Top tips to securing and retaining talent in 2020

We're well into January and recruiting on behalf of our clients. Now is a crucial period for employers as they respond to a shift in their workforce and secure the skills required to take the company forward.

Resignations peak during the first quarter of the year as people return from the summer break having reflected on the previous year. What went well, what didn't, what next? This, combined with annual business planning, creates a period of unsettlement for many employers as their talent takes up opportunities elsewhere.

‘Competition for talent’ and ‘skills shortages’ were the top two challenges highlighted by senior managers and C-suite members who completed the HR Industry Benchmark Survey conducted by ELMO (cloud HR & payroll) in August 2019. The NZ / Australian survey also indicated the fight for talent is more intense within NZ small-medium businesses than those in Australia.

How do you intend to secure and retain talent in 2020? Here are our top tips…

Refine the onboarding process

Congrats - you’ve secured the candidate but now the hardest part is retaining them. Get it right from the start with an effective onboarding process.

Top three onboarding challenges identified by managers were ‘lack of regular check-ins with new starters’, ‘lack of formal onboarding processes’ and ‘integrating new starters into teams and cultures’. Meanwhile, nearly half of the respondents from NZ said they are ‘challenged by a lack of formal onboarding processes’.

Don’t throw away your time and investment spent recruiting and training your employees because of a lack of processes and engagement at the time of onboarding. Too often we see issues arising down the line because employers do not have basic and consistent processes or development of good company culture.

Top tip: Develop a mandatory onboarding process that can be applied across the business and then incorporate requirements for each department as required. Set-up a buddy system and, most importantly, take the time to get to know your employees.


Over the next 12 months, we can expect to see salaries rise as managers strive to improve retention. According to the benchmark survey, a third of respondents will use remuneration to improve retention over the next year, meanwhile, another third also hopes to attract in-demand skills.

Have you reviewed your payroll? Don’t let it drop to the bottom of your list of HR priorities, employers need to be competitive when it comes to salary, going above and beyond the 2% increase that employees can expect in line with the Consumers Price Index (CPI).

Top tip: Incorporate remuneration within your budget planning. With average hourly earnings continuing to increase, now is more important than ever to ensure your people are fairly rewarded for their efforts.

Learning and development

Learning and development is key to remaining relevant in the industry and staying ahead of competitors.

Identify and create opportunities for your people to take their skills to the next level and watch them thrive within the company. The more invested an employee is, the higher the return you’ll receive on your L&D investment.

After all, L&D will be far more cost-effective than running another recruitment drive to replace the skills you’ve lost. You’ll also benefit from happy, engaged employees who want to stay longer.

Top tip: Identify skill gaps using surveys and feedback exercises. Use this data to make a case for learning and development initiatives to be introduced and budgeted for. Hold follow-up sessions and debriefs to help measure ROI.

Rewards and recognition (R&R)

How do you recognise your people? Appreciation goes a long way and helps to contribute to highly motivated and engaged individuals.

Celebrating company milestones are a positive way to thank team contributions but don’t forget the individuals themselves. The most popular form of recognition across NZ and Australia is celebration of tenure / work anniversaries.

With average hourly earnings continuing to increase, now is more important than ever to ensure your people are fairly rewarded for their efforts and that you are keeping up with the market rate.

Top tip: Understand what motivates and drives your team. What do they thrive on? Develop a rewards and recognition scheme that reflects this feedback. Be consistent across the company by maintaining good communication with managers.

Employee benefits

Employers are offering more out of the box perks than ever before in a bid to attract and retain people.

In the US, student loan repayment is being used to attract Millennial and Generation Z workers. Meanwhile, some companies are offering fertility benefits to support workers who are prioritising their careers and choosing to have children later in life. Pawternity perks, as opposed to paternity, made headlines this year after some employers started allowing employees to take leave to attend to their fur-baby’s needs.

Consider benefits that are relevant and useful to your team. Recent SEEK research identified 32% of Kiwis consider employee benefits before deciding where they work. Aside from salary, the top perks were:

  1. Health insurance
  2. Ability to choose their own working hours during the day
  3. Extra time off for working additional hours
  4. Subsidised education, training or personal development courses
  5. Free car parking.

Others included: fuel allowances, flexible working arrangements, and flexi-leave.

What next?

Mapping your workforce plan and recruitment? Now is the optimal time to recruit the talent you need to succeed in the year ahead. 

Talk to Steve about a recruitment solution tailored to your business. Call (03) 366 4034 or email

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