NZ Construction employers warned – plan for post Easter power shift

Easter will mark an important tipping point in New Zealand’s construction employment sector, yet recruiting experts Hays says that many employers could be caught on the hop.

With the Christchurch rebuild entering its next phase and an impressive level of commercial and residential development taking place in Auckland, Hays says, in a media release, the market will weigh strongly in favour of candidates post the holidays.

Research from Statistics New Zealand shows trades people top the list of skills in demand in Canterbury, with demand highest for bricklayers, carpenters, joiners, scaffolders and plumbers.

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment data shows that the number of construction and engineering jobs in Canterbury rose 16.8 percent in the year to December 2014 and by a massive 375 percent since September 2010.

With so much growing competition for candidates, employers need to understand that the attraction and retention strategies that worked well in the past may not be enough now.

Jason Walker, managing director of Hays in New Zealand, says that to get ahead of the curve employers need a change in mindset in four key areas:

1. Leveraging social media and mobile platforms
“More than a third of New Zealand job hunters use a mix of mobile and desktop devices to search for a new role,” says Walker. “A further 2 percent search for jobs solely using a mobile device and this figure is rising. Social media is also being used heavily in the personal lives of people working in construction, so it makes sense to harness this technology to attract and engage candidates.”

2. Beware the use of counter offers
“Employers continue to make counter offers but this strategy rarely works in the long term,” Walker says. “The strategic use of financial incentives such as bonuses for completing projects is a better approach, provided employers are also investing in creating an engaging workplace culture.”

3. Widening the talent pool
“Given talent shortages, employers need to expand their view of what their ideal candidate looks like,” says Walker. “Bias around gender or ethnic background will severely narrow the field of talent you have to choose from, while recruiting to an industry stereotype creates a risk of paying too much for candidates of only average quality.

“Employers should also consider quality overseas candidates. The New Zealand government is already offering a greater number of visas to Irish workers with the right skills. We also suggest employers consider candidates from our own region. We meet candidates who have worked on some of Asia’s most impressive construction projects and are keen to add value to employers here.”

4. Career development a key retention tool
“All employees value constructive feedback, but too often in construction we see performance reviews consist only of a quick chat over coffee. Employers would benefit from offering genuine reviews at regular intervals that are linked to career development pathways.”

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