Recruitment freeze set to thaw as firms announce plans to hire again

THE great UK recruitment freeze looks set to thaw in 2011 as more than a quarter of firms plan to add staff, a survey of human resources (HR) directors by PriceWaterhouseCoopers has found.

In evidence that companies are moving on from recessionary survival measures, 28 per cent of UK firms said they expect to increase employee headcount next year.

Of these, 15 per cent said they expected to increase headcount significantly, and 13 per cent were replacing jobs cut in the downturn.

While 50 per cent of companies expected to maintain staff levels this year, only 16 per cent planned to cut jobs.

Michael Rendell, PwC’s head of HR services, said the results were “encouraging news.” and showed firms preparing for growth. It suggested that businesses should be able to absorb public sector job losses, he said.

It’s a far better picture than December 2009. Then, 43 per cent of HR directors expected to cut staff while just 13 per cent planned to recruit.

This year’s results outstrip other European markets and the US, where an average of 62 per cent of firms plan not to recruit and only 12 per cent expect to add staff. Nine per cent of overseas companies expected to cut staff next year.

Rob Grimsey, director at recruitment specialist Harvey Nash, said many companies are currently both hiring and firing to balance a new intake of skills with continued cost-cutting.