Top recruitment boss says now is the time to seek greener pastures

Monday 25 October 2021, 7:41AM

By Undertow Media NZ


Recruitment firm PERSOLKELLY’s 2021 Workforce Insights Report reveals new employment power dynamic – but we’re still not telling the truth to hiring managers

It’s not news that Covid-19 has drastically changed the way we work but new research from insight driven recruiter PERSOLKELLY shows just how much priorities have shifted on both sides of the table.

Gone are the days of employers holding all the cards – with closed borders, a labour shortage and job listings at an all-time high, employees and jobseekers now have the upper hand.  

But is the solution to New Zealand recruitment woes already on our doorstep? Wendy Hewson, General Manager of PERSOLKELLY New Zealand thinks so.

Having seen both sides of the coin Wendy says that talent is out there, but New Zealand businesses need to up their game to attract and retain quality candidates.

“Despite the very common view that the talent pool has run dry, COVID-19 did turn the tide from brain drain to brain gain with qualified expats coming home.

“What some employers may not have factored in is that Kiwis who’ve been working overseas have enjoyed higher salaries and earlier uptake of concepts like flexible working, it’s time to sharpen up and innovate if you want to attract top talent,” says Wendy.

PERSOLKELLY’s research shows that Kiwi workers want more from their 9-5 than what they did pre-pandemic. Almost three out of five said that their priorities in regards to work had changed post-pandemic with flexibility to work remotely, health and wellbeing and increased salary all top considerations in the new climate.  

It’s data like that that Wendy says should be a key consideration for New Zealand businesses when recruiting or engaging with their staff, and those who don’t will risk losing them.

“Companies who would normally be inundated with applications are now struggling to tempt top candidates and we’re seeing open minded organisations coming out on top to secure and retain the best people.

“My advice to our workers is that now is the time to go after what you want, have a meaningful conversation with your current employer before you find out if the grass is indeed greener elsewhere,” says Wendy.

While it’s the perfect time for workers to be shopping around economist Tony Alexander warns both employees and employers need to be upfront about their expectations.

The hiring managers surveyed picked up on some key priorities with 47 per cent noting recent candidates’ preference for flexibility and remote working. However just 20 per cent identified increased salary as a factor, out of step with the 44 per cent of workers who highly value their earning potential.

It’s this disconnect between the two sides that poses significant threat to the recruitment process says Tony.

“If hiring managers downplay scope for higher salaries in discussions, they may well be dissuading candidates from accepting an offered position without even knowing why their offer was rejected.

“Likewise, if employers aren’t open to flexible working or don’t have a health and wellbeing policy the conversation could be over before it’s even begun.

“It’s a dangerous and time-wasting game for both sides to be playing in a highly competitive market,” says Tony.  

While Covid has turned the tide from brain drain to brain gain it hasn’t completely stemmed the flow of Kiwis wanting to head offshore for professional reasons. Almost 1 in 3 under 35s still plan to make the move, likely in favour of better earning potential and competitive offerings.

Likewise, 60 per cent of Kiwi candidates or employees would consider working remotely for a position based overseas. A situation that could mean an even harder search for Kiwi hiring managers.

Tony says the message here to employers is that resting on one’s laurels after securing a good candidate would not be a good idea,

“Attention to remuneration is important, as is the degree of new skills which an employee can acquire without having to leave to more competitive markets like Australia and further afield,” says Tony.

Key findings from the PERSOLKELLY Workforce Insight report

  • 58 per cent of New Zealanders agree that COVID-19 has impacted their priorities in regards to work
  • Kiwis ranked flexibility to work remotely (42 per cent), health and wellbeing support (44 per cent) and increased salary (44 per cent) as their top job-hunting considerations
  • New Zealanders aged 45 and over are most likely to prioritise health and wellbeing support from prospective employers (46 per cent)
  • Millennials (25-44) preferred the option to work remotely the most (over 46 per cent)
  • Gen Z is the most salary driven generation with 60 per cent of respondents under 25 prioritising increased salary for their next role
  • Increased salary also came into play at the other end of the age spectrum with 45 per cent of over 55s selecting this option
  • For Gen X (45-54), health and wellbeing support was the clear winner with 53 per cent of respondents identifying this as a key consideration
  • 60 per cent of Kiwi candidates or employees would consider working remotely for a position based overseas, this is even higher for under 35s at 78 per cent
  • 30 per cent of under 35s and 18 per cent of all age groups still plan to move overseas in the next 5 years
  • 47 per cent of hiring manages noted candidates have expressed a preference for flexibility to work remotely, just 20 per cent had openly expressed the desire for an increase salary



PERSOLKELLY is one of Australia and New Zealand’s leading staffing and recruitment providers, with a depth and breadth of expertise across diverse industries. Driven by insight and human experience PERSOLKELLY calls on its years of experience to swiftly solve workforce challenges across sectors.

PERSOLKELLY’s latest Workforce Insights report shines a light on what is most important to candidates when seeking work and what employers are prioritising in their recruitment – providing valuable insight for Kiwi employers and jobseekers alike.