Attracting, retaining staff biggest hurdle facing business


I had the pleasure of meeting with many business operators this month. The innovation and enterprise in the Waitaki is astounding.

However, productivity is being held back.

Across the board, the biggest impairment to business and the economy is lack of staff. We are now in a full-employment economy and recruiting and retaining staff is calling for new approaches and flexibility around job structure.

An employment survey has recently closed and echoes these conversations across all sectors and business size, with more than 80% of Waitaki district businesses listing at least one vacancy in the last 12 months. Of these businesses, 85% found filling these vacancies difficult, even when utilising a variety of recruitment techniques.

Attitude, housing, work visas and immigration were cited as significant barriers in recruitment.

Despondent employers recognise this will lead to increased workload on their current team, turning away business or not carrying out work and have limited faith in recruiting the staff they need in the future. A full report and analysis will be made available to all participants and key groups shortly.

If you’re one of the businesses working on staff retention, consider the upcoming Waitaki Leadership Academy, an immersive programme for 12 people over four weeks, led by local and regional leaders of great repute.

Right now may be the time to get on the blower and tell your sister, your brother, and your mama too, what a fantastic region the Waitaki is to work, rest and play.

Domestic tourism remains consistent and with good reason. Oamaru is a four-hour drive from 600,000 discerning Kiwis who enjoy visiting the steampunk capital of the world that surely punches well above its weight gastronomically.

If you’re seeking connection, this month Topflite is hosting the Business After 5 (BA5) event on Monday, March 7, from 5.15pm, at 6 Pukeuri-Oamaru Rd. Please register on the Business South website to attend. It’s a great opportunity to connect with local businesses and open to all. Come along and hear all about this family-owned petfood business that distributes a range of locally grown bird and small animal feed to more than 700 outlets nationwide as well as a sneak preview of a local collaboration about to launch.

Christopher Luxon, the leader of the opposition, will also be in Oamaru to meet with local business, by invitation, across all sectors at The Business Hive, Oamaru this month. We look forward to hosting Christopher and sharing the issues and triumphs of the region in a building that is the embodiment of local initiative.

At a time when we need to be distanced, now is the perfect opportunity to choose connection; whether that’s a safely organised event, a virtual meeting or indulge in some window shopping down our high street — we’re better together.

  • Rebecca Finlay is Business South’s Waitaki business navigator