The top five things on employers wish list for 2021

Dec 18, 2020

Finding staff, the difficulties of dealing with immigration, the increasing costs of business and compliance, and uncertainty are the key issues facing business in the findings from the EMA’s recent annual member employer survey.

While 35 per cent of employers predict they will increase the number of employees they have in 2021, 58 per cent of them are finding it difficult or very difficult to attract suitable candidates for skilled positions.

EMA Chief Executive Brett O’Riley says the fact that 47 per cent of employers were very likely to invest in workplace training in the next 12 months was a positive sign that employers were keen to invest in upskilling their people.

"Increased assistance for training and upskilling staff was fourth on employers list of changes and that would be a significant step in government acknowledging and addressing New Zealand’s ongoing productivity issues. Increasing skills in the workforce will also mean a higher paid workforce as productivity increases with higher skill levels."

It was also pleasing to see that 48 per cent of employers had invested in employee wellbeing this year.

Mr O’Riley says the immigration situation brought on by COVID-19 has exacerbated an issue that employers already had.

"Employers are having to transform and grow their businesses, often in ways they hadn’t planned, and they desperately need the right people with the right skills to enable that, many of which are either not available or plentiful in New Zealand," he says.

"Fifty-two per cent of employers would usually recruit migrants from overseas, 22 per cent are finding the immigration process very difficult, and 12 per cent say it is virtually impossible."

Upcoming employment law concerns were also reflected in the survey, including areas like the proposed Fair Pay Agreements.

When it came to the key employment-related changes employers wanted, which reflected the increasing cost of doing business and compliance, they were:

  • Reinstatement of the 90-day trial
  • No minimum wage increase
  • No change to sick leave
  • Increased assistance for training and upskilling staff
  • Subsidies for new employees

Eighty-two per cent of businesses said if sick leave were increased to 10 days it would have an impact on their business, and with that becoming a reality they need relief from other costs.

"SMEs have been carrying the country through the economic recovery and are hugely resilient, but 2020 has brought a decade’s worth of change in one hit and that means timing of many of the proposed changes will be critical to business managing the impacts and costs of those changes," says Mr O’Riley.

"SMEs also want to see previous measures such as the 90-day trials reinstated, as that enables them to alter their workforces and adapt quickly to change, something that has been crucial this year."

To read all the results from the 2020 EMA Employers’ Survey please see the attachment.

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