New Zealand Employment Trends to Watch in 2021

Employment Trends NZ

After the year that was 2020, employment trends across the globe were vastly altered. The prevailing economic and employment uncertainty was one aspect. But coupled with an unprecedented demand upon almost every category of workforce to change – both how we work and where we work – left many industries flailing.

Surviving this maelstrom became the top priority for businesses of all sizes (and most industries).

Last week, we looked at the impact of this environment on the Australian market and its employment trends. This week, we’re looking at the 2021 workforce statistics and trends in New Zealand.

Here’s the latest:

nz workforce stats

A Mindset Shift

The NZ economy and business sentiment has started to shift from the survival mindset of 2020. Today, getting back to business in a thrive mindset is starting to dominate. Using disruption as an opportunity to drive change and propel organisations forward, is on the rise. According to Deloitte, the ability to pivot in a time of crisis was a major learning from 2020.

Bringing human skills to the fore – such as adaptability, decision-making under pressure and responsiveness to change – are now seen as critical not only during a crisis, but ongoing.

agile workforce

An Agile Workforce is Key

Innovative solutions to hiring, including the rising prevalence of contingent working, are emerging as a leading trend in the NZ employment landscape. HR leaders in NZ are focusing on hiring to introduce better skills into their organisation, rather than hiring to fill predetermined jobs. Agility in the hiring process and talent acquisition is proving to be key for NZ employers, looking to fill skills gaps.

NZ employment trends

Worker Wellbeing: Elevated Importance

New Zealand labour market trends are leaning heavily towards maintaining, managing and protecting the wellbeing of the workforce. The pandemic showed employers a frightening scenario: workers feeling isolated, job insecure and disconnected from their peers. It was an environment that made for output and performance decline.

On the back of this scenario, employers in NZ have stepped up. A recent Randstad Talent Trends survey showed that 70% of workers in NZ feel their wellbeing is supported by their employer, up from 52% in Q3 2020. It’s a positive and reassuring shift for the workforce.

working from home

A Shift to Permanent Work-From-Home (WFH)

The majority of New Zealand employers are shifting their approach to the workplace, by adopting a permanent WFH policy. This might mean a mix of onsite and offsite solutions. For some businesses, it means 100% offsite with periodical in-person meetings and an exemplary technological set-up for remote collaboration.

Interestingly, the WFH approach is no longer a pandemic reaction. It’s an approach that’s here to stay for the NZ workforce. Work/life balance has been on the table for a long time in NZ, with data from recent years showing a rising awareness with employers. Now, this awareness has shifted to action, with employers recognising WFH fosters a better work/life balance for employees.


As the second quarter of calendar 2021 is now upon us, it’s critical for employers and the NZ labour market to stay on top of the changing nature of today’s labour market trends. What I’ve shared here is a highlight only. So if you would like to discuss these, or other career trends with me, please contact me here.