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2019 Humankind Workplace Employee Experience Awards Winners

5 NOVEMBER, 2019


2019 Humankind Workplace Employee Experience Awards Winners Announced

Winners of the 2019 Humankind Employee Experience (EX) Workplace and Inspiration Awards were announced and celebrated in Wellington tonight, with top honours being taken out by Xero, Overland Footwear, land surveying firm Lysaght Consulting, specialised industrial services company Cake Commercial, and Ballance Agri-Nutrients. Kirsti Grant, Director of People Experience at Auror, took out the inaugural EX Designer of the Year Award.

In its second year, the EX Awards celebrate New Zealand organisations that are designing great employee experiences. Organisations participating in the programme went through a robust assessment process including a survey and employee interviews, and Associate Director Employee Experience at Humankind, Leighton Abbot, said that this meant that the Humankind team had great confidence in the finalists and award winners.

Tauranga’s Lysaght Consultants won the Small Workplace Category (20-50 employees).

The Lysaght team specialises in land surveying, civil engineering, and land development but during lunch breaks you’re likely to see them out surfing, swimming, paddle boarding, running – they have a very active crew,” said Abbot.

Lysaght encourage their people to do something that raises their heart rate every day, and offer a 30 minute extension to lunch breaks twice a week to encourage people to exercise during work hours.

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The company’s Director of Culture, Fiona Lysaght, said “I know we have a really great culture, I feel it and sense it every day. In the people and in the way they are with each other, the way that they work.”

“Humankind have validated what we have been doing, confirming that feeling that we have around the office,” Lysaght said, “and it’s great to be recognised for what we have achieved.”

Industrial protection services company Cake Commercial Services took out the Small to Medium Workplace Category (51-150 employees)

“Keeping industrial and infrastructure assets across New Zealand protected from the elements is their core business, but it is how Cake Commercial care for their people and invest in training that made them really stand out to us,” said Abbot.

“With a job that can at times scale some heights, knowing you are safe, well trained, and that your crew is there for you is what matters.”

Financial lectures, personal development, insurance cover, and mutual respect is what is on offer at Cake Commercial Services.

Cake CEO Clive McKay said, “We give a lot and we expect a lot in return. We really do care about the guys and we want them to have a career with us.”

“It’s exciting for the whole team to be a part of the awards. We are really pleased with what we’ve achieved, and that it was based on feedback for improvement from the team,” said McKay.

Overland Footwear were crowned winners in the Medium-Large Workplace Category (151-500 employees)

Footwear brand Overland is no newcomer to workplace awards, having backed up many wins in the old IBM Best Workplaces Awards now with two years of Humankind EX Awards wins.

“Retail is a challenging environment these days, and Overland is responding by doing more of what they know leads to results – enabling, inspiring, and rewarding their people,” said Abbot.

“They are fully geared around delivering an amazing employee experience, and the shoes are pretty great too,” he said.

With a culture of celebrating everything, 78 percent of Overland roles are filled internally. If you join as a part-timer you will be given the tools and resources to continually progress.

People and Culture Director at Overland, Erin O’Brien said everyone is really excited about the award.

“The results are effectively driven by all the people. It’s always an honour to be recognised for the work we do.”

“The business has a heart. It is not just a commercial business, we look after the whole person and no matter how long they are with us we want them to have a wonderful experience,” she said.

Accounting software firm Xero was named winner of the Large Workplace Category (500+ employees)

Having grown to a staff of over 1000 in New Zealand and many more overseas in a short space of time, Xero’s values have hardly changed from the outset, yet the Humankind team found that they are still a daily part of working at Xero.

“In these days of automation and machine learning – which Xero is also totally into, by the way – it is cool to hear how their most important value is simply to be ‘human’,” said Abbot.

“This means looking after each other, bringing your whole self to work, and seeing work as one part of the bigger picture of life.”

Ryan Ghisi, General Manager Global People Programs at Xero said, “It’s a great validation for us to know that externally we are being recognised for all the good work we are doing internally.”

At Xero, technology is used to check in with all staff bi-weekly, and this engagement combined with follow through and really listening underpins the company’s approach to its wellbeing, performance and recognition programmes.

“We take a collaborative approach,” said Ghisi, “So the initiatives and solutions we implement are actually what employees have asked for and want, not just what we think is best for them.”

Employee Experience Initiative and Designer of the Year Award winners inspire

The Humankind EX Initiative and Designer of the Year Awards celebrate achievements in employee centred design.

The winner of the 2019 Humankind Employee Experience Initiative of the Year is Ballance Agri-Nutrients whose submission on their safety and wellbeing programme titled Care, Ownership Wellbeing and Safety (COWS) was described as profound and organisation wide. Team members talk about their colleagues showing vulnerability in the workplace, and more openly sharing challenges around mental health.

The winner of the 2019 Humankind Employee Experience Designer of the Year is Kirsti Grant, Director of People Experience at Auror who leads by example, taking an employee centric approach and focusing on measurement from the beginning. Some of Kirsti’s initiatives that have received great feedback and made a big impact include parental leave policies, onboarding, and revisiting the guiding principles of the company.


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