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Opportunity In Volatile Employment Landscape If Workers And Businesses Can Be Flexible

For businesses and job seekers who are prepared to adapt, the recession and an unemployment rate predicted to double by the end of the year can have positives, says an employment law and HR expert.

Jason Ennor, CEO of MyHR, says it is a tricky recruitment landscape but the larger number of highly skilled people looking for work brings opportunities for both business owners and potential employees.

“While some companies are hunkering down and trying to consolidate their teams, businesses in other sectors such as food production, forestry, and the dairy industry need to recruit to help meet the upswing in demand.”

Ennor says the current landscape is vastly different to pre-COVID when unemployment was around four percent, there was a skills shortage in many industries, and it was hard to find and keep good people.

MyHR, which services 800 companies and 16,000 employees with easy-to-use software supported by a team of HR experts, is seeing that for companies that are recruiting, there are increasing numbers of top quality and experienced candidates applying for positions.

“Many are from large corporates and great companies so if a business can, the current environment presents a really good opportunity to stack their organisation with highly-skilled people,” says Ennor.

With economists predicting unemployment could double by year’s end – with some forecasts suggesting even higher – and the government’s wage subsidy ending on September 1, many companies will not feel confident about making the financial commitment to recruit staff.

Add to this a recent Westpac survey which revealed peoples’ perceptions of job opportunities and job security had taken a sharp hit.

“There is no denying it will be a tough time for many people without jobs and there will be many highly-skilled people out there looking for work but it’s all about being adaptable and flexible which is a quality lockdown has instilled in many people,” says Ennor.

“This is where getting creative with your employment arrangements can help. It’s all about getting the right talent on terms that suit both parties,” he says.

He uses the example of a former marketing manager from one sector lending their expertise on a part time basis to a company in a different industry meaning the business gets their skills and the employee has a source of income.

Ennor points out there are some long-term implications for a busines that are worth considering when taking on temporary or casual employees.

“Sometimes casual can be too casual,” he says. “Finding people and building a strong, cohesive team takes time and energy. Short-term workers may bring considerable skills, but any institutional knowledge and intellectual capital they develop over the course of their tenure will leave when they do. Existing staff may also find it disrupting if the team is in a continual state of flux.”

Other recruitment tips when faced with a recession and high unemployment include:

  • Make the most of it – Employees can use their skills part-time or on a contract basis to maintain income and stay active while the economy recovers. Take the opportunity to learn new skills or a new trade. The government is also offering training assistance such as the fees-free Targeted Training and Apprenticeships Fund.
  • Define what an organisation needs now and in future – Approach your planning like a restructure. Define your organisation’s goals and aspirations, both short and long-term. Then use that strategy to determine if you have any gaps in your current workforce or whether you are going to need more people going forward. This will inform what types of candidates and skills are needed.
  • Be clear about contractor vs employee – Be clear about the difference between a contract role and an employee to ensure it complies with the Employment Relations Authority regulations. Many employers have been tripped up by a contracting situation being regular employment.
  • Outsourcing and tech solutions – Identify non-core business activities that can be outsourced to provide a range of benefits including reducing costs, flexibility, and avoiding the need to recruit new people. Recruitment and HR technology can also help streamline the hiring process and using technology to place job ads on social media helps with applicant tracking, pre-employment assessments, and remote interviewing.
  • Keep being a good employer – Just because NZ is facing a recession, it doesn’t mean an organisation can overlook its obligations as an employer. All employment laws about acting in good faith and being fair and reasonable still apply. Beyond that, try to offer as much job security as possible, be honest and treat people well.

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