Workplace bullying is unwanted and unwarranted behaviour that a person finds offensive, intimidating or humiliating and is repeated so as to have a detrimental effect upon a person's dignity, safety and well-being.
'Designated groups' is a term used to describe people who are more likely to experience discrimination and disadvantage in employment. These include Māori, Pacific Island peoples, other ethnic groups and migrants, disabled people, lesbian and gay people, employees with family or caring responsibilities, women, and older or younger workers.
Discrimination means basing workplace decisions or actions on issues which don't relate to the job, such as someone's personal characteristics, background or beliefs. Discrimination can be direct (eg refusing to hire women with children or Asian people) or indirect (eg holding a job interview somewhere that is inaccessible for wheelchair users).
New Zealand's population is becoming increasingly diverse, creating new opportunities and challenges for employers. Versatile workplaces tap into the potential of the diverse population to improve productivity and develop better customer relations.
Equal employment opportunities (EEO) means ensuring that all job-seekers and employees are considered for the employment of their choice and that they have the chance to perform to their full potential. EEO is about creating a versatile workplace that enables people to be productive and effective at work. It is based on fairness, merit, cost-effectiveness, active employee involvement and good business planning.
An EEO/ Diversity Co-ordinator can help drive the development and implementation of EEO within an organisation to ensure it makes the most of the diverse population. The co-ordinator may provide: EEO planning, EEO training, EEO data collection and monitoring, EEO auditing and reporting systems, evaluation and reporting of EEO programmes, sharing information, identifying problems and trouble-shooting.
More than 400 New Zealand employers are members of the EEO Employers Group. Members represent all sizes of organisation and sectors of employment. Members are entitled to use the EEO Employers Group logo in their communications and branding, in recruitment advertisements and organisational materials as per the membership agreement. Organisations using this logo are recognised as Employers of Choice by jobseekers, employees, clients/customers, the media and the general public. To become a member of the EEO Employers Group refer to the join up page for more details.
The EEO Trust is tasked with raising awareness and supporting businesses to achieve success through managing diversity. For more information.
The online EEO Library catalogue has about 5,000 items. Some are electronic references that anyone can access and others are publications that EEO Employers Group members can borrow. Items in the catalogue include New Zealand and international articles, books, reports, workplace guides, journals, videos and websites covering a wide range of EEO/diversity and related topics.
Go to the EEO Library catalogue.
The EEO Trust Work & Life Awards have been held since 1998 to champion and celebrate best practice in work-life balance in New Zealand workplaces. Every year, the entrants and winners are profiled in a substantial publication. See the Work & Life Awards section for more information.
Employee turnover is a feature of all workplaces, with employees moving on to other jobs, further training, education, life events, retirement and so on. High turnover is costly, as organisations lose the skills, experience and knowledge of departing staff, and have to recruit and train new employees. Low turnover can be problematic if employees are staying for the wrong reasons, for example if they are unhappy but cannot find alternative employment. EEO and diversity management can help reduce costly employee turnover.
For more on the business benefits of EEO/diversity management.
Employers of Choice are recognised as leading employers by jobseekers, employees, clients/customers and other workplaces. Members of the EEO Employers Group are recognised as Employers of Choice due to their commitment to quality employment practices and to achieving success through diversity. The EEO Employers Group logo is marketed to jobseekers as a sign that organisations using it are Employers of Choice and committed to EEO.
To find out more on the Employment Relations Act and its implications for workplaces, contact the Employment Relations Service or on 0800 800 863.
The Employment Relations Service is part of the Department of Labour. It offers advice on the Employment Relations Act and other employment legislation. Its information line number is 0800 800 863 or visit its website.
Exit interviews are held with employees who are leaving an organisation. They can be useful for identifying what employees found positive and negative about the workplace, and their ideas on how it could be improved.
Family-friendly employers recognise that employees have family responsibilities as well as work responsibilities, and assist them to manage their multiple commitments.
Employment-related causes of fatigue include overwork, long hours, shiftwork and stress. Stress and fatigue cost business by lowering productivity and performance. They can increase mistakes, accidents and near-misses as well as staff turnover, absenteeism and sick leave.
Quality flexible work gives people options to manage their working life and their life outside work. It covers flexibility around working hours and locations, and includes a wide range of possibilities:
The following article from the June 2008 issue of Employment Today gives guidance for employers on working within the flexible working arrangements legislation.
Gradual or phased retirement enables older workers to slowly reduce their work roles and responsibilities. It enables organisations to retain older workers' skills, knowledge and experience for longer. Gradual retirement options include initiatives such as part-time work and job-sharing, contract or project work, special leave options and mentoring.
Workplaces need to ensure a safe environment for workers.
Harassment is any unwelcome comment, conduct or gesture which is insulting, intimidating, humiliating, malicious, degrading or offensive, and is either repeated or an isolated incident which is so significant that it adversely affects someone's performance, contribution or work environment.
Employment is one of the five areas covered by the Human Rights Act 1993. Thirteen grounds for discrimination are covered by the Act. This means that employers (or those acting on their behalf, eg recruitment consultants) cannot discriminate against jobseekers or employees on any of the following grounds:
The Act also covers harassment of jobseekers and employees on any of the above grounds.
The Human Rights Commission is a statutory body that administers the Human Rights Act 1993. The Commission's primary functions are:
The Commission also has the power to resolve disputes relating to unlawful discrimination. The Act's intention is to help ensure that all people in New Zealand are treated fairly and equally.
For more on the Human Rights Act and its implications for workplaces, contact the Human Rights Commission on their helpline 0800 496 877.
An induction or orientation process welcomes new employees. This process could include a checklist of what the new employee needs to know, a 'buddy' to help them settle in and show them around the workplace and its facilities, and a pack of relevant workplace policies and plans.
Workplaces have found that improved literacy rates have reduced accidents, improved staff retention and improved productivity. For more information on workplace literacy programmes, contact Workbase or Literacy Aotearoa.
Statutory paid parental leave was introduced in New Zealand in July 2001. The Act has recently been amended to include self-employed people. Many employers top-up the statutory scheme to help attract, retain and reward valuable employees.
For more on paid parental leave, including the rights and responsibilities of employers and employees, see Employment Relations Service information.
For an overview of the legislation.
The Privacy Act 1993 must be complied with when collecting and using personal information about employees and jobseekers.
Using the EEO Employers Group logo in job advertisements indicates to jobseekers that companies are committed to EEO and diversity.
In order to appoint the best person, ensure that:
Making recruitment decisions on the basis of relevant merit means selecting the person who is best able to carry out the requirements of the job. It provides a good basis for all employment decisions including recruitment, training, promotion and remuneration.
Remuneration includes money and non-cash benefits provided to employees for carrying out their work. Remuneration can be a flat-rate or variable eg. performance-related. 'Equitable remuneration' is both fair and effective. The HRINZ website includes tools for assessing employment and pay equity developed by the National Advisory Council on the Employment of Women.
Reverse discrimination is against the principles of EEO as it essentially means replacing one form of discrimination with another. An example of reverse discrimination would be giving a less able candidate a job simply because they were, for instance, female, disabled, or Māori. Reverse discrimination is not good for business.
Employment-related causes of stress include overwork, unrealistic workloads, bullying and harassment, and lack of control over work content, scheduling or environment. Both stress and fatigue cost businesses, for example by lowering productivity and performance; increasing the number of mistakes, accidents and near-misses; increasing employee turnover; increasing absenteeism and sick leave; and lowering motivation and commitment. See Occupational Safety & Health Service.
Succession planning enables workplaces to plan for employee movement and turnover to help ensure skill and knowledge gaps are promptly filled. For example, retiring employees could participate in mentoring and training programmes for younger employees or an employee could be seconded into a new role on a trial basis while the post-holder is on a career break. Good succession planning does not assume that all employees are keen on promotion to a higher grade or level, but considers a wide range of work options.
Versatile workplaces set aside preconceptions and habit in order to maximise available talent. They regard people as a critical strategic asset and create environments where people can reach their full potential at work.
You can download our publication Versatile Workplace - Business Success (1.3Mb pdf)
Workplace wellness helps increase productivity and performance, decrease absenteeism and sick leave, improve morale, and decrease workplace mistakes, accidents and near-misses. Promoting wellness is not just about avoiding ill-health, but about proactively improving employee health and wellbeing. Wellness initiatives should examine both the causes of ill-health (eg long hours, shiftwork, fatigue) as well as its effects (eg breathing problems, poor fitness, absenteeism, workplace accidents).
Whānau interviews enable job applicants to bring along family, friends or colleagues to the interview, to offer support and share their views of the person's ability. This is especially useful for people from cultures that discourage individuals from singing their own praises. Evidence from workplaces suggests it is a very successful way of assessing job applicants.
See our publication Making a difference:Why and how to employ and work effectively with Māori.
Collecting and analysing information on a workforce profile is a key part of developing EEO policies, procedures and action plans and other workplace change. Analysing this information enables an organisation to identify differences based on gender, ethnicity, age etc. Organisations should always ensure they are complying with the Privacy Act when compiling workforce profiles. Employees need to understand that providing the information is voluntary.
Work-life initiatives recognise that employees have rich lives outside work including family, friends, community, sports and other interests. Work-life support can improve recruitment and retention, increase morale and commitment, improve productivity and performance, and reduce absenteeism and turnover. Versatile workplaces offer staff options such as flexible working and family-friendly initiatives. For more on work-life initiatives, see the EEO Trust Work and Life Awards.
An organisation's workplace culture can act as a key recruitment and retention incentive, or a cause of people moving on. One way to assess a workplace culture is to carry out a workplace survey, or use exit interviews to find out what employees think about the workplace. A workplace culture may be more sympathetic or appealing to some groups of employees than others so it is important to identify and act on these differences.
Workplace surveys, also known as employee surveys and climate surveys, are useful for gathering numerical (quantitative) and some qualitative data about employees' circumstances, views, experiences and ideas. As this is a written form of consultation, it is most effective in workplaces where employees are used to writing/using computers.
Developing and implementing workplace change is likely to be more effective if employees are involved in the whole process. Workplace taskforces help ensure that responsibility, workload and ownership are shared across the organisation and that any developments are informed by diverse views and interests. Taskforce members could include employees, union/employee association delegates, managers/supervisors, members of designated groups and facilitators/consultants.