Brother has back-to-back wins

By Raewyn Court

Brother NZ keeps its staff engaged by utilising and developing their skills, as well as recognising and rewarding their hard work. Photo / Ted Baghurst
Brother NZ keeps its staff engaged by utilising and developing their skills, as well as recognising and rewarding their hard work. Photo / Ted Baghurst

Proving they are not just a one-hit wonder, Brother International (NZ) has for the second year in a row taken top honours in the small-medium workplace category of the Kenexa Best Workplaces Awards (2012).

Executive chairman Graham Walshe puts the company's consecutive successes down to consistently treating each employee as an individual and caring for the whole person - for their environment, health (physical and mental), safety, monetary needs, training and development, and reward and recognition.

"When individuals are valued in their workplace they feel connected to the company," he says. He believes that leads to high employee engagement, high workplace satisfaction - and pride, commitment and advocacy.

For more than 50 years, Brother NZ has provided the country's retail, corporate and business markets with print and imaging equipment, sewing machines, labelling hardware and garment printers. It employs 51 staff, based in Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington, and this year achieved the best results of all global Brother locations.

In this year's Kenexa Best Workplaces Survey, Brother NZ received a 90.2 per cent response rate from its employees, an increased performance index of 2 per cent from last year, and won the small-medium business category by 1.2 per cent over its nearest rival, Giltrap City Toyota.

Walshe says that from their perspective, Kenexa is the best survey to use for performance measurement because the questions remain the same and can be compared year on year.

"The fact that the survey is anonymous contributes to greater participation," he says.

"We engage our staff by educating them on the overall common goals and objectives of our company. We then relate these common goals to their individual performance agreements," he says.

Brother NZ also keeps its staff engaged by utilising and developing their skills, as well as recognising and rewarding their hard work. Staff are highly valued, and this is summarised by using the Five Rs: recruiting, reporting, rewarding, recognition and retaining.

Open lines and clear communication are important aspects of the company's culture. "In recent years, we have increased communication between the different departments," says Walshe.

The company has improved its communication strategies after being criticised in an earlier survey, achieving this through educating staff on the company's strategy map and balanced scorecard. "These are bridges to close the gap between the company's strategy and actions by business units or individuals.

"With better understanding of the linkage between 'What I need to do' and the company's strategy, we were able to align our staff in the same direction. Managers identify the individuals' expected contributions towards strategic themes, which are found in each job description and newly introduced performance appraisal system.

"The strategy map is applied to key performance areas of an employee's job description, so employees can plainly see how their job is contributing to the overall success of the company."

It is recommended that all managers have weekly meetings with staff and all departments are encouraged to contribute towards a staff newsletter.

Cross-departmental activity through developing working groups is strongly encouraged, and Walshe says that collaboration beyond the departmental framework has much improved co-operative culture and communication within the company.

This year, Brother NZ became involved in sponsorship of the World Rally Championship in New Zealand, and Walshe said one of the company's key objectives was that staff must be engaged and experience the excitement of being the major sponsor of Rally New Zealand. Over a third of staff actively participated in some way.

"We hosted a sponsorship party which included our own internal Brother Staff Cup, with the winner going on an all-expenses paid trip to Auckland to watch the WRC," Walshe says.

FIFTEEN BEST SMALL-MEDIUM WORKPLACES (50-149 staff)

Organisation ranking:

1- Brother International (NZ)
2- Giltrap City Toyota
3 - Otago Museum
4 - Giltrap Audi
5 - SLI Systems
6 - Provoke
7 - Giltrap North Shore
8 - CORE Education
9 - Hyundai Motors New Zealand
10 - FUJIFILM NZ
11 - Vista Entertainment Solutions
12 - Yealands Estate Wines
13 - Soltius New Zealand
14 - Miles Toyota
15 - MRC Transmark NZ

- NZ Herald

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