As we draw near the end of 2020, we can reflect on what has been a most unusual year for all, and one that many of us would not have predicted, particularly not the wide-reaching effect that Covid-19 has had, not only us, but the entire world.
We can be thankful as many other countries are still in lockdown, and as we head into Christmas we have relative freedom in our daily activities – certainly something to be grateful for.
It’s been a tough year, but for the most part, we’ve done well. Whilst there are plenty of casualties as a result of Covid-19 and the ensuing economic environment, there has been support and as tenacious Kiwis it’s been refreshing to see the true kiwi entrepreneurial spirit shine through. Having the ability to “pivot” being key.
Reflecting on 2020, I think it’s a year that many of us are very keen to close the door on – but what does the coming 12 months hold for us as employers moving into 2021?
Covid-19 continues to dominate our landscape and unemployment figures are really starting to rise – almost doubling in the past three months – and expected to peak at around 7.5 percent this time next year.
As Covid-19 continues to ravage countries around the world, there are far-reaching effects felt throughout the business community. Businesses are continually reshaping their business models and as we head into Christmas this will also put pressure on those who are working hard to remain profitable.
The lack of international students is also having a big impact on funding streams at tertiary education level.
The wage subsidy band-aid is at an end, businesses have taken up the loan options available and now many are faced with the reality of reducing staff and operations to account for the Christmas and New Year period and potentially beyond.
Although some sectors, including primary sectors, continue to flourish, those reliant on imports are dealing with reducing freight options putting pressure on supply chain and retailers really struggling with stock levels.
There is also the reduced ability to source labour from overseas, which is affecting productivity in those sectors who rely heavily on migrants for seasonal operations, and this is also flowing into skilled and technical roles.
Interestingly, it is incredibly difficult at present to find staff. With high employment levels, many would expect the opposite.
However, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find staff for some basic level roles, and I suspect, talking to employers in other regions that this is the case nationwide – or within the regions at least.
Kiwis are certainly not rushing to fill roles that would ordinarily have been filled by temporary migrant workers.
What do employers face?
So what does 2021 have in store for employers? Firstly, another raise in the minimum wage – this will go from $18.90 to $20.00.
The current minimum wage sits at 59 percent of the average wage in New Zealand which puts us at the highest in the developed world and is almost 70% of the median wage. There is no doubt that this will drive costs higher for all.
Broadly speaking minimum wages are mostly associated with work paid on an hourly rate basis – so those in retail, hospitality, services, tourism, and manufacturing. This comes at a time when thousands of roles are being disestablished and many businesses are struggling.
A plus for the regions post-lockdown is that many families are choosing to relocate out of the cities – realising that many can work remotely from any location and that the regions potentially offer better lifestyle options.
I guess there are many lessons to be learnt from lockdown. There’s no doubt that the house prices, pressures of life in the large cities and the desire for lifestyle change has seen numerous individuals and families choose to make our wonderful region home.
We have seen a number of newly created roles across both Tauranga and Rotorua markets that reflect the growth of some of the businesses within our region. So it’s positive so note that there is some business confidence.
In particular we have seen a number of newly created middle management roles come to the market as business owners recognise the need to add value to their current business operations.
It is also refreshing to note that salary and benefit packages are competitive across the Bay of Plenty making it easier for our employers to compete for quality candidates nationwide.
In summary, 2020 has been a year that none of us will forget. With unexpected challenges on all levels, we’ve had to be resilient and with the election behind us and another new year ahead, again we are fortunate in so many ways, and know that out of adversity comes strength.
Wishing you all the very best for the festive season.