The majority of business owners in 16 EU member states expect hiring to rise in the first quarter of 2014, according to ManpowerGroup.
President of ManpowerGroup, Darryl Green said:
Confidence is slowly returning but many are still erring on the side of caution, with positive outlooks reported but at relatively low levels for the time being. With further economic improvement this number could begin to climb higher.
The rise in optimism amongst business leaders is a marked improvement from the same time last year, when only 11 countries forecast a rise in hiring.
Confidence grew strongly in the German and UK financial sectors. Employer sentiment also rose in the Spanish and Italian agricultural sectors.
Greece saw the most dramatic increase in positive sentiment year-on-year, with its hiring forecast up 17 percentage points. Hungarian employers reported their most optimistic hiring plans since the third quarter of 2009.
However, business optimism is not universal across the EU. The majority of employers in Belgium, Slovakia, Spain, Finland, Ireland and Italy see hiring declining in the first quarter of 2014. The Eurozone recovery is far from solid but the picture emerging from the survey is one of cautious optimism.
ManpowerGroup highlighted that while Germany remains stable, talent shortages are a recurring theme that will need to be addressed by recruiters.
The survey examined the hiring plans of 65,000 employers across 42 countries for the first quarter of 2014.