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Workforce Staffing Could Hit Pre-Recession Levels in Two Years at Many Large U.S. Firms

July 19, 2010
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Just over half of large, recently downsized U.S. companies plan to boost staffing and reach pre-recession levels by 2012, according to an Accenture survey released Monday, July 19.

The New York-based global management consulting firm’s annual Accenture High Performance Workforce Study also found that among U.S. companies surveyed, only 13 percent of executives said that they plan to reduce their employee base over the next 12 months.

The percentage of U.S. companies focused primarily on investment in growth-oriented activities, such as hiring, will rise from 24 percent today to 37 percent within the next 12 months, according to the survey, which was conducted by GfK NOP Ltd. from January to May. At the same time, significantly fewer U.S. companies will be focused on controlling costs: 18 percent in 2011, compared with 41 percent in mid-2009, according to the study.

Yet the planned growth won’t come easily. As in past booms, highly skilled workers will be at a premium.

“A lack of relevant skills may present a hurdle for companies as they position themselves for growth,” said David Smith, the survey’s managing director. “Companies need to rethink how they equip employees with the skills required to be competitive today.”

The survey included 117 senior executives at U.S. firms with revenue of more than $250 million. Overall, it involved 674 executives worldwide.

The survey also touched on a number of other workforce issues. Surveyed executives identified sales and customer service as the employee groups most important to their business. Yet those departments offer challenges, they added.

Among those executives who rated sales or customer service as one of their organization’s most important work groups, only 23 percent said their sales forces perform at a high level and only 34 percent said the same about their customer service workers.

—Rick Bell

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