A third of working Kiwis are on the hunt for a new job; unsatisfied with low wages, lack of promotion opportunities, and plain old boredom with the routine. By Steve Hart

According to recruitment agency Hays, 32 per cent of the people who took part in its survey say they will look for a new job within the coming 12 months.

It means the pressure is on employers to keep their staff engaged or risk losing some of their best people.

Adam Shapley, managing director of Hays in New Zealand, says firms need to focus on retention – a far cheaper option than filling vacancies which takes a lot of time and effort.

"Given New Zealand's acute skills shortage it's understandable the focus has been on candidate attraction," says Shapley. "But retention now needs just as much in focus.

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"For example, revisiting the flexible work practices you can offer, examining benefits, and looking at what learning, development, and career progression opportunities you can offer."

Shapley also points to the July to June financial year saying it traditionally brings fresh activity to the jobs market as companies release new hiring budgets and implement plans for the future direction of the business.

This traditionally leads to a spike in new opportunities.

And it's not just the brightest and best who are looking for a fresh start, says Shapley, as people from top to bottom are no different when it comes to finding something new.

It means the pressure really is on employers to look after their staff across the board and be proactive in stemming the outward flow of people who could leave with their institutional knowledge and industry contacts.

Shapley recommends managers set up one-on-one conversations with their staff to ask about their career goals and how they feel about their current job.

"It will help managers understand what drives their employees and where they'd like their career to head," he says.

"Most people do have a clear idea of how they feel about their job and do have career goals.

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"To mix it up for staff, organisations can look at how they can support the continuous development of their employees' skills and career – after all, according to our salary guide, half of employees who are currently looking, or planning to look for a new job in the next 12 months, say a lack of promotional opportunities is a key reason. A further 47 per cent cite a lack of new challenges."

He says employers need to boost the upskilling and career development opportunities they offer staff. There are several ways employers can do this, he says, without breaking the bank. One is the provision of stretch opportunities.

"Almost half of employees surveyed said more challenging or exciting work is important to them in the year ahead," says Shapley.

"Stretch opportunities ultimately allow an employee the chance to work on more challenging tasks outside their usual remit to develop new competencies, learning on the job through exposure.

"Provided you have appropriate talent within your organisation, mentoring also supports employee development and can be specifically tailored to an area of need."

However, he recommends managers set clear expectations with staff first.

"Professional development doesn't solely involve upskilling. It's as much about an employee's ability to see a clear path of progress and know exactly what they need to do to achieve it. So clearly set your expectations for each individual's professional development pathway."

Those wanting money to stay put may be out of luck.

Shapley says the Hays Salary Guide shows that while more employers will grant salary increases in their next review, the value of those increases may be less than expected.

"The salary budget is being made to stretch further," he says.

"Rather than adding to the pot, employers are becoming more strategic in their increases, offering the highest raises to those with skills in severe demand or who can prove they've added value above and beyond their job description."

Shapley says almost one-third (31 per cent) of employers have already told him they've seen their staff turnover rate rise in the last 12 months.

"With many people clearly not content in their current position. This figure will likely rise further as people look for a new job to improve their career prospects."