Don’t be frustrated by the labour shortage, turn the tables

Don’t be frustrated by the labour shortage, turn the tables

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” If you’re struggling through the current labour shortage in New Zealand, it may pay to take heed of Albert Einstein’s words. In the context of recruitment, this might be exiting the fight for limited and expensive resources in favour of new thinking.

Currently, employers are fighting tooth and nail for employees – finding them and keeping them. As one Auckland recruitment consultant put it, “I have one project manager and easily fifteen companies bidding to offer him a job. It’s insane out there.”

Some roles may be impossible to go without. In which case, you want to make sure you hold on to the people you have. Here are some ideas on how to tackle the labour shortage.


Remove the manual administrative work that comes with some roles. Your existing employees will be feeling the stress, and taking away their administration burdens should improve retention and make an attractive proposition to potential employees. Customer support, emails, data capture and reports are some tasks that may be automated.

For example, a local pest control business recently switched to automating their pest and termite treatment proposals so that they could be generated on-site during the first visit. A house inspection company started equipping its inspectors with an iPad they could mark up as the inspection progressed. After the inspection, the software as a service (SAAS) auto-generates an immediate and complete house inspection report for the customer.

Plug and play

Where previously you were focused on having somebody in a full-time role, think about employing somebody part-time or making better use of casual or temporary labour-hire – specialists you can retain via a labour-hire business on a needs basis.

Using casual and temporary hire solutions mean you get to ‘parachute in’ the people you need when you need them. It will allow you to restructure your staffing patterns and give yourself and your business more flexibility. While an increasing number of people are choosing temporary roles as a lifestyle choice, the flow of good quality people allows you to try before you buy. Make the right offer to the right temporary staff member, and your problem is solved.


From a labour supply perspective, companies are constantly restructuring to improve efficiencies in good times. Lean times will be no different. It may be time to restructure your team to accommodate a simpler business model or fit new revenue streams. If you can’t make something work due to lack of resources, think about shifting your business model towards other more passive income streams that are less labour reliant.

Increase your prices

Your competitors will have the same challenges as you. It might be time to scale back your offerings and increase the prices on those that remain – people will pay more for access to products or services that are delayed, scarce or not available due to labour shortages.

You can apply many tactics to attract good staff and retain the people you do have – such as better salaries, perks and conditions, but your competitors will match and even exceed your offer. When this happens, it’s time to get out of the fighting pit and shift the way you do business.

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