The Great Resignation: What are candidates looking for?

As more and more employees quit – HR leaders have to work extra hard to source talent

The Great Resignation: What are candidates looking for?

New Zealand workers have probably never been in a better position than now to negotiate employment terms or seek alternative employment, but that doesn’t mean they have all the power. Brand recognition and status can play a big role in whether someone wants to work for your company. Statistics New Zealand data revealed that the unemployment figure had fallen to 3.4% by the end of September quarter, which economists classify as ‘full employment’ due to the fact that at no time is every eligible person seeking work or even registered in the job seeking category.

A combination of closed borders, no net migration, the economy improving and a small population, definitely gives employees the competitive edge in the job market.

“There is a skill shortage across all roles, industries and regions in New Zealand,” Katherine Swan, Randstad country director, New Zealand, told HRD. “What is also interesting is that salary is no longer the number one trait future employees are seeking when searching for employment – lifestyle and benefits come first.”

Randstad’s 2021 Employer Brand Research showed that, for the first time in 10 years, employees are no longer motivated by money alone when it comes to the most important criteria when choosing a role. Work-life balance has emerged as most attractive to candidates in 2021. Attractive salary and benefits came in second, while job security ranked third. Rounding out the top five were a pleasant work atmosphere and good training.

“Having a great work-life balance is now an expectation,” Swan added. “People are feeling more stressed and working longer hours than before. People are looking at jobs allows them to achieve what they achieve professionally, personally and they want flexibility regarding where they work and the working hours.”

This does give employers some leeway if they are feeling the pinch of reduced revenue due to COVID restrictions hampering their ability to trade both internally and externally. Companies can now negotiate on other terms besides salary knowing that potential employees see that as a more important category of employment.

“What we are finding is that the relationship between employers and employees has become more nuanced,” Swan revealed.  “We know that candidates are increasingly driven by a desire for a more balanced lifestyle.  This can be attributed to a few different things including the accelerated adoption of remote based working and rapid rise in digital transformation that we have all experienced in the past 18 months.

“It’s no wonder there has been a shift in priorities, as the Covid-shaped working world looks very different from your average workplace of a couple of years ago. Organisations that can offer certainty during uncertainty, providing greater flexibility around hours, enabling employees to manage other commitments or family life as well as their role, and implementing additional incentives such as paid leave for wellbeing days, will be those that win over and retain top talent.

“Having a keen understanding of what potential employees want from their employer, as well as having a clear and streamlined recruitment process, will help your organisation to stand out from the crowd and help to attract and retain the skilled people you need to meet your business goals.”

This begs the question as how employers can get a competitive edge when it comes to recruiting top talent. Ensuring that potential employees want to come to you first will give any employer a distinct advantage.

“Sometimes we don’t see what’s right in front of us,” Swan told HRD. “It’s easy to assume that the job we’re offering is the most attractive one out there, and that all job seekers will do what it takes to be the chosen candidate. This isn’t always accurate, especially when jobs are plentiful and skilled candidates are few. Take a brief step back, before you even begin to call potential candidates and schedule interviews, you must have a clear online brand presence and job description that accurately reflects the role and your company culture.

“In an era of lockdowns and remote working, candidates are using the web as their window into your company, and you want to make sure they like what they see. This ties to a broader trend that employees are now not only looking at the role they’ll be stepping into, but the company culture and mission statement.”

Randstad state that in New Zealand it is common to have four to five rounds of interviews. They encourage organisations to implement a recruitment process that includes a screening meeting, more in-depth interviews and final checks. The specifics of the process will look different for each organisation depending on their unique needs, but regardless there are core elements that must be considered.

“For instance, while we all know by now that interviews are a two-way conversation, we have to bring this understanding into every step to ascertain whether each interview is truly necessary, keep communication lines flowing, and maintain a level of direct honesty,” Swan added. “During lockdown periods it’s vital to remain flexible and adaptable, for instance completing what would have been face-to-face interviews over video chat. On the whole, the recruitment process marks the initial contact between employer and employee and will mark the start of this budding relationship. This is why it’s so crucial to have clear communication, set clear expectations around the process including when different stages will take place and when the potential hire can expect an outcome. A streamlined process will set you off on the right track and boost your competitive advantage.”

The future is now and if you want to be an employer of choice, now is the time to align your band to the values of the jobseekers.

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