Survey shows companies are gearing up for recovery with targetted recruitment and lifting pay freezes

The number of firms operating a recruitment freeze has fallen dramatically according to a survey by the CBI and recruitment specialist Harvey Nash.

Figures reveal the number of businesses who had put recruitment on hold has fallen from a peak of 61% in spring 2009 to 7% this autumn, with these concentrated in the public sector and construction.

According to the survey, firms are taking a cautious approach to hiring with 23% planning targeted recruitment in areas including management, technical and sales, while a fifth plan to add staff in some parts of the business and reduce numbers elsewhere.

Pay freezes have also thawed, falling from a peak of 55% of employers last spring to 14%. But pay restraint remains the norm as firms try to control costs.

John Cridland, CBI deputy director-general, said: “During the recession, private sector employees adopted a can-do attitude, accepting that measures such as pay and recruitment freezes were the alternative to companies going under, and further job losses. Sustaining that spirit of co-operation will be more challenging now the immediate threat appears to have passed”.

He added that firms are cautious about recruitment and pay but said: “they know they can’t afford to take staff for granted, and must redouble efforts to keep employees on board as they gear up for growth”.