The skills shortage, border restrictions and vaccine efficacy topped the list of director concerns in the Institute of Directors and ASB Bank’s latest director sentiment survey.

Around 60% of directors still reported negative impacts on their organisation’s performance because of the pandemic while 57% said labour quality and capability are one of the biggest hurdles for the economy, up from 32% in 2020.

Border restrictions were cited by 54%.

“Fighting to attract and retain staff will be a clear focus for boards in the year ahead,” said the institute's chief executive Kirsten Patterson.

“For organisations, some financially challenged by the pandemic, there now seems to be a volatile labour force, increasing salary expectations and a gap for some of the key skills needed,” she said.

Some improvement

There was some improvement on the economic front. 

Of those surveyed, 29% expect economic performance to improve in the next 12 months, up from 24% in 2020.

Meanwhile, 54% expect their organisation’s performance to improve in the next 12 months, up from 50% in 2020. 

ASB economist Nick Tuffley said NZ can expect to see economic growth of 4% or more over 2022 as it rebounds from a lockdown-affected 2021, and starts reopening up to the rest of the world.

Today marks the beginning of the so-called traffic light system, with greater freedom for the vaccinated. 

“Under the traffic light system New Zealand organisations can look forward to an environment that will be more stable, with less of the extreme lurches in restrictions that were used over 2020 and 2021 to combat Covid-19,” Tuffley said. 

He also said opening up the border will help the recovery of the international tourism and education sectors.


On the vaccine front, 80% of directors are in support of workforces choosing to mandate vaccinations. 

Despite this, 37% of directors cited the effectiveness of vaccine schemes as one of the biggest possible impediments to national economic performance.

“Globally, vaccines are enabling greater opening up of economies, though by themselves are not necessarily enough to contain the pandemic,” Tuffley said. 

The survey also showed a heightened focus on health and wellbeing. 

“Covid-19 has created challenges for all communities and organisations are grappling with workers facing fatigue due to extended periods of uncertainty,” the report said. 

A total of 85% regularly discuss workplace mental health and wellbeing in the boardroom. Also, 72% of boards have approved initiatives to help address workplace mental health issues in the past 12 months. 

The survey was carried out between Sept 16 and Oct 12 and included more than 900 responses.