With 2016 now history, it's time to get out the crystal ball and start looking at what 2017 will bring in the way of employment trends.

The predictions of international pundits are foresee wide-ranging - from virtual reality on-job training to extreme casualisation of workplace attire, it's a brave new world on the job front.

New Zealand, of course, exists in the international work market and these trends will make an appearance here too. But here's a Kiwi take on what to look for in the forthcoming year.

People power

Advertisement

Alan Pettersen from HR company Positive People says competition for top people will heat up even more in 2017. Last year saw talent snapped up in record time as demand outstripped supply in certain industries; that is set to continue this year.

"Organisations will become more people-centric with the competition for top and high performing people increasing," Pettersen says.

"Organisations both want and need to have the best people in their fields working for them to succeed in a highly competitive, global commercial world. Allied to this will be the long awaited and hard fought for recognition that HR has a leadership, not just a supportive, role in business."

Keeping up the contracts

Temporary and contract work boomed last year as many companies changed from permanent staff to work as needed. This looks set to continue according to Hays Recruitment's New Zealand managing director Jason Walker.

"This rise in the use of temporary and contract assignments will continue in order to accommodate candidates' demand for a more flexible lifestyle and employers' desire for a flexible headcount," he says.

Quick smart

The buoyant economy coupled with skills shortages in many areas has been a boon for top people wanting to change roles. But many companies are losing potential talent to the competition due to lengthy recruitment processes due to this.

Megan Alexander, from Robert Half, says managers in 2017 will need to be smarter when it comes to their hiring process.

"Hiring managers may need to distinguish 'must-have' skills and 'nice-to-have' skills and focus more on further training and development programmes," she says.

"Hiring managers who move fast during the recruitment process will be in the war for talent, and employers with lengthy hiring times will find themselves missing out on top candidates and starting all over again constantly."

Technology takeover

Chris Till is the chief executive of the Human Resources Institute of New Zealand (HRINZ). He thinks a continuing trend for medium-to-large NZ organisations will be to to invest in in-house technology to carry out routine recruitment and administration tasks.

"This ultimately means recruitment administrator and clerk roles will reduce and disappear," he says. "This disappearance is likely to speed up exponentially but no one really knows what the timeline will be - all you can do is guess."

He says the latest research suggests that globally such roles are 90 per cent likely to be replaced by technology in the coming decade, maybe sooner.

He adds that there will also be a greater use of algorithms to source candidates that meet a specification via the internet accessing all possible data.

In house experience

Pettersen from recruitment company Positive People says that 2017 will see more of an alignment between external branding and what is experience at work.

"The relationship between what employees actually experience at work and what the employment brand presents will increasingly take centre stage," he says.

"Employers will need to work hard to deliver an ongoing positive experience for employees that both confirms the employment brand as genuine and also attracts top people into their organisations."

Changing management styles

Millennials have very different expectations of what roles managers will take in their working lives. According to Walker, this will see management evolving from a top down approach, to a more informal relationship between managers and more junior staff.

He feels this year could see more managers taking on more supportive roles with their staff.

"Millennials want a supportive boss who is a coach or mentor and offers a close, informal relationship, Walker says. "With millennials accounting for the highest percentage of the workforce, people managers will need to adapt accordingly."

Work-life integration

Forget work-life balance, the 24/7 nature of some roles will see more people integrating work with their lifestyles, and vice versa.

"The concept of flexibility will be challenged as the gender diversity debate progresses to question employers' policies and practices for working fathers and paternity leave, says Jason Alexander from Hays.

"As a result, and with the working week becoming 24/7 in many knowledge-based sectors, the concept of work-life integration will come to the fore."

Emphasis on the environment

Donald Trump may be wanting to speed the world into a global environmental crisis, but according to Pettersen the smartest businesses will be committed to doing just the opposite.

"The smartest organisations will clearly see the global environmental wave that is gaining momentum," he says.

He feels that progressive employers understand that the welfare of their employees is inextricably linked to the health of the planet and with the coalescence of life at and outside of work, many employees will have expectations that their employers will be proactive in this area.

"They will expect their employers to take innovative action to make a contribution to a healthier and more sustainable future," he says.

Training for the future

Apprenticeships have been on the up for the past few years and Jason Alexander believes this will continue.

"One of the trends will be the encouragement of more apprenticeships," he says.

"After all, gaining technical knowledge and experience in an area of candidate demand is important for a secure long-term career - and this can be achieved through an apprenticeship just as it can through a degree or post-graduate qualification."