Staff turnover rises, job tenure falls as more workers decide now is the time to move

By Fiona Rotherham

Renewed hiring confidence post the global financial crisis has resulted in a tightening market for qualified staff. Photo / iStock
Renewed hiring confidence post the global financial crisis has resulted in a tightening market for qualified staff. Photo / iStock

Staff turnover is rising, with more NZ workers willing to risk taking on a new job.

Simon Bennett, chief executive of AWF Madison, the country's largest recruiter and temporary labour provider, said anecdotally, average employee tenure was decreasing.

"The average tenure was once where people used to think three years was good but it's closer to two years now," Bennett said.

Renewed hiring confidence post the global financial crisis has resulted in a tightening market for qualified staff, tipping the balance in favour of candidates, Bennett said.

A construction boom in Auckland has also led to an acute shortage of skilled tradesmen in the region while the local IT industry has resorted to signing-on bonuses of up to $15,000.

The annual New Zealand Staff Turnover survey released in March found the national average turnover for 2015 was 18.4 per cent - the highest rate since 2008 and an 11 per cent increase on the previous year.

The survey, by Lawson Williams Consulting Group and the Human Resources Institute of New Zealand (HRINZ), said factors such as an ageing workforce, skills shortages, attitudinal shifts to how quickly someone changes jobs, reduced loyalty, rapid organisational change and reduced job security, have all driven gradual increases in staff turnover over the past 20 years.

There was a sharp blip downwards in that trend during the global financial crisis from 2007 to 2009. Since 2014, a record number of people have entered the workforce which has seen more people change jobs.

There wasn't much employers could do about the shift, which was largely generational, Bennett said, but they needed to adjust their recruitment and induction practices to get new staff "up and running more quickly".

Turnover rates vary hugely between industries, from an average 11 per cent in 2015 for the energy/electricity industry to 52.7 per cent for fast-food and hospitality, the turnover survey said. It also ranges by skill and pay levels, with higher turnover in unskilled and semi-skilled workers on low pay rates.

Money is typically not the major factor for a worker leaving - a lack of career prospects, bad workplace culture, or a failed relationship with the boss are key drivers, said HRINZ chief executive Chris Till.

The 2016 Hays Salary Guide out this month showed voluntary staff turnover had risen in 23 per cent of the 419 organisations surveyed over the past year. Just 12 per cent reported decreased staff turnover and the remainder had stayed much the same.

- BusinessDesk

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