Survey: Small Business Owners Expect Swift Recovery

June 23, 2020

ALEXANDRIA, Va., June 23, 2020—New research released today by SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) shows small businesses expect a significantly faster recovery than those forecasted by economists. The survey also highlights innovations in business operations, changes in policies, key challenges, and plans for when and how to reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The new survey of U.S. small business owners found:

  • Of those allowed to reopen in some capacity by their state, city, or county, 81 percent have already begun or are in the process of reopening their business;

  • Small businesses expect a significantly faster recovery than the broader economy, as 52 percent expecting to recover to pre-COVID profitability in six months or less;

  • Forty-three percent say they have started rethinking the way they do business, with 32 percent reporting a new way to deliver an existing product or service;  

  • Forty-three percent plan to accommodate employees with children by allowing flexible hours/compressed work weeks and 82 percent will either probably or definitely adopt broader or more flexible work from home policies.

(Full findings here.)

"The U.S. workforce has experienced nothing short of an upheaval. Following a pandemic, recession, and protests nationwide, we're seeing small businesses innovate and adapt as they reopen their doors," said SHRM President and CEO, Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP. "This research underscores how small businesses have truly proven their agility and flexibility as the country confronts the COVID-19 pandemic."

"Notably, 75 percent of small business executives are confident their business will be better prepared to effectively handle a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic if one occurred in the future. With that in mind, returning to work will be a collaborative effort between business leaders, HR professionals, and employees."

Small business owners also reported implementing or considering several changes to the workplace. For example, 82 percent plan to employ more flexible work-from-home policy for all workers with telework-capable jobs, nearly three in 10 have adopted new or novel technology processes, and over 1 in 5 small business owners have asked their employees to learn new skills to support changes in their business model.


Media: Contact Julie Hirschhorn at and 703-842-5152 or Cooper Nye at and 703-535-6447.

Methodology: A sample of 416 U.S. small business executives from organizations with 500 or fewer employees were surveyed online during the period of May 27, 2020 – June 5, 2020. All 250 respondents from businesses with at least one employee other than themselves but no more than 99 employees were the owner, operator, head, president, or CEO of their business. All 166 respondents from businesses with at least 100 but no more than 500 employees were either an executive or the owner, operator, head, president, or CEO of their business. Sampling did not control for industry or geographical representation and data was not weighted.

About SHRM

SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, creates better workplaces where employers and employees thrive together. As the voice of all things work, workers and the workplace, SHRM is the foremost expert, convener and thought leader on issues impacting today's evolving workplaces. With 300,000+ HR and business executive members in 165 countries, SHRM impacts the lives of more than 115 million workers and families globally. Learn more at and on Twitter @SHRM.



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