New Zealand businesses are entering the New Year lacking the workforce needed to drive innovation, with almost two-thirds (61%) concerned about the number of high potential employees in their organisation.
Businesses are also anxious about gaps in other areas of their workforce, with two thirds (64%) concerned about the number of talented middle managers, and a similar number (63%) worried about the number of potential executive successors.
Paul Robinson, New Zealand Director of recruitment & HR services specialist, Randstad, says the World of Work research highlights that businesses need to address the gaps in their leadership pipeline early in 2014 if they plan to keep pace with the market.
“It’s interesting that so many businesses are entering the New Year with questions hanging over pivotal drivers of their workforce. With the economy and business conditions starting to stabilise, employers hoping to grow or innovate in 2014 need to address these concerns immediately if they want to keep pace.
“Organisations can’t effectively plan for the year ahead, let alone the next five years, if the right people aren’t in place. Identifying and attracting high performing employees and placing them in the right roles, especially in key leadership positions, will be critical in the early stages of 2014.
“With the fight for talent increasing not only locally, but throughout New Zealand and the wider Asia Pacific region, the importance of identifying, attracting and retaining the best employees has never been higher,” says Robinson.
Interestingly, while businesses remain wary of the ability of the current education system to produce top level talent (only 48% are confident in New Zealand educational institutions to provide the right calibre of employee), employees across the region are displaying even less confidence in their own local institutions.
Robinson believes this will create an even more competitive marketplace for top talent, with regional companies open to headhunting talented workers from New Zealand.
“Regional competition will be an ongoing theme throughout 2014, and local businesses will need to work hard to keep local talent in their company. Businesses throughout Asia Pacific will be looking at ways to solidify their leadership pipelines, and targeting New Zealand in an attempt to snare top performers.
“Having a strong workforce retention program in place will be paramount for businesses this year,” says Robinson.
What organisations want
Interestingly, immediate hiring intentions from New Zealand employers aren’t reflecting the skills they need imbedded in their company in the next five years.
When asked about hiring intentions for the next 12 months, 57% of businesses stated they intend to attract skilled workers, while 45% intend to hire technical workers and 28% state they need lower-lever task employees.
However these intentions do not mirror many organisations’ five year workforce goals. In fact the skills employers believe will be most important in five years are leadership skills (34%) and innovation skills (18%), which seem to be overlooked by many businesses in their short-term hiring plans.
Paul Robinson says organisations need to match their long-term strategies to their more immediate hiring plans.
“While hiring for today is undoubtedly important, it’s vital businesses look to their longer term plans and ensure their HR and hiring strategies reflect these needs.
“Training and development strategies are of course important, as is attracting employees with the skills, expertise and attitude to help achieve long-term workforce needs. It’s important these talent strategy game-changers are reflected in your overall business plans and that HR has a seat at the boardroom table.
“Otherwise it’s unlikely you’ll have the right people and the right teams you need in five years’ time,” says Robinson.
Encouragingly, many businesses have developed programs to help cover gaps in the leadership pipeline and are now laying the platform for innovation over the next five years.
Almost half of local employers (48%) have developed talent management programs to identify high-potential employees, while 45% have instigated programs to fast-track future leaders and 39% have structured their remuneration and reward programs to attract high potential talent.
However when it comes to partnering with universities or external agencies to attract high potential graduates, New Zealand lags behind most regional competitors.
“To meet transforming talent requirements, New Zealand employers need to foster stronger relationships with educational institutions and recruitment specialists who are gate-keepers to the best local and international talent.
“Employers throughout Asia are already partnering with tertiary institutions and recruitment specialists to assist them in attracting high potential and leadership talent. To remain competitive and ensure valuable talent isn’t drawn into international markets, New Zealand business leaders need to follow this lead,” says Robinson.