Human Resources - Winter 2020 (Vol 25, No 2) - Proactive HR in times of crisis and change

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New Zealand’s Magazine for Human Resources Professionals

Proactive HR in times of crisis and change PLUS: What is the data telling us? Dealing with stress and anxiety How will COVID-19 affect the world of work?

Winter 2020

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INSIDE THIS ISSUE Shaping the Profession

People Powered Success


Top of mind Nick McKissack – HRNZ Chief Executive


HRNZ Member Profiles Jo Martell and Debbie Kirby


From the Editor Kathy Catton


PD Programme goes virtual


Get Chartered


Regional Roundup Laura Warren – Otago


Student Perspective Rebecca Ralph


News Roundup


HR Technology What is the data telling us? – Sue Turk


Employment Law Update Good faith in a crisis – Alice Anderson, Dundas Street Employment Lawyers


Learning and Development Create the space and hold it – Angela Bingham


Immigration Law Update Migrant work visas in the post-COVID world – Rachael Mason, Lane Neave

30 Insights HR's biggest COVID-19 challenge is yet to come – Chris O'Reilly 32

Leadership Development How to build a culture that holds leaders accountable – Alex Vincent, LHH


Professional Development Spotlight HR Foundations: reshaping true north – Denise Hartley-Wilkins



Research Update How will COVID-19 affect the world of work? – Kathy Catton Am I Managing? Wellbeing first – Natalie Barker

Features 6

HR and Business Recovery Employers’ obligations during and after the COVID-19 pandemic – Julia Shallcrass


Employee Experience What do leaders and HR professionals need to know about mental illness – Michael Hempseed


Charity Profile Now more than ever – Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand


Diversity and inclusion Could New Zealand become a more inclusive society, post COVID-19? – Lisa Oakley

34 Wellbeing Dealing with stress and anxiety – Lauren Parsons 40

Workplace Wellbeing How one of New Zealand's oldest businesses embeds HR's new direction – Peter Crawshaw





Top of mind... Nick McKissack is Chief Executive of HRNZ. Nick is passionate about people development and sharing the success of members and organisations leading the HR profession in New Zealand.


n March, HRNZ was invited to join the Sustainable Business Council as an associate member. This is an exciting step for us. Sustainability is an issue for HRNZ, as it is for all New Zealand organisations. Our current circumstances have brought this sharply into focus. For HRNZ, we take two perspectives on our involvement in the Sustainable Business Council. The first of course is the need for us to operate internally in a sustainable way. The bigger picture, though, is the need to support our members to provide leadership around sustainability within their own organisations. As we researched sustainability and considered the role HRNZ wanted to play, we took the United Nations Sustainable Development goals as a key reference point. In my discussions with the HRNZ Board about our role, two of the main points we covered were: 1. a lot of the issues that led to the development of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are people created, therefore, to resolve them requires people intervention and change 2. sustainability will not only require organisations to deal with equity-related issues but also the skills and capabilities needed to live through a fundamental transformation in the way we work. 2



Little did we know, back in December 2019, that the fundamental transformation in the way we work would arrive so hard and fast or indeed that it would be driven by the very human issue of our basic health and survival. For me, what lies at the heart of the conversation about sustainability is the social licence organisations must have to operate. It is really a matter of trust. Can we trust institutions to act responsibly, respect all their stakeholders and have consideration for the broader impact they have on the world in which they operate? The matter of trust has never been so important as it is right now. This struck me when I was watching one of Jacinda Ardern’s regular media briefings during the lockdown period. She acknowledged in response to one of the questions from a reporter that, as we entered Alert Level 3 and beyond a level of trust was involved in allowing businesses to return to work. It is a principle the government has operated on since the outset in terms of its response to the COVID-19 crisis. You don’t need to look any further than the way in which the wage subsidy was administered to understand this. New Zealanders will be looking to all organisations to act with integrity and ensure that the wellbeing of their stakeholders remains at the heart of

their decision-making as we enter this brave new world. We now know the heavy price that can be paid when we fail to respect the delicate balance of the natural world. It’s to be hoped that this crisis will lead us down a much more positive and committed path towards true sustainability. At HRNZ, we recognise the important role HR professionals will play in guiding employers on this journey. We look forward to working with the Sustainable Business Council to support our members in this role.

Nick McKissack Chief Executive HRNZ

MANAGING EDITOR Kathy Catton Ph: 021 0650 959 Email:

From the editor W

e all remember those moments of crisis when everything else falls away, and we realise only one thing matters: the people we love and care for. We have probably all lived through one of those moments in the past few months, and this time it’s been on a national and global scale. The collective effort by New Zealanders to prevent the spread of COVID-19 has also included the business community and not just in the sense of complying with the government’s request. Businesses and organisations up and down the country have been figuring out how to navigate this unprecedented landscape. For example, what will happen to the employees we are the voice for, and how can we support our colleagues who are very much in the frontline of sorting out the simple stuff, like leave and pay, and the big stuff, like whether their jobs will even still exist next month.

this business recovery. We look at the topic of resilience and mental wellbeing in times of crisis, for ourselves and our people. And we look at what leaders need to know with regard to managing redundancies and business downsizing. We ask what changes we may see in the workplace as a result of COVID-19, and we delve into the employment law implications of upheaving our workforce. I hope our readers are looking after themselves as well as the rest of their teams. It’s easy for the lessons we learn to go out of the window at times of crisis, and inevitably many difficult conversations and decisions will have to be made over the coming months. We may not have all the answers, but simply being there is enough until you do have them. We all deserve compassion, and that includes yourself. Sending well wishes to every single one of you.

Looking forward, we, as HR professionals, now face another challenge: inventing new ways of doing things ‘on the run’ to solve the biggest people issues in this country’s Kathy Catton history. And we're doing this at a pace Managing Editor and scale we are not equipped to handle when we operate business as usual.

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PUBLISHER Human Resources is published quarterly by Human Resources New Zealand PO Box 11-450, Wellington Ph: 0800 247 469 hrnzphotos The views expressed in Human Resources are not necessarily those of Human Resources New Zealand, nor does the advertisement of any product or service in this magazine imply endorsement of it by Human Resources New Zealand. Copyright © Human Resources New Zealand Inc. Vol 26 No: 2

ISSN 1173–7522

In this issue, we examine how we can best equip ourselves as HR practitioners to forge ahead with





Jobseekers disruption


n light of the significant upheavals being caused by COVID-19, it wasn’t surprising to see March job advertising fall by 29.4 per cent. This dwarfed February’s slippage of 7.7 per cent and is likely to fall further in the months to come. SEEK Australia logged a 65 per cent fall in its job advertising in the first week of April, compared with the corresponding week last year. At the time of going to press, Janet Faulding, General Manager, SEEK New Zealand stated that the firsthand challenges for Kiwis and their businesses have been seen for many weeks now. “April saw a job ad decline of –65.3 per cent in New Zealand, which was down again from the previous month, at –27 per cent during March 2020,” Janet said.

“There is a lack of job and business security, and many organisations are in a state of flux as they assess their business model in response to the impact of coronavirus. The labour market has two dynamics at play at the moment; some businesses are struggling to maintain operations for their workforce, while other industries have seen a rapid spike in demand for labour.” Industries such as tourism and hospitality recorded large 12-month drops in April 2020, namely a 73 per cent fall year on year, and trades and services a 58 per cent fall. At the other end of the spectrum, advertising positions in farming, animals, conservation, community services, and development all remained comparatively steady.

government’s various support packages aimed at keeping as many people in jobs as possible through the COVID-19 disruption. Prime amongst these is the wage subsidy scheme. This has already paid out around $7 billion (2.3 per cent of gross domestic product), covering more than 1 million employees and sole traders. SEEK has also created a COVID-19 hub, which has been specifically designed to help people find work, offer job-loss support, and tips and resources to work differently, such as working remotely. Employers can also include a ‘work from home’ feature on their job ad listing, which allows jobseekers to choose it as an option when searching for work.

A major positive for the New Zealand labour market has been the Janet Faulding GM, SEEK NZ

Business recovery sees new normal


ecruiters all across New Zealand are seeking new ways of working, as they go from standing still to racing full-throttle down the recruitment race track. A global survey by HR consulting firm Mercer shows that, as of early April in the United States, 68 per cent of companies had closed offices amid the pandemic, and 63 per cent had instituted some type of hiring freeze. Figures from New Zealand reveal that 116,000 people had filed for unemployment benefit in the month of March. This figure is up 0.2 percentage points on the March 2019 quarter.




But once the pandemic eases and the business world tries to create a new normal, many employers will need to ramp up staff – quickly and prudently. Rob Bishop of Bishop Associates Recruitment states that it’s still vital for hiring managers to map out what’s on the horizon. He suggests taking a more holistic and commercially astute view of your business when planning for staffing needs. “Start by asking good questions, such as ‘Did my customer profile change? Did any of our key business strategies change?’ It’s also worth asking if roles are critical and how

they align to the company’s overall commercial strategy.” Rob goes on to say that it may be worth considering the effectiveness of your recruitment technology, to maintain and engage with your talent pipeline. Act fast and don’t keep candidates waiting. Update job descriptions and mix up recruitment methods, for example, use LinkedIn referrals and database mining. It’s also important to evaluate the capability of internal candidates and be agile in the use of transferable skills.

HR's biggest issues


RNZ surveyed HR professionals around New Zealand to find out what issues we face once we’ve moved out of lockdown. Health and wellness of staff, managing remote workers, entitlement to subsidies and employee remuneration were the big four issues facing HR leaders around the country. We have had to absorb a lot during this time, and HR respondents have a sense of urgency and duty to support their employees. “Unfortunately restructuring and redundancy is the biggest priority for HR professionals as we start

the return to work,” stated Nick McKissack, Chief Executive at HRNZ. “Employers around New Zealand will be forced to deal with the commercial realities of the economic contraction we’re facing.” This represents a complete turn-about for many, who for the past decade have been focused on competing for the best talent in a world of full employment. HR professionals also identified the need to build change capability and business resilience as a top priority. “Organisations around New Zealand are faced with adapting their service offerings to a new world and one

which has a high level of uncertainty in the short to medium term,” said Nick. Full results of the survey can be found at HRNZ continues to ensure it provides practical and relevant resources for members, as well as facilitating opportunities for members to learn from each other, to help meet the emerging challenges of the workplace today.





Employers' obligations during and after the COVID-19 pandemic

Returning to work postCOVID-19 lockdown requires careful management of health and safety risks and legal obligations. Julia Shallcrass, employment lawyer and director at HR training company KiwiBoss, talks us through our requirements, as well as some of the opportunities arising for workers and employers.


mployers must ensure the safety of their workers by informing them about their health and safety obligations and following their COVID-19 safety management plans. Employers should plan for sick leave entitlements and seek financial support under the government’s COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme. Now is the time to consider how to support staff through organisational change, and to apply any learnings from lockdown relating to working from home arrangements.

Safety first

Health and safety at work is paramount, and employers must ensure the health and safety of all workers during the COVID-19




pandemic. Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, employers must protect their workers and others at work from the risk of infection, so far as is reasonably practicable. Employers should prepare for the safe return of staff to work under Alert Level 2 with a COVID-19 safety management plan. This should set out how the employer will operate safely at work. Inform staff and stakeholders about the plan and expectations required of them before they return to work. “The key to success is ensuring everyone is aware of the safety management plan,” says Matt Jones of Advanced Safety. “Tell everyone about do’s and don’ts – and remind workers of their legal duties under legislation.” Be mindful that staff will be tired from riding an emotional roller-coaster. Matt recommends, “keeping tasks brief, conference calls short and not too much decision-making during the first few days returning to work”. Matt advises employers to keep their COVID-19 Safety Management Plan simple. “Employers can add COVID-19 to existing hazard and risk registers and share these with their team. List controls on your register

from reliable sources such as the Ministry of Health, Unite Against COVID-19, and WorkSafe NZ.” Employers should minimise the risk of passing on the COVID-19 virus at work through controls, such as: • supporting people with flulike symptoms or exposure to COVID-19 to self-isolate • ensuring physical distancing in accordance with government guidelines (1 metre during Alert Level 2, where practicable). Depending on your workplace, you may use smaller rotations of staff and stagger meal breaks, or change hours to allow for adequate physical distancing • disinfecting surfaces, including common touchpoints like door handles and light switches. Shared equipment must be wiped and cleaned at the beginning and end of each shift • maintaining good hygiene, particularly hand hygiene and good cough and sneeze etiquette • providing appropriate resources to minimise the risk of spreading infection, such as hand sanitisers, face masks, disposable gloves and other protective equipment

for staff, such as healthcare workers, who might encounter the disease • keeping records (trace recording) of who and when people have visited and attended the workplace, to facilitate contact tracing. For more information on health and safety, employers should review government guidelines, such as those from WorkSafe NZ: managing-health-and-safety/ novel-coronavirus-covid/ covid-19-safety-plan-what-youneed-to-think-about/

The Ministry of Health guidelines require self-isolation for 14 days upon risk of exposure to COVID-19. Employees who are absent from work due to exposure to the virus may be able to work from home. Otherwise, both parties should discuss and agree on whether the period of absence is special paid leave, annual leave or unpaid leave.

The key to success is ensuring everyone is aware of the safety management plan.

The COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme provides financial support for people who cannot attend work for health reasons, and who cannot work from home. Employers can apply for support under the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme for any employee who: • is at higher risk if they get COVID-19, and Ministry of Health guidelines recommend they stay at home while public health restrictions are in place. Employees at higher risk include those with immune-compromised conditions, moderate or severe

Sick leave support

Employers can require staff infected with COVID-19 to take sick leave and return to work upon medical clearance. Under the Holidays Act 2003, employees are entitled to a minimum of five days sick leave per entitlement year. Staff without any sick leave entitlement may agree to take annual leave or unpaid leave. Employers can ask workers who have been exposed to the virus to stay away from work, to avoid putting others at risk of infection.





asthma, aged over 70, or pregnant (see Ministry of Health guidelines for more information) • has come into contact with someone who has COVID-19 and must self-isolate for 14 days under Ministry of Health guidelines • has tested positive for COVID-19 and is required to remain off work until cleared by a health professional • shares a household with someone who is at higher risk if they get COVID-19, and the Ministry of Health recommends the employee also remains at home to reduce the risk to them. Employers can apply through Work and Income for financial support under the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme to pay employees, provided they meet the criteria. The scheme covers a four-week period at the subsidy rate of $585.80 for full-time workers (who worked 20 hours or more per week before COVID-19); and up to $350 per week for any part-time employees. 8



For more information, see the Ministry of Social Development website: https://www. covid-19/leave-support-scheme/ index.html

Restructuring and redundancies

Many businesses struggling financially due to the impact of COVID-19 are considering restructuring proposals that could lead to redundancies. Employers must have genuine reasons to justify their restructuring proposal, such as a significant downturn in sales or revenue, or staff being surplus to operational requirements. Before making redundancies, consider any alternatives to the restructuring proposal. Discuss options and eligibility under the COVID-19 Economic Response Package, such as wage subsidies, tax losses, and loans, with a Chamber of Commerce, lawyer, financial adviser or bank. Even businesses facing unprecedented challenges must

follow a fair and reasonable restructuring process. Provide staff with all relevant information on the restructuring proposal and a reasonable opportunity to give feedback before making your decision. During restructuring, provide support such as Employee Assistance Programmes and be thoughtful in your communication with affected staff. “Stress makes it hard for people to absorb and remember information,” say Elizabeth McNaughton and Jolie Wills (co-founders of Hummingly). “Follow up any conversations in writing so people can absorb messages when and how they need to.” “Try not to take reactions personally. People will feel grief and anger, and it will come out in many ways.” Remember it will also be tough for the team members who remain after a restructure. “Have plans in place and tools available to support their wellbeing, resilience and performance,” say Elizabeth and

Jolie, who provide Doing Well cards for teams undergoing change. Where an employer restructures business, and redeployment is not an option, staff are entitled to payment for the notice period of redundancy and any contractual redundancy compensation, in accordance with their employment agreements. Employers who received wage subsidies must comply with requirements to retain staff during the wage subsidy period. Employers who applied for wage subsidies after 4pm on 27 March 2020 must retain staff for the duration of the wage subsidy, so may not end staff employment during this time. Similarly, if employers applied for the wage subsidy before 4pm on 27 March 2020, they must use their best efforts to retain staff during the wage subsidy period. Employers seeking funding under the Wage Subsidy Extension must retain their employees for the duration of the extended subsidy (until 1 September 2020).

COVID-19 lockdown is the ability to work from home. Employers are encouraged to continue alternative working arrangements, such as working from home, flexible leave, and shift-based working, where practicable during Alert Level 2. Now is the time to consider whether working from home could become a permanent arrangement for your staff, or for health reasons during COVID-19. Review working from home arrangements and how they affected your staff, clients and your business. Discuss how staff can work effectively from home on an ad hoc or ongoing basis. Ask questions such as: • How can we provide ongoing supervision for staff working from home? • How will the employee engage in meetings once business is open? • Can we service clients and customers if any of our staff are working from home?

Force majeure clauses

Employers may invoke force majeure clauses (also known as “business interruption” clauses) that are included in employment agreements. Force majeure clauses may provide for immediate termination of employment where there is a specified triggering event, such as an epidemic, pandemic or act of government. Enforceability of a force majeure clause depends on the wording of the clause and business circumstances. An employer may be able to rely on a force majeure clause if running the business as usual is effectively impossible. It is unlikely that a business could rely on a force majeure clause where it loses profit but can otherwise continue trading as usual.

Pivotal changes for the workforce: working from home

One of the pivotal changes for the workforce that emerged during the

Staff are likely to be more productive working from home at least one day per week, free from office distraction and interruptions. Flexible working arrangements such as hot-desking and working from home may reduce the need for office space and provide for physical distancing during Alert Level 2. Under Ministry of Health guidelines, working from home is an option for staff who are considered at higher risk if they get COVID-19. While working from home generally improves productivity and job satisfaction, the COVID-19 lockdown proved a challenge for many employers and employees. Some staff struggled to juggle childcare and work during school closures and became fatigued with new technologies and the lack of social support. Learnings during the lockdown on how to manage these challenges are useful for business continuity

planning and situations that require staff to work from home. Effective communication through technology use is important for overcoming challenges and engaging a productive workforce at home. Frequent communication through technology like Microsoft Office Teams, Google Hangouts and teleconferencing helped teams communicate during the lockdown. Social networking forums like Slack proved useful for staff to share ideas. Clarify expectations by providing staff with access to a workplace policy and guidelines on working from home. Working from home policies should include expectations of employees; health and safety requirements; preferred channels of communication; who to contact for support; any payment expenses; and managing confidentiality, security and technology. For more information, see Julia’s upcoming KiwiBoss half-day virtual courses through HRNZ: Restructuring and Redundancy – 23 June Effective HR Communication – 1 July Effective Performance Management – 21 July

Julia Shallcrass is an employment lawyer who specialises in presenting on employment law and HR innovation. Julia upskills people managers and HR professionals on improving legal compliance, workplace culture and productivity. As Director of KiwiBoss, Julia delivers in-house training to organisations in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors to help create better workplaces. Julia is a facilitator for HRNZ PD courses, virtual courses and webinars. Go to to see upcoming courses. Julia is part of the KiwiBoss team that delivers public courses through HRNZ, and in partnership with Auldhouse, including live and virtual courses during COVID-19. www.kiwiboss.





Jo Martell until I reached my late twenties that I found a way to bring these interests and passions together into a Human Resources career. 3. What motivated you to apply for the role of HRNZ Board member?

Jo Martell is currently General Manager, People and Culture, at Fonterra. In addition, she is a Board member for HRNZ. Human Resources magazine caught up with her to gain an insight into her world. 1. What do you do in your current role to help your organisation be successful? As a member of the People and Culture Lead team, my role is to ensure that everything we do brings value to Fonterra’s triple bottom line, Healthy People, Healthy Environment and Healthy Business. In these extraordinary times, this can range from helping our business units to respond to the economic, social and workplace implications of COVID-19, to considering how we can learn from this experience to further build an inclusive work environment and flexible ways of working. On an ongoing basis my colleagues and I support the success of the business by strengthening the diversity of our succession and talent pipelines; building leadership capabilities; and partnering with leaders and teams to implement people plans that lift capability, engagement and performance. 2. What attracted you to pursue a career in HR? My father was an accountant, and I can recall from a young age having conversations with him about business performance improvement. My mother has a huge heart, and I inherited her passion for caring for people. It wasn’t




Two things really. First, the desire to give something back to the profession and the HR people who I believe add significant value to New Zealand businesses and our communities. We can all play a role individually and within our organisations, however, by collaborating across our HR community, we can do great things for New Zealand businesses and New Zealanders as a whole. Second, I have an interest in governance. After a year as a Board member, I have gained an appreciation for the different roles a Board and leadership team fulfil across an organisation, and how they interact to support each other. I have a huge amount of respect for the role HRNZ plays across New Zealand and, in particular, for Nick McKissack and the fantastic HRNZ team who are doing such a great job on our behalf. 4. What has been a highlight in your career to date? That’s a hard one because there have been so many. If I had to pick two, the first would be being part of the team that helped to rebuild Air New Zealand in 2001 post-Ansett. At the time, it felt like a Herculean task, and my heart and thoughts go out to all businesses and leaders now facing a similar challenge as a result of COVID-19. A more recent highlight is the role I play as a senior female leader supporting other women working in Fonterra, including through the Women at Work programmes that we’ve been running for several years now. 5. What do you most value about HRNZ membership? The opportunity to contribute to the HR profession. In the words of my current boss – it is indeed a noble profession.

6. What’s something that not many people know about you? I explored professions in journalism, banking and IT before finding my forever home in Human Resources! 7. If you could have dinner with three people living or dead, who would they be and why? First, Morris West, who is one of my favourite authors. I’d love to talk to him about the spiritual journey that his characters undertake. Second, I would choose Margaret Thatcher. She was such a formidable woman who delivered transformational change across the male bastion of UK politics. And finally, my aunt Larraine who passed away two years ago. She was a dairy farmer, rugby enthusiast and avid shoe collector who knew how to live life to the full. 8. What’s your happy place? Any time I am having a conversation with someone about how we can solve a problem or find ways to make things better for others. The icing on the cake is when this conversation includes my husband, Andy, in the Hawkes Bay, with a glass of rosé in hand!

Debbie Kirby

Debbie Kirby is General Manager Human Resources at Downer New Zealand. She is considered one of the most significant contributors within her organisation and is acknowledged as a leader in building capability within marginalised groups. In addition, Debbie won the HR Person of the Year Award – the premium individual award in the HRNZ 2020 Awards. 1. What do you do in your current role to help your organisation be successful?

I am the General Manager HR for Transport Services and also hold the responsibility for the Corporate Social Outcomes function within Downer. Having come from a background in social services, I have brought to the organisation a different way of looking at employees and ideas around holistic support that have seen a large increase in employment and retention of people who may traditionally have had challenges in maintaining a job. Over several years this has helped to change the culture of Downer and strengthened our ability to deliver work and therefore be successful at the tender box.

component of all of my previous roles was a real desire to see potential and empower people to succeed. I am interested in big-picture thinking and understanding where things connect to achieve overall outcomes, and HR is the perfect career for these passions to intersect. Motivating and developing people to be their best and channelling skills and talents to meet business goals is always challenging and rewarding work. 3. What has been a highlight in your career to date?

Being part of the development of Te Ara Whanake, the Downer Maori Leadership programme, and seeing that grow and evolve into a number of other programmes for our Maori employees has been incredibly special for me. Last year, we introduced a 24-hour maraebased immersion programme for non-Maori employees where we explore tikanga, kawa, culture and history. This programme includes an introduction to the Treaty of Waitangi. Co-facilitating that, and observing the engagement from attendees learning about some tough stuff, was a real highlight for me and made me very proud to work for Downer. 4. What do you most value about HRNZ membership?

It is great to be part of a professional body through which we can share ideas and learn from each other. HR is such a broad field, so to have a forum through which we can hear different perspectives and experiences is fantastic. Building the profile of our industry is also a key factor for me.

even though I sometimes wonder “what if …?”, I have never regretted my decision. 6. If you could have dinner with three people living or dead, who would they be and why?

First and foremost, my Dad, who passed away nearly five years ago. He was an amazing inspirational man who, although completely blind through a degenerative eye disease he was born with, never let that hold him back. He lived life to the full, including being an internationally acclaimed scientist and still chopping kindling ‘by feel’ until the day he died. I miss him a lot and would love to share dinner with him. Barack Obama would be a fascinating dinner companion, I think, and one who I would have a lot of questions for and, finally, Paul Henry. I know he may be a controversial choice. Still, I have always enjoyed the company of people who are slightly outrageous and think he would undoubtedly add spark to the dinner party conversation. 7. What’s your happy place?

My husband and I have seven children between us, and my happy place is when we are all together with them and their partners. We are very fortunate that they all really enjoy each other’s company and whatever we do as a group, it is always a fantastic time.

5. What’s something that not many people know about you?

The road not taken for me would have been a singing career. I had to choose in my twenties whether I had a wide and varied career before to jump into that pathway, boots and all, or just to have it as a sideI moved into HR, but the common line hobby. I chose hobby and 2. What attracted you to pursue a career in HR?




HRNZ PD programme goes virtual Winter 2020 Ways of working may have changed, but learning and professional development is just as important now as it was before. To ensure we can continue to deliver industry leading professional development, HRNZ has redeveloped popular PD courses to be delivered online via Zoom. Topical new half-day courses have been added too. Why you should take an HRNZ PD course: •

HRNZ is New Zealand’s leading provider of human resources PD courses

applied learning – develop strategies to implement

interactive sessions – share experiences with fellow HR professionals

continue your professional development

detailed course books provided

earn CPD points.

"Learn from anywhere – all you need is a computer/laptop with a reliable internet connection".

Virtual course schedule COURSE




HR Foundations

28 & 30 July 4 August

9.00 – 4.00

3 day

HR 101: HR for Non HR People

8 July

9.00 – 5.00

Full day

Effective HR Communication

1 July

9.00 – 12.30

1/2 day

Effective Performance Management

21 July

9.00 – 12.30

1/2 day

Restructuring and Redundancy

23 June

9.00 – 12.30

1/2 day

Courses subject to change. For the latest schedule please visit

0800 247 469

Welcome to the new ROI:

A Return on Individuals Now more than ever, every business is a people

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talent they have in a whole new way. With this shift comes a new definition of ROI: A Return on

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Find out how LHH can help Contact : Sake Hitman

New Zealand Country Manager


/lee-hecht-harrison WINTER 2020




What do leaders and HR professionals need to know about mental illness?

Michael Hempseed, HRNZ PD Programme Facilitator, looks at what people need to know about mental illness and how this knowledge can support our journey of business recovery and healing.


any people think the psychological impact of disasters such as COVID-19 will be worse at the start then it will get better. Research suggests the opposite is true. The Canterbury Charity Hospital Trust found that if people needed counselling immediately after the 2011 earthquakes, on average, they needed two-to-three sessions. The Charity Hospital found five years later if people needed counselling, on average, they needed 22 or 23 sessions. They found it wasn’t so much the effect of the earthquakes that people needed counselling for, it was the long-term hassle and frustration of things like battling insurance companies and moving offices multiple times.

We need to understand the long-term effect of disasters

When a disaster strikes, many people have a significant amount of energy and resilience to fight it. As the months and years wear on, their 14



energy and resilience can be slowly worn away. International research suggests the biggest psychological impact of disasters often hits threeto-five years later. The same applies to someone who has experienced the death of someone close to them. Employers should be aware of this. If staff say they are struggling with the longer-term effect of a disaster or personal tragedy, employers should not think, “Aren’t you over this by now?”. Instead, they should offer support and ongoing understanding.

Addressing this effectively, requires a whole team approach

I was recently asked to speak at Gore District Council, to discuss preventing mental illness and overcoming failures. The council allowed anyone to attend the talk, no matter what their position in the council. I was impressed to see staff who work at cemeteries attending. While this may sound like an odd choice, it was a good one. The cemetery staff had come across someone who was visibly distressed at the loss of a child. We never know where we will meet someone who is showing signs of distress, mental illness or suicide. We need to teach people, at all levels and in all jobs, to know how to respond.

Powernet took me to every one of their sites, even really small places such as Palmerston (in the South Island) and Lumsden. This was excellent to see, because often rural communities have double the rate of suicide, per head of population, as larger communities. Mental health training must include everyone within an organisation, no matter where they are in the country.

Mental illness is more than just feeling sad

We often use the term mental illness to mean depression, but it covers a range of conditions from addiction to eating disorders, anxiety, schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), to name a few. We often think that, if someone experiences depression, they will feel sad. Most people with moderate to severe depression report feeling numbness or no emotions, they can have difficulty concentrating, sleeping, they can feel drained of all energy, feel worthless and even experience a lot of physical pain. We need to be very clear that there is so much more to depression than feeling sad. The same is true for anxiety. When someone with generalised anxiety walks down the street, even if it’s a sunny day and the birds are singing,

they don’t see it as a wonderful day. They can be filled with fear – fear that they’re going to get lost or someone is going to attack them. You might think when they’re safe at home in bed, then they can finally relax, but when they try to go to sleep, they can be filled with the same worry. They might think, “Did I leave the oven on? Is the house going to burn down? Is someone going to break in and attack me?”. As you can imagine, living filled with fear makes life incredibly difficult.

We must focus on stories of healing and recovery

The costs are staggering

We have had at least 20 years of public education on mental illness. Despite the countless media articles and stories, I find many people don’t know that recovery is possible. Depression, for example, tends to be episodic rather than chronic. Most people who experience depression will have relatively short episodes (six to 18 months), then recover completely. Having said that, some people do have ongoing depression, so we must acknowledge that everyone has a different path to recovery.

We now know that mental illness is a leading cause of disability,1 staff turnover2 and lost productivity.3 The costs to employers vary from workplace to workplace, but the research cited above suggests the costs are staggering. The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists estimated for New Zealand and Australia, in 2014, the cost of mental illness was $115 billion ($17 billion for New Zealand and $98 billion for Australia).4 With the costs being so high, it is an excellent investment to address mental illness within the workplace.

In 2019, I gave 200 talks around New Zealand on mental illness and suicide prevention. I spoke to medical doctors, army medics, social workers, lawyers, accountants, health and safety companies, university students and many others. One common misunderstanding among most people in these groups is that they believe recovery from mental illness is rare or people don’t recover, they just learn to live with it.

If people do not know recovery is possible, they will not try to get help.

Over the past 30 years, we have started to get much better at treating mental illness. We now have a wide range of evidence-based treatments available, from counselling, eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR), art, drama and music therapy, medication, ecotherapy and animalassisted therapy. It is not simply enough to raise awareness of the problems. We must raise awareness of the fact that, with the right help and support, many people do get better.

Asking are you okay or telling people to speak up doesn’t work

We often tell people to ask their mates, “Are you okay?”. The problem is, in the Western world, when someone asks us, “Are you okay?”, we tend to say we’re fine, even when we’re not. Instead, you need to say, “I have noticed…” or “I am concerned about you”, to get a better response. Telling people to “speak up” usually doesn’t work either. The problem with moderate to serious mental illness

1 World Health Organization (2020) Depression. 2 Forbes (15 October 2019) Mental health is a leading cause for why people are quitting their jobs: Here’s what you need to do now.

3 Forbes (17 April 2010) The cost of ignoring mental health in the workplace. 4 Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (2016) The economic cost of serious mental illness and comorbidities in Australia and New Zealand. Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, page 17.




is it significantly affects someone’s ability to think clearly. Often, people don’t realise they have a mental illness. Instead of expecting people with mental illness to speak up, we need to teach everyone in the community to recognise the signs and symptoms of mental distress, illness and suicide, and to know how to help someone.

writing, sensory objects, ecotherapy, EMDR and chronotherapy.

Group therapy may not help everyone

While group therapy can be helpful for some people, it has left others worse off. Trauma is complicated; there is no quick fix. The causes, symptoms and treatment of trauma

are unique to an individual. Even if two people have been sexually abused, the way it will have affected their individual lives will be vastly different. A form of group therapy, known as critical incident debriefing, has been found to increase PTSD.5,6 This also applies to attempted grief therapy for

It’s worth doing your research

In the past few years, New Zealand has seen an explosion of mental health providers. Some are excellent and offer fantastic work, while others are missing the mark. We have never found that one form of treatment or help works for everyone. For example, counselling may do wonders for some people, do nothing for others or even make the situation worse. I therefore recommend various forms of help and treatment such as counselling, volunteering, art, drama and music therapy, mindfulness, play therapy, expressive

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5 The American Society of Evidence-Based Policing (29 November 2018) The harmful effects of Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD): Why police departments should stay up to date on evidence-based practices. 6 Critical incident stress debriefing: Helpful, harmful, or neither? Journal of Emergency Nursing 45(6): 611–612.




large audiences or whole workplaces. Talks to large audiences should include possible signs and symptoms and a clear pathway to help, but any attempt at group therapy is never safe.


Mental distress, illness and suicide are having a significant impact on New Zealand businesses. Some employers believe if they ignore this, then it will go away. Sadly, this is not the case. Employers must have the courage to address this. Courage is not being foolhardy. It must be addressed in a carefully planned and thought-out way, with providers that really know what they are doing. Don’t assume employees will not be interested. Provide a supportive environment where mental health challenges are acknowledged and supported, not mocked. Attitudes to mental illness and suicide are changing rapidly in New Zealand. We need businesses to have the courage and good judgement to address this in a way that will change lives for the better. On this page I have a step-bystep guide about how to help someone who is suicidal: http:// samplechapter.html

Michael Hempseed is author of Being A True Hero: Understanding and Preventing Suicide in Your Community. The book is being used by the New Zealand Police, Fire and Emergency NZ, general practitioners and counsellors, as well as many parents and teachers. Michael is a facilitator for HRNZ PD courses, virtual courses and webinars. Go to nz/pd to see upcoming courses. He has trained everyone from army medics to social workers to health and safety companies. Michael gained an honours degree in psychology from the University of Canterbury in 2008. E: W:





Real-time data shows

a massive shift to remote and mobile employee learning

There’s nothing like an unexpected crisis to force us to re-evaluate our lives. Sue Turk, Managing Director of Cornerstone OnDemand Australia and New Zealand, questions what’s important, how we want to invest our time each day and what future learning could look like.


rom a personal perspective, this COVID-19 crisis has allowed me to appreciate the little things in life far more than in the past. Having time to walk in the park with my kids. Watching a movie together. Even the opportunity to be more directly involved in their education. And, on the work front, we are seeing the emergence of a ‘new normal’. Now many of us have experienced working remotely (perhaps for the first time), how many will want to go back to being in the office five days a week? Of dealing with long commutes, rush hour traffic jams, and the challenges of balancing work life with raising a family? While we are realising remote work can help us achieve a better work–life balance, it also requires us to possess a specific set of skills 18



to be productive. Collaborating across virtual teams, managing time, dealing with stress, and building rapport are all examples of skills that need to be nurtured and developed over time. And that’s why continuous learning is so critical to surviving today, while thriving tomorrow.

Using learning data to drive decisions

Over 20 years in business, we’ve been collecting learning data from thousands of organisations, and many millions of people. From compliance training, remote working, wellness, professional skills, leadership development, and much

more, we’ve been helping people grow and develop, so they can quickly adapt to a changing world. This means we can see how trends have evolved over time using realtime data, pull vital insights and trends on how people learn, and how this has changed over time. We use these insights to both drive product development decisions, but also to share emerging trends that give rise to new work models.

How many will want to go back to being in the office five days a week?

Let’s look at the numbers from We need to acquire a large amount of new knowledge and skills to March 2020 In March 2020, our Cornerstone Learning clients saw an average 135 per cent increase in employee logins to the Cornerstone Learning Management System, compared with February 2020. In fact, in March alone, people engaged in a collective 27.5 million hours of learning, across both the corporate and academic sectors.

As you’d expect, we’ve seen a heavy increase in search activity toward mobile learning globally, as organisations adapt to new ways of working. Countries most affected initially by the COVID-19 pandemic saw a heavy increase in mobile and remote learning, including a 100 per cent increase in Spain, Germany and Netherlands, 500 per cent in South Korea, while Japan’s usage skyrocketed seventy-fold.

In March alone, people engaged in a collective 27.5 million hours of learning, across both the corporate and academic sectors. The upward trend is significant, but not entirely unexpected. Learners want to set themselves up for success.

enable this to happen, from virtual communication, remote collaboration and leadership, to time management techniques and smart ways to stay healthy while working from our lounge rooms at home (which were among the most popular courses taken in March 2020). We’ve also seen a dramatic increase in employees looking for help with digital productivity tools, working remotely and dealing with stress. For example, we’ve seen a 100 per cent increase in searches for ‘learning from home’, and a 70 per cent increase in searches for ‘stress relief’. What’s most interesting is that employees aren’t sitting around waiting for guidance, they’re driving their learning and taking charge of their ability to be successful in this new environment while taking care of their mental health. There has never been a more critical time for employers to provide their people with the flexibility to learn anywhere, anytime, rather than onesize-fits-all lectures or multi-hour training courses in conference rooms. And the data from March 2020 proves this is the case. People are taking more time to learn and grow, customised to their preferences and

schedule. Mobile logins increased threefold in one week at the end of March, and usage from the Cornerstone Learn app continues to grow significantly month over month in 2020, up 45 per cent in March over February. So, what should happen next? Go back to the ‘old’ way of doing things, or embrace this new reality? Create a more agile workforce that can quickly adapt to future downturns and unexpected challenges. A renewed focus on learning is going to help all organisations – and people – thrive.

In her role as Managing Director of Cornerstone OnDemand Australia and New Zealand, Sue Turk helps organisations across Australia and New Zealand improve their ability to attract, manage and develop their employees. With an obsession for customer success and employee engagement, Sue helps HR professionals navigate the skills economy and digital transformation, helping them realise competitive advantage through their people. Sue has more than 22 years’ corporate, HR and leadership experience. For more insights on the state of work and learning in the future, sourced from millions of workers across the Cornerstone Learning platform, visit: infographic-navigating-new-world-of-work





Good faith in a crisis

Alice Anderson, Solicitor at Dundas Street Employment Lawyers, looks at what employers may have to deal with in the business-recovery phase, following the COVID-19 seven-week lockdown. She discusses the requirement for employers to act in good faith, and explores implications employers may face when working with employees over this period.


he COVID-19 global pandemic has put New Zealand workplaces to the test as they have navigated their employment relationships in a world full of new restrictions and changing government assistance programmes. The requirement to deal with one another in good faith, as set out in section 4 of the Employment Relations Act 2000 (the Act), can act as a guiding principle to employers during this uncertain crisis. The duty of good faith underpins the Act and should colour every employment interaction. The duty is wider than the implied duty of trust and confidence and, similar to acting ‘fairly and reasonably’, how it looks practically, depends entirely on the 20



situation. While the duty is a two-way street, it is often the employer being put to the test as to whether they have acted in good faith.

importantly, the duty applies to unions too). In the bargaining context, the law is well-established and accessible to parties when bargaining.

The Act provides that good faith requires:

Perhaps more relevant when we think about a ‘crisis’, however, is a redundancy situation. As New Zealand workplaces have navigated their COVID-19 pandemic responses, they have had to do so in a way that is consistent with their good faith obligations. The COVID-19 crisis did not and does not mean that employment laws no longer apply. Although the government-offered assistance programmes have potentially prevented some redundancies, and possibly prevented an employer from implementing a redundancy for a 12-week period, workplaces will still be facing this possibility.

• the parties to be ‘active and constructive’ in establishing and maintaining a productive employment relationship, including an obligation to be ‘responsive and communicative’ • the parties not to do anything that misleads or deceives the other, or that is likely to mislead or deceive the other • where an employer is proposing to make decisions that will, or are likely to have, an adverse effect on the continuation of an employee’s employment, the employer must provide the employee with access to information relevant to their decision-making, and an opportunity to comment on that. Section 4(4) of the Act confirms where the duty applies but is a nonexhaustive list (section 4(5)). The list confirms that good faith is central to collective bargaining, which is expanded on in section 32 of the Act, and places specific requirements on the parties to uphold the duty (and

Section 4(4)(e) of the Act confirms that the duty of good faith applies when making an employee redundant. When proposing redundancies, employers must demonstrate a genuine business

The requirement to deal with one another in good faith […] can act as a guiding principle to employers during this uncertain crisis.

reason for the redundancy and follow a fair and reasonable process. This includes providing information relevant to the proposal, and a reasonable opportunity for the employee to comment before the employer makes a final decision to implement a redundancy. That duty of consultation extends to how employees are selected for redundancy, including what process and criteria will be used to select employees if the proposal proceeds. Notwithstanding the realities of operating during the pandemic, the employee’s responses to the proposal, including alternative ideas and proposals, must be considered by the employer, before a decision to make them redundant could be justified. An employer’s good faith duty will require them to consider alternatives to redundancy, which in this setting could involve options such as reaching mutual agreement with employees to pay reductions, leave without pay, or reduced working hours. It could also include considering options such as accessing government wage assistance programmes, loans, or making other roles redundant as opposed to the affected employee. An employer would be expected to communicate openly and honestly

with their employee during this time. Similarly, an employee’s duty of good faith would require them to be responsive throughout the process and communicate honestly with the employer. Chief Judge Inglis noted in a 2019 paper Defining good faith (and Mona Lisa’s smile) that it has been suggested that Parliament’s vision for the concept of good faith is yet to be fully realised.1 The Chief Judge goes on to comment that the duty cannot and should not be pinned down and referenced to a clear-cut legal rule, rather “it is a standard which applies flexibly depending on the particular circumstances of the case. It necessitates an evaluation of the alleged breach in its human dimension”.2

Rushing decisions in a crisis could end up costing employers more in the future if they do not comply with their good faith duties. Employers often search for a ‘tickbox’ approach and run an overly legalistic process in an attempt to avoid a personal grievance and meet their legal obligations. However, rushing decisions in a crisis could end up costing employers more in the

1 Defining good faith (and Mona Lisa’s smile), Chief Judge Christina Inglis, To Law @ Work Conference, 30 July 2019 (Auckland), p 1. 2 Above n 1, pp 7–8.

future if they do not comply with their good faith duties. Employers have found their usual processes have needed to be revamped, because most New Zealanders were prohibited from interacting kanohi ki te kanohi (face to face) with their employers, employees and colleagues for a period, requiring parties to quickly adapt, and consider how best to meet their good faith obligations in this environment. This challenge will most likely lead to further judicial commentary around the duty of good faith in the future. However, in the meantime, processes that, although informed by the legal requirements, are adaptable and underpinned by manaakitanga (caring and respect for others), awhina (support), honesty and a readiness to listen, will go a long way towards upholding the duty of good faith and may also promote healthier and more productive employment relationships. Alice Anderson, Ngāi Tahu, is a Solicitor at Dundas Street Employment Lawyers and has experience dealing with a range of employment issues. Alice is an active member of Te Hunga Rōia Māori o Aotearoa, the Māori Law Society, and has a strong interest in incorporating tikanga-based values into the workplace and dispute resolution. WINTER 2020




Create the space and hold it

Angela Bingham, Executive Director People and Capability at the Open Polytechnic of New Zealand, looks at how learning happened within her organisation, even despite the country being in lockdown. What were the critical factors for ensuring that this happened?


i te kotahi te kakaho ka whati, Ki te kapuia e kore e whati – Alone we can be broken. Standing together, we are invincible. Every morning, since Wednesday 25 March 2020, I told myself today was going to be a good day. My team and I had to take a leap of faith and believe in ourselves and our teams. With learning at the core of our organisation, I had to create the space and hold it. This article reflects on my time as a leader and a learning professional during lockdown. I share with you the evidence that learning has happened despite a lockdown. I look at what made this time unique in the context of learning and what we can learn from this. Four important things happened: 1. we prioritised pastoral care 22



2. we communicated 3. we were clear on the principles 4. we activated authentic leadership.

Prioritising pastoral care

I started to do a bit of reading, and I was reminded of Maslow. In an organisation where the basics (equipment, pay, health and safety) have been taken care of, individuals were able to get their heads around ‘this new way of working’ in a matter of days. We acknowledged the different makeup of bubbles, we connected with what was going on at home, and we welcomed dogs and children to online meetings. Essentially we cared at a very fundamental level. We met psychological needs through fostering belonging and connection with our colleagues. We checked in on wellbeing daily, before anything else. My team (as did many teams) started each day with a stand up: successes from yesterday, intentions for today, perceived blockers and a number from one to five on how we were feeling at that moment. No trying to bring the number up or justifying the high or low number – it was just a number. One of my learnings is that my team members were sharing problems, blockers and issues that I

couldn’t solve. And I shouldn’t have solved. I listened and acknowledged, and that’s all I could and should do. Create the space and hold it. The reality was, we didn’t roll out new software or policies. We turned up the dial on our pastoral care, thereby creating space for learning and change. It happened right before our virtual eyes.

Communicating; not just delivering messages

Meetings were shorter (although slower to start). By the time we all had sound checks sorted, people were concise. No one wasted time to speak for the sake of speaking. Brilliant. Organisational communications were short, sharp and action-oriented (no one felt the need to provide the history of pandemics). People compensated for the lack of body language by working on messaging. People asked how I wanted to meet (phone, Skype, Zoom, MS Teams, FaceTime, Google Hangouts and so on). Communication truly became two way. I have loved being involved in all the just-in-time learning that happened across our organisation. We took to MS Teams like it was our new water. We carried on with karakia, we giggled at jokes and made formal

decisions. We did all of this without a training guide, without a policy and without a change management plan. We did it because we had to, and there was no negative peer pressure (nay-sayers). Josh Bersin, world-known industry analyst and thought-leader on learning, has provided me with much reflection. He has been writing about what we are learning about leadership in times of crisis. I have summarised his findings and how they have related to us at the Open Polytechnic. • Pastoral care was at the top of our ‘to-do’ list. Then it became a habit. Josh Bersin tells us that, in a crisis, leaders focus on “empathy and compassion first, business second".1 When people feel a sense of safety, trust and empowerment, growth will return. • We had committed to financial security. We pledged to be honest with our employees about the financial viability of the Open Polytechnic, and this too helped instil a sense of understanding from the staff. • Teams were talking daily. We were sharing ideas of new tools we had found, we were communicating about how we best worked from home, sharing the highs and the lows. It led to more cohesion and connectedness. We were practising social distancing, yet we were more connected than ever. • People were learning just in time. People were phoning more experienced team mates to ask for a solution on a project. We used our networks to find subjectmatter experts. We have now become used to finding tips, cheat sheets and so on just when we need them. Our students have set the example for us – they have continued syncing their academic learning with their at-home schedules. We took our lead from them.

We were tired, but no one said they had change fatigue. Extroverts leaned on introverts. Life did become simpler. Clarifying principles

As the approach to lockdown became intense, we relied on principles. We didn’t have time for a new policy environment, and we were running alongside an everchanging environment. By being clear about our principles, we could be agile with our protocols. We were tired, but no one said they had change fatigue. Extroverts leaned on introverts. Life did become simpler. Examples of our guiding principles were: • following the government guidelines • making our own self-assessments • continuing with as many services as possible (including online fitness workshops) • making our own assessments of equipment needed to work from home • making our own schedules to meet at-home commitments.

participants being a little more charitable, as individuals sorted audio and video difficulties. And then we celebrated the small wins, “Well done you found your mic and camera”. The remaining four conversations from The Oxford Group are as follows: • agreeing mutual expectations • showing genuine appreciation • challenging unhelpful behaviour • building for the future.

We met psychological needs through fostering belonging and connection with our colleagues. All of these conversations will become increasingly relevant for leaders as we navigate the next stage of business recovery and rebuild. What does the future like look like for me? Belief. Believe in ourselves, set the principles, determine communication, be authentic and focus on pastoral care. These are the headliners for learning and change. Mauria te pono – believe in yourself.

Activating authentic leadership

When we turn up to work, we have that sense physically that we have our ‘armour’ on, and we’re fortified to start the day. When you dial-in to work, people are curious about the little faces that pop up, the seventies coffee mug, the fabric of the curtains or the artwork on the walls. It promotes curiosity and a moment of authentic leadership and learning. The Oxford Group talk about five conversations leaders should have. The first is to “establish a trusting relationship”. Talk about the person, find out how they like to be communicated with and then do it. I heard several providers communicating “bear with us, we are learning too”. Or meeting


Angela Bingham He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata! He tangata! He tangata! Angela Bingham started as Executive Director People and Capability at the Open Polytechnic in October 2018. Before that she held a variety of leadership roles, with an emphasis in learning and development. She has worked for Kineo (Pacific), ACC, Endeavour IT Limited, Rugby New Zealand, Department of Internal Affairs and ANZ, among others. Angela has a strong people agenda, which she has developed from her degree in Community and Family Studies from the University of Otago. Angela’s philosophies are that an effective leader works for the good of others with a firm foundation in strengthbased conversations. WINTER 2020




Now more than ever The Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand (MHF) is all about creating hope. At a time when we are facing increasing uncertainty in all areas of our lives, this charity is working towards creating a society where all people can enjoy positive mental health and wellbeing.

resources for workplaces to create an environment and culture that enhances and protects people’s mental health and wellbeing. The organisation also runs workshops, provides online resources and works with peak bodies, industry associations and public health organisations to advise and provide guidance. Despite the small size of the team, they are focused on reaching as many people as possible.

at this time, expectations and access to information,” says Lisa.


What advice does Lisa give organisations struggling to find a clear direction for their staff in the wellbeing space?

The organisation offers a Five Ways to Wellbeing at Work toolkit, designed to improve mental wellness in the workplace. This toolkit includes fact sheets, tools, templates and games to use with teams. Also, Open Minds is a collection of online training materials, such as videos and posters, to equip managers with the tools and confidence to talk about mental health with teams and individuals. All tools are accessible via the MHF website.

ot many of us could have fully predicted the impact of COVID-19 on the ways we work, socialise, travel, access healthcare, exercise, shop and live. It’s no wonder many people are feeling anxious, stressed, worried and scared. “This is a time of increased pressure and stress for all New Zealanders,” says Lisa Ducat, Workplace Mental Health Promoter for MHF. “For us to make good decisions, manage through additional stress and distress, and be ready for what’s next, we need to look after our whole selves.” Lisa goes on to explain that our mental wellbeing is more than just feeling happy. It helps us do the things we need to get through our lives, allows us to face challenges, and to form relationships. These things help us feel good about ourselves. MHF provides simple, usable and relevant, evidence-based tools and 24



“Safety has to come first,” Lisa says. “If a member of staff isn’t feeling safe and is in high distress or fatigued, their brain will not be able to function at its best. This state of mind means their decision-making ability is limited, so too is creativity, risk assessment, and the ability to think of others’ needs.” Lisa goes on to state that, to feel safe, the company needs to have supportive environments in place to help employees get through tough times. Often these are practical solutions or answers to the questions or worries employees have. “Sometimes, support might mean being listened to or having someone to share our concerns with. Support might also come in the form of work resources that allow us to do our job well. It’s important for staff to have a clear understanding of their job role

For us to make good decisions, manage through additional stress and distress, and be ready for what’s next, we need to look after our whole selves. nz/assets/Working-Well/FINALWorking-Well-FS-The-businesscase-for-wellbeing-approved. pdf

MHF’s work is diverse and expansive, with campaigns and services covering all aspects of mental health and wellbeing. The organisation takes a holistic approach to mental health, promoting what it knows makes and keeps people mentally well. The work of the organisation is funded through donations, grants and contract income.

Get Chartered! HRNZ is committed to promoting the highest levels of professionalism in the practice of HR in New Zealand workplaces and encourages all members to aspire to and achieve Chartered Membership. Chartered Members of HRNZ enjoy the status that comes with demonstrating they have attained a level of professional ability that is respected at a national level by employers and their peers. In addition, Chartered Members are provided with guidance and opportunities to expand and enhance their professional knowledge and expertise through continuing professional development on an annual basis. Chartered Members are expected to be technically competent and highly credible HR professionals. Assessment for chartered status is based on the HRNZ competency framework – Kahikatea, ka taea. Candidates need to provide evidence of their independent actions that match the competency descriptors. These are assessed by a panel of experienced HRNZ chartered members.

Recently chartered HRNZ members Hanlie du Plessis


30 March 2020

Elena Calvert


20 January 2020

Kesh Kaur


19 February 2020

For more information about getting chartered please visit





Could New Zealand

become a more inclusive society post-COVID-19? Lisa Oakley, People and Culture General Manager at Blind Low Vision NZ, looks at the silver lining of COVID-19: how it could accelerate the future of work and what that means for people with disabilities.


rganisations have had to develop at a rapid pace to respond to COVID-19 and play their part at stopping its spread. At Blind Low Vision NZ, in just 48 hours of the Level 4 lockdown being announced, 95 per cent of our workforce was up and running to work remotely. Organisations have been forced to be agile and respond quickly to a situation that is going to have a long-lasting impact on our economy, industries, organisations, families and way of life for years to come. While its effect is devastating, it shows what is possible when we are forced to work together to achieve a common goal and what could be possible in a post-COVID-19 world. Technological disruption has become more familiar in the past decade. Still, the speed of transformation triggered almost overnight as a result of COVID-19 will radically redefine the future of life and work. Some things are certain. How we as individuals choose to respond and how we manage ourselves and our teams to influence institutions and organisations around us to prepare for our future in a post-COVID-19 26



world are all within our control. This is a character-defining moment for humanity – do we react and panic, or do we respond and adapt? The human species is known for defying odds when it comes to adaption. No one understands that better than a person with a disability who has often had to adapt to different circumstances daily. Since working at Blind Low Vision NZ, I have witnessed people adapting to sight loss. It is not the end, but the beginning as people navigate doing things in a different way. Whether that’s getting around using a mobility aid like a white cane or guide dog, or using a screen-reader and adaptive technology so that they can continue working and participating in society on an equal footing. COVID-19 has revealed an uncomfortable truth about equality in our labour market and social

systems. Our collective response to support our most vulnerable citizens is crucial, and we have a unique opportunity to respond to some unsettling figures. Research conducted by Blind Low Vision NZ, the CNIB Foundation and Vision Australia shows that only 32 per cent of New Zealanders with sight loss are in full-time employment. In contrast, the rate of employment in the general population is double that. The New Zealand unemployment forecast is set to surge between 10 per cent and 30 per cent, leaving even fewer opportunities for those with disabilities. The situation in the United Kingdom is not dissimilar. Looking at disability more widely, only 6 per cent of young people with learning difficulties are in employment, and according to Disability Rights UK, employees with disabilities earn less than

non-disabled workers. What’s more, a Department for Education (UK) Green Paper, Support and Aspiration, found less than one in 20 people with a mental or physical disability are in paid employment. We are seeing organisations respond rapidly to the impacts of COVID-19 with widespread virtual work practices that have, for decades, been quoted as barriers to engagement for disabled persons. This presents an opportunity to shape a fairer future of work and to use digital communication tools to allow people with disabilities to participate fully in the workforce. Now is the time for momentum on an inclusion revolution in our response and recovery efforts. The International Labour Organization, World Health Organization and United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities explain the impact of the current crisis for people with disabilities requires attention, to ensure that those with disabilities are not left behind. This response must include social justice, effective inclusion, equality of opportunities and decent work. What’s more, many disabled people have learnt the skills needed to be effective in response to crises. They are not defined by their disability, but by their ability. They know how to adapt and respond to change, often continuously. This requires resilience, innovation and creativity. I would like to suggest that there is no better time than now for society to learn from people with disabilities and that it is more important than ever before in creating inclusive and diverse work environments. We knew the fourth industrial revolution was here, and now it has transported itself into our very own living rooms and home offices and to our dining tables. It is here, and it is here to stay. Organisations and employers will continue to challenge norms in the way they do business. Advancement in automation and robotics will continue, and research

Ways to engage people with disabilities in employment

• Educate yourself on how to make workplace adjustments, from IT adaptations to working with a support person or interpreter. • Review your recruitment and promotion policies to ensure they are referring to ‘potential’ as well as to specific qualifications (that may not be relevant) and experience. • Talk to candidates about how to adapt interviews to help those with disabilities. • Have senior people speak about their own experience of disability and about the value to the company of being inclusive. • Review the language you use when speaking with a person with a disability – is it different from when speaking to an able-bodied person? Make adjustments to correct unconscious biases.

What we did for our people at Blind Low Vision NZ in the run-up to the Level 4 lockdown

• We established a crisis management team to respond to COVID-19, which met daily to discuss key updates. • We were able to get 95 per cent of our workforce up and running to work from home in 48 hours after Alert Level 4 started. • Blind Low Vision NZ is an essential service and, where possible, we continue to deliver our vital service remotely using video-calling, such as Zoom, or the phone. • Many eye conditions develop later in life and we know technology is a massive barrier for people who are blind or have low vision – only 53 per cent of our clients have an email address – our frontline employees are phoning clients to check on their health and wellbeing and make sure they have access to essential services. • We extended our National Contact Centre hours from 8am to 8pm, to offer support to our clients during the COVID-19 crisis. suggests this opportunity will create as many jobs as it intends to displace. Employees and individuals will do well to develop plans to upskill and respond positively. Great masterpieces have come from quarantine, like Shakespeare’s King Lear, which was written during quarantine from the London plague. When we devote time to rest and think, we can learn, grow and create and, in doing so, upskill ourselves for the new world of work. How society supports vulnerable people and ensures inclusion in this future of work for people with disabilities will be critical to New Zealand’s economic recovery. Let’s be led by, not leave behind, those who may have the key to unlocking our future success.

Lisa Oakley (BCom, MMgmt, PGdipBusAdmin, CFHRINZ, CAHRI) is a Board member and National Vice President of HRNZ, and Director of Love Your Work NZ. Love Your Work NZ offers customised solutions to people and performance needs through HR consultancy and project work. Lisa has 15-plus years’ experience in human resources and health, safety and environment in large-scale service environments in a range of industry sectors. She is currently studying towards her GradDip in Occupational Health and Safety. Contact Lisa via LinkedIn.





Securing work visas for migrant workers in the post-COVID world The coronavirus pandemic will leave thousands of Kiwis without jobs. So what impact will this seismic shift in unemployment have on our local labour market and the ability of employers to hire migrant workers in the coming months? What should employers who have already employed migrant workers expect when it comes time to renew their visas? Rachael Mason, Partner at Lane Neave, provides answers to these and other questions.


ew Zealand has changed – and so will our immigration policy. With thousands of Kiwis left unemployed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, a critical part of New Zealand’s recovery, both economically, and from a wellbeing perspective, will be to get the country working again. In the postCOVID world, government policies will be geared towards reducing unemployment. In terms of our immigration system, this will result in much tougher policy requirements needing to be met before a migrant worker can be offered a job. To ensure genuine efforts have been made to hire a Kiwi, any visa applications submitted by migrant workers, based on a job offer being made for a job that could go to a 28



Kiwi, will come under increased scrutiny. Any future application will need to ensure that the employer has satisfied the labour market test (LMT) and broader policy criteria. The priority will be on making sure that Kiwis get first crack at job vacancies, so the expectations on employers to place ‘Kiwis first’ will be much greater. This expectation will be true in relation to employers of migrant workers across almost every industry sector and from highly skilled, specialist roles through to entry-level ‘low-skilled’ roles that require little or no formal education or training. In short, there will be fewer visas to go around, and an increase in the number of applications challenged and/or declined. In this new environment, for employers who have come to rely on migrant workers in their business, challenges lie ahead.

Labour market test

Our most common work visa category is the Essential Skills work visa. For an Essential Skills work visa to be issued, the LMT must first be satisfied. The LMT requires that the employer has made genuine efforts to recruit a New Zealand citizen or resident who is suitably qualified by training and/or work experience for the role or who can ‘readily be trained’ to take up the work on offer. The LMT requires the role to be advertised via a national newspaper or website and, for lower-skilled roles to be listed with Work and Income. To show that the LMT is met, employers will be expected to conduct a genuine recruitment campaign, including interviewing any candidates who appear suitable for the role. A detailed explanation of why New Zealand citizen or resident

candidates who applied (including those who applied via Work and Income) were not offered the role will need to be provided.


It is important to note that, for existing migrant workers to be able to renew their work visas, the LMT will be a component of their visa extension applications. The rationale is that the conditions of the local labour market may have changed since that person’s visa was originally issued and it is, therefore, appropriate to re-test the market to see if suitable Kiwis may now be available for the role. The COVID-19 pandemic and the considerable increase in unemployment is exactly the type of scenario this policy was designed for. It is likely these visa extension applications will also be heavily scrutinised to ensure the LMT requirement has been met.

Given the substantial numbers of likely unemployed Kiwis, at every skill level within the labour market, it can readily be seen that numerous potential examples of these scenarios will occur over the coming months, and employers should be prepared for the tougher LMT.

The importance of the requirement to consider those who are ‘readily able to be trained’ will have increased significance in this new labour market. Although an employer may prefer a migrant worker who possesses a general qualification plus additional specialised experience, if Immigration New Zealand (INZ) considers a Kiwi with that general qualification could readily be trained through on-the-job training in the specialist aspects of the role, then INZ will expect the role to be given to that Kiwi in preference over the migrant worker.

Talent visas

Another example is where an incumbent migrant worker employee is in an established role. That employee may have been with the organisation for several years and have developed excellent proprietary knowledge of that company’s systems, products or processes throughout their employment, making them a ‘preferred’ candidate for staying on in the role. However, if a suitably qualified Kiwi applies for the role, preference or length of service alone will be insufficient grounds for selecting the migrant worker over the Kiwi.

It will be important for employers to get a good understanding of their migrant workforce and to set realistic expectations with employees and other stakeholders as to the likelihood of securing further work visas. While there will be fewer visas to go around, with careful planning and good preparation, it will still be possible to secure work visas for migrant workers in the post-COVID world. Important considerations to ensure success include:

It’s also worth noting that, even in relation to other visa categories that rely on an offer of employment, such as the Talent – Accredited Employer category, increased scrutiny will be applied to all other policy aspects, given the priority of protecting the local labour market. Importantly, there is likely to be an increased focus at the point of employers making an application for Employer Accreditation, to show their genuine commitment to recruiting and training New Zealand citizens and residents.

• ensuring the LMT component is conducted carefully, in line with policy requirements • striking a balance with the information presented to INZ about the LMT to ensure it is comprehensive and compelling, without saying too much • ensuring employer support documentation (advertisement, job description, offer of employment) is well-drafted, consistent and in line with policy criteria • presenting good evidence at the outset to put the most robust case forward (it is much more difficult to address concerns once INZ has challenged an application, rather than investing time and effort into getting it right from the outset).

Be prepared

Rachael Mason is qualified in New Zealand, England and Wales, and has practised exclusively in the area of immigration law for several years. Rachael is a facilitator for HRNZ PD courses, virtual courses and webinars. Go to to see upcoming courses. She works with both multi-national corporate clients and smaller local employers across a wide range of industry sectors in managing their global and local migrant workforces and developing and maintaining compliance and legal right to work policies. Rachael is focused on providing high-quality technical immigration advice that is both pragmatic and commercial. WINTER 2020




HR's biggest COVID-19 challenge is yet to come

The COVID-19 crisis is already testing HR leaders like never before. Globally, hundreds of millions of people have had their work lives upended. The rule book is being rewritten. It’s safe to argue we are facing the greatest professional challenge of our time. Chris O’Reilly, CEO at AskYourTeam, offers six guiding principles to keep in mind.


he good news is that, in New Zealand, HR leaders have stepped up. AskYourTeam has surveyed more than 20,000 Kiwis working from home during the lockdown. In critical areas of trust, communication and flexibility, we’ve seen impressive results. Compared with pre-COVID-19, respondents are rating their workplaces higher on average for measures, including being trusted by managers to work productively, knowing what is expected of them, having the resources to work effectively, and staying connected with team mates and managers. We’re also seeing closer alignment on these issues between leaders and the people who work for them. 30



In some cases, the gap between how leaders and workers rate their organisations on these measures has halved. These results are a reason for us to be proud of our work as HR professionals. But the next phase of this crisis will be more unpredictable and challenging. Here’s why. Lockdown can be thought of as a ‘honeymoon’ in the lifecycle of the COVID-19 crisis as it relates to work. Serious practical challenges have been overcome, but the shared threat of the virus has had the effect of pulling us closer together. Our jobs have given us a collective anchor and a sense of belonging as life outside has changed.

Social scientists are warning the next phase will be characterised by a significant loss of this cohesion. We can see the same trend mirrored around the country more widely. Colmar Brunton, for example, has found three-in-five New Zealanders now feel a greater sense of national pride than they did pre-COVID. But social scientists are warning the next phase will be characterised by a significant loss of this cohesion. And I think they’re right.

We have no reliable guide to help us navigate this next phase of the crisis. The current catch-cry that ‘we’re all in this together’ will ring increasingly hollow for people worst affected by the coming economic recession, with mass redundancies, mandatory pay cuts, dislocated working environments and the inevitable pressure to do more with less. This pandemic will affect some greatly, others lightly. The effects clearly will not be felt together. HR will be at the forefront of these emerging faultlines, and it’s almost impossible to predict when and where they will rupture. The news is full of predictions about everything from unemployment numbers to the demise of specific industries, but these often say as much about the hopes or fears of commentators as they do about our real future. COVID-19 kills people and jobs, but it doesn’t kill cognitive bias. This also means we have no reliable guide to help us navigate this next phase of the crisis. What we are able to do is help organisations to be as cohesive and resilient as possible and prepare them for any disruption.

Our lockdown study offers six principles to keep in mind in this era of uncertainty. • Act early. This means communicating well before changes take place and preparing people for upcoming decisions, so they are not a surprise. The government took this approach in response to the pandemic, and, as a result, trust and approval ratings among the public have remained consistently high. Even if no decisions have yet been made, involving all your people as early as possible in the process will help them understand why changes are being made. • Set clear expectations. Uncertainty is going to rise, and clear expectations around workload and productivity can create a counterbalance to this ambiguity. Team members should have clear guidelines about what they are expected to do each day and each week, so they know when they can turn off their computer and deal with the list of other issues they’ll inevitably be facing. • Make trust your new currency. Command and control leadership has truly met its match in COVID-19. With more

people working remotely than at any time in our history, people are being trusted to deliver on objectives without the handson management they may have experienced working in the office. People will not expect this trust and autonomy to be lost when they return to the workplace and empowering them with greater decision-making over their work will be essential. • Check-in regularly. Communicating often and openly is critical in a crisis, and our survey has shown people are valuing connection with managers and team mates more than previously. Some people enjoy working from home and can be productive, while others struggle. Pay close attention to people’s wellbeing and be visibly responsive to what you hear – nothing creates a sense of involvement more than people hearing that their leaders are acting on their opinions or concerns. • Create shared moments. In remote working environments, fewer chances are available for the day-to-day bonding that happens in the physical

workplace. Scheduling time to come together online for non-work-related connection is essential to recreating these building blocks of workplace culture. It is no coincidence that virtual work drinks are so popular these days: they are an excellent opportunity to laugh, cry, or just vent your emotions with colleagues. • Adapt for the long haul. We’re hearing from senior leaders that they are preparing plans to operate remotely for months. It’s clear remote working is here to stay and will more than ever become an integral part of the way we work. Investing in remote working now and making it a realistic option for as many people as possible is going to help organisations remain resilient in very uncertain times like these.

Chris O'Reilly is the CEO and Co-founder of AskYourTeam, a disruptive technology company, revolutionising the organisational and leadership performance space. E:





How to build a culture that holds leaders accountable

The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the world on its head and required leaders to be able to step up and act quickly to find new ways of doing business. Foodstuffs North Island found themselves in this position as the crisis unfolded with leadership and trust critical to successfully navigating the new landscape. Foodstuffs had previously made an investment in having leaders worth following and this piece tells the tale.


hris Quin was facing the challenge of a lifetime. As CEO of Foodstuffs North Island, New Zealand’s largest grocery retailer, Chris wanted to improve the overall leadership culture of this well-established co-operative by making his leaders more accountable and more consistent across the span of this geographically spread organisation. This was particularly important for Chris at the store level, where leaders need to be able to make real-time decisions to meet customer needs and solve problems. This was no simple challenge; Foodstuffs North Island, along with 32



sister-co-operative, Foodstuffs South Island, has over 600 owner-operated stores across multiple brands, employing more than 40,000 people collectively and grossing more than $8 billion in annual revenue. How do you impart leadership skills like accountability and consistency across an organisation so large, so varied and so geographically spread? No easy or obvious options were available, and that was a concern because, as Chris noted, leadership is the cerebral cortex of a highfunctioning retail chain. “This is a 98-year-old organisation that has enjoyed success for a very long time,” Chris said. “For the most part, we haven’t faced many serious challenges in the marketplace. But there are challenges coming along with a market transformation, and for the most part, our leaders had not been tested in this kind of scenario.” Online competition from Amazon and big-box behemoths like Walmart and Costco have been transforming the retail grocery industry across the globe. Although not yet established in New Zealand, it’s only a matter of time before Foodstuffs has a global competitor. In this kind of environment, Chris said, it’s important to know that leaders are all on the same page and accountable

for outcomes. It can prove especially difficult in a co-operative model where owner-operators are often very protective of the unique store cultures they’ve built. “We have always strived to be the most customer-driven retailer in the world. But to do that consistently in all our stores, we need customerdriven leaders and store owners who are not only good at customer service but willing and able to use data to make decisions. Getting everyone to work together to accomplish these things is a challenge.” Chris started by asking all his key leaders – both in the co-operative support offices and supply chain – to pledge their commitment to better leadership through a formal contract. And not just any contract – The Leadership Contract (TLC) – an LHH leadership development programme based on Vince Molinaro’s New York Times bestselling book of the same name. In 2019, Chris brought Molinaro and his team to New Zealand to work directly with executives, support office and supply chain leaders to embed the principles of accountable leadership. Chris said he was drawn to the four pillars of TLC, which state:

• leadership is a decision – make it • leadership is an obligation – step up • leadership is hard work – show courage and resilience • leadership is a community – collaborate. Chris said TLC terms were simple and elegant, making it easier to communicate across an organisation with a co-operative structure. “Every organisation struggles with developing good leaders,” Chris said. “You have reluctance, partial implementation, and passive acceptance, where people nod and grin at you and then don’t do what you’re asking them to do. That is a real challenge in a company with a co-operative structure, where you don’t necessarily employ a command-and-control approach. The Leadership Contract ensures we’re all operating on the same page.” TLC rolled out on several different streams into the Foodstuffs North Island leadership hierarchy. Work was done with the support office executive team, to ensure they were all on board. Molinaro then travelled to New Zealand to deliver a keynote address to leaders and store owners. Finally, the workshops were organised to embed the four pillars of TLC, while HR pledged to create metrics to measure the outcomes.

Chris said he was keenly aware that one of the biggest weaknesses of leadership development programmes is participants can be too passive or even reluctant to implement new strategies and behaviour. “Partial implementation is the enemy of many leadership development programmes,” said Molinaro. “You need to ensure that everyone is buying in, everyone is committed. Or the whole thing will be a failure.” To drive home the importance of TLC and its application to all dayto-day leadership activities, Chris made significant changes in the way the performance of senior leaders would be assessed. Now, Chris said, these leaders will be measured not only by bottom-line performance but also on the degree to which they are collaborating with their peers and showing accountability to direct reports. De-emphasising bottom-line financials, while amplifying the importance of principles like commitment and collaboration, has been a challenge for some Foodstuffs leaders to take on board, Chris noted. “We have some very successful, highly logical people who didn’t understand what we were doing at first. They said, ‘What is this? My numbers are good and that means I’m doing a good job.’ But for the long-haul, we need to start accepting that emotional connection between leaders is good for performance.”

It’s still early days when it comes to measuring outcomes from the implementation of TLC, but Chris noted that most major HR indicators – engagement scores, turnover and sick leave – all seem to be pointing in the right direction. For the leaders who have been exposed to TLC and the new emphasis on accountability and collaboration, the experience has been invigorating. “I will think more about how my colleagues and my peers are interacting in the room,” said Lindsay Rowles, the company’s General Manager of Membership and Property. “It’s very easy for us all, when we’re busy, to make snap judgements and come to conclusions. But to really take the time to figure out where that team member is coming from and basically work on the assumption that everybody is there to help us get a better result overall – and just be very mindful of that.” In the end, Chris said he will be extremely satisfied if the company’s leaders show a real commitment to accountability in their day-today work. “They’re focusing on how personal accountability for their own behaviours really empowers the organisation. Our commitment to each other on a very simple thing, which is that everyone has everyone else’s back. This leadership team is a community of connected senior leaders.”

As Senior Vice President of Global Leadership at LHH, Alex Vincent has spent his career focusing on ways to maximise team and leadership performance. Using ground-breaking research, compelling keynote speeches and dynamic workshops, Alex has travelled the globe to help leaders and teams from a variety of industries and sectors – including engineering, healthcare, financial and professional services, and the public sector – find the path from good to exceptional. Alex works annually with hundreds of leaders around the globe.





Dealing with stress and anxiety

If you’re currently working, you probably know what it feels like to be stressed on the job. And we all know that chronic stress can affect our own health as well as that of our organisations. Lauren Parsons provides eight coping strategies to help us manage in these uncertain times.


he pressure of the COVID-19 situation is causing a great deal of distress and anxiety. As human beings, we crave certainty – it’s one of our fundamental human needs. As the uncertainty continues, it’s not surprising that you, your family and your colleagues may be affected and feel stressed or anxious. More than ever before, we need to stand together, look out for one another and be mindful of our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing, to remain calm and resilient. 1. Know that stress can be your friend First of all, it’s critical to understand that stress is not necessarily bad for you. It’s your perception of stress that really matters. Studies have shown that stress itself isn’t harmful to your body but it’s the belief it is that’s harmful. Watch Kelly McGonigal’s TED Talk How to Make Stress Your Friend, which explains this brilliantly. 34



When you see stress as positive and helpful in times of pressure and understand that it’s your body’s way of responding and performing at your peak, you can actually thrive despite difficult situations. That being said, staying in fight or flight mode all the time is unhelpful. This leads to the next point.

Pause right now and think of three things you’re thankful for. 2. Oscillate Your body is designed to deal with stress; it’s just not designed to stay on high alert all the time. When your body is in fight or flight mode, it down-regulates what it deems as non-essential functions, such as your digestive and immune systems. So right now, when you need to optimise your immunity, it’s vital to engage your body’s natural relaxation response to avoid compromising your immune function. To cope under pressure, you simply need to oscillate from that highperformance state to a recovery state and to do so regularly. The main thing is to engage your body’s natural relaxation response. One of the best ways to do this is by influencing the one part of your autonomic nervous system that you have some control over, and that is your breathing.

More than ever before, we need to stand together, look out for one another and be mindful of our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing, to remain calm and resilient. 3. Breathe intentionally Diaphragmatic breathing is a powerful tool during periods of stress. Athletes, performers and even military Special Forces use breathing techniques to shift their physiology, so they can perform at their best. The great power of breathing is it’s the one part of your autonomic nervous system that you can influence. When you do so, it switches you out of the ‘fight, flight, freeze’ sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and into the ‘rest, repair, restore’ parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), where you can remain calm, perform at your best and make wise decisions. Relax your shoulders and breathe in through your nose, allowing your belly to expand like a balloon, then breathe out slowly through your mouth, allowing the belly to relax back to neutral. Keep your chest, shoulders and hips relaxed. It may feel unnatural at first, so try to relax into it. Take five slow, deep breaths at various points throughout your day.

Link this to a routine task as a trigger to remind you regularly throughout the day, for example, each time you wash your hands. The more often you come back to deep diaphragmatic breathing, the more time your body will spend in that PNS state. This is important both for your mental and physical health and to improve immune function. 4. Build a resilient mindset Your physical wellbeing stems from your mental wellbeing. During a period of pressure and uncertainty, it’s vital to understand common thinking traps and avoid them. Here are pointers to help you build a resilient mindset. a. Focus on what you can control

Plenty of things will be outside of your control but you can control or influence many others. Direct your thoughts to focus on the things you have some control over. For example,

your response, your attitude, what you do right now at this moment, what you eat, how you move, who you talk to. b. Monitor what you feed your thoughts

This is especially pertinent when so many people are closely following various media throughout the day. Be selective and use quality sources of information so you don’t get caught up in the fear the media can create. c. Ask yourself “Is this helpful or harmful?”

For example, consider whether it would be beneficial to switch off the news feed and get outdoors for a walk, make a healthy snack, phone a colleague, play with your children and do the thing most helpful for you right now. d. Avoid catastrophising

Pay attention to your thoughts and notice if you are jumping from one

worst possible outcome to the next. For example, what if I get sick, what if I lose my job, what if the economy never recovers, what if I never get a job again, what if we lose the house. Most of our fears are usually very unlikely to occur. The quickest antidote to catastrophising is reminding yourself of the facts. The government is putting a whole lot of support in place. The world has recovered from downturns before. The banks and IRD are being flexible with payments. Above all, choose to focus on what you are grateful for. 5. Adopt an attitude of gratitude Gratitude is one of the most powerful ways to shift how you’re feeling. Your brain cannot focus on two things at once. When you’re feeling worried or anxious, and you choose to focus on what you’re grateful for, it instantly shifts your thoughts and, as a result, your emotions.

Your body is designed to deal with stress; it’s just not designed to stay on high alert all the time. Pause right now and think of three things you’re thankful for. Aim to adopt a gratitude practice as part of your morning routine, around the dinner table or before you go to sleep at night, to keep refocusing your thoughts.





lane neave

making immigration law simple The visa application process can be daunting and complex for both employers and employees. At Lane Neave we make the complex simple. We’ve got years of experience with every aspect of preparing and submitting visa and immigration applications on behalf of New Zealand employers. Give us a call for a no obligation discussion to see how we can support you with all things immigration-related.

Mark Williams

Rachael Mason

Daniel Kruger

T+ 021 222 2363

T+ 021 130 6540

T+ 027 517 4828

Auckland | Wellington | Christchurch | Queenstown





6. Be present and mindful Often we spend a lot of time in our heads either replaying past situations or worrying about the future. This can be mentally exhausting. An antidote to spending all this time in your thoughts is to focus on the present moment. Fears are only possible future realities, so when you bring yourself back to the present, you overcome them. Get in touch with how you feel physically and pay extra attention to your surroundings. Tune in to how your body feels, how you’re breathing, what shapes and colours you can see, and what sounds you can hear nearby and further afield. 7. Laughter Laughter is fantastic for your body’s physiology. It’s never more important to add laughter to your day than right now. Share jokes, pull faces in the mirror until you laugh or watch funny videos on YouTube, such as Michael McIntyre’s Sellotape and scissors or People without children have no idea. Make a point of smiling at people as much as you can, even if it’s via technology. We’re wired with things called mirror neurons that make us want to smile back, and the more you smile, the more you send messages to your brain that you’re calm and happy.

8. Shift your posture to shift your mood Your physiology directly affects your psychology. In other words, how you hold your body changes how you think and feel and can instantly boost your mood.

for 1–2 minutes. Try it out, right now. This shifts your physiology and releases hormones that help you feel happy, calm and confident. Find out more by watching Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk How your body

language may shape who you are.

One thing is sure amidst all the uncertainty – we will get through this.

One thing is sure amidst all the uncertainty – we will get through this.

An incredibly simple yet effective technique to feel more in control is to adopt expansive postures. Often known as power posing, stand with your feet firmly planted hip-width apart, chin up, with your hands on your hips or arms raised in a ‘V’

Kia Kaha, Kia Maia, Kia Manawanui – Be Strong, Be Steadfast, Be Willing

Take good care of your loved ones, colleagues and friends and, most of all, take good care of you.

Lauren Parsons is an award-winning wellbeing specialist, author, TEDx speaker and consultant who helps businesses enhance their staff’s health and wellbeing, creating vibrant, energised, high-performing teams. With 18 years’ experience in health and wellbeing, Lauren believes everyone deserves to thrive. Lauren is a facilitator for HRNZ PD courses, virtual courses and webinars. Go to hrnz. to see upcoming courses. Get your complimentary copy of Lauren’s eBook Live Well, Work Well at LPLiveWell





HR Foundations: reshaping true north For some of us, over the past few months, it may have felt like we’ve gone back to square one with our HR expertise and advice-giving. And that doesn’t include paying people correctly and on time, figuring out what hours they worked and checking in on their welfare. Denise Hartley-Wilkins, HRNZ National President, HR consultant and co-facilitator of the HRNZ HR Foundations and HR 101 programmes, takes a closer look at why getting the basics in place is often the most powerful thing you can do.


hoa! Where is the year going? What day of the week is it? Feeling confused and discombobulated? Well, that is just how many HR professionals felt, and still feel, as they turned on a dime to support their organisations with the many COVID-19 decisions that affected their people. Within a week of New Zealand going to Alert Level 4, I was co-delivering the HR Foundations programme virtually. This was the first-ever HRNZ virtual programme. While working with the trailblazer participants on that programme, as they juggled their professional development with emails, texts and bouncing children on their knee, common themes emerged: 38



• HR has to navigate challenges it has never encountered before • health, safety and wellness of staff is of paramount importance • managing remote workers brings many challenges • adapting employee remuneration and hours of work is becoming the norm. The HR Foundations three-day programme is designed for HR practitioners who may be early on in their careers or who want to extend their knowledge of leading-edge HR practice. We cover all the major HR functions, from resourcing to performance management, employment relations to remuneration and reward. Often, we are keen to do the ‘snazzy’ side of

HR, for example, implementing new employer branding to our recruitment strategy or introducing a new app for employee wellbeing. But we need to have the basics in place first, particularly in times of crisis.

Now, more than ever, our managers are seeing the value of HR. It was interesting to see what emerged from our HR Foundations participants during our time together. The main focus was critical actions and new initiatives that were in place within a week, such as flexible working, and dealing with the challenges of managing people

working from home. Having to solve problems within a tight timeframe showed collaboration at its best: HR, IT and Operations working together with one goal. How do we make this work? Homeworking policy in place? Nope, but no worries, we’ll make it up as we go along using knowledge gained on the course. Health, safety and wellbeing for our remote and essential workers: push that to the top of the list. When I look at this time from a big-picture perspective, I notice two things. HR professionals are juggling the transactional day-to-day stuff and also leaning in big time to the priority crisis response stuff. This is transformational HR. BIG shout out to all those HR professionals, many of whom are developing HR folk with limited experience to draw on. It’s sort of like building the plane and setting the flight map as it’s flying! What has come front and centre during this time is the central role of HR in enabling their organisations to

quickly shift to a virtual world. Having the foundations in place makes it easy to spring-board onto the next challenge coming our way. Now, more than ever, our managers are seeing the value of HR. HRNZ offers a programme specifically for line managers or those for whom HR is only one significant part of their role. You have probably heard of ‘Accounting for non-accountants’ – well, this is HR for non-HR people. We get rid of the jargon and provide managers with the resources, knowledge and understanding to work with everyday peoplemanagement situations. For example, how do I make someone redundant? How do I manage lateness or poor performance? Can I recruit someone who doesn’t have a work permit? It’s sometimes tough and messy work. But it’s also rewarding and inspiring supporting our organisations and New Zealand during this time. HR value at its best!

Over the three days of the virtual HR Foundations programme we were able to focus discussions around these themes for participants, so they could go away and transfer their learning into their remote workplaces. We plan to continue those discussions. In the upcoming HR Foundations programme, we’ll explore how we’ll weave in lessons from this time, as well as including virtual and face-to-face options. We look forward to welcoming you into the HR Foundations room.

Denise Hartley-Wilkins, CFHRNZ, is the National President of HRNZ. In her day job, she is Director of Shine People Consulting, based in Nelson, and currently works (virtually) across New Zealand. Denise is a facilitator for HRNZ PD courses, virtual courses and webinars. Go to to see upcoming





How one of New Zealand's oldest businesses responded to the COVID-19 pandemic Peter Crawshaw, organisational development and wellbeing lead at DB Breweries, shares his practical insights around wellbeing in the workplace and how DB responded to the COVID-19 crisis.


he topic of mental health now permeates our professional and personal lives. Since 1929, DB has operated along the full end-to-end supply chain as part of the fastmoving consumer goods industry. With diverse people for diverse roles, we know one size does not fit all when it comes to wellbeing. Here at DB, workplace wellbeing is a key driver of engagement and performance. So to ensure a seat at the table, we added it to the portfolio of the organisational development lead’s role late in 2019, to acknowledge that a culture shift is the most challenging element to creating an environment centred on wellbeing. Like many businesses, DB previously relied on the traditional approach to wellbeing – a calendar of flu shots, boot camps, yoga sessions and massages. While this approach still has its place, it was important to go beyond these wellness activities and reframe wellbeing into a more holistic and integrated approach, which was reaffirmed by internal surveys and focus groups. We believe this approach will translate into more engaged employees and a 40



more productive workspace where everyone feels comfortable to bring their whole, authentic self to work. It is vital to have the fundamentals of wellbeing in place. For us, this includes employee assistance programme EAPworks, accreditations such as the DV Free Tick, family support, and flexible work policies. Twenty years ago, we would have been well ahead of the curve to have this level of infrastructure. Today, most employees expect this level of support as standard, and we are constantly challenged to ensure we keep up with best practices. For DB, the key aspects of this holistic approach are: • to continuously build more inclusive leadership that ensures a culture of trust and psychological safety • internal wellbeing to create a sense of belonging and meaning • mental, emotional and physical wellbeing that is more pivotal than ever following the COVID-19 pandemic and recent national lockdown.

mind’. Co-founded by Sir John Kirwan, Mentemia is a pioneering organisational wellbeing initiative that focuses on equipping the Kiwi workforce with the tools people need to manage stress, anxiety and other mental health pressures. Mentemia acknowledges that wellbeing is a spectrum – some people struggle regularly, others don’t struggle at all, but many people fit between these extremes. With a few simple tools, the natural ebbs and flows of life become more manageable. Mentemia involves a series of diagnostic workshops to ascertain how an organisation is performing at a baseline level. Where are the most significant areas of need? What are the pain points of our people? The next step is facilitated workshops to tackle these specific areas and begin helping people to build their own tailored daily mental health plans.

With a few simple tools, the natural ebbs and flows of life become more manageable.

The most exciting part of Mentemia is a purpose-built app that houses a variety of resources, including an AI-powered digital mental health coach. Research shows people often struggle to open up face to face, particularly in a work environment. Our hope is that this digital feature will mean our employees feel comfortable and can receive the support they need from the app.

A crucial part of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic was driving our foundation partnership with Mentemia – Italian for ‘my

Following the lockdown announcement, we brought forward the release of the app to provide immediate support to our people’s wellbeing during the crisis period.

We also provided weekly wellbeing initiatives to all employees using the tools and resources from the app. Feedback from one of our graduates was: “Mentemia is an easy to use and interactive app. I love that you are greeted with a message from JK at the start, and they give you a checklist of things to do when you first open it up. I have loved using the ‘Explore’ feature to find things to read, recipes, videos, and heaps more! It’s a simple app to navigate, which is great, especially because it’s a new app so you can’t just ask someone to teach you how to use it.” We were also fortunate to have John Kirwan join two of our virtual weekly ‘town hall’-type sessions to talk about his experiences during lockdown and how he is coping, learning to adapt, and being resilient during these challenging times. The physical environment also has a tremendous impact on how people feel when they are at work. It affects collaboration, satisfaction and productivity. We recently opened our on-site walking track around the stormwater lake at our Waitemata site in Otahuhu. It features beehives that produce ‘DBee Honey’, complete with local flora and fauna like kowhai and manuka, and birdlife

like kingfisher, grey heron and welcome swallows. We encourage walking meetings around our sites and ask leaders to set the example and embrace the resources available for wellness at work. During the national lockdown in response to COVID-19, we encouraged our teams to use video calls as a primary meeting platform to stay connected and to feel like they weren’t just speaking to a device. DB was in a unique position, with a split workforce to operate as an essential business. Office workers were at home, brewery staff were on-site, and merchandisers helped retail outlets with keeping product on the shelf. Our team took a peoplefirst approach to dealing with this challenge, and set a strong precedent that our leaders were focused on making this anxious and uncertain time as stress-free as possible for our people.

Our final reflection on embedding wellbeing into the workplace is that leadership endorsement is essential. The groundswell is there, employees expect businesses to be looking after their people, and leaders must respond. COVID-19 has highlighted how important looking after the wellbeing of our people is. A Gartner study in 2018 found that the number-one retention strategy is to ensure people are more employable, and the link between wellbeing and discretionary effort is widely known. There is a clear business case for nurturing the wellbeing of your workforce and ensuring people can bring their whole, authentic self to the office, factory floor or road each day. For us, wellbeing is central to our people plan, and we know this is intimately linked to our performance as an organisation. We help our people to be well, so we can brew well.

We ran an initiative where the leadership team and the functional leadership team contacted every employee in the organisation to check in on how their families were doing during the lockdown. This was very well received throughout the business and gave our people a sense of connection and belonging in a time of uncertainty.

Peter Crawshaw is organisational development and wellbeing lead at DB Breweries and has held HR roles with Heineken locally and at the Asia-Pacific office in Singapore.





Otago Branch T

he Otago Branch committee is a fun, dedicated and diverse group of professionals. Our committee members span recruitment firms, tertiary education, finance, emergency services and self-employed HR folk. This year we were recognised as a Finalist in the HRNZ Branch of the Year award. I certainly can’t take much credit for that, having been on the branch for only about a year, and taking over as Branch President this year. Other industries represented within the branch membership of just over 100 include mining, health, energy supply, law, construction and farming. Dunedin and the broader Otago region doesn’t have a huge population of people in dedicated HR roles. Many members of the committee have been serving on it for quite some time – we even have members who have served their four-year stint but remain on the committee in an ‘unofficial’ capacity because they want to continue contributing to the HR profession. We are never short of ideas for interesting branch events. We have two world-renowned tertiary education providers in Dunedin (the University of Otago and Otago Polytechnic), so can hear about the latest research and innovations in teaching and learning. The rebuild of Dunedin Hospital is also imminent, which has already provided an opportunity to hear from those involved about the opportunities and challenges the project will present from a workforce point of view. Our plans for 2020 have been disrupted a little, given the COVID-19 pandemic, but we continue to try to meet the needs 42



of our members, even if in a virtual way. In April we held a virtual Friday drink and debrief session, where anyone who worked in or around the HR field could get together online and share their experiences of supporting their organisations (and themselves) through the move to lockdown. We recognised that, in many organisations, it’s the HR team (or the person with the HR workload in smaller organisations), that leads the organisation through responding to a crisis. Often HR professionals put everyone else first, responding to everyone else’s needs, before their own. In the Otago Branch, we wanted to ensure all of our HR colleagues across the region felt supported and could share time with colleagues who understood. The event was a real success, and it proved a great way to meet people from outside of the immediate Dunedin area, as well as people new to the profession in Dunedin. Looking forward, our plans for branch events include hosting Otago Polytechnic staff to discuss cultural competency for the HR profession, and how the EduBits microcredentialing service works. This links in nicely with changes that have been flagged to the HRNZ competency framework. We are also planning events focused on leadership and what local senior leaders need from HR, change management, and, somewhat ironically, exploring an event involving Civil Defence. We try to balance our events between those targeted at HR professionals and those that of interest to people from a range of industries and professions across the region.

We are busy supporting those members who are working towards their chartered membership status, and our members contribute to the HR community through guest speaking roles at the university and polytechnic, as well as on several boards and committees outside of HRNZ. One of our goals for this year is to work more closely with the Otago Chamber of Commerce and explore opportunities to collaborate on events. In April, we launched an Otago Branch LinkedIn group, to better connect with the broader HR community in the region, including non-members. If you’re ever in the sunny south and want to connect with fellow HR professionals, or if you’d like to suggest an event, please get in contact. We’d be happy to take you to one of the region’s best cafés, breweries or if you’re in Central Otago, wineries!


Building a thriving HR network as a student During 2019/20, I have been the Wellington Student Ambassador for HRNZ, while in my third year at Victoria University of Wellington. It has been both rewarding and invaluable.


wo significant events truly affected my mindset around building and developing a trusting HR network. First, the 2019 HRNZ Conference and secondly, a networking event for both HR professionals and Victoria University students that I organised. Not only did these events build on applying my theoretical studies, but I was able to gain confidence in my ability to nurture strong networks within the HR industry. I stumbled across the study of HRM in my introductory management class in my first year at Victoria University and was intrigued by it being ‘people oriented management’. Not knowing what I wanted to do career-wise at that stage, I explored the idea of studying HRM and found that I aligned well with being passionate about all things ‘employee experience’. I decided to switch my accounting major to an HRM major and haven’t looked back since. Everyone I have met thus far as an ambassador for HRNZ and in my own HR career journey is genuinely passionate about creating, developing and retaining positive employee experiences. Throughout my studies and through networking events, I have developed areas of interests that include employee engagement, sustainable organisational growth

and, most importantly, employee wellbeing. One main highlight of the HRNZ Conference was hearing Dr Elizabeth Berryman speak about the impacts of bullying, burnout and mental health in organisations. She anecdotally shared her experience with bullying in the medical health industry and has since gone on to champion mental health and wellbeing in the workplace with her app, This is an area that I am extremely passionate about and planning on building my career around. I believe a ‘mentally healthy organisation is a sustainable organisation’.

to organising my own networking event have enabled me to grow exponentially. Additionally, the connections I have made with the HRNZ Wellington branch committee are strong. I always enjoy it when we meet quarterly to plan our branch events and talk with one another offering general support. Through these opportunities, I have proactively connected with the wider HR Wellington community, and at the end of 2019 I obtained my first HR role as a people and talent coordinator at Raygun – a Wellington founded tech software company.

HRNZ has provided me, as a student, with a rich and passionate platform to connect with HR professionals through networking and events where informal conversations can lead to ongoing support and encouragement for both students and professionals. As I began to attend and involve myself in more HRNZ networking events, my misconception of it being intimidating quickly diminished. The HRNZ community fosters a collaborative and friendly environment where I felt comfortable to connect with a range of professionals as an entryway into my HR career. Being a member of HRNZ as a student enables you to discuss topical conversations and attend events that are trending in HR, which encouraged me to think about HR beyond university and what this may look like for me.

Altogether, the value of being an HRNZ Student Ambassador is an opportunity I would encourage other students to apply for. It has enabled me to practically apply what I have learnt in university in contextual settings and build unbreakable confidence early on in my career. I now embrace the unknown of where my career may take me and am looking forward to exploring employee wellbeing and sustainable organisational growth further.

Being an HRNZ Student Ambassador has contributed significantly to the successful development of my career thus far. The skills and confidence I have learnt from creating lasting networks at events

Whether you are applying to be the Student Ambassador, considering signing up for HRNZ as a student or wanting to begin networking – take the opportunity!

Rebecca Ralph is in her final semester of a Bachelor of Commerce degree, majoring in Human Resource Management and Marketing, while also working for Raygun. Rebecca is always happy to connect; please feel free to contact her on LinkedIn. E: L:





How will COVID-19 affect the world of work?

Research is already under way on the impacts of COVID-19 on workplaces. This update looks at some of the findings, specifically in three areas: the implications of global unemployment, the effect on workers’ wellbeing and the impact on leadership.

Implications of global unemployment

Based on different scenarios for the impact of COVID-19 on global GDP growth, preliminary International Labour Organization estimates indicate a rise in global unemployment of between 5.3 million (‘low’ scenario) and 24.7 million (‘high’ scenario) from a base level of 188 million in 2019. The ‘mild’ scenario suggests an increase of 13 million (7.4 million in high-income countries).1

especially vulnerable. An initial assessment by the World Travel and Tourism Council forecasts a decline in international arrivals of up to 25 per cent in 2020, which would place millions of jobs at risk worldwide. Groups identified as particularly vulnerable to unemployment and the poverty associated with it include: • those with underlying health conditions • women who are over-represented in more affected sectors (such as services) or who are in occupations at the frontline of dealing with the pandemic (eg, nurses) • self-employed, casual and gig workers • young people

Though these estimates remain highly uncertain, all figures indicate a substantial rise in global unemployment. By comparison, the global financial crisis of 2008–09 increased unemployment by 22 million. The services sector, tourism, travel and retail are 1 2




• older workers • migrant workers. While economists and academics may make convincing arguments that there is a certain natural level of unemployment that cannot be erased, elevated unemployment is likely to impose high costs (not just financial) on the individual, society and the country. Some of these costs may include challenges to physical and mental health, higher crime, a reduced rate of volunteerism, and a reduction in GDP.

Effect on workers’ wellbeing

Psychologist Samantha Brooks, PhD, at Kings College London, and colleagues, recently published a rapid review of the research on the psychological impact of quarantine,

mainly in adults (The Lancet, published online, March 20202). They found negative psychological effects, including post-traumatic stress symptoms, confusion and anger. To minimise the psychological fallout, the authors recommend that officials should take steps to keep quarantines as short as possible, provide clear rationale and information about quarantine protocols, and make sure people in isolation have access to sufficient supplies. The New Zealand Institute of Directors has a similar standpoint when it comes to mental wellbeing. In a recent article, the Institute states that COVID-19 complicates directors’ responsibility for health and safety by introducing new workrelated stresses to staff, management, and directors themselves. A survey by Kantar at the end of March found that apprehension about the mental health of family and friends was high for 43 per cent of New Zealanders, and a more widespread concern than falling ill themselves (34 per cent). “Directors have responsibilities for mental wellbeing in their organisations under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. Still, the extent of those responsibilities has yet to be clarified in the courts,” says health and safety expert and consultant with Comply Health and Safety, Allister Rose.

while rapidly managing the shift to new patterns of working. Leading with compassion and caring for our workforces and communities seems more essential than ever. Accenture’s workforce research highlights that workers need leaders they can trust. The workforce will trust the leader if it believes leadership cares for each individual, the community and humanity as a whole. Beyond caring, leaders must show they have a plan and can look ahead proactively rather than reacting. The ability for leaders to address people’s physical, mental and relationship needs is the foundation of trust. While all of these needs have equal importance, their order makes the biggest difference. These worker ‘needs’ apply at all times, but they are magnified in times of crisis. Research by Mercer, in its 2020 Global Talent Trends Study, reports that 77 per cent of executives see contingent working playing a far greater role in the future. From the response to COVID-19, it is clear that workers expect their employers to look after their health and hold them

accountable for making decisions in their interest. With this more expansive view of an organisation’s purpose – one that delivers positive outcomes for society, customers, employees and shareholders – firms have a renewed mandate to invest both in people’s wellbeing and their future market value. Sixty-one per cent of employees trust their employer to look after their health, and 55 per cent trust their organisation to teach them the new skills they will require should their job change or disappear. Mercer’s research shows that organisations will win if they place empathy at the heart of their decisions. The study includes insights from more than 7,300 senior business executives, HR leaders and employees from nine key industries and 16 locations. While no certainty exists around the specifics of what the world of work will look like as a result of the COVID-19 virus, this research highlights there will be shifts in how we work, how we use technology and how we look after ourselves and others.

“It is not something that is thoroughly understood in New Zealand, in part because WorkSafe has not undertaken any prosecutions. This means it can be difficult for directors to be sure where their responsibilities begin and end,” Allister says. “The law does cover mental health as well, and it’s important that directors understand this.”

Impact on leadership

Accenture, like many consulting companies, recognises that the greatest immediate impact of the COVID-19 outbreak is on people. It identifies that organisations are focused on caring for their workforces





Wellbeing first Our regular columnist Natalie Barker, Head of Transformation at Southern Cross Health Insurance, looks at what she, as a leader, has learnt as a result of managing a remote team during the coronavirus pandemic.


ntil the coronavirus, I hadn’t appreciated how a messy kitchen, paint charts and baby swans could make me a better leader. Here’s a glimpse into what I’ve learnt about leading a team in a time of crisis.

Never before have I seen people embrace learning like it was their day job. The first thing I’ve learnt is how incredibly adaptable we can be when we need to be. In a matter of days, everyone in my organisation was enabled to work from home, some for the first time ever. People found new ways to collaborate overnight, embracing technology they’d avoided for months because they didn’t have time to learn. And within minutes of discovering something new in Teams or Zoom, or some other virtual tool, they were sharing what they’d learnt. Never before have I seen people embrace learning like it was their day job. Learning with urgency seems to be the secret to building agility. 46



In my team, we use the first few minutes of meetings to check in on our wellbeing. It’s usually a pretty quick process, with everyone sharing a little of what’s going on in their lives before we get on with our meeting. A few days into lockdown, we used a paint colour chart to describe what colour we were feeling. This time, it took up the whole meeting because working from home, and seeing a little of each other’s personal lives, made everyone more open to sharing. When you’re on a video call from your dining room, there’s automatically an intimacy you don’t get in the office. Your team can see the dirty dishes on the bench behind you, hear your kids yelling and see that you haven’t had time for a shower. With that level of vulnerability, we found a new level of care for each other – more like family. I learnt that building trust and connection isn’t all up to me as the leader. If I put people’s wellbeing first, so will my team, and together we’ll support and care for each other. I’ve also discovered I’ve got a lot to learn about managing my own energy. As a working parent, I know that looking after myself is critical, but that doesn’t mean I always do, and leading a team working remotely hasn’t made it any easier. It’s so tempting to answer one more email when you’re literally three steps from the office. In my team, we made selfcare a regular part of our working day by sharing photos when we took

a walk, baked a cake or played with the kids. I’m sure my team got sick of seeing the swans at the park near me, but for me, each photo was a commitment to staying fresh, recharged and full of energy.

When you’re on a video call from your dining room, there’s an automatic intimacy… and with this level of vulnerability we find a new level of care for each other – more like family. If I think back over my career, it’s been the periods of intense challenge that have taught me the most, and this crisis has been no different. Through this time, I’ve seen every member of my team lead themselves and each other. My role wasn’t to have the answers, it was to be resilient and adaptable, encourage resilience and adaptability in others, and to create an engaged culture where we all support each other. Crisis or not, that’s the kind of leader I want to be.

Natalie Barker is Head of Transformation at Southern Cross Health Insurance. She has been leading people for 15 years and believes that leveraging people’s strengths and passions are the best way to drive engagement and get stuff done.

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