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Kalyn Ponti | 19 January 2023

Market insights from our CEO

2023 market insights

Kia ora and happy new year from all of us at Humankind.

As we all dust off our laptops from a well-deserved break, we wanted to open by sharing market insights and critical focuses for employers in the coming months.

Our Director of People & Culture, Anna Muir, has also shared the longer-term macro shifts we’re seeing so be sure to check that out.

A silver lining from the last few years is the accelerated focus on all stakeholder groups, most notably the relationship between employers and their people.

People are expecting more from their employers. While this puts pressure on leaders (myself included!), it’s an essential feature of a healthy market, driving a competitive landscape. This can be challenging but is pushing us all to create stronger and more innovative workplaces - focuses that ultimately drive innovation, performance and better outcomes for our people and communities.

We’re all in a slightly different boat this year. At Humankind, we’re partnering with many clients who are going for growth and we’re rolling out people strategies that are helping them bounce back from the “Great Reflection(i)”. We’re also partnering with many who are making the challenging and real decisions to say goodbye to teammates, reset strategy, and refocus their leaders and culture with leaner teams.

This year, we suspect we’ll see unemployment rise to slightly higher levels.

Strategic Pay shared that General Market salaries increased 4.2% from September 2021 to September 2022(ii).

Many of us are entering into annual remuneration reviews in a challenging environment. We’re encouraging our clients to start thinking about this now, designing remuneration systems that are practical, fair, account for bias, include full employee value proposition, and are transparent and well-communicated. This will play a critical role in EX (employee experience) and ultimately retention this year.

We’re seeing the labour market prioritise employers with strong purpose, culture & values, as well as choice & flexibility. These factors are becoming table stakes in the new corporate environment.

Targeted effort around diversity, equity, and inclusion is also becoming increasingly important. Employees want to work somewhere that reflects who they are. This focus is essential for a myriad of reasons. In addition to opening talent pools, encouraging innovation and improving performance, we believe that reducing inequity at work, reduces inequity in our communities. It’s a focus for our own team here, at Humankind.

Hybrid has cemented its place and is here to stay. A study(iii) led by AUT last year showed that just under 15% of people are now working from home. 39% of Kiwis are in the office full time and 48% of people are now hybrid. For people working in a hybrid way, the research showed no difference in performance, engagement or wellbeing, though they were the happiest and most innovative.  While we’re seeing overseas headlines about a push back to the office, the data tells us a fully office-based approach is the minority. Some form of flexibility is a leading requirement for many employees. With benefits to employee wellbeing and greater access to talent, we see this creating mutual value and a feature of work which won’t be going anywhere in a hurry. The organisations we’re partnering with are taking a deliberate approach to optimising for hybrid and are including their people in the design of this new operating model.

With all of this said, the role of leadership is essential, with a continued need for developing broad-spectrum leaders. Leadership roles have moved far beyond hiring and managing.  Leaders are now charged with connecting work to purpose/strategy, multi-modal communication and leading distributed teams, leading through change, supporting wellbeing, and retaining talent- all while being authentic and managing the bottom line (no wonder everyone is tired!). Recognising leadership as an essential skillset and supporting leaders to make these transitions is one of the strongest investments in your culture and organisation.

To that end, check out Anna’s insights on the future of work. The first two focuses being:

  • Purpose - the north star in any operating environment
  • Taking a human-centred approach - listening to your people and designing with them to create mutual value.
    Thank you for your support for Humankind. Our team and I are extremely passionate about the work we do and if you'd like to chat about anything we've shared, please drop us a line.

Kalyn (KP) Ponti

(i) “Employees Seek Personal Value and Purpose at Work. Be Prepared to Deliver.” The Gartner Research. Last modified January 13, 2022.

(ii) Strategic Pay. New Zealand Remuneration Executive Summary. November 2022.

Report can be accessed on request by emailing

(iii) Haar, J. (2022). Invited Keynote. Hybrid Working in New Zealand. 2022 New Zealand CFO Summit, Auckland, New Zealand, 13 September 2022.

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