PAYE umbrella contractors may have been amongst the many who were perturbed by the recent Office for National Statistics announcement, which revealed that the UK’s economy shrank by 0.5 per cent in the final quarter of 2010. It had been widely assumed that the economy had grown before the figures were released.

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) responded to the news with a reminder that its own recent surveys of business intentions during 2011 remained unchanged – more firms were planning to expand their workforces over the next twelve months, with a significant proportion planning to take on extra temporary staff, amongst whom will be contractors from umbrella companies.

Encouragingly, a new report has confirmed these trends. XpertHR’s latest annual “Roles and responsibilities” survey has found that private sector companies consider hiring more staff and improving recruitment processes to be their top priorities for 2011. By contracts, the emphasis amongst public sector managers has shifted, unsurprisingly, to “change management” and cost savings. In a nutshell, this is code for restructuring and redundancies.

The study also suggests that private firms will be concentrating on boosting workforce morale and engagement in the wake of job losses.  XpertHR’s Employment Relations Editor, Noelle Murphy, noted that the ordinary differences in priorities between the two sectors had become “polar opposites” this year. Public sector HR managers are preoccupied with cost saving, change management and tendencies, whilst the private sector is focussing on organisational and leadership development.

The latest study – the ninth in XpertHR’s annual Roles and Responsibilities surveys – was based on responses from 380 HR professionals during November last year.

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