New Report: Employees' Stress Levels Rising Globally; Majority of Firms Taking Action to Lessen Economy's Repercussions on Staff



    TORONTO, April 30 /CNW/ - Difficult economic conditions have had a
substantial impact on accounting and finance departments around the globe,
according to a new survey of finance and human resources managers. Respondents
reported that economic conditions have contributed to heavier workloads,
higher stress levels and lower morale. The study also found that firms are
adapting their management strategies to maintain productivity and alleviate
the burden on their employees.
    The global survey was developed by Robert Half International for the
company's third annual Robert Half Global Financial Employment Monitor and
conducted by an independent research firm. The study is based on a survey of
more than 4,800 hiring managers in finance and human resources across 21
countries about hiring difficulties, retention concerns and other
staffing-related issues. This year, the report also examined the effects of
the global economic downturn on financial teams around the world.

    Employers Addressing Economy's Impact on Workers

    In the report, 39 per cent of Canadian respondents, compared to 40 per
cent globally, stated that their finance and accounting departments had been
affected by the downturn. Among that group, 38 per cent of Canadian
respondents have a hiring freeze in place, 42 per cent have consolidated roles
and 50 per cent have experienced layoffs. Executives from Hong Kong and France
(60 per cent in each country), and Brazil (56 per cent) reported the highest
levels of personnel change.
    Asked how current economic conditions have affected their individual
employees, four out of 10 (42 per cent) Canadian respondents cited increased
stress, compared to 39 per cent globally. Managers surveyed from Australia and
Ireland, along with those from the United States, reported the highest levels
of stress among their financial teams (48 per cent). The next most commonly
cited effects, both globally and in Canada, were heavier workloads and
decreased morale. Less than one-third of all respondents both in Canada and
around the world (29 per cent) said their accounting and finance teams have
remained unaffected.
    In response to the economic downturn and its impact on their employees,
the majority of managers surveyed (69 per cent in Canada and 70 per cent
globally) said they have taken some form of action to better support their
teams. The most common measures employers worldwide are taking include
redistributing workloads, increasing communication with staff and postponing
projects. Increased communication was a particularly notable trend among firms
in Ireland and Singapore, where nearly half (46 per cent) of managers surveyed
from each country cited this as a best practice.
    "Companies are having to do more work with fewer resources, a trend that
if not addressed, may produce negative effects in the long run," said Kathryn
Bolt, president of the Canadian operations of Robert Half International. "By
reprioritizing and redistributing projects to keep team members focused on the
most critical initiatives, managers can ensure key initiatives remain on track
while helping their teams avoid becoming overburdened."

    Recruiting and Retention Concerns Persist

    Despite slowing economic conditions, most managers (56 per cent)
worldwide said they were still having difficulty finding skilled job
candidates for accounting and finance positions, the same percentage as in
last year's survey. Recruiting challenges persist in Canada, where nearly half
(47 per cent) of respondents reported difficulty locating good people.
Countries having the hardest time finding skilled workers are Hong Kong (87
per cent), Brazil (79 per cent) and Japan (73 per cent).
    Even in countries where recruiting is easier, retention worries remain.
In Canada, 51 per cent of respondents reported concerns about losing key staff
to other job opportunities in the next year, compared to the global average of
53 per cent. In New Zealand, less than half of the managers surveyed (44 per
cent) reported difficulty finding skilled job candidates, but two-thirds (67
per cent) expressed concern about losing their top performers in the next
year. Significant levels of concern over potential staff turnover also were
cited by managers in Hong Kong (89 per cent), Spain (87 per cent) and
Singapore (82 per cent).
    Bolt added, "Retaining top performers remains an ongoing priority, even
in an economic downturn. Companies need to hold on to their top accounting and
finance employees to maintain productivity and performance levels as well as
to identify cost-saving strategies and efficiencies."

    About the Survey

    The international study was developed by Robert Half International, the
world's first and largest staffing services firm, for its third annual Global
Financial Employment Monitor and conducted by an independent research firm.
The report examines current financial employment trends around the world and
the impact of the economy on accounting and finance departments.
    The survey includes responses from more than 4,800 human resources and
finance managers in 21 countries across Asia, Australia, Europe, North America
and South America. The overall margin of error is +/- 1.3 percent, and the
results are within 95 percent certainty. Comprehensive survey findings are
available at www.roberthalf.com/PressRoom.

    About Robert Half International

    Founded in 1948, Robert Half International is the world's first and
largest specialized staffing firm and is traded on the New York Stock
Exchange. Its financial staffing divisions include Accountemps, Robert Half
Finance & Accounting and Robert Half Management Resources, for temporary,
full-time and senior-level project professionals, respectively. The company
has more than 360 staffing locations worldwide and offers online job search
services on its divisional websites, all of which can be accessed at
www.rhi.com.





For further information:

For further information: Kristie Perrotte, (416) 350-2330,
kristie.perrotte@rhi.com

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Robert Half International (Canada)

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