A new survey of employees has revealed NZ's most favoured employers – but the local tech sector recorded a notable decline.
After ranking second last year, the ICT sector dropped to seventh out of the 19 sectors covered in Randstad's annual employer brand research study.
The survey of 4,000 kiwis placed New Zealand's biggest tech employers behind others in education, the public sector, FMCG and even the struggling media sector.
The ICT companies included in 2019 were led by Vodafone, which ranked at 30, down from 29th last year. Next came IBM, the only improver, up from 43rd to 34th.
2degrees weathered the biggest decline, from 40th to 80th place, but it was Ultrafast Broadband company Chorus that ranked lowest of all, 131st down from 122nd.
Chorus declined a request for comment on the findings. 2degrees' chief of people, Jodie Shelley, she would read the findings of the research along with other measures of what people think of 2degrees.
"We’re proud of the team and culture we have here at 2degrees, and the huge strides we’ve made towards a range of employee benefits including flexibility, our screens off policy, leadership training and career progression," she said.
"We’ve done a bunch of work recently on how we talk about what it’s like to work here – we’ve probably been a bit humble about that recently. It’s fair to say people who are interested in working here will find there’s a lot of offer.”
In mid-field among the tech companies, Datacom ranked 67th, was down from 36th, and Spark went from 44th to 53rd.
Ian Scott, general manager of client solutions at Randstad New Zealand, said the ICT sector had strong competition in 2019 in terms of being the most attractive sector.
"In NZ we are unique in that the public sector and education rate so strongly," Scott said.
"It is also worth noting that many of the ICT sector companies are too small to be included within the research as it covers New Zealand’s top 150 companies."
Both Spark and Vodafone have been shedding staff as part of their transformations and, in Vodafone's case, ahead of a now cancelled public listing. Vodafone is now the target of a buyout from NZX-listed Infratil and Canadian investor Brookfield.
“We’ve seen lots of change in the technology sector recently, including multiple restructures, mergers and acquisitions and investigations into migrant workers," Scott said.
"Add to this increasing external market pressures. These factors could help explain the impact on their employer brand image."
In saying that, he said, each company offers a great place to work and often the external brand perception belies good things happening inside the companies.
Last year the Randstad survey included 2degrees, Datacom, Chorus, IBM, MYOB, Spark, Vodafone and Xero.
MYOB and Xero did not qualify in terms of size but were included to provide a better reflection of the IT sector. However, given almost all the companies included this year declined in the rankings, the sector has clearly had a rough year in terms of perceptions.
Scott said the ICT organisations do not want to be attractive to the whole of the candidate market because they have very specific target employees.
"They are fighting one another for the best talent, and those with strong off-shore candidate attraction strategies are still performing well.”
Scott said as the second largest exporter, New Zealand needs the technology to flourish and that required further investment.
"It is incumbent on government to ensure the NZ tech sector has all the support it needs to help drive growth,” he said.
For the third year running, Randstad's research anointed Air New Zealand, which has topped the rankings a total of six times, as the best perceived workplace.
In New Zealand salaries and benefits narrowly (54 per cent to 53 per cent) outpointed work life balance as a criteria for choosing an employer. In Australia these were the other way round.
For technology companies, the key value propositions that attract employees are using the latest technology, financial health and job security.
Ninety one per cent of employees said they checked an employer's reputation before changing jobs.