How to find good employees without breaking the bank

Having difficulty attracting talented employees? You’re not alone.

In fact, 37% of New Zealand small business owners rate on-the-job experience and lacklustre work ethic in potential employees as an obstacle to the growth of their business.

In order to get an edge over the competition, several professional services businesses are offering innovative – even radical – employee perks, in order to help attract and retain quality staff.

Allow employees to work remotely

Over the past decade, technologies such as cloud computing have revolutionised how we work.

Indeed, one in six New Zealand employees now have an arrangement with their employer allowing them to work from home, according to the Stats NZ Survey of working life: 2018.

Karly Boast is the People & Culture Manager at BCD Group, a Hamilton-based engineering firm that allows its staff to work remotely.

“We researched the idea and wanted to change the current way we work to better suit the 21st century,” she says.

She says the firm now has employees who work remotely from the South Island and Australia, while other employees have the option to work from their homes, some as a default, while others regularly or on an ad hoc basis.

“This initiative has had a positive impact on attracting talent in a market that has a real talent shortage,” Boast says.

“We’ve had talent directly approach us for jobs, as well as other business owners wanting to learn more about how they can implement remote working in their own business.”

The four-day work week

BCD is also trialing a much bolder strategy – a four-day work week. The idea of paying employees the same amount for 20% less time on the clock shot to international prominence in 2018 when local New Zealand business Perpetual Guardian trialed the concept with its staff.

Charlotte Lockhart, who owns Perpetual Guardian with partner Andrew Barnes, says the three-month trial was such a success that the company rolled it out as part of their permanent employment strategy last November.

“We’ve basically been running it for a year now. And the talent of people applying for jobs with us has increased enormously,” says Lockhart, who has since launched and become CEO of the not-for-profit community 4 Day Week Global.

Not only that, adds Lockhart, but staff retention rates have also improved, although she admits a small number of staff didn’t enjoy being measured on their productivity and initially left.

Lockhart says one of the unexpected benefits has been that employees now better understand how the business works, which in turn has led changes to streamline processes.

“When you say to staff, ‘We need to develop productivity measures across the whole business so that I can give you time off’, they’ll sit down with their teams and look at ways to make it happen,” she says.

More ways to attract talented staff

  1. Annual leave – offer employees more than the minimum four weeks’ annual leave each year.
  2. Acknowledge out of office work – if employees regularly answer emails or take calls outside of work hours, reward them with paid time off.
  3. Employee referrals – your best employees know what it takes to nail their job. Incentivise them to refer strong candidates from their network by setting up employee referral programs.
  4. Move to a more ideal location – no one wants to work in a dreary office setting. Consider relocating to an area that’s easily accessible via public transport and close to nice parks and cafes where your staff can enjoy their breaks.
  5. Advertise jobs on social media – the talented staff you want might often not be actively looking for a new position and frequenting online jobs boards. Instead, try going to where they are by advertising job openings on social media platforms.
  6. Highlight the ‘career opportunity’ – the number one reason people change jobs is ‘career opportunity’, according to LinkedIn hiring research. So make sure you clearly outline what career path your job can provide applicants in both the online ad and when you meet with them.

Need to hire more staff to grow and make the most of big opportunities? Talk to a Prospa business finance specialist about whether a small business loan can help get you there.

The information on this website is provided for general information only and does not take into account your personal situation. You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs, and where appropriate, seek professional advice from financial, legal and taxation advisors. Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of the information, Prospa, its officers, employees and agents disclaim all liability (except for any liability which by law cannot be excluded), for any error, inaccuracy, or omission from the information or any loss or damage suffered by any person directly or indirectly through relying on this information.

What type of short-term hire will work best for your holiday rush?

Many small business owners are all too familiar with the holiday rush. Just as most of the country is starting to wind down and think about how they’ll spend the festive break, many in retail and hospitality are facing their busiest times of the year.

Making the most of the holiday shopping and festive season frenzy often means bringing more hands on deck. And that’s where it can get complicated.

There is more than one way to hire temporary staff. So how can small businesses hire the right sort of help while keeping up with any compliance requirements?

Temps vs casuals: What’s the difference?

Employsure Senior Employment Relations Adviser, Michael Wilkinson, says small businesses need to be aware of the different requirements and responsibilities when hiring temporary workers and casuals.

“When you use the word temp, you need to understand what that actually means,” he says. “It’s usually referring to a temporary contract, meaning a fixed-term employment agreement for a set period of time.”

Employment New Zealand says a temporary employee is someone who is hired for a specific time period or when a particular event occurs, for example, a worker covering for another employee’s parental leave or a person engaged for a seasonal peak to complete a project.

A fixed-term agreement must include a “genuine reason based on reasonable grounds” for the shorter-term contract, which must be made known to the employee. For example, this could be the end of the holiday period or the completion of a project.

On the other hand, a casual worker is one who is employed on an intermittent basis, without regular shifts or the obligation to accept the work.

Under New Zealand employment law, casual workers need to know their work hours will vary and that they’re not obliged to come to work whenever the employer might need them.

By law, all employees – whether casual, fixed-term or permanent – must also have a written employment agreement. This should explicitly state if the employment has a fixed term and why, or whether it is of casual nature with an expectation of varying hours.

Unemployment at historic lows

Employsure’s Wilkinson says small businesses should assess their staffing requirements for the holiday season and the predictability of their work flows, before hiring staff.

He says, amid increasing unpredictability in retail trading, some employers choose the flexibility of casual staff so they can meet fluctuating customer demands.

But if the work flow is predictable, he says small businesses can engage a fixed-term worker to meet demand – provided they have a reason for the role to end.

But he advises employers to consider what they are “locking themselves into”.

“A casual employee you don’t have to roster. There’s no obligation to do that, whereas a permanent or fixed-term employee needs to be provided with the hours guaranteed in their employment agreement.

“There are always trade-offs.”

The time to act is now

Kirk Hope, the CEO of small business peak body BusinessNZ, says there are already many employers searching for workers and finding skilled staff is a “top concern” for small businesses.

“The labour market is currently very tight in New Zealand,” he says.

“Unemployment is around 4% – an historically very low level. There are many casual job openings in retail in Auckland and in horticulture in regional areas, along with other types of casual vacancies, in the pre-Christmas period.”

Wilkinson says given the approaching peak trade for the retail and hospitality sectors, employers should act immediately to recruit and train their additional staff. Finding yourself short of staff during a peak trading period can very easily mean you leave potential profits on the table.

Need to ramp up your staff numbers ahead of the summer season? Talk to Prospa about how a small business loan could help provide cash flow support, so you can meet extra wage demands.

The information on this website is provided for general information only and does not take into account your personal situation. You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs, and where appropriate, seek professional advice from financial, legal and taxation advisors. Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of the information, Prospa, its officers, employees and agents disclaim all liability (except for any liability which by law cannot be excluded), for any error, inaccuracy, or omission from the information or any loss or damage suffered by any person directly or indirectly through relying on this information.