ECONOMY

Employers adopt more cost-effective hiring policies, seeking more versatile senior staff

Most Greek companies will be cagey about new hirings over the next three months, in line with a trend across Europe, labor market experts say. «Most Greek enterprises are showing a disposition toward restricting costs, without this meaning that they are firing staff. On the contrary, they are increasingly focusing on staff selection, seeking flexible individuals who are specialized but are also willing to work in multifaceted jobs with greater requirements. To put it simply, we would say that instead of hiring 10 people for 10 different jobs, they will try to hire just seven,» says Venetia Kousia, managing director of Manpower Hellas, on the occasion of the publication of the results of the global Employment Outlook Survey for the third quarter of 2005. Evidently, there is a desire toward hiring but on a more cost-effective basis, which implies higher requirements for potential senior staff. According to Kousia, the current period is one of «correction» for the Greek senior staff market, as many people who were employed in such capacities for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games are being gradually absorbed by the market, but through a process in which remunerations are balancing out with the average level. «Many Greek enterprises in different sectors are improving organization, becoming more competitive and adding new operations which imply increased added value. There is, of course, a category of firms with bad management which pull others down with them. But reality is somewhere in the middle,» she says. The Manpower survey, in which Greece is not yet a participant, covers 23 countries and sees signs of a slowdown in hirings in 13 of them, compared to the second quarter of the year. Gloom in Germany India and the US have the most optimistic forecasts (the survey was conducted before the Katrina disaster), while Germany is the most pessimistic nation. German employers have reversed their belief in further hirings which was the trend in the previous quarter. The country’s general elections and the uncertainty of its political outcome seem to have contributed to a climate of hesitation among German firms, according to Manpower Inc CEO Jeffrey Joerres. In any case, a further restructuring of the market is judged necessary for the creation of more jobs in Germany. Apart from the signs of a slowdown in hirings in 13 countries, the picture appears better in eight others and stable in five. Employers in seven of 12 European countries expect a seasonal downturn in hirings in the last quarter, while prospects are more dynamic in Ireland, Norway and Spain. In contrast, many employers in Italy and Germany expressed the intention of reducing manpower. In the US, prospects appeared good until Hurricane Katrina struck, with hirings on a stable course throughout the year. In Canada, the construction sector led the positive forecasts. Indian employers appear the most optimistic of peers in the 23 countries, while Japan is stable and China is recording a small downturn.