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Small talk costs US businesses over $1.5 trillion a year 

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  • The average US employee spends almost 2 hours a workday making small talk
  • However, the benefits for business are huge, with 7 out of 10 (69%) employees saying small talk has a positive effect on their wellbeing
  • Almost 4 in 10 workers would leave if companies attempted to reduce office small talk

The cost of small talk to businesses is huge, but worth it, a new study finds.

The average US worker spends 1 hour 58 minutes a day on small talk—equating to a huge $11,918 a year when compared to the median US salary. When calculated against the number of full-time workers in the US, the cost of small talk to businesses amounts to $1.5 trillion a year.

The study of 2,000 full-time workers was carried out by TollFreeForwarding.com, who spoke to employees in both the US and the UK. It found that those in the US engage in more small talk on average, with 13 extra minutes a day spent chatting. Surprisingly, those in the US are more likely to spend time talking about the weather than those in the UK (11 minutes per day vs 9 minutes).

Despite the high monetary cost, the positive mental effects of small talk are huge, showing that it is worth the cost it has on businesses.

  • Almost three-quarters (72%) of workers say small talk makes their workplace more bearable.
  • Small talk also has a positive effect on employee motivation (67%) and wellbeing (69%). This reduces the chance of staff burnout or resignations—two things that lead to time off and money spent rehiring, which cost more to businesses in the long term.

Small talk also helps strengthen connections in the workplace, leading to better teamwork and stronger client relationships. Over three-quarters (77%) of those surveyed say small talk helps them improve and maintain relationships with their colleagues, while a further 73% said the same for their relationships with clients.

Bosses considering trying to limit small talk should also be careful, as almost 4 in 10 workers (38%) said they’d leave their current job if their employer attempted to limit or reduce small talk. This shows how important it is for employers to create a culture where small talk is encouraged, and acknowledged for the benefits it brings.

Dr Naomi Murphy, D. Clin. Psych, explains why small talk is essential in the workplace:

“Small talk is the glue that keeps colleagues together.  It allows us to build relationships and feel more confident in contributing to group discussions.  It enables us to see the human being and remind ourselves of the things we like about our colleagues even when we are feeling irritated by their opposition or criticism of our suggestions, liking our colleagues and having good connections with them keeps us emotionally nourished.  When work is just a place we go to get tasks done, we are much more likely to feel dissatisfied, which will impact on productivity and make it likely we will move on.”

TollFreeForwarding.com has also created a calculator so employers and employees can see how their small talk compares to the US average. By entering a salary and the average amount of time spent on small talk, you can see exactly how much money your small talk costs.

You can find the full breakdown of data, the small talk calculator, and expert tips on successful small talk on the TollFreeForwarding.com blog.

The Inland Empire Business Journal (IEBJ) is the official business news publication of Southern California’s Inland Empire region - covering San Bernardino & Riverside Counties.

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Career & Workplace

California Continues to Struggle with Labor Supply as Employment Expands Modestly

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State’s Unemployment Rate Remains Highest In Nation

California’s labor market expanded modestly in April, with total nonfarm employment in the state growing by 5,200 positions over the month, according to an analysis released today by Beacon Economics. March’s gains were revised down to 18,200 in the latest numbers, a 10,100 decline from the preliminary estimate of 28,300.

As of April 2024, California has recovered all of the jobs that were lost in March and April 2020, and there are now 314,300 more people employed in the state compared to February 2020. Total nonfarm employment has grown 1.8% over this time compared to a 3.9% increase in the United States overall. California increased payrolls by 1.2% from April 2023 to April 2024, trailing the 1.8% increase nationally over the same period.

The state’s unemployment rate held steady at 5.3% in April 2024, unchanged from the previous month. California’s unemployment rate is the highest in the nation and remains elevated relative to the 3.9% rate in the United States as a whole. The state continues to struggle with its labor supply, which remained essentially unchanged in April (declining by a negligible 100). Since February 2020, California’s labor force has fallen by -246,200 workers, a -1.3% decline. In comparison, over the past twelve months the nation’s labor force has increased by 0.8%. 

Industry Profile  

  • At the industry level, job gains were mixed in April. Health Care led the way with payrolls expanding by 10,100, an increase of 0.4% on a month-over-month basis. With these gains Health Care payrolls are now 13.6% above their pre-pandemic peak.
  • Other sectors posting strong gains during the month were Transportation, Warehousing, and Utilities (3,700 or 0.4%), Leisure and Hospitality (3,100 or 0.2%), Government (2,600 or 0.1%), Education (1,800 or 0.4%), Retail Trade (1,000 or 0.1%), and Wholesale Trade (400 or 0.1%).
  • Payrolls decreased a handful of sectors in April. Construction experienced the largest declines, with payrolls falling by -6,000, a contraction of -0.6% on a month-over-month basis. Note that this decline was largely due to late season storms affecting construction projects across the state.
  • Other sectors posting significant declines during the month were Manufacturing (-5,300 or -0.4%), Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services (-3,600 or -0.3%), Real Estate (-700 or -0.2%), Finance and Insurance (-700 or -0.1%), Administrative Support (-600 or -0.1%), and Information (-600 or -0.1%).

Regional Profile

  • Regionally, job gains were led by Southern California. Los Angeles (MD) saw the largest increase, where payrolls grew by 5,700 (0.2%) during the month. The Inland Empire (2,600 or 0.2%) and San Diego (1,200 or 0.1%) also saw their payrolls jump during the month. However, payrolls fell in Orange County (-2,700 or -0.2%), Ventura (-500 or -0.2%), and El Centro (-2,200 or -0.3%). Over the past year, El Centro (1.9%) has had the fastest job growth in the region, followed by the Inland Empire (1.5%), Ventura (1.4%), Orange County (1.1%), San Diego (0.8%), and Los Angeles (MD) (0.6%).
  • In the Bay Area, the East Bay experienced the largest increase, with payrolls expanding by 2,600 (0.2%) positions in April. San Rafael (MD) (200 or 0.2%) and Napa (100 or 0.1%) also saw payrolls increase during the month. However, San Francisco (MD) (-1,700 or -0.1%), Santa Rosa (-600 or -0.3%), and Vallejo (-600 or -0.2%) experienced payroll declines during the month. Over the past 12 months, Vallejo (3.0%) enjoyed the fastest job growth in the region, followed by Santa Rosa (2.3%), Napa (2.2%), San Rafael (MD) (1.6%), the East Bay (0.9%), San Jose (0.2%), and San Francisco (MD) (-0.8%).
  • In the Central Valley, Sacramento experienced the largest monthly increase as payrolls expanded by 900 (0.1%) positions in April. Payrolls in Yuba (400 or 0.8%), Bakersfield (300 or 0.1%), Fresno (300 or 0.1%), and Visalia (100 or 0.1%) increased as well. However, payrolls fell in Stockton (-500 or -0.2%), Modesto (-200 or -0.1%), Merced (-200 or -0.3%), Redding (-100 or -0.1%), and Hanford (-100 or -0.2%). Over the past year, Madera (5.7%) had the fastest growth, followed by Yuba (4.2%), Merced (3.7%), Modesto (3.6%), Sacramento (2.5%), Hanford (2.4%), Redding (2.3%), Fresno (2.2%), Visalia (2.1%), Stockton (2.0%), Chico (1.5%), and Bakersfield (1.1%).
  • On California’s Central Coast, Salinas (200 or 0.1%) and Santa Cruz (200 or 0.2%) added the largest number of jobs during the month. Santa Barbara (-100 or -0.1%) saw payrolls decline. From April 2023 to April 2024, Salinas (1.9%) has added jobs at the fastest rate, followed by Santa Cruz (1.6%), Santa Barbara (0.8%), and San Luis Obispo (0.5%).
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Career & Workplace

Inland Economic Growth & Opportunity (IEGO) Announces 2024 Priorities

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Strategic Vision: Prioritizing Sustainable Growth and Enhanced Opportunities in the Inland Region

The Inland Economic Growth & Opportunity (IEGO), a collaborative organization dedicated to fostering economic growth, has announced its 2024 strategic priorities designed to create a vibrant, inclusive, and sustainable economy for Southern California’s Inland Empire. Among its immediate priorities include its role in Governor Newsom’s California Jobs First regional jobs strategy.

“As one of the California Jobs First statewide collaboratives, IEGO is committed to engaging a wide ranging and diverse group of stakeholders in our economic development focus so that we can improve the quality of life for all residents across the region,” said IEGO Executive Director Matthew Mena.

IEGO’s strategy is critical. While Inland Southern California remains one of California’s top job growth markets, it also ranks as having the lowest average weekly wages according to employment data for the nation’s 50 largest county job markets as reported by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The IEGO 2024 priorities are designed to counter that trend and encourage greater business investment, including:

California Jobs First: IEGO will develop Inland Southern California’s regional jobs strategy to create quality jobs and a more accessible economy as part of Governor Newsom’s very intentional, inclusive approach to economic and workforce development to maximize state resources and investments by empowering communities to chart their own futures. Much of the funding will support career development projects from capacity building to industry-specific programs, and new job training.

Center of Excellence: As one of the state’s designated Center of Excellence, IEGO will support the region’s community colleges and their partners by providing research on the local labor market, including information on job growth, wages, demographics, top employers, education, and skill requirements, as well as education outcomes for industries and occupations critical to the Inland Empire’s economy. This data will help inform the development of new community college programs, curriculum, and partnerships that the colleges pursue in their efforts to prepare residents for high-paying, fast-growing jobs that Inland Empire businesses need today and in the future. 

Regional Marketing: IEGO will work to ensure that the region is well positioned to benefit from public and private investment and is fully recognized for its economic strength and opportunity. In this way, IEGO can enhance the delivery of public and private resources to the two-county region.

“There’s real opportunity for the IEGO Center of Excellence to lead deeper economic and workforce research. One of the immediate areas is our Top 50 Jobs report. We want to better identify the best job opportunities and pathways for workers in struggling families to make ends meet and build wealth,” said Andy Hall, who is leading report development for the Center of Excellence.

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Career & Workplace

The City of Rancho Cucamonga Recognized as U.S. Best-in-Class Employer by Gallagher 

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Gallagher’s Best-in-Class Benchmarking Analysis Identifies U.S. Organizations That Excel in Optimizing Employee and Organizational Wellbeing 

The City of Rancho Cucamonga participated in Gallagher’s 2023 U.S. Benefits Strategy & Benchmarking Survey and was identified as an organization that excelled in implementing successful strategies for managing people and programs. The City of Rancho Cucamonga was recognized for its comprehensive framework for strategically investing in benefits, compensation and employee communication to support the health, financial security and career growth of its employees at a sustainable cost structure. 

Designations like Gallagher’s Best-in-Class Employer help current and potential employees understand and appreciate an organization’s workplace culture and people strategy; important differentiators as employers compete for talent in today’s labor market. 

“This award is a testament to the collective dedication and unwavering commitment of our team, reflecting the high standards we uphold in fostering a workplace that thrives on innovation, belonging, and employee well-being.” Robert Neiuber, Senior Human Resources Director, City of Rancho Cucamonga. 

A U.S. Best-in-Class Employer, the City of Rancho Cucamonga was assigned points based on its relative performance in: 

  • Plan horizons for benefits and compensation strategies 
  • Extent of the wellbeing strategy 
  • Turnover rate for full-time equivalents (FTEs) 
  • Completion of a workforce engagement survey 
  • Use of an HR technology strategy and its level of sophistication 
  • Difference in healthcare costs over the prior year 
  • Use of a communication strategy 

The City of Rancho Cucamonga understands that high employee expectations haven’t budged in the changing labor market and have regularly examined their formula to attract and retain talent,” said William F. Ziebell, CEO of Gallagher’s Benefits & HR Consulting Division. “In doing so, the City of Rancho Cucamonga utilizes data, workforce feedback tools and clearly defined policies to provide competitive benefits and experiences that their employees value.” 

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