Businesses face many challenges, but leaders say none is bigger than providing health care benefits to their employees. In a new survey of senior executives, more than half listed health care benefits as the top challenge for their business. Among the other surveyed executives, 41 percent said compensation and salary are the top challenge.
Health care is hardly a new issue: Thirty-five percent of the business leaders also said health care benefits were the top challenge before the recession.
"While there certainly have been political and economic changes since the recession started in 2007, it's interesting to see that senior executives face the same challenges they did five years ago," said Joyce Russell, president of Adecco Staffing US, which conducted the research.
The finding "calls attention to the impact that the economy and changing regulations can have for an organization," Russell said. "As regulations change, businesses are often put in situations where they're faced with figuring out how to adjust their systems and processes to comply with policies instead of completely focusing on ongoing business challenges and opportunities."
The survey found that the challenge of health care benefits led to a holding pattern among companies: Thirty-five percent of business leaders said they were holding off on hiring employees because of recent changes to health care laws and increases in prices associated with benefits. Nearly three-quarters of leaders expected a change after the presidential election, saying the outcome would help determine the direction of their business.
Regardless of who is in the White House come late January, businesses want to make it easier to grow and hire more. Leaders are asking for reduced government regulations and more job creation.
As it is, nearly half of business leaders feel their profits will increase in the next year, compared with just 18 percent who feel their profits will decrease.
The research was based on the responses of more than 500 senior company executives.