HR Pros See More Hiring, Education In 2004

An annual survey of human-resource executives paints a picture of an improving job market but a not-necessarily-stable workplace climate. DBM, a human-resources consulting firm and part of The Thomson Corp., recently released the results of its Workforce Predictions Survey for 2004. "The good news is that the job market is finally opening up in response to improving economic conditions," says Tom Silveri, president, DBM. "Job seekers will still need to deal with a competitive job market since increased hiring will most likely prove a slow and steady process." The survey of U.S. human resource professionals was conducted from December 2003 through January 2004. The trends it reveals:

  1. More hiring: 51% plan to moderately to greatly boost hiring activity in 2004 -- a 35% increase from last year's survey.
  2. Consistent organizational change: Although those polled saw a decrease in the number of layoffs at their companies in 2003 (nearly 60% experienced a layoff compared with 71% in 2002), organizational changes are still planned for 2004. Fifty-two percent (the same percentage as last year) noted their companies were planning an organizational shake-up of some sort this year. "As the economy improves, companies will continue to re-evaluate and reorganize their workforces to ensure alignment with the changing business climate," says Silveri.
  3. Investments in leadership development: Although conservative spending will continue in 2004, organizations recognize the need for professional development programs for retained employees. In fact, 67% of HR professionals surveyed expect their companies to moderately to aggressively invest in leadership development programs this year.
Additional workforce predictions for 2004: Continuation and possible increase in "offshoring" of white-collar jobs to Asian markets in an effort to meet budget constraints; an exodus of employees to new job opportunities in an improving job market; an emphasis on succession planning as the growing aging worker population considers retirement and consulting opportunities; a concentration of hiring in potentially "hot" industries such as health care, pharmaceuticals, finance and professional services.
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