Construction and immigration Smart plays in a tight environment
How to build an effective team By Craig Hudson, New Zealand managing director at Xero
If there’s one thing that I value the most as a leader, it’s having the best team around me to help the business perform to its potential. By Marcus Beveridge and Tina Hwang from Queen City Law
WHAT ARE THE VISA OPTIONS TO ASSIST WITH THE CONSTRUCTION WORKER SHORTAGE?
no available Kiwis to fill the situation vacant. You will have certainty that the employee can work for you for at least 30 months.
NZ is desperately seeking 50,000 construction workers over the next five years. This is excluding the government’s KiwiBuild programme which anticipates to building in excess of 100,000 houses over the next 10 years.
More importantly, you can also support your employee and secure a residence visa without having to go through the Skill Migrant Category which is extremely difficult at the moment as the points threshold is so high at the moment at 160 points. This will be seen as an excellent option by your staff and should engender real loyalty.
Given the changes under the Essential Skills Work Visa instruction, it is getting harder to fill the skill shortage in the construction industry. It is also getting harder for employers to retain and keep good employees given it is more difficult to secure residence under the Skilled Migrant Category. From an employer’s perspective, there is no certainty that they can secure the skills they need, employ people they want and retain such employees. This is why being an Accredited Employer has significant advantages as it gives employers certainty that they can fill the skills gap in their business. The current immigration framework makes it very appealing to become an Accredited Employer.
The main criteria is that the job offer must pay at least $55,000.00 per annum.
HOW DO I QUALIFY? The basic requirements are as follows: • Your business must be in a sound financial position • Your business must have a high standard of human resource policies and processes • Your business must demonstrate commitment to training and employing NZ citizens or residence class visa holders • Your business must have good workplace practices with a history of compliance with immigration and employment laws.
It’s so critical to get the right people on your team because they can absolutely make the difference between the success and failure of your business. When everyone is working together to achieve common goals, business can really hum. But I’ve found that forming an amazing team takes time, patience and many hours of CV reading. When I came back to New Zealand as country manager of Xero, I had to build my entire leadership team from scratch. I was essentially doing four roles by myself, but I hired really slowly, to ensure I got the right people. Hundreds of CVs came across my desk and a lot of them really blew me away. I had a heap of interviews and met a lot of people.
Hire slow. Don’t feel like you have to rush to fill a gap. Take your time, get the right person and hire for common values.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
WHAT IS AN ACCREDITED EMPLOYER? When the Accredited Employer programme was created in 2001 by the then Minister of Immigration, the Honourable Lianne Dalziel, the intention was to make NZ more competitive as a destination for highly talented and skilled individuals by giving them a pathway to residence. The size and scale of the businesses that were accredited was typically for larger companies. This is no longer the case, the Accredited Employer programme is now being utilised to fill the skills shortages. For example, Accredited Employers are becoming accredited so they can employ heavy machine operators and truck drivers. And it has just been reported that a crane operator shortage is slowing New Zealand’s building boom. Essentially, your business will need to apply to Immigration NZ to achieve this status. Once granted, you will have the ability to sponsor migrant workers without having to go through the sometimes cumbersome and costly Labour Market Test to prove there are 6 | B&C - Issue #115
• Ability to streamline the work visa process as the local labour market test is not required • Your business will have the ability to retain workers as there is a pathway to residence. After working for your company for two years a reasonably straightforward residence application is possible (character, medical and 24 months PAYE records) • Goodwill created from being an Accredited Employer • The requirements to qualify for a work visa is more straightforward. Essentially, the applicant simply needs a job offer with a salary of at least $55,000.00 per annum. Please note that there has been a lot of talk about reviewing this threshold but it is understood that there will be no change given concerns expressed from a regional point of view • Conditions on the work visa are also not geographically restricted • The principal applicant can support their partner and children.
Underpinning structure around common values means you can get into a room with a diverse group and challenge each other, but still walk out as friends, and it’s this type of environment that really drives a business forward. Hiring a new team member is even more difficult for small business owners though, because they are effectively jacks of all trades. There’s also the difficulty of deciding how much money you want to invest in your new employee – do you go for the low cost option of hiring someone junior and see how it goes, or do you overhire, stretching yourself with the idea of spending money to make money? The best option can totally depend on the life cycle of your business, but hiring the right level of experience at the right time can have a huge impact.
The first step in the recruiting process for me, was simply to be able to have a coffee and a conversation with them, and see whether they meet my ‘no dickheads’ policy. If I can’t easily spend half an hour with someone in an informal setting, they aren’t going to be a right fit for the team. Taking your time is vital, particularly if they are going to be in a leadership role, to ensure you have the right people to drive the business forward. Chemistry is really important – if I had to choose between someone with amazing skills on paper, or someone that has the ‘X factor’ and really gels with me and the team, I’m going to choose chemistry every time. I can teach you the skills that you need, but if you don’t align with the culture and values of our team, you’re probably not going to be able to do anything for me – and worse, you could actually be detrimental to the business. Hiring for diversity is also something I’m incredibly passionate about. I’m driven by bringing diversity of thought into the
business. Whether that’s gender diversity, ethnic diversity or diversity of a team member’s background, it’s important to have a good mix.
Here are my five top tips for getting the right people on your team: 1. Implement a ‘no dickheads’ policy. Make sure the people coming into your business add incredible value, not only to the skill set, but especially the culture. 2. Hire slow. Don’t feel like you have to rush to fill a gap. Take your time, get the right person and hire for common values. 3. Don’t only look for formal education, or formal skill set. Look for aptitude and someone that you’re able to move into the right role. Go a little bit deeper than that piece of paper. 4. At the right time, don’t be scared to hire someone with the right skill set that might cost a little bit more, to maximise your business’ opportunity. 5. Be incredibly purpose driven. Understand why you’re in business and articulate that clearly as a leader, so everyone in your business understands what the purpose is. Ultimately, your team wants to come to work and do a great job. If they come through the doors in the morning and they don’t know how they’re contributing to that bigger picture, then you’re not going to get the maximum opportunity out of them every single day.
Builders & Contractors Magazine, Issue #115 - 2019