuilder study conducted by Harris Interactive in February 2012, 40 percent of small businesses with 250 or fewer employees reported they have action plans in place to help alleviate the gap between high-demand positions and the amount of skilled workers available to fill those jobs. Half (51 percent) plan to train workers who do not have experience in their industry or field, and hire them.
In conjunction with the study, CareerBuilder announced the winner of its first annual “Big Strides in Small Business Award.” The award recognizes fast-growing small businesses that have been exemplary in reskilling workers for new job opportunities and making a positive impact on their communities. The contest was open to small businesses with 250 or fewer employees who hired a minimum of 10 employees in 2011 and are adding staff in 2012. More than 100 companies across the U.S. entered the competition.
“While still cautious, the increased sales and hiring activity among small businesses bodes well for where the market is headed,” said Brent Rasmussen, President of CareerBuilder North America. “Through our Big Strides in Small Business Award, we’re recognizing the critical impact small businesses have on fueling the economy, bridging the skills gap and getting America back to work. We see so many small businesses like kCura, Ontraport and CivicPlus making a big difference.”
Winner of “Big Strides in Small Business Award”
In 11 years, kCura grew from a small consulting firm to a legal software company with 250 employees and more than 60,000 active users worldwide, including the U.S. Department of Justice. Doubling its employee count each year for the last four years, the Chicago-based company is fast-growing and works to make a difference. kCura helps team members who may or may not have experience in their field to acquire new skill sets and embark on new career opportunities within their firm.
The company offers a one-year, comprehensive onboarding program for all new employees called kCura University, which is tailored by each department to meet their specific needs. More than 60 percent of their employees have been trained and have taken an exam in-house to become Relativity Certified Administrators—experts in the software they sell.
kCura also invests heavily in supporting primary and secondary education in Chicago, with a strong emphasis on promoting math and science education among underserved students. Each semester, kCura adopts a school and provides them with technology, helping students get on track to become future software designers and IT experts.
From state-of-the-art technology and annual training stipends to frequent social outings and fitness programs, kCura prides itself on being a great place to work.
Since its founding in 2006, Ontraport grew from three partners to a full-time staff of 30. Ontraport is an all-in-one integrated platform used by entrepreneurs to start, systematize and scale their businesses. In the past year, the company doubled its staff and expects to triple or quadruple its growth in the coming year. Ontraport offers a multi-faceted apprenticeship program where employees shadow department leaders and learn new disciplines across the company.
Ontraport is committed to helping other small businesses succeed. The company’s CEO provides pro-bono coaching to small business owners on establishing and growing their companies. Ontraport also supports the community through its involvement with an organization that helps neglected children find safe and permanent homes.
Daily catered lunches, daily recesses, a state-of-the-art break room with a fully-stocked snack wall, and bi-yearly camping and ski trips round out a unique employee experience.
Launched in 2001, CivicPlus now has 120 employees and provides community engagement and government website solutions for more than 1,100 local government entities throughout the U.S., Canada and Australia. Their staff and client base both grew by around 30 percent last year and is on course to do the same in 2012. CivicPlus is committed to investing in its staff: all employees are given Individual Development Plans to map out their training for the year, so new skills development is always in motion.
Additionally, CivicPlus engages in charitable events throughout each year, such as Hackathon contests to provide free redesigns of community websites. Most recently, the company held a Hackathon in Joplin, MO (which was hit by a tornado last year) and is completing development of a new, more-engaging online platform to help the city better manage emergency communications.
The employee experience at CivicPlus is focused on innovation. Each month an Innovation Team is formed to present a new idea and business case to executive leaders, taking a week off from their regular duties to focus on a new initiative of their choosing.
For information on small business employment trends and strategies, check out CareerBuilder’s Small Business Hiring Guide.
The surveys were conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Interactive© on behalf of CareerBuilder among 1,058 hiring managers and human resource professionals (employed full-time, not self-employed, non-government) who work in small business (250 or fewer employees) between February 9 and March 2, 2012 (percentages for some questions are based on a subset, based on their responses to certain questions) and among 641 hiring managers and human resource professionals (employed full-time, not self-employed) who work in small business (250 or fewer employees) between February 8 and February 29, 2012 (percentages for some questions are based on a subset, based on their responses to certain questions). With pure probability samples of 1,058 and 641, one could say with a 95 percent probability that the overall results have sampling errors of +/- 3.01 and +/-3.87 percentage points, respectively. Sampling error for data from sub-samples is higher and varies.
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