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Northpower Wins ‘Highly Commended’ Award

Date: Thursday 27th November 2008
Subject: Northpower Wins ‘Highly Commended’ Award

Northland owned and operated Northpower Ltd, announced today that it took out the ‘Highly Commended’ Award in the Private Sector category, for their Behavioral Based Safety programme and work around employee engagement.

Northpower also placed third equal with Vero Insurance (NZ) in the ‘Best Large Workplaces’ category in the unlimited / JRA Best Places to Work Awards, held last night in Auckland. AMI Insurance came second with top honors going to Flight Centre (NZ). The overall winner on the night was Southern Cross Travel Insurance.

Northpower’s Barbara Harrison, Group Manager Safety & HR is ecstatic with receiving the ‘Highly Commended’ Award and placing third equal in the ‘Best Large Workplaces’ category, after being a finalist in the 2006 Awards. ‘We are really pleased with our placing and even more pleased that we appear to be on the right track with our plans.

Northpower is a special place to work and to have that recognized publicly is fantastic’, said Barbara.

Analysis of 2006 survey data suggested opportunities for improvement - improvements that would both enhance the quality of communication within Northpower, and at the same time provide another vehicle to spread the safety message. Several initiatives were launched, among them Family Safety Days, a ‘Kids Newsletter’, a revamped staff newsletter and interactive Board visits to the field, all aimed at increasing safety awareness and a willingness on the part of everyone to ‘actively care’ for the safety and wellbeing of others.

With a view to measuring the impact of these and other initiatives designed to bolster awareness of the safety imperative, 2006 saw Northpower include an extra ‘Safety’ section comprising 10 safety-specific questions in the annual engagement/climate survey it runs with JRA. Scores over the past 2 years have shown a significant improvement, with a 4.2% increase in this ‘Safety’ section score to an impressive 90%. In addition, these safety-driven initiatives have also produced other spin-off benefits. Staff rating of Northpower as an organisation that ‘cares for the well-being of its staff’ has also risen over the past two years by 9% to 87%, while measures of ‘sense of belonging’ (clearly influenced by ‘Family Days’) have also risen by 7% over the same period to 83%. Also the impact of major communication initiatives (revamped staff newsletter, interactive board visits) saw the Communication and Cooperation section rise 9.1% over the two years to 76.8%.

Not that these improved scores came as a big surprise to Barbara. “We could see from the faces of the partners and children attending the Family Days that the message had registered - that they, too, had pride in the work done by the Northpower team; that they better understood the safety precautions taken by their loved ones; and that they too felt part of the extended Northpower family.’ Also, the revamped staff newsletter undertaken to encourage greater contribution by staff and include details of regular field-visits by board members, have staff now looking forward to it each week."

Tips/Learning Points from Northpower:

• Have an identifiable goal and values which everyone is aware of and which are reinforced and communicated about at every opportunity – ‘over communicate’.

• Use simple and cost effective ways to get the ‘safety’ message out there.

• Employees and their work behaviour and ethic are strongly influenced by their work-life balance, and therefore their strongest influencers i.e. family and friends, need to be made aware of the importance of safety in their job.

• The presence of Directors and senior managers in the field on a regular basis can increase motivation around, and recognition of, safe work practices in the field.

Northpower Ltd owns and operates the Whangarei and Kaipara electricity distribution network from Topuni in the south to Hukerenui in the north, with over 50,000 connected customers and an asset value of $337 million. The company also owns West Coast Energy in Perth and has an expansive contracting arm, which is the largest electricity distribution contractor in New Zealand. Northpower employs over 1000 staff across fifteen locations throughout the North Island and in Perth.

ENDS

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