EEO Trust Awards: Valuing people – creating value

Thinking ahead
Nothing is more certain than that the workforce of tomorrow will differ from that of today. What might tomorrow’s talent pool look like? Will it be attracted to your particular industry? How can you better meet its needs?
These are the sorts of questions that prompted Hawke’s Bay District Health Board to create programme designed to engage and excite the next generation of health workers. With New Zealand’s need for health professionals increasing significantly by 2021, the future health sector workforce is “one of the greatest workforce development challenges of our time,” notes Programme Incubator manager Wynn Schollum.
Initially trialled at Hastings’ Flaxmere College in 2007, the programme puts health professionals in front of students – not just talking about their work but providing hands-on demonstrations and, perhaps even more importantly, sharing their passion for what they do. Despite busy clinical workloads, health staff are readily volunteering their services, says Schollum. “The collective approach is what makes it magic.”
The programme has now been rolled out to 19 schools including kura kaupapa, five more DHBs and the schools associated with them – as well as the New Zealand Correspondence School. It now includes summer internships that allow students to have hands-on experience ranging from one to 12 weeks of paid work, and is also expanding to include adults who want to train or retrain.
What struck EEO Trust chief executive and awards judge Philippa Reed was the energy Schollum and his team bring to Programme Incubator.
“They’re all really passionate about it – perhaps because they are so acutely aware of the impending shortage of health workers. And they are strongly driven to improve health outcomes.”
That passion helped the Incubator project not only earn Tomorrow’s Workforce Award but “Supreme Winner” in the 2011 Awards.
It was against some tough competition.
This year brought record number of entries from wide range of sectors – with the public, private and not-for-profit sectors all well represented, notes Reed.
While the future focus ranged from building Maori/Pasifika academic strength at university to providing training that improves post-release outcomes for prisoners, none of the Tomorrow’s Workforce entries specifically addressed the issue of an ageing workforce. Perhaps more surprisingly, given the recent rehashing of the gender equity debate, no entry in any category focused specifically on women’s continuing under-representation at senior management levels.
While the awards are split into five main categories: Tomorrow’s Workforce, Work & Life (attracting the most entries), Skills Highway, Diversity, and Walk the Talk, there was, perhaps inevitably, some crossover with few entries less specific in their targeting. What they all share is an ability by organisations to think outside the box – getting the best from individuals by adapting workplace practice to better meet their needs and abilities.

Attracting new talent
In its bid to attract graduates in highly competitive market, Deloitte NZ discovered powerful tool in social networking. The company, whose workforce comprises 61 percent Gen Y, launched its Facebook page in late 2009 and met immediate success with more and higher quality graduates and summer interns accepting job offers. The company has since been sharing its social media success story – not just locally but in the US.
Access to social media websites used to be blocked for employees, so Deloitte’s first milestone was creating policy for social media use and switching on access for all staff during work hours, according to talent acquisition manager Richard Long.
Its future-focused initiative has earned widespread recognition – earning US social networking award, being voted amongst the top 40 Facebook pages in the world, becoming finalist in the TVNZ New Zealand Marketing Awards – and now taking out highly commended award from the EEO Trust.
The Trust’s Tomorrow’s Workforce award category attracted swag of deserving entrants from wide range of public, private and not-for-profit enterprises.
Amongst these: AUT University’s successful “grow-your-own” solution to the problem of recruiting Maori/Pasifika academic staff; Department of Corrections vocational training programme that has succeeded in creating more positive futures for prisoners on their release; and “welcome that works” initiative from Immigration NZ that presents powerful business case for helping migrants settle well.
Spectrum Care, charitable trust which provides services for people with disabilities, has embraced learning culture to ensure it meets the changing needs of its clientele. The training programmes it now offers its 800 employees mean that staff are not only better able to meet the needs of customers living with disability but are enjoying their work more – and staying longer.

Gaining through training
A focus on up skilling its staff is big part of Cardinal Logistics’ vision to be the best third-party logistics provider in the country. Amongst its challenges were high error rates and low productivity – not helped by the fact that some of its workforce had literacy/numeracy issues and English as second language. Over the past three years, Cardinal has introduced packet of initiatives around training and cultural change – including the “Fish” philosophy (choose your attitude, be there, play and make their day), literacy programmes and NZQA education programmes.
Results include fewer errors, better productivity, increased customer satisfaction, better staff morale and less absenteeism. One of the EEO Trust Work & Life Awards judges, Chris Meade of Downer NZ, described these initiatives as great investment.
“We were impressed by the company’s commitment to the literacy and numeracy programme and its desire to keep building on it by developing training to benefit people at all levels.”
Cardinal was awarded winner in the category with Stevenson Group gaining ‘highly commended” for programme called “Stepping Up Together” that went further than the more traditional technical training traditionally given to frontline staff. Inspired by new CEO Mark Franklin’s belief that happy well-adjusted person would also be productive, engaged employee, the company put great emphasis on literacy and numeracy, life skills such as effective communication, budgeting, and nutritional awareness.
Business benefits were evident within six months with fewer disciplinary hearings, lower employee turnover, fewer sick days and reduction in injury rates. Reed says that Stevenson’s tailored approach was critical.
“They made Stepping Up their very own so people feel sense of ownership of the programme and of belonging in the business.”
Other organisations have also benefited from taking the “skills highway”. Snap Fresh Foods has found that improving staff communication skills has helped ramp up productivity. Spicers Paper has improved both safety and stock management by introducing literacy and numeracy programmes. And at Framework Trust, where workers support people with intellectual difficulties or mental illness, the introduction of training aligned with the Trust’s mission and values is benefiting both staff and clients.

Putting flexibility first
Engineering consultancy URS New Zealand may be male-dominated workplace but flexible work policies mean its female employees don’t have to compromise their careers when they opt to spend more time parenting.
Geotechnical engineer Debbie Fellows has been working part-time since becoming mother 13 years ago but says her career growth has not been stalled thanks to company culture that embraces work-life provisions. Staff are given lot of autonomy in how they handle their workloads and can take advantage of range of flexible working options – from tools to work from home or adaptable leave and compensation policies.
The policies al

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