Employee engagement and workplace culture is the topic on every CEO’s report card. When we think of the best culture role models in the business world, companies such as Google, Facebook, Bain & Company spring to mind. All are major US-based multinationals. Which leaves us wondering, who are the stars in our little corner of the globe?
So here we have it; three New Zealand business cultures that prove that a successful company culture is not limited to place or industry:
Premier Group International
This unsuspecting kiwi-owned paving supplier was declared the overall winner of the the IBM Kenexa Best Workplace Award in 2016. After just a browse through their website, it’s easy to see why. Their mission is simple: “Deliver Happiness. Create Raving Fans. Beautify Our World.” And their core values are clear, inspiring and human: our favourite is “Create fun and a little weirdness.”
“A vision has to be bold and daring and exciting,” says Premier Group’s general manager, Bernard Powell in an interview. “It has to make the team excited to be a part of it and remind them of why they do what they do.”
But their real reason for success is thanks to how they treat their staff.
“Our whole focus in business is on happiness. Happiness of our employees, our suppliers and customers—starting with our team," Bernard told NZ Herald.
At Premier Group, the typical hierarchical structure of CEO to management to workers has been scrapped. Instead, they’ve opted for a circular structure that puts all staff on equal footing.
Staff are encouraged to be owners too—and to take on the responsibilities that come with being a business owner (with training to help too). They are free to express themselves and build trust and friendships that extend beyond the workplace.
“To me Premier Group isn’t just a place where I go and work. It’s not just a place that I go to and get told what it do,” writes employee Tim Miller. “It’s a company that makes every employee feel involved and it has grown into me as a way of life.”
Premier Group is the perfect example of a company that lives and breathes its values across all aspects of its business—from its leadership to its team members and delivery of its products and services.
Elastomer Products Ltd
Plastic manufacturing is a tough industry to be in, and with 40 years in the business, no one knows it better than Elastomer Products Ltd (EPL). Yet, despite tough market conditions and growing trend for manufacturing companies to move offshore, EPL has persisted and turned into of the Australasia's top polymer and rubber suppliers.
For EPL, their continued success is thanks to their carefully cultivated innovation culture. With a goal to have 3,000 innovations by 2026, EPL’s CEO, Mark Field, knew it was a matter of getting all the staff involved. No idea was too big or small.
Mark also knew that a simple process for “logging” an innovation was needed to help EPL staff and leaders keep track of their goal. The solution? Post-it notes! One year after they set their innovation goal, they had 165 ideas stuck to a wall. Year two saw the number almost double with another 300 ideas.
The outcome? Innovation is on the rise at EPL, employee engagement is higher and satisfaction is on the up.
“Most of the ideas are about improving the workplace,” says Mark, “And that’s helping to make EPL a positive, productive place for staff. Every now and then we get a really good idea. We’ve had two or three great ones come through, one of which will probably have a $150,000 impact on our bottom line, if not more.”
A three-time winner of the Enterprise category of the IBM Kenexa Best Workplaces Awards, VTNZ is a leader in the automotive service industry. Customers’ safety is their mission, and to achieve it they’ve pulled out all the stops to help their staff meet that goal.
VTNZ cares about people, and great emphasis is placed on making staff feel valued. Open and honest communication is core to their culture, along with teamwork, and personal leadership and growth.
“Seeing everything running smoothly, with the whole team working toward our common goals is really satisfying for me,” says assistant manager Rachel Tunai, in an interview. She has been working at VTNZ for 14 years.
The loyalty of VTNZ’s staff became truly apparent in 2016, when 97 per cent of their 1000 strong team of employees completed the Best Workplaces survey that saw them win the 2016 Enterprise category. If you’ve ever tried to get any group of people to answer a survey, you’ll understand how remarkable this is!
Learn more about building a great organisational culture in our free ebook, 'Organisational Culture to Enhance Productivity and Profit'.