This might be a good time for businesses to make sure they are taking good care of the people who work there because replacing them may soon become harder than they think.

And those entering the workforce are about to find it more difficult to get in to many of the companies on whose doors they knock.

The talent pool just isn’t what it used to be, at least in the eyes of those doing the hiring.

In a global survey of 200 hundred senior executives and managers, NFI Research found that 64 percent of them see the available talent pool today as weak, with nearly a quarter saying it is significantly weak.

The majority also say that they will seek fewer entry level hires overall during the next year.

“Due to the highly competitive nature of the business environment, hiring fully trained and skilled talent is critical; the days of developing and training new hires is not a luxury we can afford,” said one survey respondent.

“We have noticed a significant absence of talent in the middle level experience levels,” said another.

A weak talent pool may impact more small than large companies, since they face a mixed bag of employee headcount over the next year, based on another NFI Research survey.

That one showed that the overall number of employees is going up at 60 percent of small companies next year, but in only 32 percent of large companies (those with 10,000 or more employees).

In a third of large companies, overall headcount will decrease, with almost 10 percent decreasing significantly, according to the survey.

This means there will be opportunity in small companies next year. Interestingly, more executives and managers at small companies than large say the talent pool is strong. So small companies, which expect the most increase in headcount, have the best chances of finding that talent in the marketplace.

“Over the last eight years our company has doubled in size every two years,” said one executive. “I expect it to continue for at least the next three years.”

Indeed, the biggest reason cited for overall increase in the number of employees is business increase.

On the other side, for those businesses that expect overall headcount to decrease the top reason cited was downsizing.

Based on these surveys, it appears many large companies will be downsizing next year and small companies will be hiring and increasing headcount because of business growth.

Interestingly, two times more executives and managers at small companies than large cited business increase as a reason for next year’s overall employment rate in their organizations.

“With our focus on the bottom line, there are many initiatives underway to reduce our operating costs,” said a survey respondent from a large company. “Inevitably, this includes reductions in staffing compliment, which leads to a reduction in our hiring numbers.”

To deal with the current talent pool and coming headcount situations, business leaders should be focused on taking care of the current staff.

“Here in Vancouver, BC, the talent pool is in such high demand the biggest challenge is keeping people engaged to keep them on board,” said one manager.

Or consider this executive’s plight:

“We have trouble finding qualified individuals for positions at all levels. I recently posted an intermediate accounting position. Of the 11 applicants, the one candidate who met the minimum requirements wanted to work from home four days a week. After removing 25 percent of the responsibilities, I reposted the vacancy at an entry level and received two applicants. The individual we hired has a six month probationary period. It's been less than three months, but for the first time in 25 years, I am considering not certifying the person.”

In today’s world of work, it is the talent that is needed most, now and even more in the future.

Executives and managers might want to take a moment to look around the office to make sure the talent that is there is engaged, challenged and appropriately rewarded. The internal talent pool today might just be a lot stronger than the one on the outside.