IBM has announced the finalists for its annual Best Workplaces Survey and Awards, New Zealand's largest and longest-running study of workplace climate and employee engagement.
This year, over 35,000 employees from 173 organisations in the private and public sectors participated, including 27 first-time contestants.
Forty-three workplaces reached finalist status based on their results in the survey across five categories: Small, Small-Medium, Medium-Large, Large and Enterprise.
Close to 70% of the finalists also achieved finalist status in 2016, and almost half have been finalists for the last three years.
The 2017 finalists represent a broad spectrum of New Zealand industries from automotive and technology to business services, retail and local government.
“IBM would like to congratulate all finalists for their success in creating more engaging, healthy, and ultimately productive workplaces,” says Emma Martin, IBM talent management solutions consultant.
“The ongoing commitment to building a great workplace is shown by the number of repeat finalists and is also evident in the survey results.
“Average employee engagement levels as measured through the Best Workplaces Survey improved from 75% in 2010 to 80% in 2017, and more than 75% of the survey questions measuring workplace environment also registered a meaningful increase over this period,” Martin adds.
The three key trends apparent in this year's data relate to employee well-being, career mobility and employer attitudes to continuous listening:
Wellbeing is a focus. Staff health and safety is one of the highest-rated areas in the 2017 survey, with 87% of employees reporting that their organisation shows commitment to the health and safety of its people.
This is not surprising given the new health and safety legislation.
The Best Workplaces data also suggests there is a holistic emphasis on employee wellness as the belief that New Zealand organisations care for the wellbeing of their people has increased significantly, from 72% in 2010 to 82% in 2017, one of the biggest increases in survey results over this period.
Increasing career mobility. Talent retention is becoming a greater challenge for Kiwi organisations due to a climate of constant change, greater external career mobility and the rise of the ‘gig' economy.
IBM's global research shows that 74% of high potential employees will consider joining another organisation for better career development.
To retain the best talent, organisations need to provide clear and direct support for career growth, including formal and informal opportunities.
Best Workplaces data from the last seven years shows improved employee perception of learning and career development opportunities in their organisation, increasing 6 and 7 percentage points respectively between 2010 and 2017.
This suggests that Kiwi organisations are increasingly focused on growing skills and talent from within.
A new approach to listening. The term ‘continuous listening' is no longer a new concept for New Zealand organisations.
The Best Workplaces Survey is one way organisations can support an ongoing dialogue between management and staff, allowing executives to hear what people on the front line experience in their daily work-lives, so they can make more informed decisions and course corrections while steering the organisation.
Managers' commitment to involving their teams in post-survey action has increased significantly, up nine percentage points since 2012, which is an encouraging sign.
However, this is coming from a fairly low base with just under 60% of employees saying that their managers involved them in taking action post-survey, suggesting New Zealand organisations can continue to improve the way they use survey feedback to drive change.
“Highlights from the survey results over seven years include the growing importance of wellbeing in the workplace and employers investing in their people as the economy changes,” says Emma Martin.
“Organisations are getting better at listening to their employees, but still need to do more to close the feedback loop and drive meaningful change, something which is critical to building credibility in the minds of employees.
Now in its 18th year, the IBM Best Workplaces Survey provides business leaders with key insights from their most valuable assets: their people.
The insights identify the characteristics that make their workplace great places to work, as well as areas to improve in order to improve employee engagement.
Category and league award winners will be named on January 31, and the overall winner announced at an event in Auckland on February 28.
The Awards are sponsored by the Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA) and Auckland University of Technology (AUT) Business School.