February 2022

Is the Great Resignation really a thing?

In May 2021 Anthony Klotz, a psychologist at Texas A&M (Agriculture and Mechanical) University, coined the term ‘the great resignation’ as a way of naming what occurred the month before i.e. a record number of resignations in the US workforce.

In NZ headline-seeking economists and most media picked up on the term.  But I could not get my head around the concept as the country was experiencing dropping levels of unemployment, and surely a resignation is an outcome to an earlier action or decision.

Then, just last month, along came Bharat Ramamurti, the US National Economic Council Deputy Director, coining a new term ‘the great upgrade’.   

And suddenly it all made sense to me.   The reasons why I was receiving five times the usual number of applicants for jobs when there was now unemployment well below 4%:

  • Covid put a premium on job security; people were gravitating away from at-risk sectors and wanting to work in industries that were either unaffected, or thriving
  • Border closures stopped the influx of visa-holding job seekers; while those already in the country felt the pressure of returning home as the NZ Government was not approving visa renewals
  • Recruiters, sensing a boom in the market and commissions, fuelled the talk of high levels of job vacancies and increasing salaries
  • Job boards would furiously survey candidates, recording and publicising their high levels of interest in changing jobs; thus hoping for increased job vacancies being listed, resulting in higher revenue

And the result is ‘the great upgrade’.

Encouraged to believe there is a candidate short employment market businesses now feel they are being forced to consider candidates who feel bold enough to apply for jobs that pay more and offer a better job title but in reality may be at a level above their true capability.

For my clients I am suggesting they may need to find inventive ways to ‘hand-cuff’ their good employees and when recruiting realise that they may need to pay more in salary and benefits than they expected, and/or hire at a lower level and invest in training.


    September 2021

    Is it no surprise that big organisations are so often in headlines referring to leadership missteps?

    An article in the August 2021 NZ Management magazine discloses the results of a global survey by Boyden, a leadership and talent advisory firm of 75 offices in 45 countries.

    Their latest world-wide talent research reveals a lack of alignment in talent to strategy, the need for a different skills matrix on the board, and a lack of alignment across the leadership team.

    And the survey numbers are not at all comforting:

    • 77% of respondents are confident in their organisation’s growth potential, but less than half of them are confident in having the right talent to align growth to strategy
    • Half of all respondents describe their 2022 business approach as one of growth, while 26% say it is a learning opportunity
    • Half of the respondents say a different mix of skills is needed on the board, but only 38% say they intend to conduct a board assessment review in the next two years.

    We all know doing the same thing to try and get a different result is the definition of insanity – so it is not mad to think one in two businesses will screw things up and find they feature in the ‘leadership failure’ headlines.


      March 2021

      Employing staff – a new reality dawning on employers?

      The one Economist I have a lot of time for is Tony Alexander, especially since he has left his banking employer and become an independent.

      His latest Tony’s View published just yesterday has a very interesting first two pages.

      I’ll summarise:

      Government is looking to take the opportunity to make some structural changes to immigration policy, focussing on lifting up Kiwis rather than bringing in migrants.  An interesting statistic – pre-GFC 4% of jobs in NZ were held by migrants on visas, pre-Covid that number was 8%.

      What do businesses have to consider if this new reality does indeed see the dawn of a new business day?  Tony suggests we think about 8 things:

      • Lobbying for more overseas labour will be a wasted exercise
      • Lift capital expenditure
      • Shift to outputs with less labour input
      • Drop off low yielding outputs
      • Focus on products which give pricing power
      • Employ at a lower level and train up
      • There will be labour-related cost pressures
      • Plan for the new day

      Interesting stuff for us all and change could well gather momentum that new Governments will not reverse.   Perhaps it is time to put on the sun block of planning new business and recruitment strategy and face the new day head on, rather than staying inside and ending up a pale imitation of what we once were.


      AUGUST 2020

      When was the last time you Googled yourself?

      In 2005 I wrote an article for the website of the recruitment company I was with at the time (Executive Taskforce).  Imagine my surprise a few months later when I found out that parts of what I wrote were contained in an article in the Sydney Morning Herald. 

      Just 2 weeks ago I Googled myself to see if the article was still on the web, and of course yes it was.

      And what does this have to do with recruitment?

      When I am interviewing candidates for a role and at the end ask if they have any questions, invariably they ask me ‘what is the company culture like’.  I let them know what my own opinion is and then suggest they try Googling the company/hiring manager to see what they can learn.

      Whatever they find can potentially reinforce why they feel good about the company, or dissuade them from doing so.

      Maybe it is time to Google yourself and see how kindly the internet is treating you?


      July 2020

      The only reason I agree with having the 90-day trial period.

      I always thought that effective performance management was a better tool than invoking the opportunities available under the 90-day trial period.

      And I still do.

      But today I decided it is a nice-to-have.

      So why the change in my thinking?

      At times like these it gives small businesses the ability to ‘try-out’ a new employee – not just to see how they perform, but also to see whether their prediction of revenue growth (which led them to hiring a new employee in the first place) is correct or not.

      Uncertain times = low market predictability.

      The use of the 90-day trial period can cut the cost of getting it wrong.


      June 2020

      Has Covid-19 changed your CV?

      The short answer is, it should have.

      But why?

      When all businesses reopen after lockdown (and let’s hope that is nearly all of them), they will have a combination of some of these:

      • Less money in the bank
      • A less relevant product or service
      • Fewer staff
      • Dated IT systems
      • An out of date price book
      • Difficulty sourcing products/raw materials
      • Old production machinery
      • Etc.

      There is any number of changes and challenges that will face the post-Covid world.

      Does your CV present you as a candidate that can not only effectively do your key role, but also reflect the life and business skills you have picked up along your career path; i.e. what added-value can you bring to a business beyond your core competencies.

      The more you are able to market yourself as a multi-skilled/experienced individual the more likely you will stand out from your peers and be able to help businesses tackle whatever their combination of issues are.

      If your CV does not reflect this, then take a couple of your locked down hours to make the change.

      Your CV is a key personal marketing document – time to make it relevant for tomorrow.


      May 2020

      Lockdown Lexicon

      Jacinda and Ashley, have spear-headed a great effort in getting us to this point and as I begin reflection on where I am personally at, I realise I am wanting a different voice to be added to the mix.   And that is the voice of people and business.

      I am now tiring of the Lockdown Lexicon I am hearing every day:

      • We went early and we went hard
      • Flatten the curve
      • Unprecedented one in one hundred years event
      • [Add your own favourite]

      Continuing to say how well we have managed things relative to other countries is now coming across as a little self-indulgent and means very little to those who cannot be at a dying loved ones bedside or to a company that can no longer afford to pay its staff. 

      Having a one in one hundred year event means nothing to anyone other than those who are doing the ‘modelling’, and that is of no benefit if their models showed stocks of face masks that in the end were of no use because the elastic bands had perished.

      Can we not now start to have a new face at the podium each day at 1:00pm?      A face that talks on behalf of the aspirations of citizens and business, and can introduce us to a new lexicon involving hope, recovery, and growth; and helps to lead us positively into winter 2020, not a winter of discontent.


      April 2020

      Early lockdown.
      We are in the early days of the unknown.  We have never been here before, and we have no idea what tomorrow will be like.
      The Government is talking about rescue packages – I hope they do not turn out to be lolly scrambles; if they do I fear small businesses will be the loser.

      What about the recruitment market?    Early days on this but in the words of the Sam Cooke song – ‘a change is gonna come’.


      January 2020

      It seems to me that I am hearing more apologies than usual.
      Almost every TV news programme contains an item where a rabid journalist thrusts a microphone into someone’s face demanding humiliation, or even better a falling on their sword.
      The theatre of it may once have been a bit dramatic, but now it has become boring, frequent, and melodramatic.

      What got me thinking is how did the person responsible for the screw up actually get into their job in the first place?
      We keep being told about robust and transparent processes and decisions; but all I am hearing is obfuscation – art of talking without saying anything intelligible.


      august 2019

      Well here we go again?
      The little man in my tummy is telling me the recruitment market has a similar feel to that just before the Global Financial Crisis.
      No way am I saying that we are due for a second GFC, just that the market feels similar.

      We have a shopping list of reasons why business sentiment is at a low ebb: slowing world growth, low interest rates, very little inflation, a slow-down in China, Brexit, Trump, trade protectionism and political populism.
      But, on the upside New Zealand is still experiencing strong growth compared to the rest of the world and we still produce products the world wants; including meat, however, it is going to be a few years yet before the family roast beef dinner is artificial and squirted out of a tube.

      For recruitment it is hard for organisations to find ‘the right person’ with the general lack of readily available good candidates, but with ‘the right recruitment consultant’ their chances are improved.


      july 2019

      The holding pattern continues.
      Low interest rates and expensive petrol, low unemployment and a general lack of availability of quality candidates, sunny days and fires, incessant traffic jams and the incessant chatter from the PC brigade, the growing gap between the haves’ and the have nots’ and endless Government committee reviews.
      I need a drink!