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Keeping the border closed on the Great Resignation

Tuesday , 22 February 2022 by Alaina McGregor

While the Great Resignation is sweeping the world as the global workforce enters a third year of pandemic-related disruptions, new research1 conducted by Southern Cross Health Insurance (Southern Cross) has uncovered what New Zealand businesses can do to help avoid the same fate.

Amanda YapChoong 300x200Survey participants across a wide range of sectors were asked to share the best things about their job, as well as indicate their job satisfaction, including how those feelings might have changed since Covid-19 reached New Zealand’s shores.

Nearly half of those surveyed (46 per cent) said they feel grateful to have their job, with this figure slightly higher for female respondents (49 per cent) compared to men (41 per cent). Workers in the education and training (63 per cent) and healthcare and social assistance (49 per cent) sectors topped the list.

However, just over a third of those surveyed said they enjoy going to work most days (35 per cent). This increased significantly for those working in education and training (55 percent) while people employed in manufacturing ranked lowest out of all industries (24 per cent). Interestingly twice as many men (15 per cent) than women (seven per cent) said they already have their dream job.

When it comes to what New Zealanders say is the best thing about their job, factors that create a more supportive work culture rank above aspects like pay and flexibility. Just over a third of respondents (34 per cent) said a supportive employer or team was the best part of their job, while 30 per cent also noted their work colleagues feel like friends or family. Again, these sentiments skewed higher for female workers, with 38 per cent of women valuing a supportive environment compared to 26 per cent of men.

Some sectors scored particularly highly when it came to offering a supportive workplace. Just over half of those who work in education and training (53 per cent), for example, said having a supportive employer or team was the best thing about their job, while 41 per cent of those employed in healthcare and social assistance also shared that sentiment.

CEO of Southern Cross Health Insurance, Nick Astwick, said the survey provides valuable insights into what New Zealand businesses are doing right when it comes to employee satisfaction, but it also shows the challenges that lie ahead.

“There’s been many reports of a significant wave of people overseas reassessing their jobs in the face of the ongoing effects of the pandemic, and New Zealand businesses have an opportunity to prioritise how to prevent the same from happening here.

“Businesses already have difficulty filling roles in a tight labour market, and this will only get worse if they have large numbers of unhappy employees silently looking to move on. There is also a huge risk that New Zealand will lose a large swathe of young people, and the upwardly mobile, who want to move overseas after two years of closed borders.

“As CEO of the country’s largest health insurer, I’m navigating these very challenges, and many of Southern Cross’ business customers have shared they’re also facing the same reality. We have a job as business leaders to step up and fight to keep our employees, because at the end of the day, a business’ biggest resource is its people,” said Astwick.

The research has been valuable in showing organisations what key areas they need to work on in order to retain its people. Despite the upheavals felt across the workforce, a proportion of New Zealanders do still enjoy going to work, and this is largely because they feel supported while they’re there and recognised for the contribution they make – but there is more work to do, added Astwick.

“Businesses need to look at the reasons why people are happy in their job - which is having a supportive workplace, a good work/life balance, and flexibility – and use that information to increase the number of people who enjoy their job, and reduce the number of people feeling burned out and reassessing their career.

“Getting those conditions right can mean greater retention of staff. There’s no denying the impact that employee turnover has on an organisation’s productivity and bottom line, so investment in building a purpose-driven culture that also encourages a feeling of belonging can help to retain a motivated and engaged workforce,” said Astwick.

Southern Cross works with more than 3,500 businesses to help them support their people, with just over half of Southern Cross’ almost 895,000 members part of an employer work scheme.

“As a health and wellbeing partner to a significant portion of Aotearoa New Zealand’s workforce, we see how employers are willing to support their people beyond the time they spend at work, and recognise how their workforce gives their everything, every day,” added Astwick.

“Feedback from those businesses also shows the workplace wellness benefits provided to employees can make them feel valued – and people who feel recognised and supported at work are more inclined to support and show loyalty to their employers in turn, and as they continue to drive the New Zealand economy forward during these uncertain times,” said Astwick.

Key insights from the Southern Cross research

(Omnibus research commissioned with Perceptive – January 2022):

How do you feel about your current job?   
 I feel grateful to have my job  46%
 I enjoy going to work most days  35%
 My employer is supportive  31%
 I receive recognition for a job well done for my employer  24%
 I love my job  24%
 I have a better work/life balance following the outbreak of Covid-19  19%
 I want to do something completely different to what I am doing now  17%
 I feel burned out at work  17%
 The pandemic made me reassess my career  15%
 I wish I could take a career break  14%


What are the best things about your job?   
 Good work-life balance 42% 
 Satisfaction in getting to help others  36%
 Supportive employer/team 34%
 Flexible hours 32%
 Work colleagues are like my friends/family  30%
 Positive work culture 30%
 Remote/flexible working 29%
 Variety 28% 
 I receive fair/competitive pay 28%
 Challenging work 27%

1Omnibus research commissioned by Southern Cross with Perceptive – January 2022. Total sample: 1,051.