HR urged to treat reports of economic recovery with caution

HR directors have warned against making knee-jerk reactions to influential reports that UK organisations may be nearing the end of the economic downturn.

This week, the monthly Report on Jobs by professional services firm KPMG and the Recruitment and Employment Confederation showed the decline in job vacancy numbers had slowed over the past five months. Chief executive Kevin Green predicted the availability of jobs may even begin to expand in September.

Meanwhile, the Purchasing Managers Index by the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply, also out this week, found there had been a slowdown in the decline of the manufacturing, construction and service sectors, although all three were still deteriorating in size.

Margaret Cheshire, head of people and organisational development at car manufacturer Bentley, added that a few ‘green shoots’ reports should not be enough to convince HR to remove recruitment or training freezes.

“We haven’t yet hit the bottom of the barrel, so HR must remain cautious incase the economy has further to fall,” she told Personnel Today.

Mike Vessey, head of talent for construction firm Laing O’Rourke, admitted he had begun reviewing his recruitment strategy. But, he added: “We’ve had this planned for a few months now -we’re not reacting to anything short-term.”

James Chalmers, head of strategy and talent at accountancy PricewaterhouseCoopers, warned HR to avoid reacting to every bit of news, and to keep a balanced outlook.

“Short-term market swings or weekly economic forecasts should have little impact on decisions in terms of strategic recruitment or training,” he said. “[HR should not] knee-jerk every time a new report comes out.”

Earlier this year, the British Chambers of Commerce found more than one-quarter of employers anticipated staff would be asked to work more hours over the next six months, which the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development said was an indicator for a possible upturn as demand for products and services was increasing.

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