Video | Agriculture | Confidence | Economy | Energy | Employment | Finance | Media | Property | RBNZ | Science | SOEs | Tax | Technology | Telecoms | Tourism | Transport | Search


Supervisor literacy gaps affecting business productivity

Manager, supervisor literacy gaps affecting business productivity

Literacy gaps amongst managers and supervisors is costing Kiwi businesses dearly and more needs to be done to meet this group’s needs, according to leading adult literacy and human resources experts.

New Zealand research suggests that many managers and supervisors have literacy skill shortfalls that restrict their ability to be effective leaders and communicators. Yet this group experiences high literacy and numeracy demands in the course of their work.

Around half of New Zealand’s work force has gaps that can make it difficult to complete every day work tasks. In the case of managers and supervisors, this could involve tasks such as writing standard operating procedures, or shift handover notes; reading spreadsheets and graphs, or preparing timetables or schedules.

Human Resources Institute of NZ (HRINZ) Research and Education Manager, Brenda Tweedy, says she is regularly dismayed at the poor literacy skills she sees at all levels of management – even among chief executives.

“Business productivity and quality output relies upon this group having strong literacy, numeracy, leadership and communication skills but the reality is that many struggle to do even the basics,” she says.

“It’s a hidden issue, whereby managers with literacy and numeracy gaps are shielded by others within the organisation, resulting in constraints to the business’ ability to improve productivity.”

Katherine Percy - Chief Executive of adult literacy, numeracy and communication support provider, Workbase – agrees, saying that supervisors and managers are often hired or promoted on their technical ability and it is assumed that they have all the language, communication and leadership skills that they need.

“There are many benefits to be gained from assisting managers and supervisors to develop higher levels of literacy and numeracy because they are a key communication link between the organisation and its staff.”

Ms Percy adds that although schools and tertiary institutions can be doing a better job in equipping young people with good literacy and numeracy skills, employers also have a role to play by providing training. Many are unaware that there can be subsidy support available to them via The Tertiary Education Commission's Workplace Literacy Fund.

Ms Tweedy encourages businesses to “stop putting their heads in the sand” on this issue because manager and supervisor literacy gaps are costing their business dearly.

“Ironically training and development budgets get cut in tough economic times, yet investing in employee skill improvement pays for itself many times over through improved outputs, better quality, increased operational efficiencies and better staff retention,” she says.

Food manufacturer Hansells Food Group quickly saw impressive results after putting a group of supervisors through a course to improve their language, leadership and problem solving skills.

Site Operations Manager Rory Garvey says the company recognised that it would make better progress introducing a Lean manufacturing process if it helped frontline managers to improve their skills. Lean manufacturing aims to optimise production efficiencies while maintaining quality.

“Providing literacy and communication training to this group has helped Hansells make overall improvements in a whole lot of ways,” he says.

“Workplace accidents have decreased, gross margins have increased, product quality has improved and employees are now much more strongly motivated in their work.”

Mr Garvey notes that frontline managers are now more confident to speak up and draw senior management’s attention to any production or quality issues, which ensures production line and other problems can be resolved quickly.


© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


DIY Law: Government Exempts Some Home Improvements From Costly Consents

Homeowners, builders and DIYers will soon have an easier time making basic home improvements as the Government scraps the need for consents for low-risk building work such as sleep-outs, sheds and carports – allowing the construction sector ... More>>


Media Awards: The New Zealand Herald Named Newspaper Of The Year, Website Of The Year At Voyager Media Awards

The New Zealand Herald has been labelled a “powerhouse news operation” as it claims the two biggest prizes – Newspaper of the Year and Website of the Year – along with many individual awards at the 2020 Voyager Media Awards Website of the ... More>>


ASB Bank: ASB Takes The Lead Again With New Low Home Loan Interest Rate

ASB has moved again to support its customers, cutting a number of home loan rates, including the two-year special rate to a new low of 2.69% p.a. Craig Sims, ASB executive general manager Retail Banking says the reduced rate will be welcome news for many ... More>>


Nathan Hoturoa Gray: The Problems With Testing And Case Statistics For Covid-19

To begin to understand disease transmission in a country requires adequate testing of your population with properly vetted, accurate tests. As the world struggles to find what 'adequate percentage' of the population is necessary, (estimates predict ... More>>


RNZ: Fletcher Building To Lay Off 1000 Staff In New Zealand

The construction company will cut around 10 percent of its workforce as it struggles with the fallout from Covid-19. More>>


Can Pay, Won't Pay: Cashflow Moves Urged

Government Ministers are asking significant private enterprises to adopt prompt payment practices in line with the state sector, as a way to improve cashflow for small businesses. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Why We Should Legally Protect The Right To Work From Home

For understandable reasons, the media messaging around Level Two has been all about “freedom” and “celebration”, but this is not necessarily going to be a universal experience. When it comes to workplace relations, Level Two is just as likely to ... More>>


Telecoms: Spark Welcomes Spectrum Allocation And Prepares For 5G Rollout Over The Next 12 Months

Spark welcomes spectrum allocation and prepares for 5G rollout over the next 12 months Spark today welcomed the announcement of the direct allocation process of 5G spectrum, with the Company to be offered management rights to 60 MHz of 3.5 GHz ... More>>


Trade: Record Monthly Surplus As Imports Dive

Imports in April 2020 had their biggest fall since October 2009, resulting in a monthly trade surplus of $1.3 billion, Stats NZ said today. “This is the largest monthly trade surplus on record and the annual goods trade deficit is the lowest ... More>>


Media Blues: Stuff Chief Executive Buys Company For $1

Stuff chief executive Sinead Boucher has purchased Stuff from its Australian owners Nine Entertainment for $1.
The chief executive was returning the company to New Zealand ownership, with the sale is expected to be completed by 31 May.
"Our plan is to transition the ownership of Stuff to give staff a direct stake in the business as shareholders," Boucher said in a statement.... More>>


RNZ: Bar Reopening Night 'much, Much Quieter'

Pubs and bars are reporting a sluggish first day back after the lockdown, with the fear of going out, or perhaps the joy of staying home, thought to be a reason for the low numbers. More>>


Stats NZ: New Zealand’s Population Passes 5 Million

New Zealand's resident population provisionally reached 5 million in March 2020, Stats NZ said today. More>>

NIWA: Seven Weeks Of Clearing The Air Provides Huge Benefits: Scientist

Seven weeks of lockdown has provided evidence of how pollution can vanish overnight with benefits for the environment and individuals, says NIWA air quality scientist Dr Ian Longley. Dr Longley has been monitoring air quality in Auckland, Wellington ... More>>


Government: Milestone In Cash Flow Support To SMEs

A significant package of tax reforms will be pushed through all stages in Parliament today to throw a cash flow lifeline to small businesses. More>>


University Of Canterbury: Astronomers Discover The Science Behind Star Bursts That Light Up The Sky

University of Canterbury (UC) astronomers are part of an international team that has revealed how explosions on the surface of a white dwarf star can increase its brightness by thousands or millions of times making it look like a new star. For ... More>>

Air NZ: Air New Zealand Adds Business-timed Flights For Regions

Air New Zealand will operate business-timed flights in and out of a number of regional ports from next month.
The flights will allow customers in Hamilton, Tauranga, Napier, New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Nelson, Dunedin and Invercargill to undertake a day of business in either Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch... More>>