A survey of SMEs in a variety of sectors has revealed that 52pc see the employment outlook as positive for 2011, with 43pc planning to recruit in the next six to 12 months.
The research, carried out by One4all Smart Planner among 220 HR managers and employers nationwide, showed that for 35pc of respondents the recruitment outlook remained negative while 12pc think it will be hard to attract staff due to salary restrictions.
Nearly three-quarters (71pc) of companies surveyed have implemented a pay freeze within the past three years. In most cases, though, the pay freeze took place during 2009 or 2008 and only 4.1pc of companies surveyed have implemented a freeze so far in 2011.
Interestingly, more than half of the companies surveyed have not introduced pay cuts within the last three years. Where pay cuts did occur, most were not brought in until 2010. Only 2.6pc of those surveyed have introduced pay cuts this year.
“We deal directly with HR managers on a daily basis and the overriding challenge facing businesses of all sizes is motivating staff to work long hours and take on extra workloads for less reward. Our research highlights this sentiment and the need for employers to drill deeper to find innovative, cost-effective solutions,” said Michael Dawson, group CEO at the Gift Voucher Shop, which runs the One4all Smart Planner Scheme.
When asked if their employees are working longer hours as a result of the economic climate, the respondents were evenly split at 50pc. According to the survey, illness remains the main contributing factor to absenteeism in the workplace (46.8pc) followed by stress (25.9pc) and low staff morale (12pc).