Whirinaki timber processor Pan Pac Forest Products is not immune from the labour shortage impacting almost every business in New Zealand.
A triple whammy of closed borders, record low unemployment, and intense labour market competition is taking a toll, explains Olwyn Hyslop, General Manager People & Culture.
“The majority of Pan Pac roles require specific skills and experience that is proving increasingly hard to find in Hawke’s Bay and New Zealand.
“Vacancies are taking longer to fill, and this means relying on our staff to provide cover. Covid-19 is providing an additional pressure on staffing, but to date we haven’t seen productivity impact specifically related to staffing.”
The company has had (on average) 25 roles vacant over the past year. Its reputation as a good employer means Pan Pac still attracts a lot of interest in production and corporate roles, but trades and engineering roles are taking longer to fill. Previously Pan Pac recruited engineers internationally, which ceased when borders closed.
Ms Hyslop says that Pan Pac is taking a number of steps to plug the gap.
“We have increased notice periods and incentivised giving longer notice than contracts require. This gives us more time to recruit and sometimes allows for a handover.
“In addition, we are cross training staff to assist with vacant roles and sometimes permanently moving tasks into other roles in teams. We have staff working on secondment to backfill vacancies where critical processes would otherwise be impacted. This has the added benefit of giving our staff new growth opportunities.”
Also getting attention in this tight labour market is Pan Pac’s employee value position. Ms Hyslop says that Pan Pac keeps its remuneration and benefits at the top end of the market in Hawke’s Bay, and is constantly working on its culture, particularly engagement and work-life balance aspects, to attract and retain staff.
“We want our staff to be well remunerated and increasing productivity of labour is the best way to ensure this,” she says.