EEO TRUST AWARDS : Get life into work

Staff engagement translates into overall business performance, and this is proven by the success stories of winners from this year’s EEO Trust Work & Life Awards, says CEO Philippa Reed.
She says the awards are not just feel-good celebration, but show that workplace initiatives do add to the bottom line of an organisation.
“As part of the review process, we consider both quantitative and qualitative criteria, and as judges we see commercial data companies would not publish,” Reed said on the eve of the trust’s annual Work & Life Awards dinner at the Auckland Museum on October 28. That data proves strong link between engagement, positive workplace culture and commercial success, she says.
“The winner, The Warehouse distribution division, is an example of how business has to be judged not just on its entry, but on the sense of engagement of people across different parts of the organisation,” says Reed. “This was really exemplified there.”
The Warehouse won the Supreme Award for its fathering initiative, which became booklet available in stores for Father’s Day (see box, right).
“When I went there, they were welcoming, friendly, and people were able to engage around complex personal family issues. The entry was well documented and the evidence they gave, plus sense of how it works, walking around, showed it has helped lift the performance of that business.”
EEO diversity practices include hiring based on merit, fairness at work, flexible working options and promotion based on talent. They relate to all aspects of employment including recruitment, pay and other rewards, career development and work conditions.
Since the EEO Trust was formed in 1992, there have been colossal changes in the way our working lives mesh with the rest of our lives, says Reed.
“Our role isn’t just about raising awareness of our incredibly diverse workforce, but all the challenges of working in that workforce – where there are more women working, the challenges of older and younger people, ethnic diversity and more immigrants in our workforce.
“We are still meeting challenges and adapting. There has been very 20th century approach to working and living, and organisations are still being forced to adapt and change to the challenges that are going on. That’s what the awards are about.”
She says the awards have been through different phases, starting out as the “Work and Family Awards”.
“They have evolved as we’ve moved away from that emphasis, to looking at how organisations are adapting to meet the new challenges of managing their businesses in very difficult time. It’s about meeting the needs of their workforces, both financial and social, with crossover into family needs.”
As society changes, we need different patterns and different ways of accommodating our lives at work and our lives outside work, she says.
The trust believes an inclusive and tolerant workplace motivates employees to perform to the best of their ability,
promoting understanding between people to create stronger and more focused team.
It aims to help people balance their lives outside work with their responsibilities at work so they can be focused and creative. The awards celebrate organisations that embody these traits.
Reed says the trust wondered whether the global financial meltdown that hit businesses last year would affect the number and quality of entries, but that worry was unfounded.
“I don’t think the financial situation has affected the number of entries, which were slightly down on the previous year – but last year was record year. The feedback we had from some companies was more that people didn’t have the time and resources to prepare the entry that they wanted to.”
The Christchurch earthquake also affected some South Island entries in the late stages of the process.
But entering the awards alone can be positive experience for workplace culture, says Reed.
“Every organisation that enters says that it makes them aware of what good initiatives they do have. Entrants report morale boost and say it puts the focus on the very concrete business benefits and people benefits of the initiatives. It’s about taking stock, taking time to reflect.”
There were 44 entries for this year’s awards, with the largest category being the Skills Highway Award, for workplace literacy and numeracy programmes. It is sponsored by the Department of Labour, which has run workshops on how to enter – and that showed, says Reed.
Judging is complicated by award-winners not being announced until the awards dinner. “There is challenge in doing the preparation, interviewing, seeking photographs and doing background material without letting on, but it adds to the excitement on the night.”
Very often it’s not about the values statements that you see on the wall of business, says Reed. “It’s about how it’s exemplified in people’s behaviour. You can watch the interaction between staff, between managers and staff, and how CEO engages with people and that is much better measure of the success of the initiative.”
Joining Reed on the judging panel this year were Paul Hellyer of IBM, David Stewart of the EEO Trust Board and Te Hopai Trust, Chris Mead of Downer (last year’s Skills Highway Award winner), Alison Quesnel of Blackmores and David Belesky of the Ministry of Social Development.



The winning workplaces

The winners and highly commended from EEO Trust Work & Life Awards 2010 were:

Work & Life/Diversity Initiative Award and Supreme Award
Winner: The Warehouse.
Highly Commended: Chapman Tripp.

Workplace Work & Life Award:

Winner: ANZ New Zealand.
Highly Commended: Microsoft New Zealand.

Skills Highway Award

Winner: Liddell Contracting.
Highly Commended: Canterbury Spinners, Millennium Hotels and Resorts, New Zealand Army.

Tomorrow’s Workforce Award:

Winner: OMEGA.

Walk the Talk Award

Winner: Henare Clarke, Downer New Zealand.

There was no winner in the Workplace Diversity section.



SUPREME WINNER : Dads do it better

Parenting workshops have encouraged The Warehouse workers to become better dads.

As result of on-site parenting workshops held during work time, team members at The Warehouse distribution centres are now better parents and better connected with each other in an initiative that won the company the Supreme Award at the EEO Trust Work & Life Awards 2010.
When it was looking for common elements amongst its diverse workforce, The Warehouse noted that one thing most men share is the experience of being father.
Building on strong family culture in its distribution centres, the company offered pilot parenting workshops developed by the Ministry of Social Development parenting project, SKIP (Strategies for Kids, Information for Parents) to male team members at its South Auckland distribution centre in 2008.
Eighty men attended the hour-long workshops during working time. They included fathers, grandfathers, uncles, intending fathers and men who wanted to share their experience of being son.
SKIP provided practical parenting knowledge and skills based on non-physical discipline. The SKIP messages focus on what children need to be happy, such as love and warmth, limits and boundaries, and talking and listening.
To take the initiative step further, booklet, DIY Father – take time to be dad, was published, featuring photos of some of the men and their children, as well as their comments about what it’s like to be father. For example, one man said, “I promised myself I’d do it differently when I had kids, not miss out like my dad did with me.”
DIY Father was given away at The Warehouse stores on Father’s Day in 2008 and used at follow-up parenting sessions in the distribution centres in 2009. These sessions were so well received, that it prompted the female team members to ask for similar workshops.
More than 60 women attended the workshops last June and similar booklet called Lov

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