Talking up the doom and gloom — is it justified?

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Building Recruitment managing director Kevin Everett

Building Recruitment managing director Kevin Everett says despite all the doom and gloom after Alert Level 4 lockdown, his company’s Permanent Recruitment department has never been busier!

With so many mixed messages out there in our industry, I thought I would share how we are seeing the market since the country moved out of Alert Level 4 lockdown near the end of April.

After coming out of Level 4 the market feedback was very negative — and I don’t mind sharing that, like all other business owners and staff, I was very concerned.

Since then, we are still hearing negativity in the current marketplace. However, are we talking ourselves down, or is there more positivity than we realise?

What did we expect and what is actually happening as a business?

Building Recruitment is made up of two divisions — Permanent Recruitment and Labour Hire.

The expectation coming out of Level 4 was doom and gloom. And the bleak forecast for Permanent Recruitment was that no company would be taking on permanent staff for at least 6 to 12 months.

What has actually happened is that we have never been busier in our permanent recruitment. The volume of companies looking for additional staff has been incredible.

The mix has also been surprising. Our main roles are administration, project manager, health & safety, trades, including carpenters, electricians and plumbers, and quantity surveyors and sales positions.

Roles have also been spread across the country, with many locations remaining positive.

Why so much demand?

Many of our clients are experiencing huge growth as demand for their services is increasing, projects previously on hold are now starting, and new work has been secured, with the residential sector remaining strong.

We have a client in joinery products manufacturing experiencing record sales month by month and, as a result, requires more staff.

We realise there are holes in our sector, and many to come. It has been common knowledge that architects have a reduced number of projects on their books that will impact mainly the commercial sector in the future.

However, we are still seeing clients remaining positive regarding their future workload, and that still feel there is enough work to carry them forward.

Which makes me wonder if we are talking up the doom and gloom?

Is it easier to find staff?

With all the talk of redundancies in our sector you would think so but, surprisingly, it is still hard to find the right people.

It is harder for sure, due to the sheer volume of applications coming through, but we still find appropriately-skilled workers are in short supply.

We have found the number one demand from job seekers is job security. Salaries are lowering as people are more open to being negotiable, based on security.

Another trend we are seeing is more people are looking to exit Auckland. More are looking for life/work balance and affordability, and are addressing concerns about Covid-19.

The most popular locations are the South Island — mainly Christchurch — and the Bay of Plenty/Waikato.

What about Kiwis returning home?

We are seeing a huge number returning, which I believe will be great for our economy. I recall reading more than 40,000 have returned.

I am unsure of the percentage of that number that are connected to the construction industry.

However, we are seeing a growing number of applications coming from returning Kiwis or those looking to relocate back to New Zealand, mainly from the UK and Australia.

The numbers are not huge, but they are increasing each week.

Are currently-employed people looking at new opportunities?

Not as much as pre-lockdown. We are now finding that staff who were looked after by their company are showing strong reciprocal loyalty, while others are focused on job security, even if they can make more money elsewhere.

As you can imagine, that is a huge change. The lesson here is when you are looking at employing staff, these are the key areas you need to use for your marketing strategy.

It also shows if you are loyal to your staff, they are more inclined to return that loyalty.

If you would like to chat about recruitment, our special Master Builder rates, interest-free payment offer or Labour hire rates, please feel free to call me. I am always happy to offer assistance at any time.