An Upbeat Finance Poll?

Each week, it seems, I see a new poll that charts the glum outlook of corporate executives and their fears about a double-dip recession and, not so long ago, a depression. So you can imagine my surprise when one arrived that had glimmers of hope sprinkled throughout it.

Each week, it seems, I see a new poll that charts the glum outlook of corporate executives and their fears about a double-dip recession and, not so long ago, a depression. So you can imagine my surprise when one arrived that had glimmers of hope sprinkled throughout it.

The poll, conducted by the Business Performance Innovation Network and corporate performance management software/service provider Adaptive Planning, found that more than a quarter of 180-plus finance executives surveyed plan to hire more staff in the next six months. Respondents were from an array of industries that ranged in size from under $10 million to more than $1 billion in revenue. With the U.S. unemployment currently at 8.3%, this optimistic outlook is just in time.

Now, lest you think that executives have donned rose-colored glasses, not to worry. Nearly 40% of respondents clearly state that they feel conditions in their industry are worse now than they were more than six months ago. They blame unemployment, congressional gridlock in Washington, and the European debt crisis. A majority don't expect to see sustained jobs growth in the overall U.S. economy until later next year or even 2013.

So why hire? Business has a strong mantra that you use down-times to innovate. How can you innovate if your employees are stretched too thin doing the jobs of multiple people? Answer: You simply can't.

Bringing onboard new workers with new ideas is bound to help get a jump for the respondents' anticipated turnaround of second half of 2012 or 2013. Granted, if you take this approach, hiring won't be your only expense. Open the floodgates to new thoughts and strategies and you'll have to loosen the corporate purse strings to implement them. Otherwise, folks will immediately become frustrated and leave.

How will you accomplish this when budgets presumably are still extremely tight? One bit of advice is to toss out the job list you had when this downturn began. More than likely, technology has advanced in many areas so as to make those jobs unnecessary or obsolete. For instance, over the past few years in the data center, servers and storage have become consolidated and virtualized. Though you might have frozen hiring just when you were going to add folks to manage these sprawling systems, newer technology could well have alleviated that problem. Instead, you'll probably need folks to focus on other data center issues such as managing cloud services and system integration.

Call centers, another area that might have been on you list for expansion, have experienced a spike in automation in recent years as have many business process-oriented areas such as procurement.

If you, like some of those polled, are ready to host job fairs and get folks back to work, do your homework upfront. Review functions across the enterprise and make sure that your "careers" list will support opportunities for innovation.

Related:

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

Download CIO's Winter 2021 digital issue: Supercharging IT innovation