Economic confidence comes with pitfalls

Skilled Group said the 'unsolicited, confidential, non-binding and indicative' offer has been 'opportunistically timed'.
Glenn Campbell

Skilled Group said the 'unsolicited, confidential, non-binding and indicative' offer has been 'opportunistically timed'.

The strong level of economic confidence New Zealand is currently experiencing is likely to continue for several more years, but there are significant potential pitfalls of which employers and employees need to be aware.

For employers, the risk comes in the form of a buoyant economy giving workers the confidence to look for change.

Just two years ago, most New Zealand workers were more concerned about the financial stability of their employer than how much they were being paid. With the passing of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), personal remuneration is now a main driver again.

For workers who have been "ridden" hard by their employer during and since the GFC, the prospect of a fresh start somewhere else is likely to be high, particularly if it comes with more pay.

Employers must, therefore, think seriously about a retention strategy. This does not necessarily mean salary or wage increases. But it does mean considering all the factors ntsGthat arente known to contribute to employee satisfaction, and being willing to adapt to the post-GFC environment.

For example, what opportunities for career progression does your organisation provide? And how committed are you to helping staff achieve a sustainable work/life balance?

We know this has become increasingly important to people, particularly those who have grown up watching their parents make great personal sacrifices for the sake of their careers (or even just to pay the bills).

Giving people the opportunity to catch up on work in the evening so they can spend time during the day on personal interest or family activities, providing it does not disadvantage the business, can be a very attractive proposition to current and prospective employees.

We also know it is important for people to have some level of variety in their work. The ability to provide variety will vary, depending on job types, but it is something every employer should be mindful of, if they are serious about attracting and retaining talented staff.

But even the best employers will still struggle to hold on to their brightest stars, particularly in parts of New Zealand where housing costs are becoming more and more prohibitive.

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Those wanting to enter the housing market are being told to lower their expectations and think about apartment living instead of the quarter acre section. The prospect of earning good money overseas for a few years to save enough for a deposit on a house is likely to be more attractive than ever, making another round of the "brain drain" increasingly likely.

A  significant component of New Zealand's current economic activity is the Christchurch rebuild, which is creating significant opportunities across a range of sectors – not just construction and the associated sectors.

A mix of local and overseas workers is involved in the rebuild work, which has contributed to a shift in the profile of the Christchurch workforce.

 Traditionally, New Zealand employers have tended to shy away from hiring staff from overseas and, as a result, have missed out on opportunities to tap into a global source of talent.

While the scale of the Christchurch rebuild has been a major driver in the recruitment of overseas workers, there is no reason why the same approach could not be adopted more broadly throughout New Zealand. People in other countries involved in the ICT sector, for example, could easily move to New Zealand and begin work as soon as they arrived.

Businesses and organisations throughout New Zealand would be wise to consider how they might benefit from the skills migrant workers offer.

Some serious thinking also needs to be undertaken by those workers referred to earlier who might be looking to do something different in 2015.

While now is a good time to be seeking new opportunities, some form of due diligence is still essential.

For example, if you are looking at an opportunity somewhere, consider what it is you like about your current job and whether your prospective new job would offer something similar.

Likewise, it is important to identify what you do not like about your current role and satisfy yourself as much as possible that the factors contributing to your dissatisfaction are unlikely in your prospective new job. Because, even in a rockntsG ntestar economy, there is a risk of the song remaining the same.

■ The RCSA is the leading industry and professional body for the recruitment and human resources services sector in Australia and New Zealand, It represents more than 3300 company and individual members.

 - The Dominion Post

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