Tough competition for talent as Kiwis feel overwhelmed
Last year New Zealand’s economy was bracing for a tough road to recovery after COVID-19 put the brakes on growth.

But, assuming a swift exit from the current lockdown, the bounce back has been stronger than expected and the labour market is signaling a fresh call for talent. The challenge for employers now is that there are fewer job seekers in the market to meet growing demand, and tough competition to find and recruit top talent.

The country’s previous success in containing the spread of the coronavirus has helped to fuel this economic rebound. Doug Steel, BNZ Senior Economist, says job ad levels are strong across the board.

“It's not just a bounce back from the lockdowns over the last year due to the COVID disruption,” he says. “Demand looks exceptionally strong but, at the same time, labour supply is quite compromised, largely due to net migration being close to zero due to border closures.

“We were expecting a large contraction going into COVID, and the economy certainly did contract, but we've bounced back remarkably fast and surpassed almost all forecasts that looked rather bleak about a year ago.”

As the economy improved throughout 2021, New Zealanders are feeling more in control of their working lives and recent research conducted for SEEK shows that 52% believe their working situation has either returned to normal or not changed.

However, optimism about job prospects may still be influenced by COVID uncertainty. When Level 2 COVID restrictions were reinstated in Wellington in June, for instance, optimism about job prospects declined sharply, and it's likely that this is being felt again most recently in the mid-August lockdown happening across New Zealand.

More people (51%) also report feeling overwhelmed by the job-seeking process, and this is especially the case for those living in metropolitan areas.

Job security is a growing priority among New Zealand workers, which may be fuelling job seeker’s reluctance to shift jobs or companies, contributing to a market where job seekers are in short supply and competition is high.

Industries most affected by the supply and demand trend include Information & Communication Technology (ICT); Manufacturing, Transport & Logistics; Trades & Services; and Sales, to name a few.

To stand out from the competition and attract new workers where they’re needed most, employers need to be prepared to market to candidates just as they market to potential customers.

The more you understand what employees want, the better you can tailor your offering. That’s the approach of employers like sales outsourcing business Leading Edge New Zealand.

Emma Leslie, General Manager of Leading Edge, says focusing on employee value proposition (EVP) has never been more important.

A compelling employee value proposition can help to attract and retain top talent who align with your company’s brand and mission. It highlights the benefits and rewards offered to employees such as flexible working arrangements, company culture or upskilling and training.

Leslie says, “The supply and demand issue means a lot of companies in New Zealand can’t grow as fast because they need more people”. “In the current market conditions, we've got to stand out from the crowd.

Leading Edge draws on data analytics to understand what sales talent really want from an employer.

“Data analytics shows that salespeople like work-life balance, career development and attractive pay,” she says.

Understanding what factors attract top talent in sales has led Leading Edge to offer flexible working where staff can work from home two days a week. Leading Edge also offer staff a comprehensive development framework and uncapped commission schemes.

In you’re unsure what particular factors help to attract and retain top talent in your industry, refer to SEEK’s Laws of Attraction tool – it highlights what candidates are looking for across different industries.

Enhancing brand awareness can also help you to stay ahead of the competition. As an employer, you can seek to build brand awareness by highlighting the strengths of your company or organisation.

Technology companies like Xero promote their culture via social platforms, podcasts, conferences and panel events to highlight a point of difference.

“We know that celebrating human stories about individuals at Xero and their challenges, achievements and passions are what resonates most with tech talent,” says Rob Munro, People Experience Director New Zealand at Xero. “That’s why our social media outreach involves telling authentic stories from people in all areas of the business.”

Munro says Xero offers its staff “a flexible working environment, extra holidays, inclusive parental leave and plenty of other perks.”

“Given the competitive nature of the current market, we understand the importance of having a differentiated employee culture that allows us to stand out from the crowd,” he adds.

 In a market where job seekers are in short supply, employers must give them a compelling reason to make the move. Tailoring your offering to match their needs and promoting your employer brand will help to capture their attention.

Source: Independent research conducted by Nature on behalf of SEEK, interviewing 4000 Kiwis annually. Published June 2021.