Businesses across the globe are now looking to hire new staff, in one of the first signs that global economic recovery and growth is on a sustainable upward trajectory. This is the key finding of the bi-annual Regus Business Tracker survey that interviews more than 10,000 businesses around the world. The fact that companies are looking to hire additional staff will be regarded as a significant indicator that the mindset of organizations has shifted towards investment in growth through human capital. Regus, a global provider of flexible workplace solutions, found that more than a third of companies (36 percent net(1)) surveyed said they intend to increase headcount. Canadian business outperformed the global average with two fifths (41 percent net) of companies preparing to add new staff in 2011.

These findings are particularly significant, coming in the wake of recent observations from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and International Labour Organization (ILO) that global unemployment has reached record proportions in the last three years (up to 210 million since 2007). These organizations have warned about potential problems for national economies if this trend continues. Unemployment reduces national taxation income and increases public spending. The findings of the Regus Business Tracker provide important evidence that the world unemployment situation may be set to ease in 2011.

The survey canvassed the opinions of more than 10,000 senior business people in 78 countries asking them about their current revenue performance, their profitability, their projected future revenues and their wider expectations of national economic growth. These indicators form the basis for the report’s Business Optimism Index, which unusually reflects actual performance as well as near-term outlook. Globally, this edition of the index revealed a far more positive outlook, with a greater proportion of optimist countries than six months ago. For Canada in particular, the global index revealed a more subdued rating of 99, down nine points on six months ago.

Wes Lenci, Regus regional vice president for Canada, comments: “The intention to increase headcount is a clear indicator that businesses want to be prepared to grasp the opportunities that recovering markets may throw their way. For Canada in particular, where employment increased by 36,000 in August and 8.1 percent more people entered the labor force, unemployment nevertheless edged up 0.1 percentage points. This finding tentatively confirms that employment prospects in Canada are set to improve.(2)”

“In spite of this optimism, our research also highlights that 41 percent of companies are still looking to reduce their overhead, through means other than reducing staff. This reveals an attitude of cautious optimism. As companies look to find economies in their own operations, we are likely to see more and more organizations offering flexible working practices to their existing or prospective employees in a bid to achieve a better work-life balance and run a leaner organization.”