Specific advice for the business practices of Crown Entities

Staff Engagement and Consultation

Employee engagement has been described as employees being intellectually and emotionally committed to the goals of their organisation and work group. When an employee is 'engaged' they are more likely to speak positively of their organisation to others, to apply their best efforts to their work, and to want to remain part of the organisation. Effective engagement is a proven way to foster better organisational results.

'Good employers’ must ensure that they engage staff. They cannot know fully about issues and concerns unless they have consulted with their employees. Obtaining staff participation in the process to analyse employment areas and address any concerns raised is critical to ensuring that the right areas are addressed and the most effective changes are made.

Creating a culture of engagement

  • Build commitment to equal opportunity and change
  • Provide employers with the opportunity to test their own thinking
  • Encourage the development of ideas and worker innovation
  • Provide the opportunity for employees to participate in decision-making
  • Help identify barriers to equal employment opportunities
  • Enable employees to share responsibility for action
  • Improve workplace morale

To engage everyone, it is critical to ensure that the organisation has a well developed system or process for consultation and information-exchange between and among the workers, unions and employer.

Examples of consulting as widely as possible

  • A cross-section of men and women of different ages and ethnicities who work in diverse roles
  • Established employee and union groups or committees
  • Managers, to elicit their commitment to EEO and to organisational change, and to establish what the business issues are so that EEO interventions are aligned with workplace change (for example, if the organisation is re-structuring this may mean that issues around recruitment are a high priority)
  • Chief Executives because leadership from the top is vital if equal employment opportunities is to become part of organisational culture.

 Ways to engage and consult with staff

  • Establishing a working group consisting of employee, unions and management representatives at the beginning of the process to develop and implement the EEO programme. Where there is a partnership relationship already in place, this would be a helpful starting point, for example Partnership for Quality, Bipartite Forums
  • Liaising with workplace union/s. 'Good employers’ recognise and actively engage with unions in their workplace on substantive issues that affect the workforce. They are supportive of unions, work constructively with them and recognise the right of employees to be union members and to participate in union activities
  • Working with pay and employment equity (PAEE) review committees. See page 54 of the PAEE Review Workbook
  • Working with staff or team meetings, or other networking meetings for specific groups such as women, Māori, or Pasifika
  • Conducting surveys - questionnaires, focus groups and one-on-one interviews
  • Discussions in performance management reviews and exit interviews
  • Working with diversity or EEO councils or summits.
Many organisations are already engaging employees and forming partnerships between staff, unions and management on workplace issues. Provision should be made to use and develop existing mechanisms and methods to ensure the organisation integrates the development and implementation of the EEO plan of action throughout the organisation.
Models of successful engagement and worker participation
  • Health sector: unions and employers have formalised a Health Sector Code of Good Faith. This consensus document was developed by DHBNZ and the CTU and is now a Schedule in the Employment Relations Act. The Code establishes processes about relationships, advocacy and speaking out, contracting out, collective bargaining, industrial action and patient safety.
  • Certain District Health Boards, where there are engagement workshops involving unions and management
  • Pay and Employment Equity Reviews (PAEE) are currently occurring in the education, health and broader public sector and require a committee to be established in partnership from the beginning.
  • Partnership for Quality (PfQ) agreement between the PSA and the Government. A resource kit for HR practitioners is available on the State Services Commission website.
  • Part 2A of the Health and Safety in Employment (HSE) Amendment Act 2002, where the purpose and provisions of employee participation in health and safety are outlined.
  • In organisations that use hui or fono participation methods.