Market update, Robert Half post recession challenges

Written by
Changeboard Team

Published
15 Feb 2010

15 Feb 2010 • by Changeboard Team

Companies more robust after recession

One of the outcomes of the recession is that organisations have had to make some hard decisions, especially when it comes to staff cutbacks. However, despite this, a total of 75% of executives that attended the recent Robert Half executive roundtable series felt that their businesses would be stronger once the recession came to an end.

The recession provided an opportunity for companies to restructure and reorganise their teams, leading to leaner structures and more efficient processes, which will continue to fuel this optimism.

On top of this, the recent Robert Half report Looking ahead: UK CFOs recovery priorities revealed that more than half of the finance leaders questioned saw that the need to get costs back under control was a positive and constructive effect of the economic downturn.

Retaining staff a key Challenge of the upturn

The report went on to highlight how organisations would likely exhibit a high degree of caution when recruiting, in response to the economic upturn. When asked what they anticipated to be the biggest Challenge facing their businesses when the economy recovers, retaining key staff came out on top, with managing internal expectations coming a close second. 

Other major post-recession Challenges related to making strategic hires within departments most affected by business growth. In the most efficient strategies, this should be complemented by temporary and/or interim staff as required. This approach provides organisations with additional flexibility, reducing the risk of further painful downsizing of permanent hires if the economic recovery wavers.

Gearing up for growth - finance is the place to be

Our research into the views of UK finance leaders also indicated the sectors likely to be at the forefront of an economic upturn, as well as where the time needed to establish appropriate staffing levels will be shorter.

Financial and business services sectors are predicted to expect a quick recovery, while retail and construction sectors lag behind. Although certain sectors will therefore have more time to formulate recruitment strategies, the risk of key employees moving to those sectors that are growing at a faster pace continues to increase.

Further insight revealed the types of finance professionals likely to be in strong demand as organisations gear up for growth. Among small and mid-size firms, the emphasis is firmly on day-to-day accounting skills, plus accounting operations responsibilities such as payroll and credit control. These roles are also a consideration for larger organisations, but here more importance was placed on commercial finance areas, such as budgeting and forecasting.

Skills and attributes most in demand today

Post-recession, technical expertise, teamed with good communication and interpersonal skills remain an attractive mix for hiring managers. Some of the other main skills and attributes currently in demand include:

Commercial outlook: finance professionals who can understand the bigger picture around the numbers, and who have the ability to present this to both an internal and external audience

Initiative: the ability to anticipate finance-related issues before they happen, as well as identify inefficiencies within a business and recommendations that will improve these

Sector experience: previous experience in an industry, or the ability to apply knowledge from a different sector are highly valued, as they enable the candidate to make an immediate contribution

Looking for flexible, forward thinking candidates

Overall, companies that have made tough staffing decisions during the recession seem to be emerging stronger and leaner. 

Retaining key talent and making strategic hires are the biggest Challenges for businesses in this post-recession environment and they are looking for a certain mindset as well as skill-set in these new hires. 

It is this flexibility and initiative that is setting candidates apart as businesses look ahead to hiring staff who can foresee and handle challenging issues before they develop.