Over a quarter of companies to increase staff in 2014: Ibec

In advance of its flagship HR Leadership Summit, which takes place in the Convention Centre, Dublin, today, Ibec published the results of its Autumn 2013 HR survey which shows that over a quarter (27%) of companies plan to take on new staff next year.

Companies however remain focused on containing costs, with the majority of employers (60%) concerned at rising pay expectations, at a time when many operating in the fragile domestic economy simply cannot afford to contemplate any increases. 

Ibec CEO Danny McCoy said: “Recent positive news on jobs looks set to continue into next year. While many companies remain under pressure, over a quarter plan to take on new staff next year. Keeping costs under control is essential if we are to create new jobs. At the height of the boom many costs, including wages, spiralled out of control, we can’t allow this to happen again. Many companies remain in survival mode and pay expectations need to reflect economic realities.

“It is vital that the budget doesn’t set back the jobs recovery by taking more money from consumers or increasing employment costs. The reduced VAT level for the hospitality sector and the introduction of a lower employer PRSI rate for low wage workers has worked and should be retained. Irish excise rates are already among the highest in Europe. Any increase would cost jobs, further squeeze struggling consumers and potentially reignite cross-border shopping.”

Key findings of the latest Ibec survey include:

Employment: Over a quarter of employers expect their employee numbers to increase in 2014 (27%). For the majority of organisations (59%) employee numbers are expected to remain the same next year. Half of the organisations surveyed (50%) expect to recruit permanent or temporary staff in the next six months. Nearly a quarter of employers (24%) expect to experience skills shortage in 2014, with particular skills demand in the IT/software, engineering and technician areas.

Containing costs: Pressure to rein in costs continues. Among the cost areas most likely to pose difficulty for employers over the next 12 months are the demand/expectation of pay increases (60%), the possible introduction of statutory sick pay (43%), as well as recruitment costs (41%), training costs (40%) and the cost of health insurance (39%). A fifth (22%) of organisations with medical health insurance benefit were reviewing their scheme, and examining changes such as new providers, setting a defined contribution for employees or downgrading the level of cover.

Innovation: Companies are increasingly focused on innovation as a way to improve organisation performance, with 80% of companies reported having initiatives in place to encourage innovation. Seeking ideas from staff, using technology and rewarding innovation all emerged as methods to encourage and support innovation.

The Autumn 2013 survey data was collected in September 2013 from 432 senior HR contacts in Ibec member organisations. The profile of respondents is similar to previous HR update surveys, with around a third of respondent companies employed fewer than 50 employees, while just over a quarter (27%) employed over 250 employees.