New Zealand employees are ahead of Australia in joining the global shift to use social media to find and engage in work.
The Kelly Global Workforce Index (KGWI), an international survey of more than 120,000 employees in 31 countries, including over 3,500 New Zealanders, examined the impact of social networks on job selection, career choice and recruitment in general.
According to the survey, Kiwis are consistently leading their Australian counterparts in utilising social media as a recruitment tool.
The results claim 40% of New Zealanders have been contacted about a potential job opportunity via a social media network, compared to 38% Australian respondents, while 17% of New Zealand respondents had successfully secured a new job opportunity in this way, compared to 14%.
Increasing acceptance of social media
Further still, 47% of New Zealand respondents also ‘agree’ or ‘strongly agree’ that networking and social media sites are a good method of providing friends and colleagues with job referrals and job opportunities, compared to 42% in Australia.
Kelly Services general manager – commercial, Wendy Hewson says the social media evolution is well under way in New Zealand, with the spread of social media in the community now mirrored in the workplace.
“New Zealand has been pretty receptive to online technologies, because the underlying sense of geographic isolation is almost entirely negated by the internet and social media," Hewson says.
“More and more New Zealanders are turning to social media to discuss their work, and canvas job openings and career choices.
"For such a mobile population – particularly with people travelling for their OE – these social connections are making recruitment a lot easier by broadening the reach of their networks.
"The workplace has always been built on contacts and relationships; social media is bringing these into the modern world.”
Social media ‘transforming’ the way NZ employees look for work
Hewson believes social media is transforming the way New Zealand employees find work and engage in work.
Almost two-thirds (63%) of respondents are ‘interested’ or ‘very interested’ in receiving job referrals from friends or contacts within their social media network, equal with the global average, and significantly ahead of their Australian counterparts (57%).
Globally, 16% of respondents say that within the previous year, they had gained a new job opportunity that originated through social media – a trend mirrored in New Zealand, with 17%.
There is a fairly consistent pattern among respondents of being contacted about jobs through social media across the workplace generations.
All generations are benefitting from the burgeoning use of social media for jobs and job referrals. Gen Y is leading, with 18% of respondents attributing their new job in the previous year to social media, slightly ahead of Gen X (16%) and Baby Boomers (16%).
Hewson says social media is quietly revolutionising recruitment in New Zealand.
“Social media in recruitment has altered the way people search for and communicate about work," Hewson adds.
"Its emergence has opened up an abundance of connections where people are willing to share information, contacts, views, and alerts about prospective job opportunities.
“As a job-search tool, it has reached a new level of maturity, with the use and acceptance of social media networks no longer confined to younger generations.
"It also makes the job-search exercise less a private pursuit and more of a shared experience. The power and the speed of this transformation is having a significant impact on recruiting techniques.”
Unique challenges for employers
Hewson adds that the extension of social media into the workplace poses unique challenges for many employers, not least in regard to acceptable usage and content.
“Social media has given rise to an ‘always-on’ workforce with a well-developed network that shares in a broad range of personal, professional and lifestyle conversations," Hewson says.
"The task of managing this phenomenon in the workplace is one that many employers are still coming to grips with.
“Employees are more social and more flexible in the way they engage with trusted friends and work colleagues on social media, and increasingly they expect to have access to technology in the workplace to enable that.
"Surrounded by social chatter, professional and personal discourse, and a need to stay ‘connected’, there is support among respondents for the use of personal electronic devices in the workplace.”
According to the survey, one-third of New Zealand respondents (36%) rate the use of personal electronic devices in the workplace as ‘important’ or ‘very important’.
Growing use of smart devices as employment perk
Many employees have the benefit of employer-provided electronic devices as part of an employment agreement or salary package.
Globally a total of 61% believe it is ‘important’ or ‘very important’ to be able to use employer-provided electronic devices, such as a laptop or computer, tablet or smartphone for both work and personal use, with the majority (57%) of New Zealand respondents in favour.
The report also claims that 44% say the ability to use employer-provided smart devices for personal use ‘highly’ or ‘very highly’ influences their employment decision-making, which is higher than the global figure of 37%, and Australian figure of 40%.
But Hewson says there is often ambiguity about whether employer-provided devices can be used for non-work purposes.
“There is a strong view among respondents that employer-provided smart devices should be available for personal use," Hewson concludes.
"This reflects the growing trend of leveraging laptops, tablets and smartphones as perks of the job.”