Talent drain needs creative solutions!

Lara Devereux

New Zealand FMCG businesses need to get creative to tackle structural challenges that are costing the sector talent.

The candidate pool is shrinking as candidates move offshore to develop careers with global organisations or to industries outside of FMCG in NZ.

FMCG businesses in NZ are too lean to be able to take on as many entry-level staff as they used to, due to a range of factors including tighter margins in retail and the ongoing fall-out from the global financial crisis.

We have also seen several multi-national firms with a trans-Tasman presence taking entire functions and management tiers out of their NZ operation, removing career opportunities on this side of the Tasman. This limits local opportunities for career development and encourages the most talented and ambitious candidates to head to Australia or further afield to advance their careers.

Additionally, FMCG companies are looking to other industries or candidates returning from overseas to get the commercial breadth and depth that they struggle to find within the sector here. With a lack of scale in NZ businesses, increasingly the path for development is through one function as opposed to individuals being commercially grounded early on in their career.

FMCG businesses are looking for sales and marketing people from outside the industry to bring fresh thinking, particularly Telco and Banking. However, they are finding it equally difficult to highlight talent in these sectors for all the same reasons.

The challenges faced by the industry are not going away, are not unique to the sector and will require some “lateral thinking” to address.

One suggested option is for FMCG businesses to work in with businesses in other industries to develop talent in areas such as sales and marketing where they may not have the resources to do so on their own. There is a need for collaboration between non-competing businesses to foster talent development and to perhaps look at different industry sector partners to partner with and develop talent.

In addition, NZ businesses that are part of larger global organisations need to become a lot smarter around fostering the talent within their organisations across Australasia with career maps that include their offshore partners.

The strongest recruitment brands we work for are the ones who can demonstrate they have developed their talent across the business within NZ, Australasia or further ashore. Only a few can truly say they do this but those are the ones securing the best candidates in the market.

Whatever solution businesses come up with, one thing is clear: doing nothing is not an option. The trends that have created this situation are not going away. We can either accept problems as inevitable or we can use our Kiwi ingenuity to find solutions.


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