Many HR Types a Gloomy Gus Amid Layoff Trends

February 4, 2009 ( - There is great gloom these days among the people whose job it often is to implement organizational staff reductions, according to a new survey.

A Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) news release about its poll of HR professionals said n early 75% expect deep job cuts to continue throughout the first quarter of 2009, and 73% are pessimistic about overall U.S. job growth.

“This report debuts at a time when many organizations are asking themselves if they will be in business through tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year,” said SHRM President and CEO Laurence G. O’Neil, in the news release. “When difficult decisions like layoffs must be implemented, how exiting employees are treated has a direct impact on those left behind, and on the employer’s ability to attract and retain talent later on. More than any other time in recent history, organizations need smart and sophisticated people policies.”

Among the companies that will cut positions in the first quarter, more than half (56%) of the respondents said those jobs will be managerial and professional positions. Another 43% said they will lay off hourly service workers, and 12% plan to cut senior executives as part of their downsizing.

According to SHRM, the survey also found:

  • Three out of four respondents will either keep their payrolls flat (55%) or conduct layoffs (21%) in the first quarter.
  • Slightly more than a third (34%) of large companies with 500 or more employees will make cuts during the first quarter.
  • More than half (54%) of the respondents said they are somewhat pessimistic about job growth and anticipate more job losses, while 19% are very pessimistic.
  • Only 11% are somewhat optimistic that the first quarter will experience an increase in job growth.

Regionally, the Northeast, with its high concentration of financial sector jobs, is the most pessimistic, with 82 % of HR managers based there expressing pessimism ranging from somewhat to very pessimistic. Meanwhile, HR professionals in the West report the lowest levels of pessimism (66%), followed by the Southeast (69%), and the Midwest (75%).

Although the outlook is bleak, not everyone is planning to eliminate jobs. Twenty-three percent of the HR respondents plan to hire in the first quarter of 2009, SHRM said.

The survey examined hiring and recruiting trends with more than 463 HR professionals managing company staffing issues from a broad range of public and private entities.

More information is here .