When American singer/songwriter Johnny Mercer wrote the lyrics "ac-cent-tchu-ate the positive, eliminate the negative" in 1944, it's unlikely he gave any consideration to the sentiment behind his popular song having relevance to the New Zealand job market almost 70 years later.
Kiwi employees have had a lot to be gloomy about over the past few years, but a new study shows we may at last be finding good cause to focus on the positive.
The latest Randstad Workmonitor report has found New Zealand workers are increasingly optimistic about the country's economic situation, with over three-quarters stating in an on-line questionnaire that their organisation is performing well financially, with many expecting further improvement this year.
The report says New Zealanders are more positive than most workers around the world but are neck-and-neck with Australia in the optimism stakes, with 77 per cent of workers in both countries believing their organisation is performing well financially.
The study covers 32 countries around the world and is published four times a year, making both local and global trends in mobility regularly visible over time. It uses the mobility index, which tracks employee confidence and captures expectations surrounding the likelihood of changing employers within a six-month time frame. It provides a comprehensive understanding of job market sentiments and employee trends, employee satisfaction and personal motivation. The survey is conducted via an online questionnaire among a population aged 18-65, working a minimum of 24 hours a week in a paid job but not self-employed.
Paul Robinson, director of recruitment and HR company Randstad, says the survey's results show a definite shift in employees' perception of the current Kiwi job market. "It's promising to see New Zealanders becoming more confident in our local economic environment," he says.
Robinson says a number of key factors are contributing to this newfound confidence, including a generational shift, the move towards flexible work options, and an increased emphasis on training and development opportunities.
This year will also see the greater emergence of remote working options and a move towards a more blended workforce, says Robinson. "Now more than ever, employees are embracing the concept which allows for greater flexibility. This concept can create a motivated and committed workforce who manage their workload at their own pace to suit their lifestyles."
Robinson believes the labour market is growing in competitiveness and says that, as a result, organisations are pushing for training and development opportunities for employees to upskill and take on new projects and further their career as a way to retain their employees.
While the renewed optimism among workers is a healthy sign for the New Zealand economy, says Robinson, it's also a sign that businesses will have to continue investing in their people if they want to hold on to their brightest talent. "With confidence on the rise, businesses need to consider the strategies they will implement to keep their best talent from looking elsewhere. Employers need to focus on their employer brand, on the factors which make their business an attractive place to work."
Employers should also consider the benefits employees really want, and think beyond simple remuneration packages, stresses Robinson. "Extra annual leave days or flexible working options, with the ability to work out of the office can be a significant drawcard for many employees, and can have a positive impact on overall employer brand."
Robinson says the general sentiment for businesses is that 2013 looks set to be a positive year. "We can expect to see a lot of movement in the job market this year, with employees looking to progress their careers. Employers should aim to upskill their top talent to ensure they remain engaged."