Inbox: Financial businesses reluctant to hire

While confidence is returning to the New Zealand business market, hiring predictions for the second half of 2011 for the financial and accounting sectors remain modest despite two thirds of businesses reporting increased workloads.
Nine out of 10 hiring managers surveyed by financial services recruitment company Robert Half, which specialises in this sector of the market, were confident in their company’s growth prospects over the next 12 months, but this is not mirrored by hiring intentions. There was only net four percent rise in plans to increase the number of full time, permanent staff in finance, accounting and banking roles in the latter half of this year.
Those who are intending to hire are doing so to help ease the workload of existing staff members (51 percent), while 41 percent of new hires will involve tackling new project or initiative and 32 percent will help grow the business.
Sixty six percent of employees reported their workload had increased in the past 12 months, with 27 percent of those saying their workload had increased ‘significantly’. This suggests that people are already overstretched and may not be able to cope with increasing workloads that will eventuate if companies do not grow staff, says Robert Half New Zealand general manager Megan Alexander.
She has noticed real turnaround in the past six months in junior to middle management levels, to market that gives employees more power and opportunity as the recession has eased and the job market has become more fluid. However, the very small increase in plans to hire staff over the coming six months is concerning.
“Confidence is up and businesses now need to think about how they are going to provide the necessary manpower to manage and sustain future growth,” says Alexander. “This comes on top of the need to ease pressure on existing workloads.
“Over-stretching staff threatens retention as people start feeling undervalued and look to opportunities that provide better work/life balance, further impacting the potential growth of an organisation. Businesses could miss out on crucial opportunities for growth if they do not have the right resources in place. The current modest intent to hire will not sustain growth expectations.”
In candidate short market, it can take up to three months to find the right person for role, adds Alexander. “As employee optimism grows, so does the choosiness and expectation of employees when considering new role.
 “We are already experiencing lack of skilled business and accounting professionals in the market at certain levels and the reality is employers could face difficult and lengthy process to find the right people to support their business expansion, whether that’s temporary or permanent position. Hiring managers should factor this into their recruitment plans.” M

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