Itchy Feet and Empty Desks

Posted by | August 2, 2022 | Employers, Market updates, Recruiting tips, Retention

empty office desk

By Rhiannon Robinson

34% of our community are considering heading overseas to work in the next 12 months. Here’s what that means for employers.

In a recent LinkedIn poll, we asked the Do Good Jobs community whether they’re considering heading overseas to work in the next 12 months. These were the results;

That’s a LOT of talent and resource flying (literally) out of the door.

We’ve previously written on the tight labour market, and the fact that 125,000 Kiwis are expected to leave the country over the next year, but this poll shocked us. Could 34% of employees up ship in the next 12 months? Here’s what that could mean for employers;

A spate of resignations

As all of us in the recruitment world know, resignations tend to come in a flurry. With Kiwis aged 18-27 driving the exodus of talent there is also a #fomo factor at play;

“If you’re under 30 and it feels like all your peers are booking plane tickets and heading to live overseas, you’re probably not wrong.” said a Stuff article on the brain drain

With peers heading off for overseas work opportunities that make travel an easier option, it’s predicted that more young people will follow suit. No one wants to be the one working away at a steady job while their friends post about their new lives in Europe.

Companies are expecting registrations to come in thick and fast from millennials and Gen Z employees. In many cases, this is a loss of talent that bring fresh ideas, diversity of thought and innovation. 

Time to go all-in?

“Is there one good reason why young Kiwis should stay?” Asked a headline a few months ago. No, seemed to be the conclusion after working through the call list of inflation, bad weather and lack of access to the housing market. It seems inevitable that many young people will put travel at the top of their priority list.  But is there an option to retain them despite that? Employers that are able to offer extended leave, work from abroad options or company exchanges to international branches have had the edge in the great resignation overseas, could these tactics work in New Zealand?

Permanently understaffed

It seems that all of New Zealand is understaffed at the moment, from cafes that close early to helplines that don’t answer the phone. Acute staffing shortages are in New Zealand’s medium-term forecast and we need to learn how to cope with them. Losing a large chunk of the working population to overseas opportunities is bound to heap pressure on the staff that do stay. Workloads will increase, complaints about services will ramp up and so will the danger of burnout.

Looking after the staff who stay on board needs to be at the top of the priority list for employers. Workloads need to be adjusted to account for the fact there is less resource. What can be de-prioritised and potentially paused while staffing is tight? What systems or automations might relieve the pressure on staff?

What can I do about all this?



About Rhiannon Robinson

Rhiannon Robinson is a labour market and organisational culture nerd and has done research on the use of personality traits in job ads. Read her 2022 labour market predictions here.

Our team offers job ad reviews and other services, like candidate shortlisting. Feel free to get in touch with [email protected] for more info.

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