Key takeaways

  • New Zealand’s CEOs are optimistic about their prospects, but are concerned about global growth, partly attributable to a perceived shortage of talent.
  • New hires to enable the latest flashy technology doesn’t solve the problem of existing silos that may be affecting your customer experience.
  • Pooling your existing talent to solve problems is a powerful way to create an agile, customer-centric business.

The ability to attract and retain talented staff is one of the most crucial elements to ensuring the success of your business.

According to PwC’s 21st CEO Survey, a 2018 report that addresses the views and perspectives of business leaders around the world, executives in New Zealand are buoyed by business confidence and optimistic about their prospects. This is due, in part, to a robust national economy as well as a transparent approach to business — a factor that’s been enshrined in government policy.

At the same time, only 32% of CEOs in New Zealand think that global growth will improve in the next 12 months. Interestingly, nearly 40% of local respondents attribute this to a shortage of talented employees. When you live in a world where new platforms proliferate every day, it’s easy to see why the lack of a digital skill-set can seem like a barrier to evolution.

Although attracting superstar technologists and visionary experience designers has been a mandate of ambitious businesses since the halcyon days of Silicon Valley, the battle to attract and retain the right employees isn’t about technology alone. In many ways, winning the war on talent means changing the conversation around hiring. It also means applying a customer-centric mindset to the assets we already have.

Rethink the myopic view
of digital skills

The hype around new technology has often seen businesses embrace shiny new platforms or flashy marketing tools — as well as new hires with the skills to deploy them — without thinking about their customers’ needs. But once you start taking diagnostics seriously and working to identify your customers’ true pain points, you might find problems associated with silos that exist in your business.

In New Zealand, I’ve found that the biggest impediments to creating an intelligent, agile organisation that puts the customer front and centre aren’t digital. Often improving customer service or increasing the velocity of transactions doesn’t exclusively call for the latest form of automation or an avatar that takes around-the-clock orders. It can be as simple as eliminating a counterproductive business process or investing in your existing staff.

It’s not a technology problem,
it’s a capability problem

In the last few years, the word ‘capability’ has been missing from the dialogue around attracting and retaining talented staff. To understand the capabilities you need to attract, it’s important to identify your incentives and objectives. There’s no point investing in technology to harvest data from your customers if you lack the insights you need to navigate your business and lay the foundations for future growth.

Then, it’s important to think about the skills your company needs to use data more intelligently and then take the necessary steps to get there. It’s equally essential to understand which members of your organisation are in position to develop capabilities in specific areas of your business and realise that this is an ongoing process that will shift over time. How your business needs to evolve will look very different today from how it will need to change in five years. By making capabilities central to an operating model, it can set a business up to thrive — no matter what technology platform happens to be the flavour of the month.

Employee experience is the
key to attracting talent

Evolving isn’t necessarily about firing existing staff and hiring new talent; it’s also about finding the people in your organisation who already have the skills and knowledge to develop your capabilities. It’s also essential to focus on employee experience if you’re serious about attracting new talent and retaining your team.

In New Zealand, Southern Cross Health Society is blazing new trails when it comes to employee experience.1 By prioritising the “moments that matter” to individual employees and implementing a wellbeing program that takes a holistic view of working, it’s set the stage for a healthy, happy business culture and lowered staff turnover. These benefits are passed on to its customer base and result in repeat business, customer loyalty and increased sales. It’s a win-win for all involved.

Create cross-functional agility
across your organisation

Contrary to popular opinion, agility isn’t necessarily about shipping in new skills or rolling out a new CRM system. It’s about identifying the problems facing your customer and working relentlessly to eliminate the silos in your business — however those may show up. Setting up a cross-functional team and giving them the imperative to work together to solve a customer problem is a powerful move in the right direction.

Putting brand owners, marketers, technologists and analysts in the same room and giving them the opportunity to experiment and test a few hypotheses creates all-important dialogue between your team members. Creating a cross-functional team that will examine a customer problem from all angles — and pool their talents together to find a solution — is a powerful way to become agile and customer-centric. It also mobilises the assets you already have.

These days, New Zealand businesses are in the powerful position to lead by example and win the war for digital talent. They can also start the conversation about what becoming a customer-centric business truly means. Broadening an understanding of digital skills, investing in the employee experience and creating dialogue between your team members is as critical as hiring new talent when it comes to reaping the benefits of those growth prospects New Zealanders are lucky enough to enjoy.


For the latest insights from the PwC 21st CEO Survey visit the New Zealand website where you can view both local and global results.



Andrew Jamieson

Andrew Jamieson is PwC New Zealand’s digital strategy lead.

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