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Employment Today, HR Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Employment Today, HR Solutions - Thomson Reuters

In brief


Lifeline Aotearoa has launched Zero Suicide Workplace, a pilot programme which is the first of its kind globally to be offering a Zero Suicide Workplace platform that caters to the entire business sector—regardless of industry.

The Zero Suicide Workplace programme is a systems approach that will help businesses advance their employee health and wellbeing approaches, build resilience among their people and equip them with specific suicide awareness and prevention skills. The initiative is currently being piloted exclusively with Lion NZ.

Provisional suicide figures released in August show that 46 percent of those who ended their lives were in employment. And Lifeline data reveals that callers who are actively planning suicide are twice as likely to be suffering from workplace stress than callers who are assessed as low risk for suicide.

Glenda Schnell, executive director at Lifeline, says it makes sense to open up communication channels and support networks in the places New Zealanders spend most of their waking lives—at work.

“The framework will work alongside organisations’ existing policies and programmes, providing a safe structure to increase the capacity of people to respond to others in the workplace.”

She says the aim is to equip everyday Kiwis with the skills to recognise distress, know how to ask brave questions, and what to do with the answers.

Lion NZ managing director Rory Glass, says: “If we can have brave conversations, speak up and openly discuss the issue in the workplace, we can reduce some of the stigma and provide an environment where our people feel they can come forward for help if they need it.”

Zero Suicide Workplace includes an audit of wellness policies, an employee wellbeing survey, policy and process development, specialised training in wellness and suicide prevention to key staff and ongoing 24/7 support options available through the Lifeline helpline.

The programme is expected to extend to other businesses nationwide from March 2019. Workplaces that are not able to take on the full systems package will be able to request components of the programme, including assistance with policy development or resilience training for staff.


Chorus has hired Doug Martin of consultancy Martin Jenkins to review the employment practice of sub-contractors building the national fibre network after the Labour Inspectorate found widespread issues.

BusinessDesk reports the telecommunications network operator contracts out most of the ultrafast broadband network construction to VisionStream, Downer, Broadspectrum and UCG. They in turn subcontract that work out to smaller businesses.

The Labour Inspectorate recently revealed it visited 75 subcontractors in the first phase of an inquiry into the data cabling sector and found 73 of those subcontractors breached minimum employment standards.

“Clearly this is potentially an extremely serious issue and widespread breaches are absolutely unacceptable,” Chorus chief executive Kate McKenzie said.

“Chorus takes employment standards very seriously and has repeatedly been named as one of the best employers in Australasia. As such, immediate action on this issue will be taken.”

The Labour Inspector found breaches with contracting employers failing to maintain records, pay a minimum wage or holiday entitlements, or provide employment agreements.


Countdown, one of the largest employers in the country, has introduced mental health training and opened a 24-hour phone line to ensure they are offering their 18,400-strong team the support they need.

By the end of this month, 100 Countdown team members will have undertaken extensive training to assist them in understanding the signs of mental illness and how to approach and talk to any team members who may be affected.

The company has also appointed eight trainers across New Zealand who will run workshops from the New Year in its stores and distribution centres to help teams identify the signs and impacts of mental illness and how they can offer support.

Countdown now has a dedicated confidential 0800 number available 24/7 specifically to support team members experiencing mental health issues, as well as a confidential email for staff to reach out for support. The company also offers unlimited, free counselling.

Countdown general manager of corporate affairs and sustainability, Kiri Hannifin, says the company recognises the importance of this issue and is determined to provide practical support for team members and also raise awareness of the issue across its business to start addressing the unacceptable stigma attached to mental health.


New Zealand’s national staff turnover rate is steady at 18.8 percent and remains the highest since 2008. But while turnover appears to have plateaued, the underlying numbers tell an interesting story, says Lawson Williams Consulting Group principal John Lawson.

The average national turnover figure is calculated using the levels of voluntary and involuntary turnover. Involuntary turnover has moved significantly downwards in this year’s Lawson Williams National Annual Staff Turnover Survey reaching the level of 2.6 percent. This is the lowest level since the survey began in 2007 and is lower than the years preceding the global financial crisis.

If involuntary turnover is lower than pre-GFC levels, we might assume that voluntary turnover would be at levels above the pre-GFC period, says Lawson. “Voluntary turnover pre-GFC reached 20.1 percent; however, current levels are only 16.9 percent. Are we seeing the impact of low business confidence and wage inflation and high immigrant numbers on the confidence of New Zealanders to look for new employment?”

Failure of hires in the first year has reached its highest level in eleven years with 28.4 percent of all hires not lasting beyond 12 months—an 11.5 percent increase on the previous year, he says.

“We know that this figure will vary based on industry sector; however, any turnover in the first 12 months is primarily a failure of recruitment, onboarding and retention.”

The survey reports reasons for leaving from an employer’s perspective and the retention strategies employed. Only 70 percent believed they have a robust recruitment process and 74 percent operate formalised exit interviews, while 53 percent of those surveyed offer flexible work options.

Lawson says with turnover of staff costing between 50 percent and 300 percent of base salary per person departing, it has a significant financial impact on any business.

“Our annual survey provides companies with both a clear and up-to-date insight into the marketplace and a benchmark indicator of their own success—valuable tools for any business,” he says.

Any business can become part of the Staff Turnover Survey. It is a free service and all participants receive a copy of each year’s final report with detailed findings.

You can view summary findings at


Just 28 percent of Kiwi workers take their full designated lunch break, according to a survey by recruiting experts Hays of 1253 professionals.

Asked how much of their designated lunch break they take on average, just 28 percent said they take their full lunch break most days, 25 percent take around three-quarters and 22 percent take half. A further 18 percent take just one quarter of their break and seven percent never take a break.

This is despite 93 percent of respondents admitting that their productivity benefits from taking a lunchtime break away from the office.

Furthermore, when asked what helps keep them fresh and alert at work, 65 percent said getting away from their desk to eat lunch. This was followed by short 5-minute breaks for fresh air (56 percent), a lunchtime break from all devices (50 percent), minimising eye fatigue, such as looking away from your computer screen at regular intervals (44 percent), gentle stretches at your desk (41 percent), listening to music (37 percent), exercise at lunchtime (36 percent), regularly eating small, healthy meals or snacks (33 percent) and mindfulness or meditation (20 percent).

“People often believe they’re too busy or their to-do list is too long to be able to step out,” says Nick Deligiannis, managing director of Hays in Australia & New Zealand. “But we don’t always need to be available at our desk. We can step away to eat and take a break.”


The number of Kiwis engaging in building and construction apprenticeships is at a record high, as the industry’s demand for skilled workers continues to surge.

The Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO) now has 12,000 apprentices actively training at the same time. This is its highest number ever, but it still needs more.

“We need many more people to enter the industry and start formal training now if we are to have a hope of reaching targets which will make a small dent in the sector’s skills shortages,” says Warwick Quinn, BCITO chief executive.

He says employment forecasts for the construction sector suggest there will be 37,100 new and 44,500 replacement job openings in the next five years.

In addition, the recently released National Construction Pipeline Report predicts building and construction activity to remain at its current elevated levels until the end of 2020, with sustained growth expected from 2021 to over $41 billion in 2023. Quinn says the construction sector must diversify and attract more women, Maori, Pasifica and Asian workers.

“The record low birth rate in 2003 means the number of school leavers today has never been lower and this is adding pressure an already stretched sector. We have a small window of four to five years to address some of our concerns before birth rates plummet to record lows. If you think we have a skills shortage now, just you wait,” he says.


A lack of senior leadership buy-in has been cited as a key factor in the low prioritisation of people risks within New Zealand organisations, according to a recent survey by Mercer Marsh Benefits and the Human Resources Institute of New Zealand (HRINZ).

The People Risk Survey Report asked New Zealand HR leaders how much of a priority they thought people risks were within the organisations they worked for. Over half (58 percent) said that they did not believe that people risks were a priority, with 28 percent pointing to a lack of leadership buy-in as being one of the key reasons.

“This result is obviously quite disappointing”, says Alison Bamford, Mercer Marsh Benefits leader for New Zealand. “Many organisations talk about how they put their people first, but the question based on these results is are they really?”

The top five people risks currently being faced by organisations were talent attraction, key person risk, talent scarcity, talent retention and succession planning.

Talent attraction and retention has been highlighted as an issue facing entities for some time and, given that it was also seen to be the largest emerging risk in the survey, it will not be going away any time soon.

Key person risk poses a problem for organisations of all sizes, but particularly SMEs where the owner may be taken out due to sickness or disability. Over half (56 percent) of those surveyed did not have a plan to deal with key person risk and 50 percent did not have plans in place to deal with succession planning.

Bamford says employee benefits is another area that entities need to focus on. Only 54 percent of the survey respondents review their employee benefits programme each year, while 27 percent didn’t even know when it was reviewed.

The survey also found that some of New Zealand’s benefits fall quite short—especially when compared to other countries.


By 2038, 1.3 million New Zealanders will be 65 and over. They will comprise almost a quarter of our population. This has significant implications for communities, central and local government, and workplaces.

Focusing just on the demographic changes taking place inevitably leads to discussions on the affordability of aged care, increasing healthcare costs and national superannuation affordability, says trans-Tasman specialist in age and work Geoff Pearman.

In the case of the workplace it leads to discussions on how to manage an ageing workforce and how to get ageing employees to know when it is time “to pull the plug”, he says. “In a nutshell, the conversation becomes one about how we manage many more people being older for much longer.”

This conventional “demographic time bomb, silver tsunami” narrative is both limited and flawed, according to Pearman. “Much of the discussion is underpinned by stereotypes and attitudes that no longer hold—in other words ageism.”

Pearman says that we have always had ageing, what is new is both longevity and the proportion of the population aged 65 and over. When it comes to work it will require a rethink of the conventional ways we have talked about the life stages, ageing and work.

Partners in Change has partnered with Brisbane based Wellness Designs to offer the inaugural Age and Work Symposium, to be held in Brisbane on 27 November, 2018.

The aim of the symposium is to challenge, inspire and give rise to new and innovative thinking and practical solutions that capitalise on longevity in New Zealand and Australian workplaces. The symposium will feature speakers from both New Zealand and Australia.


16 OCTOBER:Stuff reports Trade Me is the latest business to move all its staff to the living wage. About 30 staff from its customer service team will receive a pay rise to $20.55 per hour (or $42,744 per annum).

15 OCTOBER: Education Minister Chris Hipkins announces the Government is doubling its target for recruiting overseas teacher to 900 in order to fill a shortage of 850 teachers for 2019.

14 OCTOBER:Radio New Zealand reports a PSA survey of 700 staff from more than 130 health service occupations has revealed pervasive and “dangerous” levels of understaffing, with ongoing consequences for both patients and workers.

11 OCTOBER:Stuff reports 20 complaints of sexual harassment within NZ Police have been reported since 2014, with nine staff being disciplined.

8 OCTOBER:Radio New Zealand reports that an investigation by the Labour Inspectorate found that 73 ultrafast broadband subcontractors of telecommunications company Chorus in Auckland failed to keep employment records, pay the minimum wage and provide employment agreements.

3 OCTOBER:Radio New Zealand reports 300 jobs will be created with the development of a new freight transport hub at Horotiu, north of Hamilton. The Waikato hub will be the fourth in a network set up by the Ports of Auckland.

2 OCTOBER:Stuff reports Perpetual Guardian will make the four-day week an option for all its full-time workers from November after a trial proved popular among employees and boosted productivity by 20 percent.

1 OCTOBER: A survey of early childhood educators reveals some are earning below the minimum wage, others are paid below the already low minimum rates for the sector, and there is widespread low-pay across the sector..



The percentage of the 745 respondents in paid work taking part in the Westpac McDermott Miller employee confidence index who are expecting a pay rise in the coming year, the lowest level in three years, and down from 32.9 percent in June. Average weekly earnings for a full-time employee in the private sector rose 3.5 percent to $1104.70 in the June quarter.


The percentage of New Zealand’s female SME owners in MYOB’s Business Monitor research who said success came from networking with the right people, compared to 42 percent of male SME owners.


The percentage of all deaths by suicide involving employed adult men in the constuction sector, according to the 2016 Health Quality and Safety Commission suicide mortality review. The next highest figures were for forestry and agriculture, both of which accounted for 6.8 percent of deaths..


The percentage of their time that H&S practitioners taking part in Safeguard magazine’s annual salary survey spend on psychosocial risks. They spend 25 percent on physical health risks.


The percentage of SMEs in a survey by Microsoft that have a PC four or more years old. The study found old computers are costing business owners more than NZD$4000 each in repairs and lost productivity.

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