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Desire For Work-life Balance Overtakes Salaries As #1 Employment Driver Among Kiwis For First Time In 10 Years


AUCKLAND, NZ., June 15, 2021 – The way Kiwi companies have supported their workers through COVID is having a positive impact on employee loyalty according to Randstad’s 2021 Employer Brand Research. Work-life balance has also overtaken salaries and benefits (number one for the past decade) as the most important driver for those looking for roles with job security in third place followed by pleasant work atmosphere (fourth) and good training in fifth place.

The 2021 Randstad Employer Brand Research is based on a survey of more than 4000 New Zealanders, conducted for Randstad by Kantar. Of those working or looking for new roles, the research showed that 66% of Kiwi employees feel more loyal than a year ago and the number of those looking to change roles, or who have done so over the past 12 months, has also dropped.

Government agencies have taken out the top four of the top ten places Kiwis want to work, with NZ Customs in the number one spot followed by DOC and MBIE. The Ministry of Health represented the biggest mover of 2021, coming in at number seven versus its ranking of 45th in 2020.

2021 Top Ten Employers to work for 
in New Zealand
1New Zealand Customs Service
2Department of Conservation
3Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment
6EBOS Group
7Ministry of Health
9Massey University
10Ara Institute

Randstad New Zealand’s Country Manager Katherine Swan says the survey findings tell a nuanced story about how employers have stepped up and supported employees since the pandemic began.

“Being able to work remotely, keeping people employed and ensuring good health practices appear to have increased loyalty. We’re also seeing a growing return to employee confidence for exploring new opportunities as New Zealand bounces back from the worst of the pandemic reinforcing the importance for organisations to continue building brand strength to retain and attract new talent during the recovery,” she explains.

Work-life Balance More Valuable than Ever

Swan says the shift from salary and benefits to work life balance is likely due to the escalation of working remotely and digital transformation to support employees to deliver outside of the office but also a shift in worker priorities with monetary reward no longer the most important employment driver.

Top 5 Most Important Drivers When Choosing an Employer
1Work-life balanceAttractive salary and benefitsAttractive salary and benefits
2Attractive salary and benefits Work-life balanceWork-life balance
3Job security Pleasant work atmosphereJob security
4Pleasant work atmosphere Job securityPleasant work atmosphere
5Good training Good training Good training

Randstad’s report, which captures employer attractiveness traits, also found a general feeling of job stability among Kiwis with 54% not worried about losing their job in 2021. Of those worried, more are men than women (22% vs 18%), even though men were more likely to have continued working as normal during the pandemic.

Over the past year one in eight people have changed employers and 13% changed in the last six months of 2020 with those aged 18 to 24 more likely to have switched (21%). “If someone’s employment situation has been impacted in some way due to COVID-19, there’s a slightly higher intention to change jobs (28%) than those who just intend to change employers for general reasons (20%),” explains Swan.

New Zealand workplaces are also perceived as being safer COVID-19 work environments than those in APAC where a COVID-19 safe work environment ranks fifth out of 10 factors employers are perceived to offer employees.

The Importance of Giving Back

Employees who changed employers are more likely to attach importance to those doing good when compared to those who stayed with their employer in the last six months of 2020. The Department of Conservation ranked highest for giving back and half of candidates said they would not work for a company with a bad reputation - even with a pay increase.

The company rated highest for work-life balance was Christchurch-based EBOS Group Limited. Those ranked highest for other drivers when selecting employers were:

  • PWC – attractive salaries and benefits
  • Royal NZ Navy – job security
  • Department of Conversation – pleasant work atmosphere (and gives back to society)
  • NZ Army – career progression
  • Coca-Cola Amatil – financially healthy
  • Fire and Emergency NZ – very good reputation
  • Department of Internal Affairs – COVID-19 safe work environment
  • Datacom – possibility of working remotely/from home.

When it comes to looking for new roles, those surveyed reported the number one obstacle was not knowing what it’s like to work at an organisation. Swan says recruiters are aware of this barrier with 80% of workforce leaders believing a strong employer brand has a significant impact on their ability to hire a great workforce.

“Both recruiters and candidates cite company culture as one of the most important determinants in employer choice. If your culture is transparent candidates will be better able to understand how they could fit in. That could be through reading positive employee and candidate experiences on review sites or talking with existing or former employees,” comments Swan.

Shift to Social

Seek, Trade Me and job boards are still the biggest go-to-source for roles online, but Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and Snapchat are rapidly rising according to the survey.

Of those using social media, more than double the number of candidates searched Instagram over the past year compared to the year prior while Twitter jumped from 12% to 29% for the same period. Facebook experienced an increase of 3% but Snapchat more than doubled from 12% to 27%.

Despite the rise in social, personal connections and referral programmes also remain important. “In a buoyant job market finding the best talent can be a challenge for employers which is why new employees sourced from current employee referrals remains very important,” explains Swan. “Our experience shows those taken on through referral programmes stay longer than those sourced through job boards. Like attracts like which aids a consistent and healthy culture and people who have referred someone feel valued, aiding retention.”

Being valued also means supporting employers to work smarter not harder with New Zealand faring less favourably than= countries when it comes to productivity.

“Enabling people to be more efficient, be it through flexible working or investing in new tools, has the potential to increase productivity,” says Swan. “And enabling them to better manage their time is important given Kiwis are now working longer hours than other OCED countries according to the Productivity Commission.”

To review the findings of the 2021 Employer Brand Research Report click here.

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