By Claire West

Businesses across the globe are now looking to hire new staff, in one of the first signs that global economic recovery and growth is on a sustainable upward trajectory. This is the key finding of the bi-annual Regus Business Tracker survey that interviews over 10,000 businesses around the world. Over a third of companies (36% net) surveyed said they intend to increase headcount. UK business was close to the global average with over a third (34% net) of companies electing to add new staff in 2011

The fact that companies are looking to hire additional staff will be regarded as a significant indicator that the mindset of organizations has shifted towards investment in growth through human capital. These findings are particularly significant, coming in the wake of recent IMF and ILO observations that global unemployment has reached record proportions in the last three years (up to 210 million since 2007).

The survey canvassed the opinions of over 10,000 senior business people in 78 countries asking them about their current revenue performance, their profitability, their projected future revenues and their wider expectations of national economic growth. These indicators form the basis for the report’s Business Optimism Index, which unusually reflects actual performance as well as near-term outlook. Globally, this edition of the index revealed a far more positive outlook, with a greater proportion of optimist countries than six months ago. For the UK in particular, the global index revealed a bullish rating of 100, up 19 points on six months ago.

However, the research also highlights that 41% of companies are still looking to reduce their overheads, through other means than reducing staff. This reveals a global attitude of cautious optimism.

Mark Dixon, Chief Executive of workspace solutions provider Regus, comments: “The intention to increase headcount is a clear indicator that businesses want to be prepared to grasp the opportunities that recovering markets may throw their way. The UK in particular, where unemployment which is not expected to drop noticeably in the coming 24 months is currently at 8% and fiscal accounts have deteriorated significantly, should take this result as a very positive sign of optimism.