Employee Sentiment Index finds 41 percent of Kiwi workers are struggling to meet basic living costs

Petrol and groceries are among the most difficult things for working Kiwis to afford.
Petrol and groceries are among the most difficult things for working Kiwis to afford. Photo credit: Getty Images

The cost-of-living crisis is hitting Kiwis hard with the latest survey revealing 41 percent of our workers are struggling to meet their basic living cost needs. 

ELMO's latest Employee Sentiment Index for quarter two of 2022 found petrol is the most difficult thing for working Kiwis to afford - with housing costs, groceries and fresh produce also among the heaviest burdens over the past three months.

Costs ranked most difficult to afford:

  • Petrol 
  • Groceries 
  • Housing (rent or mortgage repayments)
  • Fresh food and produce 
  • Electricity

Forty percent of workers in the regional areas of the North Island and 42 percent in Christchurch found petrol the most difficult to afford. Housing was more difficult in Auckland (37 percent) and Wellington (32 percent).

The index found that perceived economic security among workers has hit an "all-time low" with only 9 percent of employees feeling secure in the economy, compared to a figure double that last year. 

Sixty-three percent of respondents said the cost-of-living pressure is negatively impacting their well-being.

While much of Aotearoa's workforce is returning to the office, the index found the cost of living is holding Kiwi workers back from doing so.

"Rising petrol prices, together with the colder winter months could reverse the conversation to negotiate more flexible, hybrid and remote working conditions, with working from home likely to be a preferred option in order to save money and remain healthy," the index said. 

It found remuneration continues to remain a top priority among Kiwi jobseekers, with flexibility in remote working and stability of the organisation being number two - 47 percent said they plan on asking their employer for a pay increase. 

And despite the economic uncertainty the index found more workers in Aotearoa are actively searching for a new job in other companies. 

It saw an increase in the number of respondents who applied for a new role too, and an increase in Kiwis who interviewed in a new company. 

The index highlighted the talent shortage in Aotearoa is likely contributing to the uptick in job hunting, as Kiwis take advantage of the tight market.

Fifty-seven percent of workers said they are paid for their work fairly, while 65 percent said they are recognised for their contributions.

Employees anticipating a pay rise within the next year fell by almost 10 percent, compared to the previous quarter. 

An overwhelming 74 percent of employees in Aotearoa support an increase to the minimum wage, with 64 percent of workers believing an increase would help ease the pressure of the cost of living.