Deloitte Fast 50: Fastest growing technology company
Chris O'Reilly said the company's success has been driven by the pull factors of the Hawkes Bay lifestyle, which have helped attract the right talent.
Ready to explore a new way to grow your business? Here are some tips, tools and stories to help you on your way.
Here at Milford, we’ve moved from being focused on employee engagement, to how we can get everyone involved in continuously improving our business. We aren’t concerned with just “how do you feel” - we’re actually getting to the underlying information that helps to strategically steer the organisation.
“When you make it everyone's job to drive the business forward, you get more a more involved and fulfilled team. That’s what we’ve realised since using AskYourTeam.”
Across the energy sector, there’s been a cultural shift over the last decade. At Contact Energy, that meant an overhaul of processes and leadership around health and safety. The result? A huge change in organisational culture.
“Our people are more empowered to make their own decisions, and assess risk - without the fear of blame or judgement if things go wrong.”
“AskYourTeam allowed Oil Intel to easily distinguish what areas employees felt needed to be improved.
AskYourTeam enabled us to pinpoint those areas that were most important to our people”
Read how Smith&Smith achieved better productivity and business performance by taking the guesswork out of leadership.
“As a leader I don’t guess anymore. I know exactly what to focus on to get the biggest improvements out of my team.”
Read how Swanndri built a more collaborative workplace and accelerated their growth curve with AskYourTeam.
“It allows for everyone to have an equal voice, not just management or the vocal few.”
Learn how the Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce built a culture of continuous improvement with AskYourTeam.
“It reinforces that continuous improvement is a really important part of any business.”
Chris O'Reilly said the company's success has been driven by the pull factors of the Hawkes Bay lifestyle, which have helped attract the right talent.
Most employees won’t put on a public display of their grievances for fear of being labelled difficult or missing out on future opportunities, they simply take their frustrations home instead. And it’s a slippery slope into low job satisfaction and poor overall health.
A healthy workplace is incredibly good for business as it creates a positive culture where things get done. Targets are achieved, new strategies are planned and brilliant ideas come to fruition - helping your employees be their best has never been more important.
Most of us can feel certain that the robots aren’t coming for our jobs just yet. Yet, the same technology is also opening exciting opportunities for us to focus on leveraging the strengths that set humans apart.
There is a growing realisation at the most senior level of New Zealand business and public sector leadership that we could operate better by becoming more diverse and more inclusive. Not because diversity is a compliance thing, because being a diverse organisation means being a smarter organisation.
It’s the greatest untapped source of increased productivity for Kiwi organisations, yet very few have managed to successfully harness the benefits of diversity and inclusion. Why aren’t we doing better?
Whether you're launching your first or fiftieth survey, giving your people the freedom to speak up in confidence without fear of judgement is key. Here's our Client Services Specialist, Kelly's, four tips how to drive top survey uptake time after time.
We have a very clear, one word understanding of what makes a great workplace culture. Involvement. When everyone in an organisation feels involved in running the business, then you have a great workplace culture.
There’s no doubt the future of HR will be tech-enabled. Every HR professional is either using a tech feedback tool or looking around for one to implement. Chris O'Reilly explains.
Here's our summary of the 2019 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report: Leading the social enterprise. Reinventing with a human focus comes with a bold call to action: now is not the time to tinker at the edges of your organisation— it’s time to reinvent it.
There are many areas where women are making waves in the business world. But there are still pockets which are affected by unconscious bias and areas where there is a knowledge deficit.
While modern software and new apps aim to automate processes, make recommendations for leadership training and predict staff turn-over, there is a danger of focusing too much on the technology to do the work.
Big data is not a new paradigm. It encompasses many interrelated disciplines fuelling a demand for people with entirely new skillsets. Dave Robertson explains.
Survey fatigue can occur, when people are required to participate in traditional surveys, but never get to see any action as a result of their endeavours. Here's how you can prevent it from happening in your organisation.
Finding balance and stability in our changing world is a massive challenge for business leaders. We must harness the power of teamwork for modern agile organisations to thrive and prosper.
We might not be running nuclear attack submarines, but we can all learn from Captain David Marquet and the USS Santa Fe. The best way to run a ship or an organisation is to make sure your team feels involved, invested and empowered to trust their own decisions.
Organisations should move beyond thinking about experience at work in terms of perks, rewards, or support, and focus on job fit, job design, and meaning—for all individuals across the whole organisation. Andre Clarke explains.
A common belief is that communications is at the core of successful change management. And indeed it is critical, but it’s only one part of the machine. Jen provides her three golden rules to successful change management.
Productivity grows out of involvement. If you want to build a more productive workplace culture, involve your people more meaningfully in your business.
How to get more women into senior roles? How to better celebrate the achievements of women? How to balance the demands of family and career? Jen McKay discusses how do we get a better balance in all respects.
Collaborative teams are units that bring together individuals with unique, disparate skill sets for a defined goal. Jude Manuel discusses how best to facilitate collaboration in an agile world.
The impact of the #MeToo movement has been far-reaching. What started as a campaign to build a conversation around sexual violence has gone on to permeate many aspects of our culture.
New Zealand has a shameful history of workplace bullying but there’s a growing movement among workplace culture experts to stamp it out. AskYourTeam CEO Chris O’Reilly investigates.
Today’s businesses are moving on from engagement, focusing instead on their employees’ experience of work and tapping into what they think, says Jude Manuel.
A new breed of digital HR tools in creating a people-led business revolution and providing a content read on the HR health of an organisation.
When a person is genuinely empowered in their job and involved in their organisation, they will become highly engaged, productive, loyal and keen to share their ideas and talk about what they do with colleagues by default.
Business success depends on having an effective career development strategy in place, but what role does workplace learning,and CSR play in the attraction and retention of millennial?
Helping senior leaders to understand that they are an integral part in inspiring employee loyalty enables them to acknowledge the value of other people’s ideas and input.
Talent is no longer regarded as a raw material in the economic equation to be retained for the productive working life of a human, but something to tap into according to the changing needs of the organisation at any moment.
Genuine cultures of empowerment can only come about when leaders realise that empowerment isn't an act of benevolence toward those lower down the pecking order than them.
Performance appraisals are widely unpopular with both staff and managers. People are now querying whether annual performance reviews and ratings are best serving the needs of organisations and individuals.
In an age of disruption and transformation, career transitions are the norm. Equipping people with the skills to move on will differentiate an organisation in the eyes of those who remain.
The industrial age command and control leadership is dead. It was killed by digital technology that allows people throughout an organisation to have their say in how it should be run.
Unconscious bias is the great unsolved problem of modern HR and one of the intractable barriers to building a truly diverse organisation. Almost all people hold subtle biases based on gender, ethnic and other differences and we are surprisingly powerless to do much about it.
In the past decade, the operations side of business has been revolutionised by digital connectivity. Now the smart businesses in every industry are looking for the next advantage by redesigning their organisations using a new class of digital tools and analytics driven data.
What makes a great leader? Watch four inspirational New Zealand female leaders sharing their views and thoughts on the topic this International Women’s Day.
The consequences of allowing bullying to survive in a workplace culture can be profound. From mental health issues to lost productivity and talent retention problems, bullying has the potential to undermine an organisation and cause serious harm to its members
There has been a seismic shift from management by engagement to leadership by involvement that is changing the way we think about everything from the war for talent to how we build organisational culture.
Powerful new benchmarking insights have been made available for the first time from leadership survey AskYourTeam into the strengths and weaknesses of Kiwi leadership.
After years of using a traditional engagement survey, Smith&Smith made the transition to AskYourTeam. Pati Bloor, Smith&Smith's People and Leadership Director, shares her top five tips for a successful transition.
Throughout my years as an organisational development specialist, I've noticed leaders are sometimes less-than-enthusiastic about 'HR' initiatives such as engagement surveys. I think that's understandable.
In the early days of ‘staff surveys’ we measured staff satisfaction. We then deepened our questioning to understand what made our employees feel committed to go that extra mile or ‘stay, say and strive’. It worked well for some organisations, but many have plateaued.
As leaders, it’s easy to measure what we're comfortable with, instead of what will actually have the greatest impact on the success of our business. But without a systematic approach to measuring what really matters, your business is unlikely to reach its true potential.
Leadership is no longer about the visionary guru leading the charge. That idea belongs to a time when businesses operated in a slower world. Command-and-control leadership was the norm. Times have changed.
The traditional way of thinking about engagement is linear - employee engagement leads to improved business performance. But recent research is pointing to a much more circular model.
“We had a head researcher who told one of our in-house lawyers that if you stood in a certain spot under the glass stairs, you could look up women’s dresses,” says Alice*, an Australian HR professional about an organisation where she used to work.
Since 2017, when The New York Times and The New Yorker ran stories alleging Harvey Weinstein had a long history of workplace sexual harassment, readers of an article beginning like this one have expected a certain tale. They will read about more scandalous behaviour by the perpetrator before finding out he faced no repercussions because his company, and HR in particular, did their best to ignore or cover up his behaviour.
The impact of such articles is immense. They were the catalyst for the #metoo movement, which has given a voice to long-silenced victims, and they are the fuel for ongoing political, legal and social changes. They have indirectly led to the Australian Human Rights Commission’s (AHRC) National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces.
However, this article speaks to another side of the story. HRM asked HR professionals about their most complex cases. It’s impossible to represent all their experiences, but the interviews chosen are a best attempt. While some are about the failure of organisations to appropriately handle serious allegations, others are about the opposite. Everyone gave accounts of behind-the-scenes conflicts that complainants, and the public, rarely hear.
Alice’s story of the researcher is a good example. It began with two separate reports. The first was from a disturbed employee who had seen the researcher standing under the stairs, looking up women’s skirts, and the second was from the lawyer who had been advised where to stand in order to get the same view.
Alice called for a formal investigation and got the green light from her manager (the only other female to be involved in the case), only to hit a roadblock with the HR director/general counsel, who had no previous HR experience. He wasn’t able to provide the support she needed for such a complex situation.
Only after weeks of following up did Alice find out what leadership had decided. “[The HRD] took it to the CEO who said, ‘We’re not going to act on it. This guy is a rockstar researcher and if he was to leave the organisation, or if we did anything to upset him, we would potentially lose some funding and all of his team.’
Appalled at this reaction, and a culture that she felt powerless to change, Alice left the organisation soon after.
Everyone HRM spoke to asked that we anonymise their experiences. A few, like Alice, wanted the same done for their identity. Each had their own reasons. For example, Alice’s contract is due for renewal this month.
“If you’re known to be blabbing about confidential matters, then people might be less inclined to take you on,” she says.
Frequently responsible for recruitment, HR professionals know which public information will most damage your chances of being hired.
HR consultant Catherine Cahill says it’s not uncommon to do a quick check to see if a candidate has repeatedly gone to the Fair Work Ombudsman. “I guess we all have this sense that maybe some people will cause trouble. I feel terrible saying that, but when you’re in HR you have a foot in both camps, don’t you? This is one of the on-going challenges we face as HR professionals.”
Another interviewee, Sarah*, agreed. She says not everybody views outspoken advocates of employees’ rights positively, “and in a small city or small industry reputation can mean a lot”.
Confidentiality agreements also make openness difficult. HR is often legally prohibited from speaking about specific complaints – this is common of those that are effectively resolved, says Cahill.
But the main reason the media doesn’t cover stories of appropriately managed complaints is that an unpunished perpetrator is inherently more newsworthy. Unfortunately, this makes it too easy for the public to believe that inaction is the only outcome.
The results of the AHRC’s 2018 survey into workplace sexual harassment revealed that, of people who’d experienced it, only 17 per cent made a formal report or complaint. Of those who didn’t, 38 per cent said they felt nothing would change or be done.
It also found that 19 per cent of complaints ended with no consequences for the perpetrator. This is higher than the reported prevalence of false sexual harassment accusations. Different studies put the figure at between 2 and 10 per cent (only one person told HRM they’d encountered what they felt was a false accusation). But while it means there’s work to be done, the figures also show that a large majority of complaints result in some action.
Source: AHRC 2018 report into sexual harassment.
For Denise Morris, one instance of sexual harassment sticks in her mind. It happened at a company she used to work for, and took place in a remote workplace away from the main offices. And the victim was initially reluctant to make a complaint.
A witness told Morris what happened. At an afterwork social gathering, the local acting manager walked past a female employee (below him in seniority) and grabbed her breast. “She was so shocked, she didn’t react,” says Morris. “Then he walked past again and did it again. Everyone saw what happened, but they were all too shocked and uncomfortable to do anything.”
After verifying the complaint, Morris received the support of her HR director to commence an investigation. However, it took more than four phone calls with the affected individual to build up her confidence to the point where she would support an investigation.
“The main reason the media doesn’t cover stories of appropriately managed complaints is that an unpunished perpetrator is inherently more newsworthy.”
Asked why she felt the need to go to such lengths, Morris says, “I felt it was important for her. It would be something she was always going to have to deal with, while witnesses will forget things over time. And the offender will think they’ve done nothing wrong and possibly do worse to somebody else.”
The man was stood down with pay while the investigation took place. Witnesses were called and a detailed report was made. A managing director was flown to be in the room with the alleged perpetrator while Morris conducted the interview over the phone.
The man initially declined to have a support person, but after 20 minutes, where he did not comment on the allegations, he asked for a delay so he could get one. The interview continued later that day with the man’s lawyer present.
“As we were going through the allegations, the MD asked to see his phone, because one of the allegations was about things that were on it, and it looked like he had cleaned his whole phone.”
Having finished, Morris and the MD conferred with the legal team and HR director on the right course of action. “We could only come to the conclusion that everything that was put to him had actually happened, because he didn’t deny it.”
The man was dismissed on the spot and supervised as he left the premises. But since this was a small town, every staff member would run into him again. “There was also a huge sense of guilt [from the complainant].
"She felt she had caused him to lose his job, so there was still additional coaching that we needed to provide to that team.”
Employee assistance program support was offered to all staff and additional support was given to the woman. Morris herself went to the location and conducted training that was well received. Having gone through the process, they understood the importance of reporting and their power to effect change by taking action, says Morris.
Everyone involved, even the lawyer who acted as a support person to the dismissed individual, commended Morris on a well-managed investigation. Her name came up in the context of someone who will deal with a complaint with sensitivity.
She is, however, keen to point out she was only the facilitator. The outcome could only be achieved by everyone showing courage, not just the woman herself, but also the witnesses and senior management team. Morris says some staff don’t report their harassment because they feel like they’ll lose control. For liability reasons, sometimes an organisation wants a full investigation when the victim would prefer to just have support.
“Being managed out of a job for making the ethical decision to confront a senior employee’s predatory behaviour is not a paranoid fantasy for HR. It happens.”
Sarah* managed a case in which an employee experienced a delayed traumatic response and panic attacks months after the harasser had left the organisation (for reasons unrelated to the complaint). The incident happened at an out-of-hours function and Sarah describes it as “more assault than harassment”.
The organisation was sitting on a mound of disciplinary issues at the time, and this may have influenced the way leadership responded. “They were pushing that we should be doing something, we should be forcing her to go to the police or do something,” says Sarah. “There’s a perception that if something is done about a claim, like if somebody gets punished, then the victim will feel better.
“She was starting to have a lot of anxiety in the workplace and was struggling to come to work and to focus on doing her job. The issue I came up against was that the culture of the organisation was very risk-averse. They were coming at it from the point of view of protecting the organisation.”
Sarah and her direct manager butted heads over her approach. “I often had strongly worded debates with my boss about whose side we’re on in HR. He was very much like, ‘Our job is to protect the organisation.’ And I was coming more from the, ‘Our job is to help the staff do their job.’”
This debate raises the question of what ‘protecting the organisation’ actually means.
Different stakeholders in an organisation – leadership, employees, customers, shareholders, etc. – have different opinions, and there is rarely a simple answer. Afterall, staff wellbeing is a compliance issue too. Unfortunately the correct course of action is usually unknown until after the impacts of the chosen course are felt.
Sarah remembers her manager told her not to speak with the woman without a lawyer present, but the woman was already on her way in from a different office.
“She was in tears when she came in. I wasn’t going to turn her away. My first approach with any kind of grievance is to take my HR hat off and say, ‘While you’re getting issues off your chest, I’m going to listen as if we’re just two human beings, not an employee and an HR person.’”
Sarah’s boss saw her speaking with the woman and gave “a dirty look” through the office blinds. Afterwards, he asked why she’d ignored his order. She explained the importance of victim-led reporting, of putting wellbeing first, and her “human-to-human” approach, and only then did he understand. He explained that it wouldn’t have been how he approached the situation.
“I was in a position where I had a job to return to, as I was on secondment, which made me less worried. If I’d been facing the prospect of unemployment, would I have still done it? I’d like to think so, but it would have been a lot harder.”
With help from Sarah, the woman was able to return to the job she loved.
There are many harassment cases where HR is at fault for an inappropriate response. Though it’s hard to imagine people willing to come forward to explain why, we can assume various causes: a lack of expertise, indifference, ineptness, or even a close relationship with the perpetrator.
But one of the most cited reasons is fear of a backlash. Being managed out of a job for making the ethical decision to confront a senior employee’s predatory behaviour is not a paranoid fantasy for HR. It happens.
Cahill worked at a professional services firm in a standalone HR manager role. As with Morris, Cahill initially heard about the sexual harassment complaint from a witness and found the eventual complainant reluctant to talk.
“She was terrified of what it would mean. I said, ‘I will do everything I can to look after you, but if you don’t tell me what’s going on, I can’t help you.’ She told me, and he was literally inviting her into his office and then cornering her and touching her up.”
The partner also spoke to and touched her inappropriately in more public spaces. The woman’s reaction to his advances was to try to be polite and not upset a man with more authority than her.
The competition for graduate positions at well-regarded firms is immense, and in this case the expectation was that you would stay for at least two years. If the woman left after six months, she thought other firms would want to know why, or would reject her on the grounds that she ‘couldn’t cut it’. So she felt she had to either put up with the partner’s behaviour for 18 months or lose her career.
A lot of the firm’s events were organised around drinking, and it didn’t just lack women in leadership – there were fewer women in general. And while the partner’s behaviour was worse than most, it was on a spectrum that encompassed many others.
“There were always lots of overtly sexual conversations around from everybody. The partners more so than anyone else,” says Cahill.
Some male colleagues tried to run interference when the partner would harass the complainant, but “there were so many people around who saw it going on… It appeared [to the complainant] like everybody could see what was going on and they didn’t think it was a problem.”
The person who initially alerted Cahill expressed sincere concerns. “She’d lost a lot of weight, she was becoming withdrawn and they were worried about her psychological health.”
Cahill’s response was to tell the managing partner. It turned out he was already aware, even if he didn’t know how much it was hurting the graduate. Cahill told him that a formal investigation would likely be ineffective and cause greater harm to the woman. Given the partner’s disposition, and the fact that he was an experienced litigator, Cahill predicted he would treat any investigation like he would a court case.
The managing partner promised to talk to the graduate and secure her a position at another firm. He would also pay for counselling and asked Cahill to think about compensation. The managing partner then talked to the partner about the decision.
Once this happened, Cahill’s prediction came partly true. The partner began to menace Cahill.
“He was beyond irritated that the managing partner and I had come to this agreement to look after this woman, and he felt that he hadn’t had his day in court, so to speak. Whereas, if he’d had his day in court, he would have just torn strips off this poor woman, and everyone else around her.”
The partner began finding fault with Cahill’s performance in unrelated areas and enlisted the help of the firm’s general manager in this effort. The managing partner who helped the graduate did not step in. After six months, the partner was successful and Cahill lost her job.
“It was horrid, and I left wondering if I ever really wanted to work in HR again.”
The lesson for Cahill was that by taking a direct off-the-record approach, she had left herself exposed.
“If you’re going to take on a senior person in an organisation, then you absolutely have to have the support and effective sponsorship of an even more senior person – and it has to be on the record.
“I knew I’d done the right thing, I’m proud that I was able to help this young woman, because she did get another role, and she kept in contact for a number of years. I never regretted for a moment that I helped her. I just felt that I’d paid a very high price for doing it.”
There are many ways individual organisations can better manage sexual harassment complaints – bystander training, an anonymous complaints system and so on – but on a broader level, what needs to change to help HR better manage sexual harassment in workplaces?
Morris talked about how she has since learned to approach the subject in a positive manner; she likens it to the way we speak about ‘diversity’ rather than anti-racism. She reframes conversations about harassment by focusing on the language of respect and training people in what a respectful relationship looks like.
Another suggestion is legislative changes that would make it easier for HR to make the right choice. For example, more protections for those who resist their employer’s demands to behave unethically. “If Fair Work is willing to fine us $80,000 for being coerced into giving someone a sham contract, then they should also be willing to compensate us for walking out the door for refusing to do it,” says Cahill.
Sarah believes awareness and experience is part of the equation. “I think people’s empathy comes down to their own experiences. If people haven’t dealt with it themselves, or to someone close to them, they don’t really understand what it’s like to go through something like that.”
Alice suggests sexual harassment complaints should be part of an organisation’s annual reporting process. “That would be a great way to hold people accountable. If you were looking for a job, you could see that this place has had 20 sexual harassment claims made and only five of them have had action taken.”
More than one interviewee compared HR to accounting, noting that there is credibility attached to the second profession that is missing from the first.
“I’ve never worked with a business that’s willing to flout [tax] laws,” says Cahill. “If their accountant says, ‘You can’t do it’, they don’t do it. Employment law people seem to think it’s a bit rubbery, that it’s a bit optional.”
Morris makes the same point. “Companies don’t seem to think HR is under the same type of legislation,” she says. “Given the responsibility that accountants have, everyone accepts that they are bound by a code of ethics to maintain their chartered or certified status. I think HR needs to go the same way.”
“If Fair Work is willing to fine us $80,000 for being coerced into giving someone a sham contract, then they should also be willing to compensate us for walking out the door for refusing to do it.”
Without anyone specifically pushing it, conflicting expectations have been placed on HR professionals. In particular, union decline frequently positions them as the sole employee representatives in their organisation. This seems to be the root of most public disappointment in the profession. In a 2018 Sydney Morning Herald opinion column, academic Jeanna Price articulated a common anger when she wrote, “HR people are not there to help you, they are there to protect the company.”
In fact most people aren’t reporting to HR; the AHRC survey found that they do in only 24 per cent of sexual harassment complaints. Fifty-five per cent are made to direct managers and supervisors and 36 per cent to CEOs, employers and bosses (respondents could choose multiple answers).
As for protecting the company, it could be argued that would mean thoroughly investigating every complaint. Because not doing so risks financial liability, staff anger and – especially in this era – severe reputational damage. What’s more, by making practitioners personally liable for certain organisational breaches of workplace legislation, the law insists they act as de facto corporate police.
But as the people HRM spoke to prove, there are far too many variables for there to be a single correct response. The HR practitioners hearing about workplace sexual harassment have to weigh up the employee’s suffering and wishes, their organisation’s needs, the likely response of the executive team, and their own livelihoods. This last point shouldn’t be dismissed as venal. If your income is crucial to your household and you know that taking a righteous stand against horrible behaviour would mean risking your job, would you still do it?
“I think as a profession, it’s just not something we talk about,” says Cahill. “What support is there for HR people going through an ethical dilemma?”
*Names changed to protect anonymity
This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared in the March 2019 edition of HRM magazine.
An intensifying combination of economic, social, and political issues is forcing HR and business leaders to learn to lead the social enterprise - and reinvent their organizations around a human focus.
Diversity and inclusion are priorities for every HR pro today, but too often we shy away from conversations about the biggest barrier to creating more inclusive organisations - unconscious bias.
Deloitte’s 2017 Human Capital Trends survey of leaders from around the world identifies the critical trends shaping the HR agenda.
Josh Bersin, Principal with Deloitte Consulting, on why the traditional employee engagement survey - devoid of modern, actionable solutions - has passed its used-by date.
We analysed the world’s top leadership models to understand what the most successful businesses have in common. Then we built an independently-verified system to help you get to the heart of how your business is doing in each of these make-or-break areas. Find out how AskYourTeam generates breakthroughs in business performance.
We’ve created a system especially for public sector organisations that assesses performance against the Performance Improvement Framework (PIF) and Leadership Success Profile (LSP) models. Find out how you can take your organisation from good to great with AskYourTeam for the Public Sector.
No matter the industry or the size, all membership organisations face similar challenges around growth, retention, and nurturing active involvement from their members. Find out how you can create a voice for your members with AskYourTeam for Membership Organisations.
In consultation with EquiP, we've developed a system especially for New Zealand’s Local Government sector. AskYourTeam for Local Government optimises the underpinning processes of the Local Government Excellence Programme. Download the ebook to find out how AskYourTeam can transform your council.