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Paychex Study: SMB Leaders to Manage HR and Business Challenges with New Technology in 2024

Paychex, Inc., a leading provider of integrated human capital management software solutions for human resources, employee benefits, insurance services, and payroll, today shared the results of the annual Priorities for Business Leaders survey, which highlight a diverse set of challenges America’s business owners and HR leaders are expecting to face in 2024 – and nearly all (98%) will use artificial intelligence (AI) to help solve them.

The survey shows that 64% of companies said they spend over 570 hours a year and at least 11 hours per week on HR administration, and annual spending for the largest business is as high as $350,000 on HR tasks such as processing payroll, administering benefits, and tracking time.

Responses from the survey of 600 U.S. business and HR leaders with 5-500 employees across industries and geographies show the top business challenges respondents identified are:

  • Rising interest rates (65%)
  • Overall inflation (63%)
  • Threat of an economic slowdown (63%)

Additionally, the top HR challenges for organizations are:

  • Risk management, such as managing workers’ compensation (56%)
  • Leadership development (54%)
  • Attracting talent, total rewards, and offering competitive benefits and compensation (53%)

“It’s clear that the expectations of business and HR leaders continue to grow,” said Jeff Williams, vice president of enterprise and HR Solutions at Paychex. “In addition to competing in a tight labor market, macroeconomic pressures like rising healthcare and other benefit costs are forcing many to rethink HR and benefits strategies.

Other key survey insights include:

  • Nearly all leaders (98%) expect to use artificial intelligence (AI) in 2024. Eighty-five percent say they are already using it, and less than 10% are concerned with AI risk.
    • Currently, respondents are most commonly using it to:
      • Automate workflow (41%)
      • Grow sales (39%)
      • Manage business intelligence and analytics (37%)
    • Some of the new ways respondents are planning to implement AI in the next 12 months are to:
      • Support customer service (54%)
      • Strengthen IT operations (53%)
      • Screen resumes, tied with identifying potential candidates (52%)
  • People management is also a focus for leaders, with 53% of leaders planning to optimize their benefits to attract and keep high-quality employees, which is also the #1 retention tactic (46%).

“Our study also found that organizations are spending more than a quarter of the average 40-hour work week on administrative HR tasks, costing them significant amounts of time and money,” Williams added. “To offset these costs, almost all respondents said they will lean on emerging technology like AI to lighten the load on them, their employees, and the bottom line.”

Download the Research Highlights for more survey insights.

Survey Methodology

The “2024 Priorities of Business Leaders” survey by Paychex yielded 600 responses from business and HR leaders in U.S.-based companies employing 5 to 500 employees. The survey was conducted online by Bredin, Inc. from August 1 through August 29, 2023.

About Paychex

Paychex, Inc. (Nasdaq: PAYX) is an industry-leading HCM company delivering a full suite of technology and advisory services in human resources, employee benefit solutions, insurance, and payroll. The company serves approximately 740,000 customers in the U.S. and Europe and pays one out of every 12 American private sector employees. The more than 16,000 people at Paychex are committed to helping businesses succeed and building thriving communities where they work and live. Visit to learn more.


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