• Home

  • Press

  • Data reports

Data reports

3 min read

How automation helped SMBs during the pandemic

By Zapier Editorial Team · May 11, 2021
Hero image for data reports with an illustration of a bar chart and pie chart

Companies that use automation software are more likely to hire in 2021. 

That's according to the latest Zapier survey. We polled 2,000 people who work at or own small and medium-sized businesses, a category that includes businesses with 250 employees or fewer. Half of the respondents work at companies that use automation software, and the other half work at companies that do not. 

Respondents range across more than a dozen industries, including technology (16%), health and pharmaceuticals (11%), manufacturing (8%), education (8%) construction (8%), retail (6%) food & beverage (5%), and finance (5%). 

The differences were revealing. While businesses everywhere struggled during the pandemic, companies that use automation software are a lot more confident about their plans going forward.

Businesses that automate are hiring more and seeing higher than expected revenue

COVID-19 was devastating for small and mid-sized businesses, regardless of whether they used automation software. It's no surprise that our survey showed a majority of businesses were negatively affected in some way. 

The difference: while companies that use automation were about as likely as those that don't to reduce their headcount during the pandemic, those that use automation are far more likely to be hiring in 2021. 56 percent of companies that use automation plan to increase their headcount by the end of 2021, compared to just 33 percent among companies that don't.

There's no one-size-fits-all way that companies use automation software. Popular uses include automating repetitive work such as data entry, document organization, and lead management. For instance, teambuilding.com—a company that started in response to the pandemic—used automation to implement complex but necessary lead sorting systems that notified team members of qualified leads immediately, allowing them to close more deals. Ultimately, these processes played a role in allowing teambuilding.com to accrue so much business that they hired over 100 new teammates.

Infographic showing that companies who use automation are more likely to hire

And it's not just about hiring: businesses that use automation software were more likely to have higher than expected revenue during the pandemic. 22 percent of businesses that use automation software had higher than expected revenue, compared to only 13 percent of those who don't.

Businesses that use automation are more resilient and recovering more quickly

Recovery won't be easy, but companies that use automation software are doing better overall. 23 percent have already exceeded pre-pandemic revenue, compared to just 17 percent among businesses that don't use automation software. 

Businesses that use automation software also feel more comfortable responding to a crisis: 76 percent of such businesses feel prepared, compared to just 66 percent of businesses that don't use automation software. And 74 percent of respondents who use automation at work say automation specifically helps them feel prepared to handle unexpected crises.

Infographic showing automations' role in business resiliency

Workers who use automation are happier

82 percent of people who use automation say they're happy at their current job, compared to 75 percent of those who don't use automation. Employees who use automation software cited other benefits as well.

Infographic showing that workers who use automation are happier
  • Automation has helped me be more productive at work: 48 percent

  • Using automation at work allows me to focus on more creative tasks and projects: 33 percent

  • I'm satisfied in my role because I use automation at work: 28 percent

  • I'm less stressed at work because I automate manual tasks: 28 percent

  • Automation allowed our company to quickly pivot as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic: 27 percent

  • Automations make it easier to pick up slack when a coworker is absent: 23 percent

  • Using automation at work has helped me fight burnout: 19 percent

  • I work fewer hours because I use automation for time-consuming tasks: 18 percent

Only 8 percent said none of the above is true—92 percent of people who use automation benefit from it in one of these crucial ways. 

Methodology: This survey was conducted online within the United States by Centinmentl on behalf of Zapier in March 2021 among 2,000 employed U.S. knowledge workers (primarily work in a professional setting and use a computer as part of their job).

Get productivity tips delivered straight to your inbox

We’ll email you 1-3 times per week—and never share your information.


Related articles

Improve your productivity automatically. Use Zapier to get your apps working together.

Sign up
A Zap with the trigger 'When I get a new lead from Facebook,' and the action 'Notify my team in Slack'