Global upturn to put workers in driving seat

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Businesses across the world face a battle for talent as they look to unlock future growth opportunities through a hiring drive, according to new research from banking group HSBC.

Findings show that stiff competition for talent means companies are having to diversify how they are attracting and retaining staff, as they seek to achieve their high growth ambitions over the next 12 months.

Research from HSBC on the future of work, which polled over 2,100 business leaders from 10 global markets, found that companies expect their workforces to increase by an average of 13% in the next 12 months, with over two in five (42%) businesses planning to increase headcount by 20% or more.

However, companies are facing a battle for talent, with seven in 10 (70%) globally planning to increase headcount, while just 12% of businesses plan reductions to their workforce. Succeeding in the battle for talent will be crucial to driving long-term profitability.

More than three quarters (77%) of businesses see a ‘strong’ relationship between investment in workforce and profitability, as they target almost 19% revenue growth on average over the next 12 months. To take advantage of the growth potential, almost seven in 10 (69%) businesses are already investing in their workforce in some way, through hiring, upskilling, or training, with a further 29% planning to do so in future.

Alan Duffy, CEO at HSBC Ireland, said: “As Ireland opens up and businesses look to fill roles to bring forward projects that have laid dormant due to the pandemic, competition for the most talented workers is getting fierce.”

Businesses are reporting skills shortages and many are struggling to fill positions with fully qualified workers.

“Our research shows that the business leaders that are most ambitious about growing their business are the very same ones that are looking to invest the most in their employees, in training opportunities, flexible working and improving their business’ culture. The best businesses are realising that to attract the best and be the best, they must go above and beyond to satisfy the needs of an ever-more demanding workforce.”

As competition for talent intensifies, the research shows leaders are taking action and reacting to the demands of the workforce beyond financial incentives, placing strong emphasis focused on wellbeing and work-life balance factors when it comes to attracting staff.

Despite salary and benefits still being perceived as the top factor in moving jobs by 46% of business leaders, factors such as flexible working policies (39%) and emphasis on employee physical, mental and financial wellbeing (36%) are set to become just as important for employees.

In response, business leaders are re-imagining the future of the workplace and how they think about empowering their employee base, with the research showing that remote working is here to stay.

Over 67% see remote / hybrid working as crucial to enabling the enhancement of future growth, while just one in 20 businesses believe that they will not see any form of remote working in future.

Flexibility seen as big boost for well-being

Just under four in 10 (39%) business leaders believe offering staff a flexible working arrangement — where employees are able to choose freely where they work from — is a key driver for both attracting and retaining staff, with the potential positive impacts on employee wellbeing noted as the top benefit of a remote or hybrid approach.

As a result, the most popular future workplace option for businesses is a ‘fully flexible’ approach to remote working — where employees can freely determine whether they go into the office / are onsite — with over a third of businesses (34%) planning to implement this policy.

Across the regions, the biggest hiring sprees are expected to come from companies headquartered in India (80% of businesses looking to increase their employee base over the next 12 months), Mexico (80%), and the US (79%).

Those hires are expected to come domestically primarily, although companies are also starting to look further afield for new talent and to grow their presence in other markets. The survey found that US businesses are planning to grow workforces in South America and Europe by one fifth per market, while Indian businesses plan to grow by 25% in North America and 30% in Europe.

Chinese businesses are also expanding beyond domestic market, with headcount in Europe expected to grow by 39%, and 29% in North America. Advertising and communications businesses are targeting the largest growth in their workforces, with nearly nine in ten (87%) planning to hire, and over half (53%) planning headcount increases of 30% or more.

This compares to just 54% of logistics/transportation businesses targeting increases, and 60% in retail. Sustainability is an additional factor for businesses when attracting staff, with over a quarter of businesses (27%) globally noting that is important for the recruitment process.


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