New Zealand employers may struggle to retain workers over the next 12 months, with 68 per cent of employees likely to be looking for a new job, according to the Kelly Global Workforce Index.

That's just higher than the international average of 66 per cent, the global survey canvasing about 170,000 people across 30 countries has found.

Out of the 3,500 New Zealanders surveyed, 50 per cent said they were happy in their job, while 27 per cent said they were unhappy.

"For employees, the response to years working in a sluggish economy - which has often meant coping with greater demands with fewer staff, lower wage growth and fewer opportunities for promotion - is the significant restlessness we are seeing in this new KGWI," said Debbie Grenfell, managing director at Kelly Services.


Grenfell said as the economy begins to improve, employers are likely to find it increasingly competitive, not only to hire new staff but also to retain their best employees.

Defying stereotypes, 74 per cent of baby boomers - those aged 49 to 66 - were most likely to switch jobs over the next 12 months. That compares with 69 per cent of Gen X, aged 31 to 48, and 66 per cent of Gen Y, aged 19 to 30.

Financial reward was not employees' key motivator when looking for a job, with 48 per cent of respondents citing personal fulfillment as the most important consideration, followed by growth/advancement on 37 per cent. Financial consideration accounted for only 10 per cent of responses.

"The key here is that employers need to look at a range of ways to engage their staff - giving them opportunities to maintain a good work/life balance and derive 'meaning' from their work,' Grenfell said.