Impact of recession on recruitment and HR

HR appears to have escaped the recession relatively unscathed, despite the economic downturn’s dramatic impact on recruitment, according to a survey by Personnel Today‘s paid-for sister service XpertHR.


The survey of 105 employers – covering a combined workforce of almost 580,000 people – showed that three-quarters (74%) now had fewer vacancies, while around six in 10 (56%) had introduced recruitment freezes. However, the fall-out for HR professionals involved in recruitment has been surprisingly minimal, with only 8% losing their jobs.


The biggest impact of the recession on recruitment activity has been the reduced number of vacancies. And this in turn has led to a marked reduction in the use of employment agencies among almost six in 10 (57%) of those surveyed. Four in 10 (40%) have found alternatives to filling vacant posts with permanent recruits, such as temporary staff, outsourcing, and reallocating work internally.


The findings also showed that smaller employers had been more adversely affected by the recession’s impact on recruitment. For example, six in 10 (58%) small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) had imposed workforce-wide recruitment freezes, compared with four in 10 (36%) of the largest organisations surveyed. And freezes linked to redundancy exercises – where the ‘natural wastage’ of resignations and retirements can mitigate the need for compulsory redundancies – were far more common among SMEs (47%) than larger employers (7%).


This was also the case in terms of vacancy and recruitment expenditure cuts, with one-fifth of SMEs reducing vacancies by more than 90%, while none of the largest employers surveyed had to reduce their vacancy levels by this amount. And 30% of SMEs have had to cut their recruitment expenditure by more than 90%, while none of the largest organisations needed to take such drastic measures.


However, despite the gloomy outlook, an Acas policy discussion paper claims that large numbers of jobs are actually continuing to become available. It stated that an average of 10,000 new jobs are advertised each day by Jobcentre Plus alone, and that many more are available through other channels.

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