Employers unprepared for growth, cautious of recovery

By: Jason Whittaker

While changes in hiring and job-seeking behaviours are generating some economic activity, employers may not be in a position to

While changes in hiring and job-seeking behaviours are generating some economic activity, employers may not be in a position to take full advantage of growth opportunities, according to a Sydney-based recruitment expert.

Aequalis Consulting Director Simon Boulton says compared with May, July saw a 60 percent increase in employer vacancies.

"At the same time, the number of candidates seeking work through Aequalis has been consistent – but it’s people in jobs seeking jobs. Six months ago, employees were too cautious to move," Boulton says.

He says these behavioural changes are a major concern, as recent statistics show that while the main focus for employers in 2009 has been downsizing staff, employees are now disgruntled.

An Aequalis survey of 220 employers earlier this year showed that 72 percent planned to take advantage of the current market and replace underperforming or sub-par staff members in 2009.

However, this month, an Aequalis survey of 280 job-seekers shows 45 percent now lack trust in senior management, 62 percent are experiencing lower morale, and only 22 percent have said they are not moving at the first signs of an economic recovery.

"Many employers have taken advantage of the economic conditions, but at what cost?" Boulton says.

"Human capital is key to a business’s ability to grow, yet it’s clear a significant number of existing staff are not happy," he says.

Queensland employers are being advised to start reassessing their HR strategies, as greater demand for skills will accompany the easing of hiring conditions in the market.

"Changes in sentiment are among the first signs of changes in economic conditions. Our results show that businesses are at risk of losing their core people – and top performers can be the first to seek work elsewhere. If employers don’t have their core people in place, maximising opportunity through an upswing will be significantly more challenging," Boulton says.

He says many employees may be looking to move in January – traditionally a time when many seek change, and as the market is at its height in the first half of the year.

"Often these quick shifts lead to a ‘herd mentality’, and the delicate balance of job seekers and vacancies may well begin to swing the other way."

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