This data reflects insights gathered from a series of research studies focused on how SMB owners are faring during the COVID pandemic. The Harris Poll teamed with TriNet, a comprehensive HR Solutions provider for SMBs. These initiatives focus on the state of SMB beyond TriNet’s own customer base and provides an insightful narrative as to how SMBs have coped and adapted during these challenging months.

Government Support and the Pandemic’s Impact on the Workforce

While resiliency has remained strong, confidence in government support is an area that has waxed and waned throughout. When asked whether government was doing enough to support their businesses, 58% of respondents initially said yes (survey fielded April 3 – 6). Since then, this sentiment has been very volatile, dropping to a low of 38% between April 28 – May 1, and rising to 46% in our most recent poll conducted May 5 – 8.

Impact of COVID-19 on the Workforce

SMBs have had to adjust their workforce to address the changing needs of their business during these unprecedented times. As of May 5-8, six in ten SMB leaders (60%) have had to reduce their workforce in some way, including one or more of the following:

  • Reducing employee hours (47%)
  • Furloughing employees (26%)
  • Laying off employees (22%)

Furthermore, business models, along with products/service offerings, have been greatly affected by the current situation, with 57% of SMB leaders (as of May 5–8) making one of more of the following types of changes to their business:

  • Shifted business model to be more online/virtual (40%)
  • Changed product/service offering to address pandemic (20%)
  • Change product/service offering to keep revenue coming in (18%)



For this research, TriNet teamed with The Harris Poll to conduct a series of ten online surveys from April 3 to May 8 among small business leaders in U.S. companies with 5 to 249 employees. Between 150-200 responses were collected for each of the ten waves. Business leaders were qualified as either owners/partners or C-level executives.

View the complete whitepaper.


Amber Broughton

Managing Director

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