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:

Man fills in Unemployment benefits application form.
Man fills in Unemployment benefits application form.

New unemployment claims drop to reach pandemic low

“With the vaccination drive fueling a reopening of high-contact sectors of the economy, businesses are rehiring workers laid off earlier in the downturn, and making fewer new layoffs too.”

The number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits dropped by 193,000, hitting a pandemic low of 576,000.

While the drop signifies that the economy seems to be on track for a strong recovery, the number needs to continue to fall to reach pre-pandemic levels. Currently 16.9 million Americans are still receiving unemployment benefits and states continue to struggle to process new claims.

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Small businesses continue to struggle to fill open vacancies

“A shortage of talent is nothing new for small businesses, but the circumstances surrounding this shortage are entirely different.” 

Across the country, small business owners (SBOs) continue to struggle to fill job vacancies as many Americans opt to stay home instead of returning to the workforce.

While companies of all sizes report persistent job openings, SMBs often find it more difficult to attract talent without the leverage of strong benefits offered by larger companies. For other companies, like plumbers and electricians, that require employees to go into peoples’ homes, the fear of contracting COVID-19 remains a barrier to hiring.

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GM leads the way in creating permanent Work-From-Home culture

“Work appropriately.”

As companies from all types of industries grapple with how to create new Work From Home (WFH) or hybrid workplace cultures, General Motors is leading the way with an exceptionally simple approach to setting expectations. The company’s policy can be summed up in the phrase “work appropriately” and acknowledge that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach for WFH employees. Instead, the company wants to focus on flexibility and empowering workers to get their respective jobs done.

white house

President Biden announces business tax credit for employee vaccination

“No working American should lose a single dollar from their paycheck because they chose to fulfill their patriotic duty of getting vaccinated.” 

President Biden announced today a paid tax credit for U.S. small businesses that give employees time off to get their COVID-19 vaccine. For businesses with fewer than 500 employees, the American Rescue Plan will reimburse the company up to $511 per day per employee for any PTO used by employees to get vaccinated.

According to the White House data, only 43% of working Americans have received their shot and 80% of workers say they believe employers should give them time off to get vaccinated.

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Small Business Administration (SBA) unveils new aid programs as PPP ends

“We’re rolling out this program to make sure that these businesses can meet payroll, purchase supplies and get what they need in place to transition to today’s COVID-restricted marketplace.”

As the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) ends, the U.S. SBA announced two new programs to help struggling venues and restaurants stay open amidst ongoing public health restrictions and concerns.

While a start date has not been announced for either program, both grant programs are funded by the most recent $1.9 trillion economic support package passed last month.

The Latest from Workest

As the way that Americans work has changed over the past year, so have the strategies for protecting against burnout and maintaining productivity. Check out these 7 steps to help prevent employee burnout from Kelsey Banerjee.

Harnessing the potential of your employees can have a big impact on the bottom line of your business. Here’s why you should build people to build your business.

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

  1. Continuing to work from home may come at a price. Facebook announced that employees can maintain their WFH status but may see their salary cut if they choose not to come back to the office.
  2. In the post-pandemic era, many small businesses are choosing to downsize their brick-and-mortar footprint as part of the path forward.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics announced new data indicating that nearly 10% of American families had at least 1 unemployed family member last year.

Check out our People Ops Podcast episode “Build Your People, Build the World”

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