Rebuilding the Workforce

A study released by Accenture today revelaed that more than half (54 percent) of large U.S. businesses that reduced staff in the past 12 months plan to rebuild their workforces to pre-recession levels within two years. 

"The outlook is improving," said David Smith, managing director of the Accenture Talent & Organization Performance practice. "But as companies grow their staff, it is more critical than ever that they understand their skills needs and approach the expansion of their workforces strategically." Among all U.S. companies surveyed, only 13 percent of executives said that they plan to reduce their employee base over the next 12 months.

The survey confirms that companies are shifting their focus away from cost control and returning to growth. The percentage of U.S. companies focused primarily on cost control will decrease from 41 percent in mid-2009 to 18 percent in 2011, according to the study. And the percentage of U.S. companies focused primarily on investment in growth-oriented activities, such as hiring, will increase from 24 percent today to 37 percent within the next 12 months.

As companies focus on growth however, a shortage of high-quality skills may be cause for concern as only 15 percent of U.S. executives surveyed described the overall skill level of their workforces as industry-leading.

"A lack of relevant skills may present a hurdle for companies as they position themselves for growth," said Smith. "Companies need to rethink how they equip employees with the skills required to be competitive today. They must also consider new strategies for hiring and developing untapped talent currently available in the market."