Mercer Marsh Benefits

Is it time to shift your strategy for attracting and retaining talent?

The unemployment rate was just 3.4% in September – the lowest for more than ten years. The pandemic is having a significant impact on our labour market, issues such as lower immigration, the “Great Resignation” and restricted international mobility have created the perfect storm for a talent shortage in New Zealand and have brought the “war for talent” to new heights.

Although some New Zealand industry sectors are struggling more than others, many organisations across all of the industries are working through the critical question – “Is our talent and retention strategy going to deliver our business strategy in the years to come?”

Unsurprisingly, Mercer Marsh Benefits™ recent The Five Pillars of People Risk Report highlighted that Talent Attraction and Retention was rated as the second highest people risk by the HR function. Interestingly, when asked who was ultimately responsible for managing this risk, responses highlighted that organisations held various views in relation to where this accountability laid, including:

  • HR 37%
  • Executive leadership team 19.7%
  • Risk function 16.7%
  • Occupational Health & Safety 12.9%
  • Individual line manager 10.6%
  • The board 1.5%
  • No single responsibility 1.5%

What can organisations learn from this?

The “no single responsibility” response provides an insight about the paradigm shift that organisations need to make in relation to attracting and retaining talent. Many organisations still see the accountability for attracting and retaining talent sitting with either a specific function and/or an individual (with only 1.5% of respondents seeing it as ‘no single responsibility’). However, attracting and retaining talent needs to be a core organisational capability that every function and everyone in the organisation is accountable for.

There also needs to be a greater understanding of the talent attraction and retention problem an organisation is trying to solve. This will help strengthen that core organisational capability as the issue of attracting and retaining employees is becoming increasingly broad. While organisations still need to solve competitive pay, a compelling employee value proposition, cultural fit and other “traditional areas”, the past 18 months have highlighted the need for organisations to also focus on mental health, work-life balance, remote working, total rewards and benefits, skills development and career management as part of their talent and attraction strategy. These areas are now critical to attracting and retaining talent and therefore, delivering the business strategy.

In New Zealand, the impact of Covid-19 has meant that many organisations are now prioritising to invest in a culture of care and wellbeing. We have seen this in increased provision of health, life and disability insurances as an employee benefit to offer protection in times of uncertainty and a focus on occupational health, especially around addressing growing mental illness challenges and the adoption of early intervention programmes.

Has attracting and retaining talent become more difficult? Or is this just a moment in time where talent has won the war? One thing is for sure - the seismic shifts in attracting and retaining talent that has happened over the last 18 months, is still ongoing and will continue to evolve over the next few years. 

Mercer Marsh Benefits™ can work with various stakeholders across organisations to complement and extend the people risk management capabilities our clients already have. If you would like to learn more, speak to your broker at MMB or contact us here.

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The Five Pillars of People Risk Report - New Zealand


This webpage is not intended to be taken as advice regarding any individual situation and should not be relied upon as such. The information contained herein is based on sources we believe reliable, but we make no representation or warranty as to its accuracy.  Marsh shall have no obligation to update this publication and shall have no liability to you or any other party arising out of this publication or any matter contained herein.

Any statements concerning actuarial, tax, accounting, or legal matters are based solely on our experience as insurance brokers and risk consultants and are not to be relied upon as actuarial, accounting, tax, or legal advice, for which you should consult your own professional advisors.