The refrain that business owners would rather pinch pennies than support their employees would seem to be about as real as Ebenezer Scrooge himself.
Indeed, half of small business owners support a law that would allow employees to earn paid sick days, according to a new study conducted by the Small Business Majority.
The survey, released Tuesday, polled 500 small business owners from around the country and found that half of them are in favor of a policy that would allow employees to use earned sick time when they or an immediate family member falls ill or needs preventative medical care. Roughly 42 percent of respondents said they would not support such a law. Additionally, an even larger majority of microbusinesses--companies with one to 10 employees--responded favorably as well.
The results of this study seem to contradict the conventional wisdom that small businesses don’t have the financial bandwidth (or inclination) to provide benefits. The survey found that because small business owners often think of their employees as family, they tend to be quite dedicated to maintaining a happy and loyal workforce.
“I invest a lot in training my employees, so I want them to stay with my business for a long time,” says Kelly Vore, owner of Downtown Home and Garden, a home and garden retailer in Ann Arbor, Michigan. “I’ve found one of the best ways to reduce turnover and keep my employees happy is offering paid time off. They know I care about their wellbeing, and that helps strengthen their loyalty to my business.”
Perhaps that’s why an even larger majority of small employers in the survey were found to offer family-friendly benefits to accommodate responsibilities at home. For example, 71 percent of businesses with 11 to 100 employees allow them to take time off from work for children’s school activities, such as parent-teacher conferences.
“These findings show that small businesses understand the importance of family friendly workplaces that afford working parents the flexibility they need to work and raise a family,” says Loren Harris, director of family economic security at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, in reference to the survey results.
Of course, there are limits to how much these companies can afford to provide their workers. A little less than one in three small businesses were found to offer health insurance benefits to employees, for example, as compared to the national average of 96 percent of larger firms. Still, it’s clear that the intimacy of a small, tight-knit working culture has its benefits.