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Kiwi workers ready to quit unless shown dollar signs - report

By Shannon Williams, Tue 5 Oct 2021

Kiwi workers are on the hunt for new job roles, and they aren't messing around, new research from Employment Hero has revealed. 

People management platform Employment Hero has released the findings of its Employee Movement and Retention Report, revealing 50 percent of New Zealand workers plan to look for a new role in the next year, with 39 percent planning to look in the next six months. 19 percent of workers are currently looking for a new role.

The report found 70 percent of employees who received a pay cut during the pandemic will be looking for a new role within the next year. Of those whose pay was reduced, only 55 percent have seen their salaries be fully reinstated, 21 percent have had a partial reinstatement and 23 percent have had no sense of a return to their former pay.

Of those workers not looking to move roles, 19 percent believe it is risky to try and change jobs at this time due to the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic. However, as lockdowns and restrictions continue to lift between now and the end of the year, this portion of workers will likely join the pool of job seekers.

The Employee Movement and Retention Report, which surveyed 1,000 workers across New Zealand, highlighted 65 percent of those aged 18-24 are planning on changing roles within the next 12 months, as are 67 percent of those aged 25-34 and 62 percent of those aged 35-44. Younger workers are also being more proactive in their job search as 42 percent of 18-24 year olds and 39 percent of 25-34 year olds have spoken to a recruiter in the last six months.

For those job seekers looking for a new role in a different organisation, 37 percent reported no pay rise as the top reason for wanting to leave, while 33 percent said a lack of career opportunities and 30 percent noted a lack of appreciation or recognition as a contributing factor. Those aged 45-54 were 69 percent more likely to select a lack of appreciation and recognition as their top reason.

Feeling overworked was the fourth most common overall reason respondents cited as a motivator for job seeking, at 24 percent. 39 percent of employees in large businesses (with over 200 employees) felt under-appreciated.

Almost one in two New Zealand workers reported that they would consider taking a job overseas once borders open, with the big motivator being that they could earn more elsewhere (48 percent). 41 percent of workers want to travel and 39 percent feel there are better opportunities overseas.

When asked what initiatives would encourage them to stay in their current role, 55 percent of workers selected a salary increase, 27 percent said the introduction of more rewards and recognition and 23 percent chose a promotion. Women were more likely to state that a salary increase would help convince them to stay in their current roles, with 62 percent selecting this option.

"Handing out pay rises is not always feasible for businesses against the backdrop of the pandemic, but if businesses can afford to give their workers a salary increase, now is the time for them to take action," says Alex Hattingh, chief people officer at Employment Hero.

"For example, businesses could reallocate a small amount of funds from elsewhere in the business to bolster their teams salaries. Im sure a small salary increase would be employees preference to a lavish Christmas party, and may even keep them motivated and feeling loyal," she says.

"The cost of turnover is high for businesses. It is better for them to shuffle funds now to stay in line with industry standards than to cop the costs later. This is especially true for the 45 percent of workers whose pay has not been reinstated in full after receiving a pandemic pay-cut."

Hattingh says if a business doesn't have the means or structure available to offer promotions at this time, they can set up a career development pathway for their staff. 

"Companies need to work with their people to plan where they would like their career to go and outline how they can help them get there; whether that be with additional training, internal mentorship or a change of responsibilities," she says.

"Appreciation and recognition doesn't have to come in the form of large bonuses or frequent promotions; small shows of appreciation can be powerful. In fact, businesses may find that their team benefits more from regular reinforcement, rather than waiting for yearly monetary displays. Remember, 30 percent of workers seeking new roles were doing so because they felt under appreciated. If a company doesn't have a culture of recognition at their workplace, this should be high on the agenda over the next critical six months."

Pay expectations for a workers next role revealed 24 percent expect it to be on par with their current role, 31 percent expect a 10 percent pay increase and 24 percent are after a 20 percent pay rise.

When thinking about their next role, the prospect of doing a job that they find enjoyable (42 percent) is as important as a salary increase (42 percent) for New Zealand employees, and 29 percent would want to work for a company that rewards and recognises its people.

Asked about their intentions for their next role, 25 percent of workers said they would like their next role to be in a different organisation and a different industry, 40 percent would like their next role to be in a similar industry but a different organisation and 35 percent would like their next role to be in their current organisation, such as a promotion or lateral move.

Ben Thompson, co-founder and chief executive of Employment Hero, says, "If businesses are looking to grow quickly following the pandemic they need to start getting prepared now as we have six months before the projected Great Resignation ushers in the Great Recruitment Rush. 

"We know that flexible options are going to be a part of working futures. The pandemic has made employers realise that remote working is not just a viable option, it can often boost productivity and improve employee work/life balance," he says.

"Companies who do not adjust to flexible working risk being left behind in a candidate-driven market. Of course, workers understand that not every industry can facilitate remote working, but if a business can find a way to share that they respect workers personal lives and time - this will be an asset to them."

Thompson says for businesses, there is no point focusing on recruitment if they are not also considering retention, or vice versa. 

"The better a business retention strategy, the stronger their EVP will be, the easier it will be to sell the business to great talent," he says.

"Pushing for growth while experiencing high turnover can be disastrous. As retention drops, the pressure intensifies, triggering more turnover. It can be a vicious cycle, and it can cost a business thousands."

Thompson says businesses need to turn their attention back to growth, but with a people-centric perspective.

"If people fuel a business, how can businesses keep and find the best people who will be invested in seeing their business scale? It takes time, effort and consideration, but the more businesses invest in their employees, the more they invest in their business."

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