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HR Trends Revealed By PwC

Consumer confidence is see-sawing but Irish HR directors are expressing significant confidence in the economy and their own businesses, according to a survey published by PwC.

The HR director survey, conducted in May, shows that 48% of respondents plan to increase the workforce (up from 37% last year), while 78% say that they are positive about the outlook for the Irish economy over the coming year – a big increase in optimism over the 27% that expressed optimism in 2013.

Around 72% of HR directors say that their businesses' prospects are now favourable, but skills shortages are still a problem, affecting 78% of those surveyed. Sourcing skilled labour from abroad is cited as a challenge by 44% of HR directors, with 46% of them identifying income tax levels as the main inhibiting factor for overseas workers, followed by the cost of living here (31%).

Despite their positivity, one fifth (21%) of HR directors questioned by PwC say that they plan to decrease their workforce, while 42% report that the lack of data analytics capability is the top barrier for the HR function to add value to the business. The most prevalent type of skills shortage is in IT (36%).

Other findings in the PwC report show that social media is becoming increasingly popular when recruiting staff for senior positions, and is now used in 13% of recruitment cases (up from 5% in 2013). The top criteria for appointing board directors, meanwhile, are technical expertise (60%), industry knowledge (39%) and financial acumen (30%).

The single key HR priority over the next 18 months, according to the survey, is managing employee engagement (46%). This is followed by creating a high-performance culture (44%) and transforming the existing HR function (31%).

Commenting on the survey's findings, Gerard McDonough, director, PwC, says: “The mood of HR leaders has shifted from survival to growth. HR Directors have steered their HR functions through the toughest of years. The most successful organisations will be those who have the right people and who learn quickly how to harness the opportunities and minimise the risks.” (July 2014)

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