Hiring outlook remains negative despite improvement

More employers expect to shed staff than recruit, according to Manpower Group survey

More Irish employers plan to reduce their staff numbers than take on people, according to data from global staffing consultants Manpower Group.

The outlook towards hiring new staff in the State remains negative, although it has rebounded from lows reached earlier this year as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, Manpower Group’s employment outlook survey has found.

The survey shows an overall net employment outlook of -2 per cent for the coming quarter. The figure is calculated by subtracting employers who plan to reduce staffing levels from those who plan to hire. In effect, the figure shows more employers plan to reduce staff numbers than increase them.

Nevertheless, some positivity can be gleaned from the headline figure in that it has increased by nine percentage points compared to the last survey at the beginning of the the third quarter of this year.


And though the headline picture is negative, some sectors were exceptionally optimistic. The Republic’s pharmaceutical industry, for example, had a net employment outlook of 11 per cent for the coming quarter.

Meanwhile, the construction sector had a net employment outlook of 6 per cent.

Those sectors viewed as being worst hit by the Covid-19 pandemic were still pessimistic about hiring new staff. The restaurant and hotel sector had a net employment outlook of -11 per cent, and the manufacturing sector had a net employment outlook of -12 per cent. While the outlook in the hospitality sector has improved compared to the last survey, in the manufacturing industry it has worsened.

"The data indicates positivity towards the economic recovery in Ireland, improving on the third quarter outlook, with the largest quarterly increase in hiring confidence in over five years," said Manpower Ireland managing director John Galvin.

“The fact that 55 per cent of employers believe pre-Covid hiring levels will resume within a year, and 24 per cent report that they plan to return within just three months, illustrates the renewed optimism spreading through the business community,” he added.

The data shows there was a disconnect between the views of larger-sized companies and small and medium businesses. Large companies reported a net employment outlook of 13 per cent, compared to -9 per cent for small businesses (those with between 10 and 49 staff).

Manpower also specifically asked companies in this survey about the change in attitudes to remote working. It found 55 per cent of employers will offer staff the option to work remotely some of the time, while 22 per cent said they would retain the option to work remotely 100 per cent of the time.

Manpower Group’s survey is based on responses from 415 employers in the Republic.

Peter Hamilton

Peter Hamilton

Peter Hamilton is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in business