Market Overview & Trends

Kiwis ready to respond


General findings 

For our 2018-19 Hays Salary Guide we surveyed more than 3,000 organisations, representing over 2.3 million employees, including 486 in New Zealand representing over 181,000 employees, for their views on salary policy, hiring intentions and recruitment trends. Despite positive business activity and economic performance expectations, fewer employers will increase salaries this year compared to when they last reviewed. In addition, those receiving an increase will see the value fall.


Business activity increased in 73% of organisations in New Zealand over the past year, with 80% expecting it to increase in the next 12 months. One third (34%) say the economy will strengthen in the coming six to 12 months, which far exceeds the 14% who say it will weaken. The remaining 52% expect it to remain static.

Such positive sentiment helps account for expected headcount increases in the year ahead; 53% of New Zealand employers intend to increase permanent staff levels and 18% temporary and contract staff. Furthermore, the trend of employing temporary and contract staff on a regular, ongoing basis continues, with 21% of employers now doing so. Another 41% employ temporary or contract staff for special projects and workloads. 

Skills shortages 

Labour supply has been an ongoing issue across New Zealand for some time, so it should be no surprise that 78% of employers say skill shortages are likely to impact the effective operation of their business or department in either a significant (33%) or minor (45%) way. These employers say mid management professionals are the most difficult to recruit.

Perhaps this is why 34% of organisations report increased overtime. This is up from 28% one year prior. It also explains why, in skill short areas, 69% of employers would consider employing or sponsoring a qualified overseas candidates.

Salary trends 

Our 2018-19 survey data shows that fewer New Zealanders will receive a pay rise in their next review. When they last reviewed salaries, 5% of employers gave no increases. Whey they next review, 8% intend to give no increases. 

In addition, the value of increases will fall. Two fifths (21%) of employers intend to increase salaries between 3-6% when they next review, down from 23% who increased salaries at this level in their last review. And while 11% increased salaries by 6% or more in their last review, just 6% plan to do so this year.

Instead, 64% intend to raise salaries at the lower level of 3% or less, up from 62% who did so in their last review.

We also spoke to over 200 New Zealanders for their perspective on salary and recruitment trends. As a group their salary expectations are higher than employers, with 26% expecting an increase of 6% or more. A further 21% expect an increase between 3-6%.

When asked what’s most important to their career in the year ahead, a massive 69% said a pay rise. Being able to work flexibly and more challenging or exciting work tied for second place (both 54%). The priority placed on a salary increase also explains why 55% envisage asking for a pay rise in their next review.

With turnover rising in 33% of New Zealand organisations over the past year, it’s clear that employees aren’t afraid to look elsewhere if their priorities aren’t met. 


It’s pleasing to see that the top three benefits employers and employees offer and want are more or less aligned. The most common benefits New Zealand employers say they offer are ongoing learning & development (81%), flexible work practices (78%), and career progression opportunities (70%). Meanwhile, when looking for a new job it is flexible work practices (77%), career progression opportunities (67%) and ongoing learning & development (62%) that professionals want.

With the fourth industrial revolution changing the way organisations operate and job tasks are completed, it’s reassuring that employers and professionals have found common ground in flexibility, ongoing learning and career progression. These are factors that will help them both stay relevant in the future.