SMB News Weekly Rundown

Welcome to the Small Business Weekly Rundown. Each week, we bring you stories and trends that impact small business owners and their workforce.

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Small Business News Highlights:

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Minimum wage provision dropped from Senate version of stimulus bill

“We’re going to do the minimum wage at some point. It may not be this week, but it will be.”

The Senate is debating its version of President Joe Biden’s stimulus plan today and one key provision is noticeably different from the version passed by the House of Representatives: the $15 minimum wage hike.

After the Senate Parliamentarian indicated that increasing the minimum wage could not be done through the budget reconciliation process, Senate leadership made the decision to drop the measure from the legislation, despite cries from some Senate Democrats and many of their House counterparts.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell acknowledges that the minimum wage has not been raised in a long time, indicating that he might be willing to negotiate on the issue in the future.

Small business owners see vaccine as key to boosting safety and sales

“As a small business owner all you do is worry. You worry about your staff, your patients and your business, so not having to worry about the safety of my staff and in turn, ensure the safety of my patients, means a better prognosis for the business.”

With the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine rolling out this week, SBOs across the country are considering how best to encourage employees to get inoculated against the coronavirus in order to protect their own health and the health of the company.

A recent survey of SBOs from PNC found that 48% of respondents plan to require employees to get the shot since they expect the vaccine to drive sales and support a faster return to business as usual.

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A year into the pandemic, companies continue to grapple with work-from-home issues

“I miss human contact, too, but the rules of the game have changed.”

A year into the pandemic, many U.S. companies continue to grapple with the ramifications of another year of remote or hybrid work models. Issues like reducing pay for employees who have left expensive urban areas, the ongoing need for childcare, and the question of who should pay what taxes factor into discussions at many U.S. businesses.

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Return to office plans largely hinge on workers’ vaccination status

“You’re not going to be fired or written up if you don’t come back, but it is the expectation that, subject to local laws, and subject to your individual issues, that you start to make your way back.”

And for companies paying rent on empty buildings, the issue of when and how to bring employees back to the office seems to revolve around worker vaccine status as well as regional regulations and differences.

While research indicates that many Americans would like to continue working from home at least part time after the pandemic, managers are eager to get people back to the office in order to increase engagement and productivity.

In order to encourage people to get the vaccine and return to work, some companies are offering incentives and even setting up in-house clinics to offer free COVID-19 testing or vaccine administration when more doses become available.

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Walmart announces investment in U.S. manufacturing, job creation

“More businesses are choosing to establish their manufacturing operations in the United States, and the result is more jobs for Americans — a lot more jobs.”

Over the next decade, Walmart will invest $350 billion in products that are “made, grown, or assembled in the United States” in an effort to support U.S. manufacturing and job creation.

The retail giant announced that it will spend the money on sourcing a range of American-made goods to stock its shelves and create 750,000 new jobs for Americans in the process. The superstore will look for products across the textile, plastics, electrical appliance, food processing, pharmaceutical, and medical supply industries.

The Latest from Workest

After the White House announced yesterday that there will be enough vaccine doses available for all American adults by May, returning to “normal” seems closer than ever. Despite the glimmering hope on the horizon, Jean Spenser asks whether COVID-19 has permanently changed small businesses?

For SBOs who weathered the economic upheaval of the past year by quickly pivoting or making other operational changes, it’s worth considering how these changes can provide a roadmap for doing more with less to grow business in the future.

Finally, before we say goodbye for the week, here are 3 things you should know:

  1. Tired of working from home but not ready to go back to the office? Consider working from an open-air office pod.
  2. Texas became the largest state to revoke its mask and business capacity mandates earlier this week to mixed reactions from Lone Star State small business owners.
  3. Meeting new colleagues can be awkward. Meeting them over Zoom can be especially painful. Here are some tips to smooth the get-to-know your colleagues process.
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