9 out of 10 CFOs rediscover hunger to hire

Appointments

Attitudes to recruitment have changed markedly compared to six months ago, Robert Half survey finds.

Promoted by Philip King 3 minute read

CFOs have a hunger to hire with nine out of 10 expecting to recruit in the second half of 2023 including more than a third who plan to expand their team, according to a survey by Robert Half.

The recruiter found a sea change in attitudes with the new financial year, especially among small to medium businesses where 42 per cent aim to add staff now compared to just 30 per cent in January.

At the same time, just 3 per cent of CFOs plan to cut staff compared with 5 per cent at the beginning of 2023, and those with a freeze on team numbers has dropped from 13 per cent to just 8 per cent.

Robert Half director Nicole Gorton said 2023–24 had brought a different mood to recruitment.

“As the new financial year commences, attitudes around hiring decisions have been refreshed for the next six months and beyond,” she said.

“Budget and project approvals have kickstarted the need for companies to strategically hire for new or vacated positions in order to support growth initiatives and strengthen their service offering to stay ahead of their competitors.”

The survey found 53 per cent of CFOs would recruit to replace vacated positions, up from 44 per cent six months ago, while 35 per cent want to increase headcount, up from just 29 per cent in January.

On a regional basis, expansion plans run hottest in Western Australia, at 44 per cent, compared to 41 per cent in Queensland and Victoria and 40 per cent in NSW.

Top factors driving recruitment include company performance, nominated by 35 per cent of CFOs, availability of qualified candidates (24 per cent), economic forecasts (24 per cent) and company growth (22 per cent).

The latest data from the ABS shows unemployment remains at just 3.5 per cent while job mobility sits at a decade-long high of 9.5 per cent.

Ms Gorton said demand for staff had been affected by the prolonged period of economic uncertainty and companies planning to hire were taking a strategic approach.

“With more stakeholder approvals and time needed to get new hires over the line, organisations are ensuring the talent they bring in is the best they can find and who bring serious added value to their bottom line,” she said.

“Companies know that stagnancy is the enemy of growth, so they are working within their limits to tactically hire headcount while sticking to company-set boundaries.

“This is precisely what is shaping today’s hiring landscape, and while hiring to support specific initiatives and projects has seen the need for new talent, it has often resulted in freezing headcount in other areas of the business.

“While companies continue to take a cautious approach to expand their teams, they understand that having cutting-edge technical capabilities on their side to replace vacated roles is essential to staying ahead and starting off the new financial year strong.”

The Robert Half survey was conducted online in June and quizzed 300 hiring managers including 100 CFOs and 100 CIOs.

Philip King

Philip King

AUTHOR

Philip King is editor of Accountants Daily and SMSF Adviser, the leading sources of news, insight, and educational content for professionals in the accounting and SMSF sectors.

Philip joined the titles in March 2022 and brings extensive experience from a variety of roles at The Australian national broadsheet daily, most recently as motoring editor. His background also takes in spells on diverse consumer and trade magazines.

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