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Jan 6, 2014

Employer optimism reaches 3-year high

But hiring activity falls short of forecasts: Survey
    
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Canadian business leaders remain optimistic about their prospects for 2014 despite falling short of year-over-year business and hiring activity forecasts, according to a survey by Hays Canada.

There was a 10-point difference between forecasted and real decreases in business activity last year — seven per cent expected a dip in activity, and yet 17 per cent actually experienced one. This translated into fewer people being hired for permanent positions, found Hays. Twelve per cent of businesses expected to decrease permanent headcount in 2013, when in fact 23 per cent did.

Business leaders continue to be bullish about growth. The percentage of leaders forecasting increased business activity is the highest it’s been in three years — 64 per cent predict business activity will increase in 2014, found the survey of more than 2,000 employers.

“It’s worth noting that corporate Canada remains optimistic even when data suggests that a more temperate outlook would be more prudent,” said Rowan O’Grady, president of Hays Canada. “Companies would be better served by producing more accurate assessments of their growth prospects and adjusting their hiring plans accordingly.”

Two-thirds (66 per cent) of companies suffer from moderate to significant skills shortages, found the survey. When asked about potential causes for skills shortages, one-third cited a lack of training and professional development, while 35 per cent said too few people are entering the labour market.

Highlights of the Hays survey

Economy/market optimism:

•41 per cent of employers believe the economy will strengthen in the next six to 12 months, while 53 per cent believe it will remain the same

Hiring:

•39 per cent of employers expect permanent staff to increase in the upcoming year
•12 per cent expect it to decrease
•49 per cent expect it to remain the same

Salaries:

•51 per cent of employers expect to increase salaries by three per cent over the next 12 months
•34 per cent expect to increase salaries by three to six per cent
•four per cent expect to increase salaries by six to 10 per cent

Top five benefits offered by Canadian employers:

1.Extended health benefits
2.Individual performance related bonuses
3.Training and/or certification support
4.More than 10 days vacation for new hires
5.Pension/RRSP contribution/matching

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