Top hiring manager says now is the time to look for greener pastures

Staffing firm PERSOLKELLY’s 2021 Workforce Insights report reveals new employment power dynamics – but we’re still not telling hiring managers the truth

It’s not news that Covid-19 has dramatically changed the way we work, but new research from insightful recruiter PERSOLKELLY shows how the priorities have changed on both sides of the table.

Gone are the days when employers held all the cards – with closed borders, a labor shortage and job vacancies at an all-time high, employees and job seekers now have the upper hand.

But is the solution to New Zealand’s recruitment problems already at our doorstep? That’s what Wendy Hewson, CEO of PERSOLKELLY New Zealand thinks.

Having seen both sides of the coin, Wendy says the talent is there, but New Zealand companies need to improve their game to attract and retain quality candidates.

Wendy Hewson, Managing Director of PERSOLKELLY New Zealand

“Despite the widely held opinion that the talent pool has dried up, COVID-19 has reversed the trend of brain drain to the brain Gain with qualified expatriates returning home.

“What some employers may not have taken into account is that Kiwis who have worked overseas have benefited from higher wages and earlier adoption of concepts like flexible working, it’s time to develop and innovate if you want to attract the best talent, ”says Wendy.

PERSOLKELLY research shows Kiwi workers want more of their 9-5 than they did before the pandemic. Nearly three in five said their work priorities had changed after the pandemic with the flexibility to work remotely, health and wellness, and increased wages, all being paramount considerations in the new climate.

It’s data like this that Wendy says should be a key input for New Zealand businesses when recruiting or engaging with their staff, and those that don’t risk losing it.

“Companies that would normally be inundated with applicants are now struggling to attract the best candidates and we are seeing open-minded organizations coming out on top in securing and retaining the best people.

“My advice to our workers is that now is the time to research what you want, to have a serious conversation with your current employer before finding out if the grass is indeed greener elsewhere,” says Wendy.

While now is a great time for workers to shop, economist Tony Alexander warns employees and employers alike need to be upfront about their expectations.

Economist Tony Alexander

Hiring managers surveyed noted some key priorities, with 47 percent noting recent applicants’ preference for flexibility and remote working. However, only 20 percent identified wage increases as a factor, out of step with the 44 percent of workers who place great importance on their earning potential.

It’s this disconnect between the two parties that poses a significant threat to the recruiting process, Tony explains.

“If hiring managers downplay the possibility of higher wages in discussions, they may well dissuade applicants from accepting an offered position without even knowing why their offer was turned down.

“Likewise, if employers aren’t open to flexible working or don’t have a health and wellness policy, the conversation might be over before it even starts.

“It’s a dangerous and time-consuming game for both parties to play in a highly competitive market,” Tony says.

As Covid turned the tide of the brain
to drain to the brain Gain it has not completely stopped the flow of Kiwis wishing to emigrate for professional reasons. Nearly one in three children under 35 is still considering taking the plunge, probably in favor of better income potential and competitive offers.

Likewise, 60% of applicants or Kiwi employees would consider working remotely for a position based abroad. A situation that could mean an even more difficult search for Kiwi recruiters.

Tony says the message here to employers is that resting on your laurels after finding a good candidate wouldn’t be a good idea,

“Attention to pay is important, as is the degree of new skills that an employee can acquire without having to leave more competitive markets like Australia and beyond,” says Tony.

Key Findings from the PERSOLKELLY Workforce Insight Report

  • 58% of New Zealanders agree COVID-19 has impacted their work priorities
  • Kiwis ranked flexibility to work remotely (42%), health and wellness support (44%), and salary increase (44%) as their top job search considerations
  • New Zealanders aged 45 and over most likely to prioritize supporting the health and well-being of potential employers (46 percent)
  • Millennials (25-44) most preferred the option of working remotely (over 46%)
  • Gen Z is the most salary-focused generation with 60 percent of respondents under 25 prioritizing a raise for their next role
  • The salary increase also came into play at the other end of the age bracket, with 45% of those over 55 choosing this option.
  • For Gen X (45-54), health and wellness support was the big winner with 53% of respondents identifying this as a key consideration
  • 60% of Kiwi applicants or employees would consider working remotely for a position based abroad, this figure is even higher for those under 35 at 78%
  • 30% of those under 35 and 18% of all age groups still plan to move abroad in the next 5 years
  • 47 percent of hiring managers noted that candidates expressed a preference for the flexibility of remote working, only 20 percent openly expressed a desire for a pay rise


PERSOLKELLY is a leading staffing and recruiting provider in Australia and New Zealand, with deep and extensive expertise in various industries. Driven by insight and human experience, PERSOLKELLY draws on their years of experience to quickly resolve workforce issues in all industries.

PERSOLKELLY’s latest Workforce Insights report highlights what is most important to candidates when looking for work and what employers value most in their recruitment – providing valuable insight for Kiwi employers and job seekers alike.

© Scoop Media