By Chuck Martin
For beleaguered workers, help may finally be on the way.
After several years of trying to do more with less and striving for a better work-life balance, an upcoming increase in the ranks may relieve some of the pressure.
In a global survey, NFI Research found that the majority of businesses foresee an increase in the overall number of employees in their organizations over the next 12 months.
The chief reasons are business increase and expansion, according to the survey of senior executives and managers.
Indeed, of those companies that expect an increase in headcount, 79 percent say it is due to business increase, and almost half attribute it to expansion.
Thirteen percent of business leaders see a decrease in headcount in their organizations, with the top reason being downsizing for more than a third of them.
For those increasing headcount, the reasons least cited by respondents were uncertainty, downsizing, business decrease, outsourcing and consolidation.
The good news for business is that many companies anticipate healthy growth over the next year.
"On the west coast of Canada, the economy is picking up and we are looking at expanding as general business expands," said one survey respondent.
And the projected hiring spurt can’t be soon enough for many who have been doing more than one job for a period of time, due primarily to economic conditions from downsizing several years ago.
"I have come to learn that if I really have to get something done or even guarantee time to think, the office is the last place I want to be," said one manager. "I turn off the BlackBerry and try to be invisible until the job is done."
Though overall headcount is expected to increase, one of the issues to many organizations is where those people will physically work.
"India, Philippines, China, Slovakia and Hungary are the future," said one manager. "Our Western markets may be flat in headcount, but most business-friendly modern lower-pay markets are experiencing dramatic growth."
Said another: "The overall number will remain unchanged, but major shift between continents might occur in our global manufacturing base, with North America down, Asia up and Europe stable."
However, the biggest challenge might be finding the people to add to overall headcount.
"We need to add substantially, but are having difficulty in getting people hired," said one survey respondent. "I can’t find qualified people," said another.
"We are experiencing labor shortage and difficulty to get staff," said yet another respondent. "The employment market is very strange at this time."
If businesses can’t find the needed employees, there may be more pressure to try to get by with current resources.
"We are going to have to try to improve productivity with fewer employees in the coming year, or cut back on some of our programs and services, as income generation remains difficult and overhead remains high," said one manager.
Said another: "Our clients are doing the same as we have been over the past six months: putting systems in place to improve productivity and business efficiency."
That productivity increase will only be a stopgap measure, until the needed new troops arrive.
Chuck Martin is a best-selling business book author, his latest being , Tough Management (McGraw-Hill, 2005), the business fable "Coffee at Luna’s" and the soon-to-be published "Smarts." He lectures around the world and can be reached at email@example.com.