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Employment trends in FMCG

Employment trends in FMCG
Employment trends in FMCG

The FMCG industry is changing, with Covid-19 showing its flow-on effect. All trends hitting employment throughout New Zealand are prevalent in the FMCG sector. From candidate shortages, retention challenges, flexibility and hybrid working to external pressures such as poaching and competition for talent.

Opportunities and observations

The widely known skills shortage is affecting the FMCG sector, and although we are seeing high-level talent at the tip of the iceberg stay put, there is a real opportunity for entry-level candidates to get into FMCG and work their way up.
The changing landscape provides more opportunities for businesses to make a shift and encourage entry-level candidates to come in at rep level, quickly develop their skillset, move to analyst level, and then to key account manager. This has the potential to open a more rounded career path that exposes the analytical candidates to field opportunities, them a move into head office.

Key advice to employers is to be open to new ways of doing things. We are seeing candidates come through with a broad set of skills, and not being considered because they don’t have the exact skillset employers are looking for. If a commercial marketer wants to look at your category role, there is no harm in talking to them about how their skills and experience can transfer to the category space. Preconceived areas of work cross over more often than we give them credit for.

Be flexible about your ‘ideal candidate’. In a candidate-short market, it’s important to consider all options. If a candidate has fewer years of experience than you were originally looking for, it’s a good idea to consider them if they have the right skills and attitude. Also, remember that in the current candidate-driven market, star candidates move quickly as they amass experience on their way up.

Retention, movement and poaching

An issue we’re hearing from businesses is competitors are poaching talent, and to this, we suggest considering your employees’ main drivers. Are competitors offering them more pay, better benefits, more flexibility? What is convincing them to look elsewhere? If you can pinpoint this, then you can adjust your strategy and ensure you are offering employees what they really want.

Consider that within the last two years, many employees have played it safe and stayed where they were. Two years later, it is normal to have staff turnover and employees begin to look for their next opportunity.

Candidates throughout the sector are starting to consider moving overseas. We are seeing not just the graduate or junior-level candidates look to move, but mid-level candidates too. Employers will realise very quickly that this means they can no longer rely on having experienced candidates at the ready in their teams. They will need to broaden their expectations of who can be considered for vacancies, looking specifically at transferable skills and ability to be trained.

Candidate drivers

Working for a New Zealand manufacturer has never been so attractive. Not only can you receive greater exposure to the full end-to-end business, but you can also get a better understanding of where your goods are and lead times, leading to more certainty in your operations. If you are a New Zealand manufacturer, advertise this to potential candidates.

The desire for flexibility, hybrid, and remote working is growing faster than ever. Covid-19 has made employees reconsider their work-life balance and has made flexibility the most attractive benefit of employment, new or existing. Employers need to consider that to attract top talent in this candidate-short market, flexibility will be top of candidates’ priority lists.

Consider a hybrid working model where employees can work from home and the office when they need to, flexibility in hours or days, or a remote role if applicable. You will not only widen your talent pool to include candidates not in main centres, but also attract talent looking specifically for this benefit, improving work-life balance and retention of the team moving forward.

What are businesses doing as a result?

Businesses that are looking to recruit are taking a harder look at their hiring processes and what is needed within the team. Businesses are looking to futureproof their teams and make sure they have everyone in ideal roles to avoid staff movement.

With poaching going on, businesses are starting to offer top candidates hefty benefits to get them on board. The tricky thing here is that bringing on new talent with shiny remuneration packages can cause unrest with the existing team. Hiring managers need to be careful that they don’t offer too much to new candidates and leave existing team members feeling undervalued and more likely to look elsewhere for businesses that will offer them more.

Predictions for the future

The FMCG sector has always been one for movement. Things will continue to change as the world recovers from Covid-19. Our key advice to hiring managers and employers is to make adjustments, continue to research new best practices, and above all else, be open to candidates who may not fit into the typical mould you thought you were looking for. Make sure you are talking to industry professionals who know how the changes are affecting your business, and can help lessen the impact.

Natalie Kennerley and Kelly Legarth are both Senior Recruitment Consultants with OCG Consulting. With over 30 years’ experience in working in sales & marketing roles in FMCG, and recruitment on top of that, they are experts in the FMCG sector, working with top clients, recruiting contract and permanent candidates across the sales, marketing and category sectors. To get in touch with Natalie or Kelly, visit

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