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Labour Turnover Unnecessarily High In New Zealand

For immediate release:
15 October 2001


Labour Turnover Unnecessarily High In New Zealand


The first major piece of research for twenty years on staff turnover in New Zealand has shown that there is a lot more that employers can and should be doing to reduce the levels of staff turnover within their organisations.

The research has been completed by Associate Professor Peter Boxall and Senior Lecturer Dr Erling Rasmussen from The University of Auckland Business School.

Dr Rasmussen says that there is so much discussion at the moment about the knowledge economy and what we can do to keep our people in New Zealand. These results will be extremely valuable to employers, given that retaining highly skilled and productive people has become a key issue in New Zealand organisations in the 21st century.

The research indicates that over 80% of labour turnover is initiated by employees.

“Money is not always the reason that people leave their jobs. In fact, one in two people surveyed said they had left their jobs because of the prospect of more interesting work elsewhere.

“We found that often employees don’t feel stimulated by their work or appreciated by their employers.

Drs Boxall and Rasmussen say employers could be reducing staff turnover by involving their employees more in job design and in personal development planning.

“Employers need to consider both an employee’s ability to do the job as well as their interest in the job when they are considering someone at the recruitment stage.”

The telephone-based survey involved 549 New Zealanders over the age of 25, and was skewed somewhat towards workers in large organisations. Questions sought to find out why some people change jobs often and why others stay with their employer for long periods of time.

“This research has indicated that, on average, firms are experiencing at least 10% labour turnover per annum, and that this level of turnover is likely to affect productivity levels.”

The survey on staff turnover is part of an ongoing programme of research into employment relations and employee attitudes at The University of Auckland.

Together with a market research company Dr Rasmussen has also recently won a tender to undertake a major piece of research for the Department of Labour, looking at the implications of the Employment Relations Act.

The survey will ask both employers and employees about their experiences working with the Employment Relations Act, one year after its inception.

Questions will include how employers and employees have conducted their employment relationships under the new Act and will examine perceptions about the new concept of ‘good faith bargaining’.

The new survey will be undertaken in October and November this year and results are expected to be available in May or June of 2002.

Media enquiries:

Dr Peter Boxall ------- Megan Baldwin
The University of Auckland ------- Baldwin Boyle Group
Phone: (09) 373 7599 ------- (09) 486 6544

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