The Recruitment and Employment Confederation’s (REC) measure of employer confidence remained flat for the third month in a row as yet more bosses indicated they plan to make no changes to their workforce numbers over the short and medium terms.

Commenting on this month’s JobsOutlook report, the REC’s Director of Research Roger Tweedy says:

“As always it is about how you interpret the figures. On the downside, we know employer confidence has been fragile all year and there’s little evidence yet of that picking up significantly. On the other hand we know that many employers are poised to hire when confidence returns and there are signs that the outlook for temporary staffing could be improving. This month we’re looking at a period of stability rather than cuts in worker numbers, which is still in line with predictions of a slow, stop-start recovery.”

This month’s JobsOutlook survey of employers reports the following, (last month’s figures are shown in brackets):

  • 40 percent (33 percent) said they plan to keep their number of permanent employers the same over the next three months, with 49 percent (38 percent) saying they will make no change over the following four to 12-month period
  • 55 percent said they planned to increase the number of permanent employees over the next three months (compared to 62 percent last month), with 49 percent expecting to increase permanent hires over the next four to 12 months (down from 58 percent last month)
  • 61 percent (53 percent) plan to freeze the number of temporary agency workers at their organisation in the next 3 months, with 66 percent (56 percent) saying they plan no further changes over the next four to 12 months
  • 26 percent plan to increase agency worker numbers in the next quarter (down from 31 last month) with 13 percent saying they intend to decrease their use of agency workers (compared to 16 percent last month)
  • 22 percent say they will increase agency workers over the next four to 12-month period (compared to 29 percent last month) with 12 percent saying they will decrease their use of agency workers (down from 15 percent last month)

JobsOutlook reports the responses of 600 employers questioned about their hiring intentions over the next quarter and the four to 12 months beyond that. Respondents are drawn from across the public, private and non-profit sector, and from across a range of industries and sizes of organisation.

A topical question on flexible working posed to 200 employers this month found that one in five were now “more open” to flexible work practices than before the recession, with one in six saying they would be making more use of flexible working in the coming year.

Roger Tweedy added:

“Although the majority of employees predicted no change in their use of flexible work practices there is an indication that the recession has prompted a certain number of companies to rethink traditional work patterns and explore more flexible options.”