A majority (89 per cent) of organizations are experiencing difficulty finding skilled professionals, according to a survey by Robert Half Canada.

The survey, which polled more than 1,000 employers, found more than half (54 per cent) said they plan to add new permanent positions in the first six months of the year, while another 40 per cent said they anticipate hiring for vacant positions. Among respondents that plan to expand hiring, six in 10 (61 per cent) cited company growth as the primary factor influencing their hiring decisions for the first half of 2024, followed by a lack of requisite skills among current employees (50 per cent).

Read: 42% of Canadian employers expecting obstacles in recruiting, retaining skilled workers: report

Half of employers said capitalizing on top talent laid off from other companies and employee turnover (48 per cent each) factored into their hiring plans. In addition, more than three-quarters (77 per cent) of employers that postponed projects in 2023 said they plan to move forward with projects that were previously put on hold.

However, nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) of employers said it takes longer to hire for open roles compared to a year ago and roughly half said they’re anticipating challenges in finding applicants with the required skills (53 per cent), hiring quickly enough to land the best talent (49 per cent) and meeting candidates’ salary expectations (48 per cent).

When asked about their top concerns for the first half of 2024, nearly all (90 per cent) respondents cited concerns with retaining top talent and 87 per cent said they worry about keeping teams motivated and engaged.

“The first quarter of the year often brings with it newly approved projects and budgets,” said David King, senior managing director for Robert Half Canada and South America, in a press release. “Combined with company growth plans and ongoing skills gaps in the labour market, employers need to be strategic to attract and retain top talent, in order to meet staffing requirements and fulfill business needs.”

Read: 80% of Canadian employers concerned about retaining talent: survey