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Higher Unemployment No Panacea For Looming Talent Shortages

A predicted rise in unemployment numbers in coming months does not mean some employers are in for a lolly scramble of talent. Kiwi Businesses should instead prepare for shortages of highly skilled people in 2021 – including taking bold steps to hold on to the talent that they do have.

Director at New Zealand business technology company OneHQ, Hamish McLachlan, said that from his experience consulting with SMEs across New Zealand this year, it is evident that SMEs need to hold on to their talent because those people are becoming critical for navigating a world changed by Covid-19.

"Making people redundant may relieve short term pain, but getting ahead in this changing environment will almost certainly require that you adapt and transform. You're going to need your skilled staff to do that.

"We believe talent will be in shorter supply in the coming months, particularly with the current travel and immigration restrictions in place. As a result, there will be intense competition for skilled people."

McLachlan said it goes without saying that a good salary is essential – particularly in tough economic times – but, there are other things companies can do to give them the edge in the talent market.

1. Be clear on the change you want

"It wouldn't be uncommon for staff to become frustrated by bureaucracy and procrastination. My advice is to be clear on the change you want and the skills you need to achieve that, and then take action – it doesn't need to happen all at once.

"Change in short bursts is manageable, achievable, and it keeps your people engaged."

2. Prepare to outsource

McLachlan said that bringing the right talent into a business isn't always a case of having to hire all of them.

"For some parts of those projects, you may only need the right people with the right skills for a short time, but plan and prepare. Know who you will need fulltime in your team, and who you can partner with when the time is right," he said

3. Create opportunities for your team

Almost as important as money is the need to develop challenges, opportunities and clear pathways that allow your staff to grow and learn.

"At OneHQ, one of our strategies is to offer a variety of exciting projects. That may not be a viable strategy for you, but every business will have different ways to create a more stimulating environment for their people. Ask yourself, what's yours?"

McLachlan said SMEs wouldn't want to adopt a wait and see approach because it is clear to everybody that the things are not going to go back to the way they were.

"Plan, prepare and take action now so that you don't get caught napping," he said.

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