Employers and employees working together to fight recession, CBI says

William Mitting
Friday, June 26, 2009

Companies and employees are working together to mitigate the financial crisis like never before, the CBI has said.

A poll by Harvey Nash, commissioned by the business body, found that almost two thirds of employers have made or are considering making significant changes to the structure of their workforce or working patterns.

Initiatives implemented by some of the 704 polled included flexible working and freezing pay and recruitment, which CBI deputy director-general John Cridland said showed a "spirit of flexibility and the willingness of many staff to engage positively with employers on these issues".

Nearly two thirds of employers have frozen recruitment either across the whole organisation or part of it, with 53% thinking that it will take two years or more for recruitment to return to 2007 levels.

Meanwhile, 45% have increased flexible working to reduce hours and 55% said they don't plan on increasing wages at the next pay round.

The findings correlate with the current trend in the print industry as many companies cut wages and staff hours to alleviate pressures on cashflow.

A report by Unite out this week said many chapel reps have reported that members have voted not to press for a pay increase at this time.

Chapel officers have also reported that they will be looking "to secure some form of pay increase if and when the economy picks up", the report added.

However, some chapels have reported securing pay increases of up to 2.5% "with no strings", Unite said.

Despite the working hours cuts, the CBI survey also found that "many" employees are standing by their staff training.

Commenting on the findings, Chris Walton, chief operations officer at transpromo printer DST Output, said training was "key and fundamental to getting through the recession".

"Staff are nervous at times like this and it sends out the wrong signals if they see cuts made in training," he said.

"We are extending our training programmes, including giving more training to managers to enable them to manage through the recession."

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