Challenges and opportunities in a turbulent job market

In the middle of a pandemic, it can seem at times that the grass is greener elsewhere. Almost two years into a global health crisis that many could not have imagined in their lifetimes, the concept of lockdowns, working from home, a fading connection to the workplace, and the overwhelming feeling of burn-out is driving a surge in resignations in many countries.

With a record number of employees resigning during 2021 in the United States, recent media coverage suggests New Zealand may be heading down a similar path with an uplift in job vacancies being reported. Several factors are at play in this turbulent job market.

Firstly, as the economy grows out of the pandemic and labour shortages impact many industries, employees are now in the drivers’ seat when negotiating their working conditions. Memories of how some employers treated their employees at the height of the pandemic are still fresh. These experiences have reinforced to individuals the importance of family and financial security.

Hence, with the roles now reversed, employees are driving negotiations for better pay and perks to achieve financial security, while also seeking a better work life balance to prioritise family. Workplaces that fail to identify the changing landscape of employee needs risk facing high employee turnover.

Secondly, while thousands of Kiwis rushed home as the pandemic surged in 2020, with border re-openings now in sight, a wave of young professionals ready to embark on the infamous Kiwi OE is expected to leave behind a list of vacancies.

The accounting profession does not need to look far. Pre-covid, the ‘Big four’ accounting firms were accustomed to the trend of newly qualified Chartered Accountants (CA) leaving for the bright lights of Europe and the United Kingdom. With the pandemic impacting these plans, hundreds of recently qualified CAs are likely planning a European summer in 2022.

Resignations and higher turnover have a direct impact on business productivity. Having survived a pandemic, businesses now need to adapt to retain employees to thrive. Retaining staff is about offering opportunities of growth, training, and flexibility between work and personal life.

If employees can see a business adapting to their needs and recognising their contribution, they might realise that greener pastures are still at home

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