From work-from-homers to career junkies, there’s a new balance of power in the market – worker power. 

Companies once felt candidates were privileged to get a job with them. You have to flip that. Now it’s a privilege to have someone work for you.

There’s been much said about the current state of the New Zealand labour market. Job ads have reached record highs in recent months, businesses across many industries are struggling to fill roles, and candidates are not applying in the numbers of old, with applications per job ad in July down 22% compared to July 2019. 

With demand for talent greater than ever, workers are well and truly in the driver’s seat. When it comes to negotiating with current employers, or applying for new roles, workers have some serious bargaining power at their disposal. 

At SEEK we advise businesses daily on how best to adapt hiring practices for the changing market conditions. 

No one-size-fits-all approach
What was best practice three years ago – even 18 months ago – has changed, and businesses need to get up to speed with what workers want, or risk losing out on talent. 

Research done by SEEK, what we call the Laws of Attraction data, proves that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to attracting and retaining talent. 

The survey of more than 4500 New Zealand workers, shows that several factors determine what motivates workers, including their personal circumstances, where they live, and which industry they work in. 

So, businesses need to know their audience – both their current employees and those they are wishing to attract – so the can maximise retention and the chances of signing on the right talent. 

Is it all about work-life balance? Not necessarily.

For example, our data shows us that while work-life balance is increasingly important for many workers, it’s more of a priority for women than men. 

Options such as time off in lieu, the ability to work from home, and extra leave entitlements are considered “must-haves” for almost a third of women. 

How to attract Gen Z

It’s important to consider the career stage of your workers or potential workers. 

Career progression, learning opportunities and mentorship are going to be more attractive offerings for those at the beginning of their career, or in junior positions. 

Just as there’s no single magic formula for appealing to talent, businesses also need to recognise that their approach to hiring and engaging with their workers must adapt to the changing market conditions. 

Work from home

One new trend has been the demand for flexible work options. “Work from home” was the top keyword search by candidates on in the June quarter. 

What’s more, 39% of NZ workers would consider resigning if their employers did not offer working from home as an option. 

Job ads have started to reflect this. The percentage of professional services sector roles offering it as part of their package grew from close to 1% to almost 10% in the past two years.   

What does it pay?

Salary is another key lever that businesses can use to entice recruits, and for good reason. SEEK data shows that it remains one of the top three drivers that attract talent to a new job, along with work-life balance and career progression. 

As the cost of living rises, and with workers knowing that the fastest way to a pay rise is to change jobs, we've seen wages grow across some industries by as much as 15% to 20%, including in roles within information and communication technology (ICT), sales and manufacturing, and transport and logistics. 

The key learning here is that, if you’re able to offer flexible work options or a competitive salary, and you know that these are important to your workers and potential candidates, you need to be showing this throughout the hiring process, which all starts with your job ad. 

If NZ’s low unemployment rate continues, as it is forecast to do, we can expect the labour market to stay tight, with job ads high and ample choice for candidates. 

It has never been more important for businesses to highlight what sets them apart, and align that with the needs and wants of their candidates.