8 things Kiwis expect in a workplace in 2022
The shake-up of COVID-19 has changed so much about the way we work, as well as what people expect from their workplace.

Half of Kiwis expect more from their employer this year, than they did before the COVID outbreak, research for SEEK reveals. And for 64% of people, what matters to them in workplaces now has also changed since the start of the pandemic.

People are now keenly aware of whether businesses are truly committed to offering flexibility and work-life balance, or whether they’re just spouting empty words.

How workplace expectations have changed

“COVID-19 forced people to really think about what they want in life and what work-life balance means to them,” says Samantha Miklos, CEO of Cornerstone Medical Recruitment.

“There are a lot of open jobs right now, so people expect employers to move with pace during the recruitment process,” Miklos says.

“You cannot communicate enough with potential new employees in this market. They all have multiple opportunities, and every moment counts from the minute you receive the application.”

“People are identifying what their goals are and what is important to them – and they expect that work will now support these goals.”

What people expect now

Here’s what matters to people in the workplace in 2022 – and they’re things that businesses of any size can offer in some form.

  1. Work/life balance
    This is the top must-have for many people, with 53% saying it’s more important to them now than before the pandemic.

    Be explicit about how work/life balance is measured in your organisation, says SEEK’s Resident Psychologist Sabina Read. “Employees used to be grateful to be able to do a school drop-off once a week. That doesn't hold the weight that is used to.”
  2. Job security
    Over half of people say that job security is more important to them now, than before COVID, yet just two in five employers currently provide it.

    People have higher expectations than during early COVID and want more clarity around job security, says Read.

    “This is not a time for employers to rest on their laurels. Now people will be more hesitant to take a job that doesn't feel secure, so spell out some of these factors. Talk about career progression in the job ad and interview, and spell out what job security looks like.”
  3. Flexible hours/schedule
    Miklos says 2021 was all about employers defining what flexibility they offer, and understanding what work-life balance meant to their people.

    Now in 2022, flexibility and the hybrid work models should be well engrained into organisations, Miklos says. And having this flexibility is important for 50% of people the research shows. 

    “If these topics have not been addressed by now, you are well behind.”
  4. Salary & compensation
    Financial benefits are still most important for almost half of people. They are expecting salary increases, and offering fair and reasonable pay will attract and retain talent.
  5. Good working relationships
    Many employers now face the challenge of how to keep workplace culture and engagement in a hybrid working space, Miklos says.

    “Hybrid work is not an excuse to save money on all the great cultural events that bring people together. Employees are Zoom fatigued.”

    Help employees understand the culture of a workplace and how they can keep connected with their peers within the new hybrid work model, she says.
  6. Option to work from home
    Over a third of Kiwis want the option to work from home some of the time.

    Be clear in your job description about what options are available, Read says. “It’s better to have this conversation at the interview stage than 6 months later when you discover you’re a mismatch.”
  7. Benefits offered 
    While small businesses aren’t generally in a position to offer benefits such as childcare or gym memberships, there is an opportunity to be more bespoke and tailor their offering to their people, Read says. From fresh fruit in the office, to paid study days, or vouchers for home working equipment, there are many different ways to suit different people

    “The key is to make sense of what your people value, not a checklist that has something for everyone.”
  8. Working conditions/environment
    Many people now know they can be productive and make a meaningful contribution working from home, so the physical working space needs to provide a complementary offering on top of that, Read says.

    For example, this could include plenty of natural light, an even temperature, spaces to connect with colleagues and clients, and get-away hubs for quiet work or solitude.

    “If the social and physical environment doesn’t support and stimulate connection, innovation, comfort and motivation, employees will be tempted to continue working remotely,” Read says.

How to align with candidate’s renewed priorities

  • Set your business apart
    Employers need to be very forthcoming with their Employee Value Proposition (EVP), Miklos says. “Your EVP is important, it’s what sets you apart from other businesses.”

    “There has been a lot of change and now is the time to define who you are to ensure you attract like-minded employees who are excited to work alongside you as we navigate life post-COVID.”
  • Understand what your people want
    Gone are the days where the employer has the upper hand, says Read. “Let it be a two-way exchange and be curious about the potential candidate.

    “While 73% of people would be more loyal if they were offered more benefits, they'll only be more loyal if those benefits are meaningful to them. There's no point in offering certain benefits if the staff don't value them.”
  • Be specific about what you’re offering
    74% of people are more likely to apply for a job if the job ad clearly lists the employee benefits such as flexibility, job security, and career progression. That’s why it’s so important to be specific when you’re outlining a role, Read says.

    “Employees expect there to be commitment to wellbeing and work-life balance, and they want to know how that's going to translate for them personally. Employers and hirers need to spell that out.”

Expectations shifted for many during the pandemic, and what people want now has changed since last year. But that change has opened up new opportunities for hirers who are ready to understand and adapt to those expectations. And ultimately, doing this can help to broaden your appeal to new talent, and help you support and retain your existing staff.

Source: Independent research conducted by Nature of behalf of SEEK. Interviewing 500 Kiwis. Published April 2022.