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How To Survive The Kiwi Labour Crunch As Outsource Avenues Shut

In recent years it has become common for Kiwi companies to outsource work to virtual staff in places like the Philippines and India, but the toll of Covid-19 is shutting down even these options for local businesses.

BetterCo Business Advisors and Chartered Accounting firm director Peter Prema says Covid-19 is ravaging traditional outsourcing markets for New Zealand companies, causing stoppages or unrealistic delays in the fulfilment of service businesses like accounting, IT, call centres, construction and professional services.

"The New Zealand Labour Government's determination to squeeze immigration, tightening competition for local talent and limited options to outsource overseas are just the tip of the iceberg – wait until Australia, and other countries start poaching our talent.

"The Government is clear that they want to reduce, even cut off, so-called low skill immigration, but I think they have it wrong – New Zealand is going to need to replace a mix of skills."

Prema says the nurses strike is one indication that many skilled Kiwi workers are dissatisfied with current conditions, making them highly poachable by other countries.

"Local companies are struggling to attract even so-called low skilled workers because I think most people who want to work, or can work, are already working.

"I believe this idea that New Zealand is somehow more attractive because of our Covid-19 record is nonsense. When the vaccinations kick in, we are going to have to compete for talent like everybody else, and the reality is that we cannot match Australia and others dollar for dollar."

He predicted that the Government's immigration strategies and the realities of Covid-19 induced competition for labour internationally would eventually drive the country into recession.

"Most SME owners are powerless to influence Government decision making – it is literally out of hour hands, but as business owners, we have a responsibility to take evasive action."

Four day work week

"Benefits and salaries are important, but they are also a given. If you want to attract good quality workers, you're going to have to be a flexible employer."

"Flexible employment conditions can go further than just working from home and could extend to things like a four day work week. People want to work less but get paid the same, and we may need to come to the party on that," Prema says.

Invest in training

"Many New Zealand SMEs have traditionally been reluctant to invest in training because staff leave and take their skills elsewhere, but it isn't an option anymore – an employer will just have to work harder to retain people."

Thirteenth cheque and other benefits

Christmas bonuses – as much as a thirteenth cheque – and shares in the business are some of the options to attract good people.

"People want money, time, growth and purpose – if you can get that combination right, you may have a better chance of holding on to your talent," Prema says.

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