Employer and employee salary expectations are misaligned.

The Lawson Williams – 2023 New Zealand Industry Salary Survey

Never before in my 30 years in the employment sector have I experienced a time where employers and employees have such varied expectations around what salaries can or should be paid in New Zealand Industry.

The 2023 Lawson Williams, New Zealand Institute of Food Science and Technology (NZIFST), The New Zealand Association for Operations and Supply Chian Professionals (NZPICS), and The New Zealand Food and Grocery Council (NZFGC) employer Salary Survey has been released, and shows some interesting trends around salaries and benefits.


No surprises, salaries in New Zealand have increased significantly.

It is no surprise that we report significant increases in salaries since our last survey in 2021, well beyond the more typical 3% annual CPI increase.

The 2023 Industry Salary Survey reports an average salary increase across all positions in 2021 and 2022 of 6.4%.

You can find out more on Lawson William’s website


Like never before employees have their eye on remuneration.

We all have heard about the pressure on salaries over the past two years. Recent reports have suggested that 72% of employees are currently feeling underpaid in New Zealand with 42% saying they will actively negotiate their salary in 2023. Over 52% believe they will benefit from changing jobs. (Hays)

Many New Zealand organisations are attempting standard annual increases in salaries.

We have read recently that many organisations are attempting to only budget a 3% increase in salaries in 2023 and 2024, despite the high level of inflation and increasing cost of living and despite the continuing and increasing demand for skills. (Mercer’s NZ Total Remuneration Survey Executive Summary)

How can this be? After all we have been hearing and seeing in the market can this be possible?

Well, it’s true, the New Zealand economy is slowing, and many companies as a result are becoming more cautious. The number of job adverts on job boards has decreased, but surprisingly, job adverts remain at higher levels than in 2019 and the persistent low unemployment rate underpins the ongoing shortage of skills.

According to Stats NZ, June quarter employment data shows a 0.2% increase in the unemployment rate from 3.4 to 3.6%. This has risen from the low of 3.2% in December 2021.  This is a small percentage however does indicate that the economy is beginning to slow.

Mercer also reports that just one in four organisations (26%) plan to factor inflation into their 2023 salary budgets, and 47% report that they are yet to determine whether the rising cost of living should play a role in setting remuneration.

Is the now slowing New Zealand economy going to reduce the high level of competition for skills and therefore allow organisations to hold salary increases at traditional rates?

With this tighter control over salary budgets, it appears that organisations particularly the larger ones will be focused more on non-financial rewards as a means for attracting and retaining staff.

From flexibility and leave to well-being programs and corporate discounts, communicating the non-salary benefits on offer to staff is becoming an increasingly critical part of the attraction and retention toolkit.


Numbers employed in New Zealand increased in the june quarter. A boost from increased migration.

According to Stats NZ, the number of people employed in New Zealand in the June quarter increased by 4.0 percent or 113,000 people.

Does this coincide with increased levels of migration? On the surface, it appears we may have seen relief from some of the shortage in available skills as a result of the increased number of people moving to New Zealand.

Further analysis of the immigration data however shows that most of the current migrants are filling roles in the tourism, hospitality, construction, and logistics sectors and not in many of the highly skilled roles that New Zealand Industry also needs.

We are seeing significantly lower interest in New Zealand from Skilled Migrants than expected. It appears they have all chosen to go somewhere else!


Will migration levels relieve pressure on remuneration?

Many companies were hoping that the opening of New Zealand’s borders would alleviate the pressure on salary increases. What we now understand is that this is not happening across all areas of skill shortage and that we should expect pressure on salaries will continue despite the prevailing economic conditions.

Again, Stats NZ figures show that in the June quarter annual wage costs continue to increase at historically high rates, with the increase remaining at 4.3%, the same as the previous quarter.

You can find out more on Lawson William’s website

The 2023 New Zealand Food Industry Salary Survey provides some interesting insight. Company size matters!

The Lawson Williams 2023 survey has now grown to the size that we can provide detailed data across location and company size among other variables.

When we look at the salary increases that have occurred against company size, the 2023 survey results present very clearly that – the smaller the company the higher the % of salary increases since 2021.
Larger companies have more easily moderated the impact of the increases in salaries we have seen in 2021 and 2022.

Smaller companies have had to respond and increase salaries to ensure attraction and retention of the skills they need.

You can find out more on Lawson William’s website


In future blogs, we will investigate these differences in more detail.

What are large companies doing to respond to the changes in the employment market?

What can employers regardless of size do to attract and retain staff?


Is it all about the money?

The answer is no, but beware, it has never been more important!


About the NZ Industry Salary Survey.
The NZ Industry Salary Survey was created in 2019 by Lawson Williams, NZIFST, and NZPICS.

The NZ Institute of Food Science and Technology (NZIFST) and The NZ Association for Operations and Supply Chain Professionals (NZPICS) play an important role in the promotion of careers in the New Zealand Industry.  It was decided that an industry employer survey would provide real and constructive remuneration information which would benefit NZIFST and NZPIC’s members.

In 2021, The NZ Food and Grocery Council (NZFGC) became a survey partner to increase the promotion and availability of the Salary Survey to Food Industry employers.