With disruption to labour markets and business models on an international scale, there is an emergence of ambiguity that impacts the workforce strategy of employers and correspondingly the nature of work for employees.  Exploring elements below from a business leaders’ perspective provides background to these drivers of change.

Job creation vs job decline
Growth in some functions and industry sectors is a natural result of adjustments and the shift to meet changing consumer behaviour.  The speed of development, impact and use of technology is the obvious influencer closely linked also to demographic and socio-economic factors that varies by country.  In New Zealand examples of increased demand include employees in robotics, data analytics, business services and sales leadership; consistent with global trends.

As new job families emerge others are redundant.  Contributed to by automation, a driver is evaluation of business critical roles resulting in re-allocation of resources to positions that clearly add value.  Evidence of reducing opportunities in administrative roles at all levels has prevailed for many years.

Talent shortages vs unemployment
Across industries, organisational tiers and functions, companies experience a lack of available expertise at the right price.  There is tension in the current employment market about ‘talent shortages’ of skills and also increased reference to lack of availability of desired 21st Century attributes.

Opposingly, choice of potential employees for some roles is greater as a global labour market offers access to wider talent communities comprising local candidates, New Zealander’s returning and new kiwis.  This increased competition is exacerbated by transferability of skills across industries in which previously there was no comparability and now there is acknowledged value.  A typical example is movement between manufacturing and services.

Specialist vs generalist
Requirements of the employment market with regard to deep knowledge within certain functional areas make those with narrow, profound expertise appealing particularly in areas such as information technology, engineering and science disciplines.

Alternatively, the preferred style and key to success for many innovative companies are generalists who have developed abilities from a core function to take a broader perspective across the organisation, making connections between ideas, engaging teams and articulating goals.

Workaholic vs work-life balance
The high connectivity levels of individuals has created integration of business and personal communication channels, therefore developing blurred lines with regard to appropriate response times and delivery of results.  For some this is a welcome enhancement to achieving their goals faster and encourages a 'never switch off' culture.  

A converse reaction is evident with return of the 1980's concept of work life balance.  Consistent with experience of our partners in Europe, USA and Australia, providing a workplace that caters for both is necessary as employees aim to combine a challenging career with independence and flexibility to pursue their own interests.

Tech evaluation vs human assessment
Considerable conversations are invested in the role of technology solutions in a recruitment process.  With a purpose of filtering applications, reducing timeframes and costs, it may include automated responses, CV word matching, and one way video interviews.  Potentially appropriate for positions with high volume responses, taking this approach may overlook key elements of interest in a person’s background.

It follows that including human judgement in interpretation of written information through CV evaluation, and an interactive interview, enhances deeper understanding of the information presented.  In addition, through human dialogue it is more effective to represent an opportunity to secure interest of a potential employee in the attractiveness of your organisation ahead of your competitor; therefore a proactive strategy in the 'war for talent'. 

Company up-skilling vs contract expertise
Businesses are investing in up-skilling and re-skilling their people to meet requirements of their future workforce.  Where they have hired on attitudinal qualities with strong alignment of individual and company behaviours, this is a successful and rewarding strategy for both.  Offering development opportunities through mobility, job rotation, mentoring and flexible work practices retains company knowledge with positive impact on retention and attraction.

Alternatively, ‘buying in’ capability for projects with a defined timeframe that is often short or medium-term delivers key skills quickly and is favoured by some companies.  Along similar lines is the opportunity to collaborate with a complementary business or engage with an outsource partner.

In conclusion, acknowledging the trends and drivers of change in labour markets, and translating these to your business and industry sector, provides a strong base to develop an effective plan for your future workforce and therefore business success.


Nicola Pohlen


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