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Top Employment Issues for 2011

13th December, 2010.

Salary pressure, the return of the counter offer and the increasing use of social media are amongst the top issues that will dominate New Zealand’s employment market in 2011, according to recruiting experts Hays.

Topping the recruiter’s list is salary pressure, which employers are tipped to experience across the country in 2011.

“There is much more confidence in New Zealand’s jobs market, with healthy levels of movement and an economy that is expected to pick up strongly from February or March,” says Jason Walker, Managing Director of Hays in New Zealand.

“As well as the traditional mentality of seeking a new role in a New Year, more people are now far more confident in the market’s ability to present them with a solid career-advancing opportunity.

“With confidence rising, candidates are leaving secure permanent roles in order to achieve a higher salary or better work/life balance elsewhere. This naturally has several consequences, with salary pressure the primary effect.”

According to Jason, the hot employment issues for 2011 will be:

1. Salary pressure
“The GFC-induced salary slowdown is a distant memory and the salary expectations of employees are rising on the back of candidate confidence and good job numbers. Employers meanwhile are showing a greater willingness to review salaries since they know skills shortages are inevitable. Headhunting is also adding to salary pressure. There is no doubt that professionals with skills in demand will expect a healthy salary increase in 2011. Otherwise, they will enter the jobs market.”

2. Return of the counter offer
“Companies are expected to dig deep to retain their top talent in the face of a tightening candidate market, with counter offers likely to increase in use. But a successful counter offer involves more than just money – employers need to make sure they address the underlying issue of why their employee decided to look for a new job in the first place.”

3. Recruiting from overseas
“In the last Hays Salary Guide, 61 per cent of New Zealand employers said they would consider sponsoring a qualified overseas candidate in skills short areas. In 2011 we expect this to become more of a factor, particularly in the Canterbury region where a shortage of construction, property and engineering professionals will see employers turn to overseas candidate sourcing to help with rebuild projects. Employers in the South Island will be forced to become more serious about this recruiting strategy in the face of our domestic skills shortage in this area.”

4. Plugging the leak
“As 2011 progresses we expect to see an increasing number of skilled New Zealanders once more heading overseas, particularly to London and the Eurozone. But rather than heading overseas for a traditional working experience, the prime motivator will be the relative strength of the New Zealand dollar, which is opening up great travel opportunities. Having said this, there is no doubt that, once their economy strengthens, London and the Eurozone will again become prime destinations for the overseas working experience that so many New Zealanders dream of.

“There is however a lot of interest in Australia’s booming resources & mining sector and to a lesser extent the engineering sector. This is expected to once more become a driving factor behind a reducing domestic candidate pool, with good candidates attracted to Australia where they can earn more money.”

5. Western Australia and Queensland
“As Australia’s two mining hotspot states of Western Australia and Queensland experience rapidly expanding skills shortages in 2011, savvy employers in New Zealand will eagerly watch how companies in these two states adapt. It will be insightful to look at the strategies such businesses use to recruit in a skills short market. In many ways, these two states are the forerunners for the rest of Australia in terms of how to deal effectively with skills shortages – but employers in New Zealand can also learn from their actions and put solid plans in place in preparation for the inevitable return of skills shortages in New Zealand.”

6. Focus on retention
“Employers will need to up their focus on retention in 2011. Already we have seen instances of employers using bonus schemes, health and life insurance, gym memberships, stock options or education benefits as tools to make sure their top talent is retained. But as 2011 progresses and the candidate market tightens it is likely that employers will need to get more innovative when it comes to retention in order to hold onto key staff. This means looking at more than just salary and benefits, towards the implementation of solid career development plans.”

7. Social media’s influence grows
“We expect the use of social media checks to become more mainstream in 2011. No longer will it be just the savvy employers that use social media to cross-reference a candidates’ employment history or evaluate potential employees. The lines between social and business sites have blurred and social media profiles will be viewed just as often as an employer searches a candidate’s name via Google.

“But more than this, we also expect this publicly-available information to be used not just when recruiting, but when employers consider promotions and succession planning. So in 2011 it will be not just job seekers that need to ensure their online profile remains professional, but all employees.”

8. Flexibility when recruiting
Despite our economy struggling out of recession, there are more positive hiring intentions emerging from employers. A growing number of employers tell us they are planning to increase their headcounts, and the general feeling across the market is that February and March will be a very busy time for recruitment. In addition, restoration projects in Canterbury will eventually filter through to impact the greater jobs market across the country. In this context, the candidate market will tighten, and employers will again need to become more flexible in their set criteria if they are to secure good talent in 2011.

Hays, the world’s leading recruiting experts in qualified, professional and skilled people.


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