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Employers need to be ready for when people return to Chch

Employers need to be ready for when people return to Christchurch: ManpowerGroup NZ

New Zealand– With news that more people than ever are moving overseas after the Christchurch earthquakes, ManpowerGroup New Zealand is urging employers to make plans that keep people in the country, or welcome them home when they return.

Late last month, Statistics New Zealand said the net number of people leaving New Zealand for Australia in May this year reached a record high, with 3,300 people leaving from across the country and 800 departing from Christchurch alone (up from 500 in the same month last year).

The fresh exodus of New Zealanders to Australia and other parts of the world after the Christchurch earthquakes should kick employers into gear to do everything possible to retain their workers, according to Michelle Visser, General Manager of ManpowerGroup New Zealand.

Ms Visser said employers should have three key areas of focus: keeping people in New Zealand; up-skilling those who stay; and attracting other workers from around the country and overseas to fill any gaps.

“Employers should be looking at robust support programs for employees affected by the earthquakes. For example, introducing more flexibility around time off work, through extended leave or sabbaticals, can keep employees connected with the company and provide a timeframe for when they might come back.”

Ms Visser says establishing a proper exit program with an open door policy can also help.

“It’s inevitable that a lot of people leaving the country will return in the near future, so having the right procedures in place that leaves the door open if employees want to return to their jobs is something employers should be talking about.”

“Of course, employers will need to think about business continuity in the interim, and it’s going to be difficult to find the talent they need if they’re looking for an exact fit,” said Ms Visser.

To combat skills shortages and an increasing talent mismatch – where the specific skills employers want don’t match the skills available in the employment market – ManpowerGroup is encouraging employers to consider “unbundling” job roles so that highly skilled employees only undertake technical tasks.

“Other employees could then be hired to do the semi-skilled or unskilled portion of the role,” said Ms Visser. “This arrangement means the most highly skilled people – who are generally the most difficult to find - are much more efficient in their roles.”

In unbundling roles, Ms Visser said companies would have more flexibility in their hiring plans, needing fewer difficult-to-find, highly skilled workers while employing support workers who can be trained up quickly in the semi-skilled and unskilled job functions.

According to Ms Visser, there are also opportunities for employers to collaborate and move staff to other parts of New Zealand, rather than continue to see talent move overseas.

“Moving employees around the country, whether it’s within your company, or someone else’s is far more beneficial to New Zealand than losing those employees offshore.”

“We’re having conversations with our clients and within our own team right now to highlight possibilities of transferring people from Christchurch to other offices or identifying opportunities to place staff in other organisations and New Zealand regions, for either the short or long term.”

Top tips to keep workers in New Zealand (and in your company):
• Develop flexible work arrangements that allow employees to work from home, or from other parts of the country.
• Look for opportunities within the company where employees could transfer to other offices outside of Christchurch, for short or long term stints.
• Consider offering sabbaticals or encouraging extended leave for employees struggling to cope in aftermath of the earthquakes, or who feel they need a break or a change.
• Create an exit program for departing employees that outlines opportunities for the employee to return to the company should they wish to in the future.
• Collaborate with other organisations, including recruitment companies, which can help place departing employees in other positions around the country.


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