Human Resources - Autumn 2021 (Vol 26: No 1) - The changing face of Aotearoa

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New Zealand’s Magazine for Human Resources Professionals

The changing face of Aotearoa PLUS: What will happen to the border? Future predictions for HR Why resilience just got personal

Autumn 2021

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INSIDE THIS ISSUE Shaping the Profession

People Powered Success


Top of Mind Nick McKissack – HRNZ Chief Executive



From the Editor Kathy Catton


News Roundup The latest news to keep you up to date

26 Insights Embracing flexible working – Kathy Catton shares the practical experiences of three organisations navigating flexible working


Employment Law Update The rise of the gig economy – Jack Rainbow, Dundas Street Employment Lawyers, looks at the difference between employee and contractor


Charity Profile Flourishing financial skills for Pacific peoples – Vaka Tautua shares how financial capability training is transforming people’s lives


Learning and Development Training a more inclusive workforce – Maretha Smit, Diversity Works New Zealand, outlines the core training areas needed in any diversity and inclusion training


Am I Managing? Natalie Barker, Southern Cross Health Insurance, shares her heart-warming insights into being a manager


Immigration Law Update What will happen to the border? – Rachael Mason, Lane Neave, offers her take on when and how the New Zealand border will re-open



Professional Development Spotlight Positive psychology and mental health – Sue Langley and Melanie Weir, Langley Group, report that positive psychology is more than just ‘happyology’ Research Update Future predictions for HR – Junaid Hilal and Fatima Junaid, Massey University, share their academic perspective and research on HR

HR in a COVID-19 world Fast-tracking a safe return to work – Helen Ballie-Strong

Features 6

Diversity and Inclusion A new Aotearoa emerges: demographic transformation – Professor Paul Spoonley considers what employers can do now to address our transforming demography

12 Sustainability The time is now – Robert Perry, Sustainable Business Council, looks at how we can create a New Zealand where business, people and nature thrive together 16 Recruitment The ever-changing world of recruitment – Roz Grant, Crescent Consulting Group summarises how to avoid being out-recruited in today’s changing world 30 Wellbeing Why resilience just got personal – Kathryn Jackson, CareerBalance, provides questions to enhance wellbeing and resilience in your teams





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.


hile working at Te Tumu Paeroa – The Māori Trustee for eight years, it became evident to me that some standard HR practices don’t work particularly well within a predominantly Māori workforce. We had a pretty standard set of HR policies and processes, but, in reality, things just worked a bit differently. HR practitioners are often quite process-oriented, and I witnessed frustrations with how Māori leaders and managers handled things like recruitment processes and annual pay reviews. The reality for me was that I needed to work in the environment of a Māori organisation to gain a proper understanding of principles such as manaakitanga and whanaungatanga, what they mean, why they are important and how these values play out in the workplace. In the end, I had to look at things through a whole new values set. The experience led me to realise that in New Zealand we need our own frame for thinking about human resource management. We’re a unique country with unique cultural influences. If we don’t reflect this in our HR practice, we risk creating systemic bias that disadvantages particular groups in the workplace. If we’re honest, that’s the situation we’re currently faced with. Māori aren’t succeeding as well in New Zealand workplaces as they should be.




For this reason, I’m excited about a new programme that HRNZ is working on this year called “Transforming HRM in Aotearoa”. We’re planning to run a pilot programme in June that aims to provide HR practitioners with an opportunity to develop their HR practice to directly and intentionally benefit Māori employees, recognising Māori as Tāngata Whenua o Aotearoa and Treaty of Waitangi partners. Through the programme and follow-up projects, we want to facilitate the development of culturally responsive and equitable HRM practice that aspires to improve the employee experience for Māori in the workplace. The main aims for this programme will be: • creating a critical mass movement of HR practitioners who commit to bicultural HR professional development • providing HR practitioners with a safe forum to share and discuss cultural competency within HRM • identifying HRM solutions that may improve the workplace for Māori • developing the cultural competency of HR practitioners through the cultural context of Te Ao Māori and Mātauranga Māori.

We’ve been lucky to have the support of Te Puni Kōkiri in helping to get the programme off the ground and ensure we can offer cadetships to Māori HR practitioners. HRNZ has been fortunate to have chartered HRNZ member and Nelson Branch President Karli Te Aotonga to co-lead this programme of work. Karli is a Māori HR practitioner and kaupapa Māori researcher. Karli has sought the support of Bentham Ohia to co-lead this project, a leader within her community with extensive experience in tertiary education and research throughout Māori and indigenous networks. We’ve also had Denise HartleyWilkins, our National President and facilitator of HR Foundations, helping with development. For me, this programme is about much more than just developing cultural competence. This is about fundamental change to HR practices and producing qualitatively different outcomes for Māori in our workplaces. We’ll also want to attract more Māori into the HR profession to support the work. It’s a big aspiration, which is why it’s great to be getting the journey started now.

Nick McKissack Chief Executive HRNZ

MANAGING EDITOR Kathy Catton Ph: 021 0650 959 Email:

From the editor T

he ‘face’ of Aotearoa is changing rapidly as a result not only of the pandemic but the settlement of migrants, growing ethnic diversity, population ageing, changing fertility patterns and urban growth. This issue of the magazine focuses on how we, as HR professionals, can better prepare and respond to these demographic changes in order for the country to maximise the benefits associated with an increasingly diverse population. We share insights from Professor Paul Spoonley, who looks at New Zealand’s changing demographic and the flow-on effects on the workplace, and Kathryn Jackson from CareerBalance, who asks whether we are truly building resilience amongst all this change. We also have a guest feature written by Roz Grant, from Crescent Consulting Group, who looks at the challenges of online recruitment, and Rob Perry, from the Sustainable Business Council, who looks at sustainable development goals and the need for integrating these into our businesses.

Health Insurance provides her warm and heartfelt reflections on being a line manager, and Maretha Smit from Diversity Works New Zealand considers how diversity training might look in your organisation. Thank you to all those members who took part in our recent magazine survey. It is pleasing that members value the magazine highly and enjoy the practical content they can apply in their workplaces. In this issue we launch the 'HR in a COVID World' column discussing how COVID-19 has impacted the HR profession. In coming issues, in response to your feedback, we will be adding a regular employment relations case review and a sustainability case study. If you would like to add further feedback, I look forward to hearing from you.

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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.

Kathy Catton Managing Editor

Vol 26 No: 1

ISSN 1173–7522

I am continually grateful for the support of our regular contributors. Lane Neave brings us up to date with upcoming immigration law changes, and Dundas Street Employment Lawyers provide relevant and practical employment law updates. Natalie Barker at Southern Cross





Survey reveals impacts of COVID-19


ntil a vaccine is widely available within New Zealand, COVID-19 will continue to change our business landscape. Ernst and Young’s latest COVID-19 Pulse Survey reveals the workforce challenges facing us. While most organisations are returning to regular work patterns, the impact of COVID-19 is evident on everything from budgets to wellness. Fifty-eight per cent of New Zealand organisations surveyed noted that

workforce health and wellbeing is their main challenge. This is an increase of 24 per cent from the previous survey (October 2020). Accordingly, it is no surprise to see employee wellbeing as the most important people priority reported by most respondents (72 per cent). Recruitment is almost back to ‘normal’, but some skills are still elusive. Only 9 per cent of organisations currently have a hiring freeze in place, a decrease of 13 per cent since the previous survey.

With the border closures making it harder to recruit talent from overseas, 30 per cent of organisations are increasingly looking to upskill and develop their existing staff. Salary budgets are still ‘up in the air’ for many, with around 30 per cent of organisations still undecided about the next annual review cycle. Sixteen per cent of the sample are increasing salary review budgets.

Are skills in some sectors becoming endangered?


recent survey shows sectors now most at risk of having obsolete skills are technology and telecoms, finance and engineering. The report, commissioned by Degreed, surveyed over 5,000 workers in eight global markets. The current economic uncertainty resulting from the coronavirus crisis is accelerating demand for new skills among 60 per cent of workers. Yet, nearly half of businesses (46 per cent) have reduced their upskilling opportunities in the past six months. The result is a widening global skills gap, with over a third (38 per cent)




of workers feeling less confident they have the skills to do their job effectively, compared with prepandemic, and nearly half (46 per cent) predicting their current skills will die out in the next three-to-five years. Employees report this is increasing stress levels and reducing their productivity and performance, which, in turn, hurts businesses. Chris McCarthy, CEO at Degreed, says, “The businesses that survive and flourish following the crisis will be different than they were before. This means workers are having to sharpen their current skills and build new

ones to meet changing demands. Yet just as upskilling became vital to economic recovery, most organisations have cut investment in learning and development opportunities. We already know the global skills gap is costing trillions of dollars in lost GDP. Not to mention the impact on employee wellbeing.” You'll find a full copy of the Degreed report here. The State of skills: Endangered Skills 2021

Healthy start to 2021


he latest SEEK NZ Quarterly Employment Report data show a positive quarter-on-quarter performance, with national growth in jobs advertised during Q4 2020 increasing 19 per cent, which includes October, November and December 2020. Month-on-month performance was also positive, with national growth in jobs advertised in January 2021, compared with December 2020, increasing 1 per cent.

Janet Faulding, General Manager, SEEK NZ, comments, “We have seen the new year begin strongly with job ad listing continuing to bounce back. This follows the announcement of the unemployment rate sitting lower than forecasted, suggesting the strong economic recovery in the second half of 2020 is carrying through.”

confidence. More certainty led to continued growth in the lead up to the holiday period, when businesses prepared for this busier time of year, particularly in retail and hospitality.”

“Following the New Zealand 2020 General Election in October, we noticed an increase in business

Figure 1: National SEEK NZ Job Ad trend


SEEK Job Ads

Index (100=2013 avg)





40 Jan












Jan 2021

Vaccine roll out


major challenge for 2021 will be the roll out of the four different COVID-19 vaccines New Zealand has on order. Dr Ashley Bloomfield says work is under way on planning the roll out and the aim is to achieve herd immunity through vaccinations. “Initially vaccination will protect most of those who receive one or other vaccine … and later in the year we would hope to achieve sufficient coverage for population (‘herd’) immunity,” he says.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment will soon be updating businesses and workers with guidance about the upcoming COVID-19 immunisation programme. The guidance will cover employment law implications around the availability of COVID-19 vaccinations. This guidance will be updated in consultation with the Ministry of Health, WorkSafe, New Zealand Council of Trade Unions and Business NZ, and will cover more

specific scenarios and questions in relation to employment rights and obligations. According to the Ministry of Health, COVID-19 vaccinations will not be mandatory for the New Zealand public. The Ministry of Health issues public health guidance on managing COVID-19-related risks in the workplace and will continue to update this advice.





A new Aotearoa emerges Paul Spoonley, Distinguished Professor at Massey University, summarises the evolving new landscape of New Zealand’s demography and asks what employers need to be doing now to address these changes.


n this magazine and elsewhere, a lot of attention has been given to the need to recognise the changing face of Aotearoa, and rightly so, for reasons I will outline here. But often, this diversity is primarily focused on gender and ethnicity. It is much more complicated than that. The decade from 2010 to 2020 has set the scene for a very different New Zealand to emerge. This has several components in terms of what is changing, and COVID-19 has accelerated some of these changes and completely altered others. It is no exaggeration to say that these changes will be transformative, none more so than in our workplaces and how those workplaces interact with the different characteristics and profile of catchment communities.


New Zealand had one of the largest and longest-lasting post6



war baby booms (1945–1965). And those baby boomers started to reach the age of 65 in 2010. In the 2013 Census, 600,000 people were aged over 65. Soon there will be over a million, and they will constitute about a quarter of the New Zealand population. Already, some parts of New Zealand – Thames-Coromandel, Kapiti Coast – have a local population profile that sees 30 per cent or more in this age group. This ageing of the population will characterise more and more regions and smaller towns through the 2020s. I should now hurriedly add that the age of 65 means less and less in terms of when a New Zealander stops working. New Zealand has the second-highest rate in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development of those aged over 65 in paid work (a quarter of all over 65s are still in paid work), and this is expected to keep growing, both for reasons of choice and because some will have to keep working. At Massey University, we have undertaken the annual surveys of employers for Diversity Works New Zealand for some years. What continually surprises me is the lack of awareness – and what is equally

disturbing is the lack of policies – to address the ageing of the population and workforce.


New Zealand has had replacement levels of fertility (2.1 births per woman or better) until recently, unlike most of southern Europe, Germany or Japan. But, in 2017, we saw below replacement levels of fertility for the first time. Currently, the birth rate is 1.7 births per woman in New Zealand. This rate is not sufficient to replace the existing population.

What is … surprising is the lack of awareness – and what is equally disturbing is the lack of policies – to address the ageing of the population and workforce. It is a bit more complicated than simply fewer births. There is a growing pattern of delayed first births so that New Zealand women are having their first babies in their mid-thirties or later. And there are fewer teenage pregnancies. Last year, there were more births to women aged 40 or over than to New Zealand teenagers.

The total number of births has not changed much, but the number of births relative to the growing population has. We are seeing more examples of ‘one and done’ or no births. Employment and maintaining income levels are seen as more important for younger generations. This has all sorts of employment impacts. One is that the supply of workers will slow as there are fewer births relative to both the size of the population and labour demand. Another is that workplace policies in relation to maternity and paternity increase in importance in terms of both recruitment and retention. Employers will need to consider how these new generations see and value employment. As Chloe Swarbrick reminded us, with her retort in Parliament, generational differences do matter. All the evidence is that COVID-19 will dampen birth rates further. There is both the economic or employment uncertainty combined with the public health risks of having a child. The Brookings Institute has forecast between 300,000 and 500,000 fewer births in the United States of America directly related to the effects and uncertainties of COVID-19. What will be the impact on New Zealand?


At the start of the last decade, New Zealand was experiencing major net losses in terms of immigration. Remember that, in 2012, nearly 54,000 New Zealanders left to live permanently in Australia in that one year alone. But, by 2013, a different story of immigration began to emerge.

The International Air Transport Association is forecasting disruption to international mobility of three years through to 2023, not a few months as some seem to expect. Between 2013 and early 2020, New Zealand added more than 400,000 people to its population from net immigration gains. It is the most sustained period of net gain, combined with annual net gains that are easily the highest in this country’s history. When the country went into lockdown in March 2020, the previous 12 months had seen the highest net gain from immigration ever, at 71,500, with the largest group of migrants involving returning New Zealanders, followed by

migrants (in rank order) from India, China, South Africa, the Philippines and the United Kingdom. Then the borders closed. What was equally staggering was the reliance on temporary workers and students. At the point of lockdown, 310,000 people were on temporary work and study visas in New Zealand. Industries, employers and regions were relying on either temporary or permanent (or both) workers. What next? The 2013 to 2020 period might soon be seen as one of exemptional migration and that the ‘new normal’ might be quite different. This new normal might not emerge for some time. The International Air Transport Association is forecasting disruption to international mobility through to 2023, not a few months as some seem to expect.


The demographic stories differ, depending on the region in question. We are forecasting that many territorial authorities will experience either population stagnation or decline over the next decade. The West Coast of the South Island is the first region to see population decline (as well as an ageing of the population), but many regions are already seeing key towns growing AUTUMN 2021



while the surrounding rural areas, plus smaller towns, experience an ageing and declining population. The population growth of recent years has been driven by net immigration. And the emphasis on recruiting skilled immigrants has meant that immigration has been a significant source of talent supply. Most obviously, the effect has been seen in the upper North Island, with Auckland, Tauranga and Hamilton all growing at high rates. A shift from major cities to regions is also occurring, which COVID-19 has accelerated. Will the impacts of COVID-19, combined with internal migration, change our scenario of increasing levels of population stagnation and decline in many regions? Unlikely, although even small numbers of migrants – internal or international – do make a big difference in regions.




The point here is that we need to understand the regional impacts a lot better than we do. It’s worth understanding that some of the most profound impacts will occur in certain regions because they have relatively thin labour markets and, in these circumstances, demography will have profound effects on labour and skills supply.


Population growth in the past decade has been largely driven by immigration, and, given the source of these immigrants (temporary and permanent), New Zealand has become much more diverse. (I have used the ‘superdiverse’ description for some time to highlight these trends.) In the 2018 Census, over 27 per cent of all New Zealanders had been born overseas, while in Auckland, the figure was more than 40 per cent.

The other factor that underscores this growing diversity has been the declining fertility of Pākehā New Zealanders and the ongoing (relatively) high fertility of Māori and Pasifika. If we look at schoolage populations, nationally and regionally, it is possible to see the effects, with many more identifying as Māori and Pasifika while Pākehā dominate the over 65s. Over the next two decades, and considering the impacts of COVID-19, we will see growth in the Asian communities (they will make up about 36 per cent of Auckland’s population in the late 2030s and about a quarter of the total population), Māori will continue to grow and will constitute almost onein-five New Zealanders, and Pasifika will comprise about 11 per cent of the population. But there will be important generational differences, so younger populations will have

even higher proportions of Māori and Pasifika, and there will be important regional differences.

Demographic transformation

The past decade has set the groundwork for the emergence of a very different Aotearoa. Over the next two decades, the above changes will become more apparent and have significant implications for employers. As one of those involved in the Diversity Works New Zealand annual surveys of employer attitudes and practices, and as a judge for the Diversity Awards, I have been both impressed and appalled by what I have encountered over recent years. Some employers and firms are forward-looking and understand how significantly things are changing and are responding in interesting and innovative ways. And others (unfortunately, a rather larger group it seems to me) are going to struggle. Organisations in this latter group are often characterised by a failure to fully recognise the implications of these demographic changes

and are now struggling to recruit, retain or acknowledge key demographic groups (as current or potential employees). When I explore the implications of movements such as “Black Lives Matter” and “@MeToo” or what a consideration of LGQBT+ means for employers, there might be a shrug or mutterings about “political correctness”. When I point out the changing ethnicity or age distribution and ask about a sector or a firm’s policies, there might be some comprehension, but often that understanding goes little further than the here and now. There is little leadership, no policies or worker or community engagement. An interesting question to put, if policies are in place, is to ask how success is measured. It is surprising how often ethnic, disability or gender diversity is not measured, often with the justification that ‘employees’ would object. It is an exciting moment in this country’s demographic and political history as we consider the

implications of this new demography. I think there is generally a lag in understanding and then in action. And I think many of the policies that might have worked in the past will not work in the future. Innovation, recognition and inclusivity will be critical to successful firms and employers, now and in the future.

Distinguished Professor Paul Spoonley was, until recently, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Massey University. He is the author or editor of 27 books, the most recent being The New New Zealand: Facing Demographic Disruption (2020). He is a programme leader of a research programme on the impacts of immigration and diversity on Aotearoa. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand in 2011 and was a Fulbright Senior Scholar at the University of California Berkeley in 2010. Since 2013, he has been a Visiting Researcher at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity in Göttingen, Germany.





Fast-tracking a safe return to work Returning to work at alert level 3 presented numerous challenges for Piritahi, a land development alliance responsible for delivering build-ready land and new and upgraded infrastructure and amenity on behalf of Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities. This is the story of how its HR and Health and Safety teams addressed the massive challenge of ensuring safety and compliance training was delivered efficiently, effectively and safely.


s New Zealand approached the possibility of moving to alert level 3 back in April 2020, Piritahi teams prepared and planned for how its sites could be managed and operated safely during the COVID-19 pandemic, and in addition to the already rigorous health and safety controls required in a construction environment. Piritahi facilitates government-owned land becoming ready to build new homes on. It also designs and constructs new or upgraded infrastructure, parks




and public spaces. A big part of this planning and preparation was figuring out how to educate and inform people on the new mandatory site protocols and procedures that were implemented to keep people safe. Because of gathering restrictions, social distancing, and the priority of keeping its people safe, Piritahi knew it needed to make the training online and available 24/7 so staff and sub-contractors could complete it at a time convenient to them. It had to act quickly and effectively to get its people trained and back to work safely. Already having an efficient cloudbased HR system, Piritahi decided to develop an integrated learning management system (LMS) to enable online delivery of training and integration with its HR systems for reporting and record keeping. Why choose an LMS for the training? • Cloud-based – needed to be

accessible anywhere at any time because so many people were working from home.

• Tablet and smartphone accessible – needed to be

accessible on tablets and mobiles because so many staff were working from home.

• Personal email access – needed

the ability to gain access to the system with personal email addresses because numerous staff and sub-contractors did not have Piritahi email addresses. • Off-the-shelf solution – the system needed to be set up quickly with minimal technical support. • Integration with existing HR software – the system needed

to integrate reporting and training records.

What training was delivered via the LMS? Piritahi created scripts covering the following topics that people needed to understand and know before returning to site: 1. introduction to COVID-19 2. arriving at site 3. visitors to site 4. starting work on site 5. leaving sites 6. what to do if someone gets sick.

The LMS saved the organisation a huge amount of time and meant people could return to site quickly and safely.

What were the main benefits?

Ease of access – the LMS was configured to automatically push out and record inductions and training to new starters, and on-demand, where users could complete their course at a time convenient to them. Efficient – the LMS saved the organisation a huge amount of time and meant people could return to site quickly and safely. Over 4,000 hours of face-to-face training time have been saved since launching the LMS, and for the COVID-19 awareness project alone, over 700 hours have been saved.

accurately report to its strategic learning objectives.

What about the future?

Piritahi is now successfully running onboarding and induction programmes through the LMS, recording compliance training, and using it to house its construction competency matrix. All these projects had been nearly impossible to implement before the LMS. It has been an absolute game-changer for Piritahi’s training, development and upskilling of staff.

Strategic clarity – the LMS is a onestop-shop for delivering training and tracking completion and results. This makes it easy for Piritahi to

• Do not assume the digital literacy of your people or their access to technology. • Staff make the best advocates. Using colleagues

who people recognise and respect boosted adoption, especially among the more technophobic staff.

• Family members make great trainers! Friends and whānau

were pleased to help get people online to access their compulsory training, to enable them to safely return to work.

• You do not need big-budget videos. Asking staff to record

Piritahi decided to develop an integrated learning management system (LMS) to enable online delivery of training and integration with its HR systems for reporting and record keeping. Better reporting – the LMS delivers better reporting and analysis, enabling the organisation to focus its efforts on core operational areas.

What were the key learnings?

themselves at home made the content seem more real and genuine.

• This is not just an HR tool or a health and safety tool. The

HRNZ Member Helen BaillieStrong is the Learning and Development Lead for Piritahi. Piritahi gets government-owned land ready to build new homes on. Helen can be contacted at

success of its implementation means nearly all the teams use the LMS platform to push out ‘refreshers’ or process changes that need to be communicated quickly and clearly. • Take advantage of unprecedented times to action something you may have been considering for a while – be brave! AUTUMN 2021




The time is now Businesses cannot afford to ignore the importance of sustainability if they want to become fitter, faster and far better at adapting to change and unlocking value. Robert Perry, Manager of Thriving People at the Sustainable Business Council (SBC), shares his views on how Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) need to be an integral part of business strategy.


e have dipped our toes into a new future, defined by ethical consumer decision making and a purpose-driven workforce, and had a taster of what the future of work might hold. SDGs give us a roadmap for a world we want, and the COVID-19 pandemic has proved the challenges we face cannot be dealt with in isolation. Notably, issues of health, income and education have come to the forefront during this crisis. Just like an X-ray, the pandemic has laid bare the underlying fractures of our society around inequality, diversity and inclusion. The ‘digital divide’ and




the right to internet access, especially in rural areas, is a case in point.

Sustainability opportunity

As we move forward, sustainability will continue to be a driver of better consumer engagement, productivity, attraction and retention of talent, especially in disruptive labour markets, sizeable market opportunities and wider access to capital. Investors are making decisions accordingly, and governments are pushing regulation that favours such investments. The rise of environmental, social and governance related funds is just one way the investor community acknowledges that a purpose beyond profit links to value creation in tangible ways. The real opportunity of sustainability will be realised when business strategy creates shared value for stakeholders beyond shareholder profit. We are already seeing business do this by leveraging resources and innovation to create new solutions to some of society’s most pressing issues. In doing so, it creates a more prosperous environment in which to operate, making business more sustainable and resilient.

The COVID-19 pandemic presents both an enormous challenge and tremendous opportunities for achieving the SDGs. The government’s living standards framework and wellbeing budget signal a new paradigm for Aotearoa, but we still have much work to do, and the clock is ticking. This truly must be the decade of action.

Publicly listed companies and the financial services sector will be required to provide climate risk reporting from 2023. Time to act

Climate urgency must take centre stage in 2021. Businesses need to leverage their leadership into action, putting people at the heart of a ‘just transition’ so they thrive. The Climate Leaders Coalition (CLC) and the SBC are working in tandem to accelerate New Zealand’s decarbonisation. They are fronting the wave of ambition for climate action, collaboratively walking the talk on actions we said we would take under the 2019 Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Act.

They are committed to New Zealand reaching the ambitions set in the Zero Carbon Act and the Paris Agreement.

driving a need to build capability in this area, especially around scenario planning.

With New Zealand’s commitment to a zero-carbon future, we’ll be seeing the first emissions budget being set by the government later this year as it responds to the Climate Change Commission’s advice, which will be finalised in May. The government’s response to this through an Emissions Reduction Plan will provide direction on different industries’ emissions pathways.

Future of work – the skills imperative

A briefing to the government in December 2020 from the SBC and CLC sets the direction to do this. The briefing, signed by 150 of New Zealand’s leading businesses, urged the government to collaborate with businesses to accelerate New Zealand’s decarbonisation.

We have seen the world of work change out of necessity and at a rate we would never have imagined. It has brought about massive innovation while keeping productivity, resilience and creativity.

Its three main recommendations are: • increasing investment in lowcarbon transport • expanding programmes to make process heat more efficient and low carbon • speeding up the adoption of methane reduction technologies. Alongside this, publicly listed companies and the financial services sector will be required to provide climate risk reporting from 2023,

The COVID-19 pandemic has been attracting home a wave of highly skilled New Zealand expats. Yet, if New Zealand does not upskill its workforce to support a productive high-value economy, the country will be left behind once borders begin to open, and the current brain gain will be temporary.

As leaders take action to re-energise their people and organisations, many of our members see the opportunity, the chance, to lock-in their achievements and reimagine their business’s identity, how it works, and how it grows so they’re more robust in the years ahead. As SBC Executive Director Mike Burrell says, the level 3 and 4 lockdowns gave hints about the future of work. “Many office workers worked from home, but it wasn’t as simple for people in services and

manufacturing. Economic disruption disproportionately affected the most vulnerable. If you’re middle class, working in a job with a laptop, probably you’ve done OK.” It is essential to take a more indepth look at flexibility both now and in the transition to a low-carbon economy. An encouraging sign was the number of companies, and their innovation in mobilising resources, doing the right thing by their employees and supporting their communities in line with their social responsibility commitments. In the words of William Gibson, “the future is already here – it’s just not very evenly distributed”. We see that clearly in the New Zealand workforce. At SBC, our new strategy sets a bold ambition for a thriving world of work that is flexible, inclusive and sustainable. Some people have the skills that allow them to adapt and thrive during disruption and change. But not everyone has had a positive education experience or the opportunities to develop skills to adapt to the rapid changes in technology and access pathways in order to move into more skilled roles.




Business is working together to change that. SBC has launched a new micro-credential programme that any New Zealand business can access, to prepare their staff for the future. SBC brought together several SBC members from different sectors, including Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED, now part of Auckland Unlimited), Sanford, IAG, BNZ and NZ Steel with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to find solutions and prepare staff for the future.

The real opportunity of sustainability will be realised when business strategy creates shared value for stakeholders – beyond shareholder profit. One of the areas of innovation was to support those who are most at risk of being negatively affected by




these changes, notably Māori and Pacific peoples and particularly those with low literacy or numeracy skills. Businesses have identified a gap in learning approaches between formal tertiary qualifications and informal workplace training, which could be filled by delivering micro-credentials. One of the projects that emerged through a co-design process and rapid prototyping was the Future Ready: Money confidence microcredential pilot. ATEED worked closely with Education Unlimited, drawing on their experience as adult learning facilitators working in low literacy and numeracy environments, to turn the prototype into the microcredential that was delivered to staff at Sanford in early 2020.

Leadership in times of change and disruption

Climate change, COVID-19 and social inequality are just a few of the challenges facing us on our journey to build a thriving and sustainable future for all, which lies at the heart of SBC’s purpose.

Each of these challenges highlights the interconnected nature of our world. They demonstrate that urgent action is needed, yet driving change is complex because no issue exists in isolation. They mean making difficult decisions and trade-offs. Today’s business leaders need a particular set of skills to drive this change. Skills such as resilience and an innovative mindset to adapt to the ‘new normal’. They need to be able to lead transformational change that crosses organisational boundaries.

… the COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the underlying fractures of our society around inequality, diversity and inclusion. Our flagship sustainability leadership programme hones these skills. It has been developed specifically for business leaders who have accountability for environmental and social outcomes. Unique to this programme is that participants can apply new skills, ideas and learnings

to live projects, as well as connect with other leaders across Aotearoa. Businesses have come alive with the opportunities that exist from embracing sustainable thinking. This programme champions businesses to be at the forefront of environmental and social sustainability by enabling their people to become changemakers. By growing our leaders’ capability, we can continue to create a New Zealand where business, people and nature thrive together. Robert Perry manages the Thriving People portfolio at the Sustainable Business Council. He champions business leadership and collective action that support employee wellbeing, positively impact communities and wider society and put people at the heart of our transition to a zero-carbon economy. Robert has over 20 years’ experience providing strategic leadership on critical sustainability issues and their solutions in business, consultancy and public sector organisations in the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.

People powered success

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The ever-changing world of recruitment Recent technological advancements have forced the modern workplace to evolve. From shifts in recruiting expectations to AI-powered hiring, disruptive recruitment trends continue to emerge. Roz Grant guides us through the changes.


he impact of online recruitment and reliance on social media mean recruiters are now on the job 24/7, being available to applicants across international time zones. I’m sure I speak for all recruitment professionals, whether agency based or internal: recruitment is a tough gig and getting tougher. So what are the emerging trends and what can we do to keep up?

Embrace automation

It’s not hard to believe that more and more of the talent acquisition space is becoming dominated by automation. Available now are recruitment platforms, recruitment marketing tools, applicant tracking software, digital interviewing tools and more. All aim to streamline the recruitment process, making it more efficient and faster. Businesses that disregard these 16



advantages are likely to lose their candidates to tech-savvy competitors. Basically, you need to embrace the technology, use the knowledge, and make it work for your organisation. The same rule applies to using social media. If you’re not using social media for recruiting, you are likely to be out-recruited. There’s no escaping it. Useful for advertising roles and searching for promising candidates, this is a method not to be overlooked. You can engage with potential candidates and build a relationship for them with your brand. Later on, you can invite them to apply for suitable vacancies.

Up-spec your candidate experience

Candidate experience is another important recruitment trend. Most of my clients would agree that candidate experience can affect buyer purchasing decisions. Virgin Media measured the cost of poor candidate experience as being as much as US$5 million per year, so it’s worth spending a bit of time adjusting your candidate experience to align with your corporate goals, culture and values. This links nicely to employer branding. A compelling employer brand is essential for attracting the

best talent. If your company has an inspiring purpose, a respect for people and team-oriented work, that’s a great start. Employees want to be proud of the company they work for, so it’s no wonder employer branding will likely be a top recruitment trend for many years to come. Candidates are doing far more due diligence on companies than ever before, to ensure their needs are being met, and holding their company of choice responsible for delivering on that promise. That’s why it’s important for HR and people managers to ensure their unique selling point shouts loud and clear. Shout about your diversity and inclusion strategy and ensure the success stories are heard and lived by not only external clients and suppliers but internal staff and potential employees. Remember, people talk, and reputation can be a fantastic recruitment tool.

It shouldn’t be a taboo subject to discuss salary. Companies with strong and influential thought leadership teams will already have anticipated and embedded their strategies. However, those not so quick off the mark will

need to start considering how to accommodate good practices in supporting important attractors for their organisations, otherwise they risk of losing key staff to competitors.

AI in balance with humans

Artificial intelligence is undoubtedly seeping through the HR hiring world, and the initial outcomes appear to be mainly positive. Recruiters and HR managers seem to agree that AI technology is not meant to replace recruiters, but it is hoped to improve the role they play. Unlike humans, AI doesn’t have any biases when screening and selecting new hires. But it takes time to hone the machine-learning programming to allow better candidate–job matching to occur. The use of chatbots is becoming a widespread AI deployment in recruitment. These HR chatbots can now effectively engage candidates at the various contact points during the hiring journey and can carry out prescreening with ease.

Once called ‘headhunting’ back in the day, ‘active engagement strategy’ has a more 2021 vibe.

While technology has helped the recruitment and hiring process, it’s still about recognising and connecting potential and facilitating introductions. Clients now require more hand-holding to help with navigating immigration changes, for example, working to monitor and support visas and undertaking responsibilities to support new arrivals and provide support as they settle – it’s new territory for some recruiters but a necessary value-add to ensure success of the new appointees. By supporting these aspects of the posthire process, it also speaks volumes for your brand, by increasing loyalty and retention and referrals.

Unique New Zealand

Here in New Zealand we are a small economy, and some sectors have always battled within a critical skill-short market. This especially true in industries such as technology, engineering and manufacturing, where we work hard to identify and source skills for client companies from within the local market but are often forced to search offshore. Gone are the days of creating an online advert on Seek and wading through the volumes of responses to screen and shortlist applications. For these specialist industries, time is spent on researching and

investigating where these skills are and connecting with applicants to approach. Once called ‘headhunting’ back in the day, ‘active engagement strategy’ has a more 2021 vibe. Even with all the online resources available to identify people and skills, it’s still about ensuring recruiters validate and represent good people to reputable employers. Now with its closed borders, New Zealand is offering a safe haven and a still relatively buoyant economy. The spotlight is on us, and people are queuing to return to the safety of Aotearoa. Sadly, there will be no more offshore recruiting for the foreseeable future.

Candidates are doing far more due diligence on companies than ever before. The perceived ‘brain gain’ has not yet hit us in the way the media had anticipated. Media reports suggest 25,000 Kiwis working offshore are still to arrive home over the next year. So, are we ready for this? Can we accommodate these fantastic capable skills arriving home from their international careers? As I write this article, Stats NZ has just released the current job seeker figures for February 2021 of 141,000. It’s a AUTUMN 2021



year since the arrival of COVID-19 to our shores, and we are now starting to feel the full effect of job losses in certain sectors.

Get it right with flexibility

Companies that want to compete for the best talent are waking up and realising the importance and value of their attraction strategy. Research by the Institute for European Studies has found employers who offer their staff a comprehensive range of flexibilities, including career breaks, extended maternity and paternity leave, adoption leave, paid dependency leave, compressed weeks, job share, leave for community and volunteer work and family friendly employment will have a more significant candidate response and also a more motivated workforce. One particular area that has been given much attention is practices that allow employees to combine their work and caring responsibilities more effectively.




Recently, I followed a conversation on LinkedIn about visibly advertising salaries on job advertisements, a strategy widely adopted in the United Kingdom. In New Zealand, this has never been promoted as a popular approach, and I have to wonder why. It’s a critical consideration for anyone seeking to make a move. It won’t be the only consideration for the job seeker but a major one for sure. Let’s stop the cloak and dagger mystery around salaries and start being upfront about what we are offering. It shouldn’t be a taboo subject to discuss salary, in fact, it’s one of the first few questions to ask applicants when screening for a shortlist, time is a precious resource, and no one wants to waste time investing in a role that can’t meet their expectations.

Taking stock

Throughout my 30-year career in recruitment, recruiters have been known as talent managers, recruitment advisors, consultants,

talent specialists, people engagement strategists and people advisors; although the names may have changed, fundamentally the role has not. In an industry where recruiters come and go pretty quickly, the realisation that recruitment isn’t a glamorous career and certainly not for the faint-hearted is very real. My colleagues often refer to our industry as “champagne or razor blades”. But when all the stars align, and things fall into place, it’s a great job, and the thrill of delivering a great result for your client and the dream job for your candidate is still hugely rewarding, and it’s those positive wins that provide the payback.

If you’re not using social media for recruiting, you are likely to be out-recruited. Looking forward, without a doubt, the challenge will be finding the right balance between digital and traditional channels. Amidst

What to consider with online recruitment • Get clear on your attraction strategy. • Is your employer branding up to scratch? • Candidate experience is an essential recruitment factor: make sure all your processes are positive. • Social media-based recruitment is one of today’s most powerful hiring strategies: make sure you are harnessing it. • Be sure to actively look for talent within and outside your company. Facilitate career development and internal placements. • Be bold on advertising the salary range of roles.

the changes in the HR space, technology has given birth to a new breed of recruiters. Recruiters are increasingly using social media posts, web-based job boards and online job portals. However, traditional methods still have their place.

Roz Grant is a senior recruitment consultant working with Crescent Consulting Group based in Christchurch. She has over 30 years’ experience in recruitment and recruits within the professional manufacturing and engineering sector, along with providing temporary and contract support staff to a variety of businesses. She has a passion for the environmental sector and is an eco-warrior at heart. She is an animal lover and is often seen rescuing and rehabilitating wildlife. She lives with her husband and two dogs.





Rise of the gig economy Increasingly, workers are abandoning the traditional nine-to-five working week to venture out independently as contractors or freelancers. While going out to work for yourself is not a new phenomenon, it has significantly increased both in Aotearoa and around the world. Jack Rainbow, from Dundas Street Employment Lawyers, looks at the rise of the gig economy and where the line between a contractor ends and an employee begins.

Advantages versus disadvantages


ome independent contractors opt to go out on their own because they desire a more flexible and autonomous working life, assisted by advancements in technology that allow them to work anywhere and at any time. Many independent contractors are highly sought-after subject experts skilled in their field, which allows them to negotiate higher pay, work flexible hours, and obtain a higher level of autonomy.




The trade-off for these individuals is that, as independent contractors, they do not receive the same legal protections and entitlements afforded to employees, such as annual holidays, sick leave or personal grievance procedures. For businesses, engaging independent contractors can provide the business with access to specialist skills or equipment, without employing someone on a permanent or full-time basis. The result can be a mutually beneficial commercial arrangement, negotiated between fairly positioned bargaining parties. With that said, the gig economy and independent contractor arrangements are also vulnerable to exploitation, where businesses engage workers as independent contractors to circumvent paying minimum statutory entitlements, notwithstanding that those workers are really employees. Such situations are particularly concerning where the workers have no real bargaining power and are in low-paid work.

Employee or contractor?

While a label on a written contract may help determine the intention of the parties, the only way to distinguish between an employee or a contractor is to determine the real nature of the working relationship.

Courier drivers versus Uber drivers

In Leota v Parcel Express Limited [2020] NZEmpC 61, the Employment Court analysed the distinction between an employment relationship and an independent contractor arrangement. Mr Leota was ostensibly engaged as a courier driver by Parcel Express in an independent contractor arrangement. Following the termination of his contract, Mr Leota asked the Employment Court to make a declaration that he was, in fact, an employee. Mr Leota was: • assigned set runs, within set boundaries. He was also directed where he had to be and when by the company, with no ability to change the days or hours he was required to work • required to attend company meetings, wear a company uniform, comply with reasonable directions of the company and act in the company’s best interests at all times • required to purchase his own van, but the van had to meet company specifications, display signwriting of the company name, and it had to hold insurance by an

insurance provider approved by the company • unable to adequately comprehend the legal arrangement he was signing up to, because English was his second language • prevented from working for any competitor and subject to a six-month restraint of trade within 100 kilometres of Auckland Central. Considering the above factors, the Court determined Mr Leota did not have any of the autonomy or agency in his work that you would expect in a true contractor–principal relationship. The Court found that the significant level of control that the business had over Mr Leota meant the true relationship was one of employee and employer. In Arachchige v Raiser New Zealand and Uber BV [2020] NZEmpC 230, Mr Arachchige, an Uber driver, also sought a declaration from the Employment Court that he was an employee. Mr Arachchige entered into a Services Arrangement with Uber in 2015, after he satisfied certain conditions, such as being over 21 years of age, holding a full licence, and passing a criminal history check. He drove for Uber until 2019 when Uber deactivated his access to its Drivers app following

the investigation of a complaint against him. In Mr Arachchige’s case, the Court noted that: • he was not required to sign in and undertake any trips on any set days, times or locations and was free to pick and choose when he wished to take trips • Uber did not direct him in connection with the provision of transport services • he was responsible for all the necessary equipment to perform the work, including a smartphone, mobile data, a vehicle and insurance, all of which he was free to determine himself • he was not restricted from undertaking other work, including work in competition with Uber • he did not display any Uber signage on his vehicle • he had accepted over 5,000 trip requests, while also rejecting 448 requests and not accepting a further 242 requests. Additionally, he cancelled 156 requests that he had initially accepted. While Mr Arachchige was not able to negotiate the terms of his agreement with Uber, he was not at a distinct disadvantage or unable to comprehend the terms of the agreement, as Mr Leota was found to be.

In concluding that Mr Arachchige was a contractor, the Court noted that while the drivers were integral to Uber’s business model, unlike the Leota case, Uber had little control over the way its drivers undertook their work.


As more New Zealanders work from home or consider taking the plunge into freelancing, the lines between an employee and an independent contractor become increasingly important. The Leota and Arachchige cases highlight that the Court will closely scrutinise the facts of each case to determine the real nature of the relationship. While on their face the cases seem similar, the facts reveal that, in reality, the level of control and autonomy exercised varied greatly and was ultimately determinative in finding whether an employment relationship existed.

Jack Rainbow, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Te Arawa (Tapuika), is a solicitor at Dundas Street Employment Lawyers. He provides legal advice to both public and private sector clients, including in relation disciplinary processes, investigations and dispute resolution. Jack also volunteers at Community Law and previously worked at a law firm specialising in Māori legal issues, particularly Waitangi Tribunal claims.





Training a more inclusive workforce Maretha Smit looks at why organisations need to undertake a gap analysis to get the most from diversity and inclusion training programmes and the core knowledge areas that underpin learning how to thrive in a new New Zealand.


iversity and the ever-increasing complexity of diversity dimensions have become a defining feature of the New Zealand workplace. While our talent pool in Aotearoa is diverse by default, we need to actively design for inclusion within our organisations. Building knowledge through training is an essential component to ensuring all our people feel respected and valued and that New Zealand organisations can harness the benefits of diversity and inclusion to create better business and social outcomes. But there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to effective diversity and inclusion training. While training has some core areas, the first step for any organisation is to understand the maturity of their current diversity and inclusion journey and analyse areas for improvement. 22



This allows business leaders or human resources departments to develop a strategic approach that will provide the best return on investment, rather than taking an interventionalist approach when issues arise. Later this month, Diversity Works New Zealand is launching the Aotearoa Inclusivity Matrix (AIM). This evidence-based framework references global research but is specifically developed for the unique diversity and inclusion dynamics we face in New Zealand workplaces. It will be supported by tools that analyse the maturity of workplace practices across seven areas of impact, including leadership, attraction and recruitment, career development, inclusive collaboration and social sustainability. Its purpose is to enable business leaders to understand where they are at now and formulate a roadmap for transformation, which should include training specifically designed to meet the needs of the organisation. However, before you can implement advanced training programmes to improve organisational capabilities across your workforce, it’s essential to ensure people have a basic awareness of the concepts of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Three core areas of training are fundamental in delivering that awareness and creating a drive for inclusion throughout your talent force. We recommend starting with an understanding of unconscious bias, because that gives people an insight to themselves. It is difficult to begin a journey into valuing and understanding others if we do not start by understanding ourselves and how our brain works. Once we understand ourselves, we move to understanding others, especially those who are culturally different. Cultural intelligence training gives us perspective on how other people think and feel and why they behave the way they do. The third core area is inclusive leadership. Once we have a better understanding of ourselves and those around us, we use that knowledge in a strategic way to create more collaborative interactions in the workplace so everyone feels supported and able to do their best work. These basic elements of awareness are essential foundations that need to be in place to successfully embed diversity, equity and inclusion across your organisation’s systems, processes and strategies.

Core training areas

1. Understanding unconscious bias Unconscious bias affects our decision making in ways we cannot even imagine, making it the enemy of diversity. Training could be designed for these learning outcomes: • understanding the neuroscience underpinning unconscious bias • identifying our own unconscious biases and those of others • considering the affect unconscious bias has in the workplace • discovering how to challenge our thinking and build new neural connections • getting strategies to manage and mitigate bias as individuals, groups and organisations. 2. Inclusive leadership In the constant search for inclusiveness, leaders need to learn how to manage different viewpoints and transform dissent and disagreement into value for organisational growth. Training could be designed for these learning outcomes: • the role of leaders in diversity and inclusion

• the psychological foundations of inclusive leadership • differences between inclusive leadership and other leadership styles • inclusive leadership skills and traits. 3. Improving cultural intelligence Cultural intelligence is a crucial competency in connecting with diverse markets and creating an inclusive workplace. Training could be designed for these learning outcomes: • understanding culture and cultural integration in the context of the workplace • recognising the risks of cultural dissonance in the workplace • understanding the four components of cultural intelligence: cultural drivers, knowledge, strategies and action • developing tools and strategies to help you reflect on your own biases, judgements and thought processes.

What to look for in a training provider:

• an organisation that will take the time to understand the needs of your business and the sector you operate in • content that is evidence based and peer reviewed • learning that combines theory with best practice examples, tools and strategies for both individuals and the organisation • an approach that dials down defensiveness and dials up curiosity • presentation techniques that cater to a variety of learning styles • collaborative sessions that allow participants to learn from the experiences of everyone in the room • measurable learning outcomes. Maretha Smit is the Chief Executive of Diversity Works New Zealand, the national body for workplace diversity and inclusion. She has a strong background in and appreciation of the challenges in diversity and inclusion. She has experience in senior leadership roles in the disability sector, as well as delivering programmes to improve social cohesion through performing arts, education and training. She is passionate about her life purpose to create a more sustainable and equitable society through national conversations and creative initiatives. AUTUMN 2021




What will happen to the border? As we enter the second quarter of 2021, many employers are asking: what is likely to happen with the New Zealand border this year? Rachael Mason, from Lane Neave, seeks to give insights into this question.


nswering this question involves a degree of crystal-ball gazing, but our view is that the border is likely to remain closed or mainly closed for most or all of 2021. When the border does reopen, it is expected to be gradual, which will involve a prioritisation system for deciding who is allowed in first and who will have to wait longer. Employers who still need to access migrant workers not already in-country will need to have a good understanding of the potential opportunities (or lack thereof) for bringing people in through the closed border. At the same time, Immigration New Zealand has signalled that, in 2021, it intends to proceed with rolling out compulsory employer accreditation for all employers who wish to employ ‘sponsored’ migrant workers (most commonly Essential Skills and Talent work visa holders). This is the first phase of the employer24



led ‘Gateway Framework’ policy. The initial research regarding this new framework indicated that these changes could potentially affect 16,000 employers and 53,000 visa holders.

Border exception requests

The continuation of the border closure means (broadly) that only New Zealand citizens and residents and their family members or those who can secure a border exception will be able to enter New Zealand for the foreseeable future. The two main exception categories are the ‘humanitarian’ category and the ‘other critical worker’ category. Other niche exception requests can be used in specific circumstances, but these will be the two main routes for most applicants. In both categories, the threshold to be met to be granted an invitation is high.

Humanitarian exceptions

A significant number of visa holders and/or their family members are still ‘stranded’ offshore and are unable to meet the threshold for securing a humanitarian exception. Common examples include: • a migrant worker employee who held a work visa and ongoing New Zealand employment but has left the country (eg, to return

to their home country during the lockdown or to spend time with a sick family member overseas) • the main applicant came to New Zealand ahead of their family members and has a work visa and ongoing employment and is now trying to get an exception to allow the family members to join them in New Zealand. There must be exceptional humanitarian circumstances that make it strongly desirable to grant entry. In both examples above, in the absence of compelling evidence to demonstrate the humanitarian requirements are met, they are likely to be unsuccessful. We have seen numerous iterations of both scenarios, many with moving stories of the effect that not being able to enter New Zealand is having, but where they have been unsuccessful (often on multiple occasions) in securing an exception. The mere fact of family separation is (unfortunately) not sufficient in these instances. For those migrant workers and their families who find themselves in this situation, any change to this position is unlikely until at least the second half of 2021 or later.

Other critical workers – unique experience, technical or specialist skills This category is worth considering if you have highly skilled, senior level employees, very specialised employees or potential employees who you need to bring to New Zealand. The bar to meet to succeed with an application under this category is very high. Factors that Immigration New Zealand will consider include:

• whether the person has unique experience and technical or specialist skills such that there are no others or a “very limited pool available” of workers who could perform the role in New Zealand • time criticality of the person coming to New Zealand – whether the work or project will cease, be severely compromised or significant costs will be incurred if the person does not come to New Zealand • why it is not possible to redeploy New Zealand-based employees or adopt other solutions, such as remote working. On first read, many employers will consider that they can successfully meet these requirements for a particular employee they wish to

bring in. However, our advice is employers should not under-estimate the significant amount of work required to successfully secure an invitation via this route. The process is complex and the decline rate is high. A significant number of the instructions our firm receives to help with these requests are where the employer has already tried to make a request without expert support and been unsuccessful, losing valuable time if the matter is of an urgent nature.

Compulsory employer accreditation

Immigration New Zealand has signalled it intends to proceed with its strategy for compulsory employer accreditation for all employers of sponsored migrant workers in mid-2021. These changes will be significant for almost every employer of migrant workers in New Zealand. We will provide more information on these policy changes when further announcements are made. However, there can be advantages to getting accredited now before the scheme is introduced. We encourage any employers who are not already accredited to seek advice regarding the reasons and advantages of applying for accreditation before the new system is introduced.

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 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 highquality technical immigration advice that is both pragmatic and commercial.





Embracing flexible working New ways of working are here to stay. Flexibility is a priority not only for employees but also employers, who see the benefits it brings to the bottom line. Human Resources spoke with three organisations to learn more about what flexibility looks like in practice and what advice they would give HR professionals when seeking to make a difference.

Southern Cross

Society. “Although if someone is planning to work from a different city, we prefer they let their leader know.” Vicki says the critical question employees should ask themselves is where they can work to get the best outcome for the business. If that means working from home, Southern Cross gives its employees the freedom to do that. If their office is at home, staff are fully equipped to work from home because everything is stored in the cloud. Goals and expectations are clearly communicated, so it’s less relevant where someone works.

Flexible working at Southern Cross means that every one of its 800 employees can choose to work where they want within New Zealand. Staff can’t choose the number of hours they work (this is contractually agreed) but they can choose when and where they work those hours. Contact centre employees are rostered to cover the call centre’s opening hours, which they can choose to do at home or in the office. It’s a forward-thinking approach and one that appears to be working.

The success of such a bold move has been two-fold. The organisation’s purposeful and values-driven culture means there is enormous transparency from leaders. Priding themselves on their transparency, leaders are known to give as much information to employees as soon as possible. “We expect this same transparency in return from our people,” says Vicki. “Our leaders need to lead differently, of course, with a rise in the development of soft skills to ensure they are communicating well.”

“There’s no need to apply,” says Vicki Caisley, Chief People and Strategy Officer at Southern Cross Health

The second success factor was the introduction of an external coach for the executive team. This coach aimed




to help the leadership team establish with absolute clarity the definition of what flexible working is at Southern Cross. Is New Zealand our workplace? Who pays for the travel when a team meeting is booked in Auckland and people have to travel from home to get there? The coach facilitated some of these crunchy conversations in order to answer these vital questions. The result is a ‘playbook’, or guidebook, of principles for flexible working based on the concept of the business being ‘with’ its people: • You’re with Southern Cross – to

achieve our business outcomes • You’re with your team – for collaboration and engagement • We’re with you – when you do the best work of your life.

The ‘playbook’ isn’t set in concrete and will remain a live document as the business learns more about new ways of working. The company is open to change, but it’s a great start to a potentially complex area of employment. The benefits so far have been numerous, such as younger employees being able to save money for the first time due to reduced commuter and parking expenses.

An employee engagement survey in May 2020 showed a significant lift in engagement, with the reduced commuting time fundamentally changing people’s lives. This flexible working model has not been without its challenges. The main challenge comes with ensuring consistent application of the model by managers. “This is unchartered territory,” says Vicki. “For some leaders, getting the balance right for their teams remains a challenge, but there have certainly been more upsides than downsides.”

Coca-Cola Amatil New Zealand

Before COVID-19, flexible working happened in pockets of the Coca-Cola Amatil business. The organisation wanted to take this further and make flexible working accessible to all departments, where possible. The pandemic accelerated this process and got leaders thinking more creatively about how flexible working could work for its people and the business. So, in 2020, Coca-Cola Amatil launched Flex@Amatil, a framework that provides a simple way to access flexibility and have open conversations about how it can be structured. It focused on four

pillars of flexibility (time, location, additional leave, and hours) while acknowledging that flexible arrangements can take different forms. With the nature of the manufacturing business, various departments and role types need to be considered, so it was important to design flexibility that meets everyone’s needs. “Ultimately, we want to create a workplace that our people enjoy and want to be part of,” says Susan Lowe, general manager of people and culture. “The new framework allows people to have balance in their lives while acknowledging the importance of our company culture and our commitment to our customers.” The framework provides an element of flexibility to all 1,200 employees, regardless of their specific job requirements, so all people can access the benefits flexible working provides. “At Coca-Cola Amatil NZ we recognise the value of flexibility and how it can help us shape an inclusive organisation – one that empowers our people and enhances engagement and diversity,” says Susan. “Our people are at the centre of everything we do, and a long time

ago we saw that flexible working allows our people to balance work and life, and ultimately bring their best self to work.” Since introducing the framework, the company has seen uptake of flexible working across all departments. The business has seen increased productivity and efficiency, reduced absenteeism and enhanced employee engagement. In addition, by working differently, the business has been able to reach customers in ways that work best for them. An important challenge to introducing flexible working more widely in the business was tackling the traditional views on what flexible working is. During the early stages of the March–April 2020 lockdown, concerns over productivity were front of mind, but the reality saw productivity increase and people putting in more discretionary effort. This helped challenge mindsets, but the organisation still needed to take people on a journey and normalise flexible working post-lockdown. This included giving managers and employees the tools needed to ensure success within departments and the business overall.




Coca-Cola Amatil’s top five tips when introducing flexible working: 1. Let your vision and values guide you. 2. Ensure your systems and technology support your outcome. 3. Equip managers and leaders with the tools needed. 4. Ensure you’ve heard the needs of the business when developing a framework. 5. Evaluate success and gather feedback from both the people and the business.

Ernst and Young

Una Diver, Partner, People Advisory Services at Ernst and Young (EY), knows a thing or two about flexible working. Una leads the Reward practice, who consult to clients on all aspects of 28



financial and non-financial reward, so she has spent years working with clients around structuring their flexible work offerings. “We’ve always had quite a progressive view of flexibility, flexitime and flexiplace at EY,” says Una. “We focus – now more than ever before – on people getting the work done in a way that works for them. If you can match the needs of the business with the needs of the individuals, you will see people who can deliver their best.” A plethora of flexible options existed before COVID-19. For example, term-time hours, flexible parental leave, professional secondments, and sabbaticals were all on offer. The ‘when’ and ‘where’ of work was also very much a flexible approach. For a professional services firm, client visits are the norm, so it was about encouraging this partnership of office and home working. In addition, a permanent full-time wellbeing coordinator has been employed in the Auckland office.

With an exercise room on site, the wellbeing coordinator offers stretch breaks three times a day and other exercise classes, which are also available to all EY offices around New Zealand via Zoom. The suite of wellbeing offerings has certainly flexed with COVID-19. EY employed a catering team at the Auckland office pre-COVID-19 to provide catering for external clients who came in for meetings. Changes to the way clients interact (more virtual meetings) meant demand for their services reduced. But, not wanting to lose these staff, EY instead set up a service where the team deliver breakfasts, lunches and coffees to people’s desks. Staff are now also able to order pantry items and take-home meals using this in-house service. “It’s all about holistic flexibility,” says Una. “With approximately 850 staff on site at our Auckland office, it made sense to be able to be responsive to the needs of staff, and save jobs at the same time.”

In its work producing COVID-19 Pulse surveys, EY has seen important trends emerging. From the 57 responses from human resources leaders it received in its latest edition of the survey (December 2020), 58 per cent of organisations noted that workforce health and wellbeing is their main challenge. This is an increase of 24 per cent from the previous survey (October 2020). Similarly, it was no surprise to see employee wellbeing as the most important people priority, reported by most respondents (72 per cent).

While flexible work has become a new standard worldwide, the challenge is ensuring it remains accessible to everyone, not just specific demographics, jobs or departments. Because flexible working is continuously evolving, it’s important to keep an eye out for what the next iteration may look like.

Una encourages HR professionals to get answers to key questions before progressing with a flexible working approach. • What does wellness mean to you as an organisation? • How do you get flexibility to work for everybody? • What resources do you have available? Remember, it doesn’t need to cost a lot of money.

Have you watched these popular podcasts? •

Māori workforce considerations – watch now

SDGs – why HR needs to get involved – watch now

Staffing NZ’s COVID-19 response team – watch now

Diversity & Inclusion – the role HR plays – watch now

Monitoring Mental Health – watch now





Why resilience just got personal Do we need a more personalised approach to wellbeing? Kathryn Jackson looks at how we can embrace the science of wellbeing to increase resilience in our teams.


’d like to begin this article by asking a very personal question. “How have you invested in your own wellbeing this week?”

As people professionals, we often focus our attention on encouraging other people to invest in their wellbeing: our managers, our employees, even our family, yet this can come at the expense of our own wellbeing. Some of the most stressed-out people who have come to me for coaching have included counsellors, teachers and HR professionals. Despite being responsible for designing and implementing wellbeing strategies in workplaces around the country, we have lost sight of what we need ourselves to stay strong. This leads me to another very personal question. “What are the special things you cherish every day to recharge your battery?” 30



If you pause for a moment to notice what your business is doing to tick the wellbeing box, I’m sure you’ll notice something interesting. We typically focus on food, fitness and a splash of yoga. The fruit bowls and water stations, discounted gym memberships, lunchtime mindfulness classes, walking clubs and even nap rooms are all wonderful and commendable initiatives, but have we also given our people the knowledge, confidence and permission to personalise their own wellbeing at work?

Linking wellbeing with resilience How does wellbeing link to resilience? Building resilience is like an equation. We become resilient because of the permission we give ourselves to invest in our own wellbeing, and the things that we choose to invest in are incredibly personal. For some of us, we might choose breakfast with our children. For others, it’s a run in the park at lunchtime, a phone call with somebody who makes us laugh, writing in a gratitude journal, making healthy food choices, having an early night, inspirational friends, team sports or five minutes of peace. It’s not the same for everybody, so mandating attendance or limiting

choices can be unhelpful if we want to build real, long-lasting resilience in our teams. Noticing these nourishing, recharging moments in our life in themselves can contribute to our sense of wellbeing.

Have we given our people the knowledge, confidence and permission to personalise their own wellbeing at work? In fact, the world of wellbeing science has identified specific ways to invest in ourselves, which include mental, spiritual, physical, social and intellectual wellbeing. Together, these form the foundations for resilience. Resilient people are those who can adapt well in the face of significant or unexpected stress. The past 12 months will have undoubtedly highlighted just how important these foundations are within every organisation as we navigated COVID-19. Choosing to charge ourselves up by making these personal wellbeing choices is what leads to fuller batteries and enhanced resilience to better deal with whatever the day, week or year throws our way. Doing more things that invest

in wellbeing will lead to more resilient employees.

Not doing things that invest

in wellbeing will lead to less resilient employees. It really can be this simple.

Workplace culture and wellbeing

Yet, when you tune into the conversations around you at work, I wonder how many are about people investing in recharging their wellbeing by making these sorts of choices, or whether instead they are focused on sharing how busy they are, how many meetings they have, how they have missed lunch (again) or worked late (again)? In other words, the conversations are more likely to be what they are not doing to invest in their wellbeing. And I wonder how many of these comments are simply taken as being part of the typical culture at work, or whether they are challenged as being not very smart? You see, I think we’ve accidentally made it cool to NOT focus on our wellbeing at work, which is one factor that has contributed to a decline in resilience at work. Let’s explore this from another angle by reflecting on a conversation from my days in HR. It occurred during a talent management meeting where performance was discussed and

promotions were agreed. The (real) conversation went something like this: “Laura [not her real name] has been working exceptionally long hours this year. She’s always going above and beyond what we ask of her and showing real loyalty to this firm. She’s also doing an awesome job of bringing in new clients, so she should be a no brainer for promotion.”

Doing more things that invest in wellbeing will lead to more resilient employees. Undermining or growing

I wonder whether you can see where this conversation is failing to deliver when it comes to supporting wellbeing? Some of our HR practices are unintentionally undermining the very thing we are seeking to grow within our workplaces: wellbeing (which you now know leads to resilience). As people professionals, we are custodians of the culture. If we are serious about building resilience at work, we need to start being courageous and challenging our senior leadership when we hear this sort of conversation, that’s assuming

they are serious about building a wellbeing culture. As a profession, we need to better understand wellbeing and how it leads to resilience so we can build more resilient people from within. The good news is it’s just a hop, skip and jump away from engagement, which has been a hot topic for over 20 years, plus heaps of research and resources are around to help build our understanding.

Asking questions

There are too many social media discussions about finding tools, tests and assessments to guarantee that we have a resilient workforce. We want a hack or quick fix to build resilient teams. The reality is that, currently, these assessments can certainly help us to hire people who have more knowledge about resilience, or who are predisposed to invest in themselves, but you can guarantee that life will come along to test and break their natural resilience levels someday. The person who gets the highest resilience score on record will likely still crumble when somebody they love dies, when they receive devastating news about their health or watch their colleagues lose a job.




Instead of using these tests, you could instead ask another personal question like this during interviews: “Tell me how you managed to get through a really stressful time at work”. This will not only give you an insight into how they manage their own wellbeing (and therefore resilience) under pressure, but it might also remind the person you are interviewing that they have courage and strength and can make it through hard times. If you are serious about building resilience at work, then you must be ready to accept that wellbeing is something that ebbs and flows. You might be one of the lucky ones and never experience life’s biggest challenges, or enjoy great role models who have helped you to understand that sometimes things just don’t work out in life, but you can still find a way through; however, most of our employees will not be so lucky. If we are serious about building resilience at work, we must help our people understand this most important of equations. We also need to ensure our people become more aware of what they need to do to stay fully charged and to notice faster when their battery is fading. Above all, we need to clearly give them the permission to take evasive action so they can remain as buoyant as possible in a changing world. This won’t inoculate them against workplace stressors, but it might just mean they thrive at work despite the ever-changing policies, annoying customers or random interruptions from colleagues. The Mental Health Foundation has an unambiguous definition of wellbeing: “Feeling good and functioning well”. When we consider the example of high-performing Laura against this definition, I hope you can see where the opportunities for HR and wellbeing lie. She might be functioning well with all these 32



awesome results, but is she really feeling good? Her long hours seem to have been going on for much of the year (she’s not just been busy for a few weeks as can happen to many of us), so I wonder what could be going on for her? Perhaps she adores her job and finds herself hugely energised by her role – a factor that is very possible. For her, then, simple reminders of the need to remain vigilant for signs of burnout and regular feedback to ensure she knows she’s doing a great job might be the answer. But what if she’s afraid of losing her job? Perhaps she lost a job previously and believes it was because of not working hard enough. This could be a driver for her behaviour, and it’s not a healthy one. What if she struggles to make friends outside work and uses long hours as a coping strategy, so she doesn’t have to go home to an empty house? This is another possible reason that isn’t going to end well when it comes to resilience.

We must get better at noticing and asking each other more personal questions if somebody doesn’t seem to be feeling good and functioning well.

Choosing strength

Wellbeing at work (which leads to resilience) isn’t just fruit, gyms and mindfulness classes. It’s flexible working, leaders who genuinely care, roles that fit with our strengths, friendships at work, regular supportive feedback, talent-related discussions; the list goes on. And it is at the heart of what modern HR should represent. Suppose we are serious about building resilience at work and embracing the changing face of Aotearoa. In that case, I believe we can beautifully bring both topics together – and address them – by simply personalising wellbeing and becoming more confident at talking with our people about how they are doing.

Instead of designing complicated wellbeing programmes or mandating attendance at mindfulness clinics, why not ask more personal questions of your teams. • “How have you invested in your own wellbeing this week?” • “What are the special things you cherish every day to recharge your battery?” • “Tell me how you managed to get through a really stressful time at work”.

Kathryn Jackson is a leadership coach with over 25 years of experience as a people professional and a reputation for positively disrupting the way we approach wellbeing and grow resilience at work. She is the author of Resilience at Work: Practical Tools for Career Success, a finalist for the Best International Business Book (London) and the Australian Career Book Awards (Melbourne). During the past year, she launched a six-part workshop series called Let’s Talk Resilience at Work, which brings her book to life in a format that is part seminar, part team coaching, part self-reflection and a whole lot of practical application. With public courses running each month, and options to train for in-house delivery, there’s never been an easier way to learn about the science of wellbeing. W:

If you’d like to do more, here are three simple ideas to consider. 1. Embrace the science of wellbeing. We are fortunate to

live in a time when research is highlighting what we need to do. We can use this knowledge to make different, stronger choices. For a free poster to help you with this, visit www.careerbalance. and download the Mental Health Awareness Poster.

2. Be the change you want to see in the world. Gandhi knew

a thing or two about leading change, and at the heart of his words was this simple advice. Check you are investing in your wellbeing, noticing when you need to recharge and showing others how simple it can be. Be the wellbeing role model.

3. Make it cool to invest in wellbeing. Use your personal

development conversations, team meetings, newsletters and one-to-ones to do this. Talk about what it looks like for everybody at work, encourage them to define it for themselves and explore ways to regularly invest in their recharge. Find ways to celebrate those who choose strength, not stress.




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Flourishing financial skills for Pacific peoples Meeting the health and social needs of Pacific peoples in Aotearoa is the work of Vaka Tautua. Human Resources takes a look at this organisation’s award-winning financial capability training programme.


n Aotearoa, Pacific peoples are a diverse population made up of people from many different cultural and ethnic groups. Samoan, Cook Islands Māori, Tongan, Niuean, Fijian, Tuvaluan, Tokelauan and Kiribati comprise the eight main Pacific ethnic groups in New Zealand. It is worth noting that most of the Pacific population is New Zealandborn and not from the Islands. No one unique language is spoken. As an ethnic group, Pacific peoples is the fourth largest in New Zealand, behind European, Māori and Asian, with 7.5 per cent of the New Zealand population identifying with one or more Pacific ethnic groups in 2013. Vaka Tautua is a national Pacific health and social services provider, the only such provider in Aotearoa. The services it delivers include disability support, mental health support, financial capability and other social services across the greater Auckland, Wellington and Canterbury regions.

demand for the services of Vaka Tautua has grown exponentially. Particularly in demand has been a financial capability course, aimed at building confidence, knowledge and skills in managing money and achieving financial wellbeing. The eight-week programme involves budgeting fundamentals and practical skills, followed by one-onone financial coaching for extended programmes. The sessions are delivered in English, Samoan, Cook Islands Māori and Tongan. But this is not just a COVID-19 initiative. Vaka Tautua has been delivering financial capability and literacy programmes in the greater Auckland and Wellington regions since 2016, with over 620 families benefitting from the programme. Herne, a full-time carer for his elderly mother, signed up for the programme last year because he felt he had “nothing to lose”. Since then, his life has never been the same. “I learnt the true meaning of a ‘want’ and a ‘need’ early into this course,” says Herne. “What I thought I needed was just what I wanted. Now I stick to a budget that I’ve set, and I have

been able to achieve my goal of putting enough money away to fix my teeth, which is something I have always wanted to do.” A recent evaluation report of the financial capability programme revealed that 65 per cent of the families on the programme had begun to reduce their debt and 63 per cent were on savings plans to purchase their own home. “These findings are particularly pleasing … and confirm that our programme, with its family-focused, ethnic and language-specific and mentoring and coaching approach, works for our Pacific peoples … it achieves positive results and outcomes,” says Vaka Tautua Chief Executive Dr AmandaLanuola Dunlop. Moving from improving to thriving, this is an organisation that brings together its diverse knowledge, cultures, skills and experience to promote and advance the physical and mental development and wellbeing of Pacific peoples in Aotearoa.

Established by the amalgamation of the Pacific Information Advocacy Support Services Trust (PIASS Trust) and Malologa Trust in 2007, Vaka Tautua has been proudly serving Pacific peoples and communities since then. COVID-19 further exacerbated the dire health, social and financial issues for Pacific peoples, and





Positive psychology and mental health The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the face of the workplace across Aotearoa and around the world. Change can be stressful for many, which is why we need to embrace positive psychology. This Langley Group blog discusses what positive psychology is and how we can use it every day to support mental health in the workplace.

What is positive psychology?

Positive psychology is the scientific study of optimal performance and wellbeing and contributes new, powerful insights and proven strategies to help individuals, organisations and communities thrive. The positive psychology movement – now two decades old – has spread rapidly across social and human sciences over the past decade or so, spearheaded by Martin Seligman in 1998. It offers a fresh lens to address some of today’s most pressing issues. By challenging traditional psychology, which focuses largely on the negative, positive psychology aims to




cultivate flourishing by understanding what is good in people and life, to help individuals live happy, productive, healthy and fulfilling lives. Far from ‘happyology’, positive psychology is a rich study of what makes life worth living in all its complexity and goes hand in hand with traditional mental health interventions. In fact, studies have shown that the effect of positive psychology interventions may last longer and produce greater wellbeing than conventional psychotherapies.

The PERMA model identifies five essential elements to wellbeing: • positive emotions (P) • engagement (E) • positive relationships (R) • meaning (M) • achievement/ accomplishment (A). What factors contribute to wellbeing and resilience?

While not the only beneficial ingredients underpinning positive psychology, five positive factors, known as PERMA (Seligman, 2011), can be seen as building blocks that maximise wellbeing and gear people and human systems toward flourishing and away from stress and burnout. Positive emotions:

Amplifying positive emotions and minimising the impact of negative emotions. Positive engagement:

Engaging in activities and environments that energise and

enhance satisfaction, fulfilment and connectedness. This encompasses emotional, social, work and civic engagement. Positive relationships: Building

positive relationships that are a source of support, energy and enrichment to the individual, those around them and wider society. Positive meaning: Reinforcing

positive meaning where people feel like they are engaging in purposeful work and a worthwhile life that brings value to themselves and others. Positive accomplishments:

Pursuing positive, self-concordant goals and striving to master and accomplish them.

Practising positive psychology in your everyday life One of the best ways to put positive psychology into practice and start living a more satisfying, fulfilling life, is to look for ways to increase the duration and intensity of your ‘ups’ and reduce the duration and intensity of your ‘downs’.

“The quality of your life is directly related to the quality of your emotions.” – Sue Langley. Why Does Affect Matter in Organisations?

Each person has the potential to learn a growth mindset, the capacity to see themselves and others as a work in progress. The more we practise a growth mindset and recognise our unique power to make conscious positive choices, the greater difference we can make to our own and other people’s wellbeing. Positive psychology does not contradict or contrast traditional mental health practices. It complements them by changing our thoughts and actions for the better. Happier Learn Secrets Lasting Fulfillment.

Interested in finding out more about positive psychology? Melanie Weir is a webinar facilitator for HRNZ’s PD programme. This year, she is delivering an Upside of Stress webinar series.

Tips for increasing your sense of wellbeing

• Focus on what is working well and how it can work even better. Do this without being blind to weaknesses, the realities of negative experience and the full spectrum of human emotions. • Find ways to activate the potential for health, happiness and excellence within all people by guiding them to take positive actions and supporting them to succeed. • Help people build strengths and resources so they can succeed during challenging as well as benevolent times. Be a positive energiser so others may benefit from your positivity. • Create environments where positive emotions predominate and creativity, learning and growth are cultivated daily. • Reset the bias we often hold toward the negative and spark upward spirals by amplifying positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning and accomplishment. • Set positive goals to keep learning and experimenting with positive psychology to make small yet significant differences every day.

Sue Langley is CEO and founder of the Langley Group. Sue specialises in the practical applications of neuroscience, emotional intelligence and positive psychology, synthesising the science and research into simple, practical tools that anyone can use. Melanie Weir works with Langley Group as a senior consultant and facilitator, bringing her knowledge and experience in positive HR practices to the company and its clients. Melanie is a regular webinar presenter on HRNZ's PD programme. Be sure to check out Mel's upcoming webinars.





Opening the black box of 'agile' HR Based on an extensive review of the literature, Junaid and Fatima from the School of Management at Massey University revisit our understanding of the term ‘agile’, especially in light of New Zealand’s low workforce productivity, the current COVID-19 pandemic and what the future of work demands from HR professionals.


reviously, the main focus of the discussion on agile HR was the need for HR to have fast decisionmaking, flexible solutions, a highperformance work system and flexible work arrangements. The business world is full of clichés, with ‘agile’ being a recent addition to this list. We are realising that HR needs to move away from its reactive and compliance approach. While it tries to use popular terms such as ‘agile’, we need to be aware and cautious of the tokenism in using catchy terms. The dangers of tokenism are regularly highlighted in the research, in the forms of fuelling discrimination, lowest productivity in OECD and lagging HR. Agile HR is not about early morning stand-ups by ‘scrum masters’ in 38



flashy open-space work environments with Kanban posters. It is more of a mindset: a mindset to learn, unlearn and relearn. We have to ask whether HR has really learnt or changed itself, more than just changing job titles from CHROs to Chief People Officers or Chief Happiness Officers, for example? If not, then how will we meet the demands of the dynamic times we are living in? To relearn, let’s unpack how agile HR should work. According to PWC’s 2020 report, HR should focus on creating human-centric, agile and nimble structures and on health and safety. A common practice adopted by agile teams is to create ‘user stories’. These are written from the perspective of a user. One might argue that HR is agile and is creating human-centric solutions based on user stories. But who is the user? Let’s say we talk about migrant stories. How does a migrant’s story get interpreted by a non-migrant HR person? Does HR really understand the migrant predicament? In our experience, a migrant user story is HR’s interpretation and their spin on the narrative of the user without understanding the migrants’ culture, metaphors or language. The current context of the COVID-19 pandemic being a challenge also

provides us with an opportunity

to unlearn our old ways of doing things. The pandemic has been a time where organisations and HR have been pushed, and globally, some lessons can be learnt from many agile organisations. We don’t see or hear a great deal of that within the New Zealand context, because, here, the pandemic has not caused as much devastation. But during COVID-19, many have been affected in New Zealand by what has been happening in their parent countries. For these people, they are rather discriminated against, and their reality is not given much attention.

Way forward

If software has eaten the world, then agile has eaten the software world. Similarly, HR in its adoption

of agility will also be eaten by agile or be one with it. Organisations should rethink talent sourcing and recruitment by embracing emerging technologies and diverse skill sets. HR should take a scenario-based approach to defining the required workforce in five to eight years’ time. When leaders support employees by understanding their needs and adapting, companies will have more successful cultures, and this evolution will lead to more success. The task for HR is to change mindsets and

create space for different voices to be formed and heard when championing diversity and inclusion initiatives. It needs to go beyond the 'tick box' approach, and make sincere

efforts to hire people from diverse backgrounds at all levels.

Junaid Hilal is a faculty member at Massey’s School of Management with more than 15 years’ experience of working across Asia and the Middle Eastern markets. Holding various leadership positions with Barclays, Standard Chartered, Samba Financial Group and ABN AMRO Bank, Junaid has managed profit centres, launched products and businesses from scratch, and developed and led large-scale cross-functional teams. As a management consultant, he provides services to start-ups, small to medium enterprises, government entities, commercial banks, and local corporate groups. His expertise is in business strategy, business process re-engineering and early career talent acquisition. Fatima Junaid is a lecturer in the School of Management at Massey University’s Business School. Fatima’s primary focus is on employee wellbeing and organisational support. She has been teaching management and organisational behaviour for over a decade. She is currently engaged in the HR and organisational behaviour sphere in New Zealand. Fatima has provided management consulting to large corporate groups in Pakistan and delivered training for public sector employees under the United States Agency for International Development. She delivers online talks on women’s stress and mental health that are widely viewed by groups of working women in Pakistan.





Year of the rat Our regular columnist Natalie Barker, Head of Transformation at Southern Cross Health Insurance, observes how differences in perception can be useful for personal growth as a leader.


ust after Christmas, my cat brought me a gift, a very large and very much alive rat. She brought it inside and deposited it in the dining room. Both the rat and I were less than impressed. We spent the next half hour chasing each other around the room, both of us squealing every time I got close. Eventually I managed to grab it with a towel and set it free outside, but it took a few attempts because I kept letting go the moment I felt its warm little body under my fingers.

I’m going to have more conversations with my team about who we each are, who we want to be … so we can all succeed together. The rat wasn’t the only thing I involuntarily let go of; there were also several choice profanities. I don’t think of myself as a swearer, but according to my daughter, who was observing from a safe distance, I would let one fly every time I got close to the rat. I surprised myself that 40



day – the version of me that I hold in my mind is quite different from what she observed.

I’m not always tough enough on people when they underperform, but I need to remind myself that it’s because I’m trusting and tolerant; qualities I value. The rat got me thinking about the version of me that people see at work. Is their experience of me the same as how I think of myself? I’m generally a calm and confident person, I’m self-disciplined and hardworking, I can handle a fair amount of pressure, and I don’t get easily upset. I like to think of these as my strengths, but I should be mindful that these traits mean I might also come across as guarded and lacking enthusiasm. Perhaps I don’t recognise when my team needs me to be more open and vulnerable? If I get too stuck thinking of my strengths as positives, I forget about their potential downsides. But it works both ways. I should remember that my weaknesses also have silver linings. I know I often make decisions based on intuition, without always having hard data to back them up. I’m aware this seems impulsive to some people and can make me appear unreliable, but it also means I’m decisive and act quickly, which is useful in some

situations. I also know I’m not always tough enough on people when they underperform, but I need to remind myself that it’s because I’m trusting and tolerant; qualities I value. This year, I have two new resolutions. The first, thanks to the rat, is to stop swearing. The second is to understand more deeply which version of me my team experiences. To be an exceptional leader, it’s not enough for me to know what I’m good at and what I’m not, I need to be aware of my blind spots. I must remember that my strengths have weaknesses and my weaknesses can also be my strengths, and that people will experience them in different ways at different times. I’m also going to have more conversations with my team about who we each are, who we want to be and what we need from each other, so we can all succeed together.

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 is the best way to drive engagement and get stuff done.

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