THERE ARE clear differences between
what companies in the US and those in
Australia and NZ are doing in response
to the economic downturn, according to
global HR consulting firm Hewitt.
Speaking at a recent conference in
Sydney, Richard Kantor, regional practice
leader for Hewitt’s talent and organisa
tional consulting services in Asia Pacific,
said there were no “one size fits all” solu
tions or approaches.
“What’s effective in an organisation’s
US operations is likely not strategically
sound if duplicated in markets such as
Australia or New Zealand,” he said.
“It’s critical that organisations plan
and execute their decisions to reflect local
market realities and practices.”
Commenting on the results of a sur
vey into the global economic downturn,
Kantor said 55 per cent of US compa
nies indicated that they are planning or
have implemented layoffs. In the Aus
tralian market survey, only 32 per cent
and in New Zealand just 23 per cent indi
cated this as a possible direction.
The most significant difference
between Australia and New Zealand is
that no New Zealand companies are plan
ning on freezing salaries, versus 12 per
cent of Australian companies and 15 per
cent for the US.
Further, more than half of organisa
tions in the US are planning or have
implemented a hiring freeze, compared
with 44 per cent in Australia and 39 per
cent in New Zealand.
However, the types of HR measures
being undertaken vary between Australia
and NZ. More than half of New Zealand
organisations are considering alternative
work arrangements, in contrast to just 27
per cent of Australian respondents.
Almost a third of Australian com
panies (31 per cent) are plan
ning to redesign their incentive
programs compared with just
11 per cent of New Zealand
The survey also pointed to
differences in special planning
around high performers and
paying for performance, by
companies represented in each
While 67 per cent of US com
panies indicated they have iden
tified and are treating high per
formers differently from the rest
of employees, more than 90 per
cent of companies in Australia
and NZ have taken this position.
“Clearly, when we look at
other data in the survey, retain
ing high performers is a key
focus in Australia and New
Zealand. This shows up in plans
for how pay will be adminis
tered and also in how other
engagement drivers will be
managed,” Kantor said.
How companies approach
learning and development pro
gram planning provides a case in
point, according to Kantor, with
46 per cent of companies in Aus
tralia and 44 per cent in New
Zealand planning to increase
spending in this area.
“Hewitt data suggests that this
is consistently a good lever to
pull to retain and engage top per
formers. We just have to see
whether companies follow
through on this intent,” he said.