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Core Values A Winner

Core Values A Winner

Using values to drive every decision in the organisation has proved to be a winning formula for the team at CORE Education.

As one of New Zealand’s foremost educational research and professional development organisations, providing a range of services to schools and early childhood centres, CORE was recognised as a finalist in the 2010 JRA Best Workplaces Awards, missing the top spot in its category by less than one percent on the performance Index.

Putting people before profits is more than just a mantra at CORE Education. Director of eLearning, Derek Wenmoth explains that when the company was initially formed, there was a determination it would be a values-lead organisation. “This was a defined strategic intent and one we continually revisit. It’s not something that was done once and filed away, we continually revisit and update these values with all our staff and reiterate how we live by them every day.”

In the JRA survey, where employees answered 60 questions across a range of measures, including communication, culture and values, common purpose, learning and development, and reward and recognition, 90% of CORE’s team agreed they have a strong sense of belonging, 93% said they work for a successful organisation, 95% believed the organisation is an equal opportunity employer and 92% said it cares about its people.

“We are totally people focused and purposeful in what we do, and how we act, both internally and externally,” Wenmoth adds.

For the management team, decision making is considerably easier as many of the criteria are already set. Chief Executive, Ali Hughes says everyone knows what the organisations values are, and this drives decision making.

“It’s already been decided what the criteria are to consider when we were choosing work and we all know what the show stoppers are. Everybody is agreed that whether a project makes money or not, is not the main issue, but whether it meets our values.”

Hughes says the organisation tries to involve the entire staff in key decision making, be it around the table, by submitting ideas and strategies via a virtual communication platform the organisation adopts or via annual retreats which have fundamentally shaped the direction of the organisation.

Empowering other to lead is also a key focus. “By involving others in decision-making, it improves the understanding of the issues by those who must carry out the decisions and people are more committed to actions where they have been involved.”

Hughes also says people become less competitive and more collaborative when they are working on joint goals and when making decisions together, thus increasing everyone’s commitment to the decision.

Typically the organisation works on a non hierarchal manner, encouraging everyone to come up with ideas. This is actively promoted across the organisation (95% of staff surveyed agreed this was the case). And furthermore Hughes says people are not tied to a specific job description. “Many start with a job description which says ‘we are going to employ you as an x (e.g. elearining consultant) and we will work with you over the next three months to work out what that looks like’. We give them broad parameters in terms of objectives but it’s not prescriptive, and we encourage staff to come up with ideas on how they can add value”

And while they recognise this philosophy is not for everyone, 97% reported they have the freedom and flexibility to do their job effectively. Furthermore over 94% of the team said their job gives them a sense of personal achievement.

“It’s a powerful thing and it has worked well for us.” Hughes also says this internal empowerment has lead to a stronger sense of corporate buy-in, and a happy workplace.

CORE Education was selected from hundreds of organisations vying for a place as a finalist in the Medium Workplace category (50 – 149 employees). Winners will be announced on November 11 in Auckland.

For more than 10 years, the JRA Best Workplaces awards has enabled many hundreds of New Zealand organisations to measure engagement levels, benchmark these against ‘best practice’, and gain insight into factors contributing to and detracting from a productive and engaging workplace environment.


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