Despite recent reports of planned layoffs and\n\nplant closings, the majority of businesses across the country see an\n\nincrease in the number of employees in their organization in the next\n\n12 months. However, significantly more smaller than larger companies\n\nare expecting that growth. \n\nIn the third annual nationwide survey of planned employment conducted\n\nby NFI Research, 55 percent of senior executives and managers expect\n\nthe number of employees in their organizations to increase. While 29\n\npercent expect their employee count to stay the same, only 15 percent\n\nproject a reduction.\n\nThis is the most optimistic of the three years, with 42 percent\n\nof executives and managers in 2003 projecting an employee increase, and\n\n43 percent at the end of last year. However, only 37 percent of large\n\ncompanies see an increase in the overall number of employees compared\n\nto 64 percent of small businesses. \n\nWhen it comes to decreasing headcount, more than a quarter of large\n\ncompanies see a decrease, compared to less than a tenth of small\n\ncompanies. \n\nThe top reasons cited in the survey for the coming employment changes\n\nwere business increase, expansion and business efficiency. Current\n\neconomic conditions were cited as a cause by fewer than a fourth of\n\nrespondents.\n\n\n\n\n\nSeveral respondents also cited geographic issues as factors influencing headcount within their organization. \n\n\n\n\u201cWe are expecting a moderate increase in\n\nstaffing due to continued expansion outside the U.S.,\u201d said one survey\n\nrespondent. \u201cStaffing in the U.S. will remain flat for our organization\n\nas we add resources at our facilities outside the U.S.\u201d\n\nSaid another respondent: \u201cWe continue to see jobs becoming\n\navailable throughout our region that require recruiting from out of the\n\nregion as the labor pool is not expanding as rapidly as job\n\nopportunity. In addition, funds for training programs at area state\n\ncolleges are in short supply, making training and retraining in a\n\nnumber of technical job areas difficult.\u201d\n\nAs businesses become more streamlined due to running tighter\n\noperations over the past few years, each person could, in effect,\n\nbecome more \u201cproductive.\u201d\n\n\u201cWe have been growing our employee base for a number of years\n\nand expanding at the same rate as the market growth,\u201d said one\n\nrespondent. \u201cHowever, I believe this next year there will be some\n\ntrimming of headcount based upon consolidation of job responsibilities,\n\nbetter efficiency of workers and systems and tightening market\n\nconditions.\u201d\n\nWith the projected increase in the need for talent in the next\n\nyear, there may be more musical chairs as smaller organizations, which\n\nneed more employees to handle growth, recruit from larger\n\norganizations, which are not expecting as much business increase, based\n\non the NFI Research survey.\n\n\u201cWe\u2019ve been blessed with a relatively low\n\nlevel of competition for knowledge workers over the past three to four\n\nyears,\u201d said one survey respondent. \u201cThat is rapidly changing. I expect\n\nthe job market to become increasingly competitive over the next 12 to\n\n24 months as companies staff up and compete for scarce talent.\u201d\n\nIt just might be time for some of those in large companies to\n\npolish that resume. The small and medium companies soon may be on the\n\nprowl inside the big corporate walls.