Unemployment or hiring: CFOs predict both

Even though just over half of chief financial officers surveyed by Baruch College and Financial Executives International expect their companies to hire in the next six months, they also expect the unemployment rate to to stay above or at nine percent at least until October 2011. Those that are adding staff expect a four percent increase in hiring.

With so many companies having drastic cutbacks, the CFOs are worried about retaining top talent -- not an unreasonable concern given a multitude of surveys about employee stress due to overwork and job insecurity. Training and development appear to be the tools for retaining that talent, just slightly preferred over compensation incentives. Others want to improve office atmosphere and team building, while providing increased career opportunities. This is a real sales job, given what companies have gone through.

Most CFOs support raising the traditional retirement age by about three years, perhaps because many of them expect to work beyond 65  due to need or desire. Two-thirds of the 250 say their companies do not have a formalized succession plan in place, according to the survey of 250 CFOs in privately-held and publicly-traded companies.

Nothing like a good confused CFO to install confidence. Let's hope their hiring goals are enough on the money to make a difference in the unemployment rate. 

That's what Baruch's business school dean has to say as well: “The increase in CFOs’ confidence in October is promising news, especially compared with the alarming dip the index experienced in the second quarter,” said John Elliott, dean of Baruch's Zicklin School of Business. “Though they remain bearish on the national unemployment situation for the long-term, more than half of the CFOs indicate plans to hire in the next six months.  Hopefully these plans will turn into action that will affect U.S. unemployment rates favorably.