Skilled workers are holding the trump cards in 2017 and bosses will need to offer pay sweeteners if they want to retain top staff, according to a new study.

The Global Salary Survey, carried out by recruitment consultancy Robert Walters NZ, found demand for skilled professionals is exceeding supply as we head into a new year, with many businesses citing a shortage of qualified workers as a barrier to growth.

It found that 61 per cent of professionals will be looking to move jobs in the next 12 months and, with many companies seeking to expand or restructure, there will be plenty of new positions available.

Robert Walters director Shay Peters said employers needed to have strategies to attract and keep skilled workers.

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Bosses should ensure their salaries were in line with their competitors, but it wasn't just cash they should consider.

"We urge hiring managers to make employee engagement and retention a high priority, offering extra benefits such as flexible working conditions and health and wellbeing programmes to attract premium candidates," he said. "Make sure you clearly articulate why a candidate should join your business, why it will benefit them professionally and what you can offer them in terms of a working environment."

The scenario currently facing New Zealand businesses was a by-product of a robust economy and an increasingly transient workforce.

"It's all about communication with your employees and if you've got some top talent that you really want to retain it's about staying in communication with them throughout the course of the year and ensuring that things are being matched to their requirements," Peters said.

According to the survey, the most sought after workers were in accounting and finance, banking and financial services, business transformation, human resources, information technology, legal, procurement and supply chain, property and facilities management, sales and marketing, and business support. There was a particular demand for people who could gain insights from the "big data" generated by digital processes.

"In most professions, salaries went up in 2016, and we expect to see moderate increases again in 2017. Those professionals with skills in particularly high demand will receive substantial increase," Peters said.

As superannuation funds continue to grow, the survey also indicated higher demand for professionals with fund management and fund administration expertise.

However, Peters said the survey had not yet reflected a growing number of "baby boomers" reaching retirement age and leaving the workforce.

"We haven't seen [an impact] just yet but it is something that is definitely on people's radar. There's a lot of knowledge tied up with that generation and ... they are still contributing quite heavily to the workforce. So there will be a bit of an impact once those numbers start to decrease."

According to Robert Walters, the top five professions in New Zealand this year are sales and marketing, commercial finance, IT (cloud, mobile, digital, e-commerce, cyber security), risk and compliance finance specialists, and in-house legal staff.