More than half of New Zealand workers considering changing jobs in 2022

If you are seriously thinking of changing jobs in 2022, you are not alone.

New data shows more than half of workers in New Zealand have the same thoughts.

Overseas it's called the Great Resignation, where millions in America have quit, but will it happen in New Zealand?

Misha Gildenberger made the move to the Bay of Plenty to start minding puppies - a world away from her previous life in Auckland.

"I was super busy, I was working crazy hours, I was super busy. I was in advertising, so all of the projects we had had to speed up because of the pandemic and everything was a little bit hectic," she says.

When Gildenberger realised she had become "super stressed", she quit.

"Something clicked in my head and I said, 'Look, I really want to change the way that I am doing things right now'."

Originally from Argentina, she had run a shelter for dogs, so she decided to leave the super stressful super city and set up a dog training business in the Bay of Plenty.

"Honestly I'm really happy and it's going really, really well," she says.

Jarrod Haar, who is from the Department of Management at Auckland University of Technology and conducts a regular survey of worker intentions, says there are many drivers to why someone might quit.

"If you don't have a boss who loves you, if you don't like the organisation, if you're not paid enough money, those are kind of all the drivers. And now is the perfect time to go, 'OK, I'm going to throw it in and go and find somewhere else'," he says.

In May 2020, 35 percent of Kiwis surveyed intended to quit. By November 2021, that had risen to 52 percent. 

"The highest I've ever seen, actually for the last two decades of looking at this kind of thing," Haar says.

In America, it's called the great resignation. Four million workers quit in August - nearly 3 percent of the entire workforce in one month.

Other workers decided to strike, thinking low unemployment meant better bargaining power.

There's no data yet on whether Kiwis are quitting, but it's definitely a workers' market.

"It's the most candidate-short market that we've ever seen. So that's still going to be a huge challenge," says Shannon Barlow from Frog Recruitment.

So what's behind it? COVID has compounded the skills shortage. Before the pandemic, net migration peaked at 90,000 new people. Now for the first time in eight years, it's turned negative, and that's reflected in an unemployment rate of just 3.4 percent. That means Christmas on the beach might not be that relaxing for bosses needing staff, even if the borders eventually open.

"We're still going to have those problems because we are just that little bit behind the rest of the world and particularly Australia," Barlow says.

March labour statistics will confirm if Kiwis are taking part in the great resignation, so the advice to bosses is to pay as much as you can afford and create a great work environment.

"The evidence is that if you are a good employer, you are going to keep your staff," Haar says.

For Gildenberger, it wasn't about the money, it was about doing something she loved.

"Super, super happy that I made that change."