Atlanta — As more states reopen after lifting COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders, 62% of small business owners believe their businesses will return to normal this year, according to new survey data from payroll and HR technology provider OnPay. Sixty-six percent of small business employees are also optimistic about things returning to normal this year.

Even so, that sense of normalcy comes with some uncertainty. According to OnPay’s State of Small Businesses in 2020 survey of more than 2000 owners and employees, small business owners reported that they are 38% less likely to expect an increase in revenue this year compared to last year. Their employees are also concerned about what comes next. Nearly half say they’re worried that they’ll be furloughed or laid off in the next six months as a result of the pandemic. Only 47% of employees report working at a company where no workers have lost jobs or wages as a result of COVID-19.

In addition to downsizing their workforce, small business owners have taken a variety of steps to respond to the crisis. One in two received a loan through the Paycheck Protection Program, while one in three has used the Social Security tax deferrals offered through the CARES Act. They’re also cutting back on making moves that increase payroll costs:

  • 50% of small businesses have stopped hiring new employees
  • 36% have paused regular performance-based promotions and/or wage increases
  • 28% have postponed or eliminated regular cost-of-living-based wage increases

Despite taking these measures, employers and employees generally agree that they’re doing a good job of weathering the storm. Seventy percent of employers believe they’ve been able to take care of employees well during the outbreak, and 78% of employees agree. Two-thirds of employees say their benefits haven’t changed from pre-pandemic levels, and only 9% of businesses have had to cut back on health insurance for employees.

In addition, COVID-19 is accelerating the work-from-home trend among small businesses. Three in four businesses have moved at least some of their employees home, and only 11% of those businesses plan to require all employees to work onsite post-coronavirus. Many employees are finding positive results from the shift with 45% saying work from home has made their lives easier.

“This survey confirms what we’re seeing from our 10,000 plus payroll, HR, and benefits clients,” said Mark McKee, President & COO at OnPay. “Small businesses are hanging in there, but there’s definitely a sense that things are different now. Along with all the new challenges, we’re also seeing some bright spots. Employees report they’re pleased with the way employers have navigated the pandemic, and new technology is making remote work easier so employers can keep their teams safe. Small business owners tend to be determined and optimistic, so they’re finding ways to adapt to their new normal.”

For complete data from OnPay’s State of Small Businesses in 2020 Survey, including a look at how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way businesses approach payroll, HR, and finance, visit

Survey Methodology
Between June 2 and June 9, 2020, OnPay surveyed a panel of 1058 managers and owners of US small businesses with at least one employee. On the same dates, OnPay also surveyed a panel of 1015 employees at US small businesses. The panels used for this study were provided by Cint, and we conducted the survey online using SurveyMonkey. All respondents were selected randomly.

About OnPay
OnPay makes payroll, HR, and benefits easy, affordable, and error-free for accountants and small to mid-sized businesses in every industry. Combining 30 years of experience with the latest technology, OnPay spun off from its legacy company in 2015 to grow its online payroll platform. OnPay was rated “excellent” by PC Magazine and gets the highest ratings from CPA Practice Advisor, Motley Fool, and their clients on Capterra as well as receiving awards for ease of use and outstanding customer service. Learn more at