Disengaged workers and absenteeism are a challenge for most businesses but there are things bosses can do to change the culture of their workplaces. Allowing workers the freedom to be themselves, understanding out-of-work pressures and providing a path for progression can make a big difference when it comes to fostering a team that goes above and beyond for a job they love. Carmen Hall talks to those on the frontline.
When Angelique Scott's father died recently her colleagues rallied.
The manager of Personnel Resources/Temp Resources in Rotorua said she needed to take two weeks off but ''my staff sprang into action''. Then they prepared for the last lockdown at the drop of a hat.
Scott credits their ''kind and caring'' attitudes to good office culture and having fun.
''There is a lot of laughter and that's probably one of the biggest things. We know when to knuckle down...but we also have fun.''
She said another important factor was hiring people who were a good fit for the company.
''It's the people that you employ that make the team.''
Being understandable and flexible also made a difference.
''Everybody in life is always going through something, and if you keep that in mind at all times it can make the environment much nicer.''
Morning teas, birthday shouts and chocolates also helped.
A ''roller-coaster'' ride is how Tony Clark describes his early career, which paved the way into a management role with one of New Zealand's most iconic companies.
The acidulation production manager at Ballance in Tauranga, who became a father of twins at the age of 19, says he was initially an apprentice builder.
However, when the global financial crisis hit he was made redundant.
''I couldn't get another job so I went labouring for a concrete place for about a year and then I was a forklift driver at EastPack.''
An entry-level labourer's position at Ballance ''is the beginning of my story''.
He hit his 11th anniversary at Ballance on August 23 and has progressed through the ranks and picked up a fitter and turner trade along the way.
His advice to others is ''to waste no opportunities that are given''.
''I'm pretty driven. Every two years I have managed to change roles via promotion.''
Clark praises Ballance's culture and says it has inspirational leaders and great workers who were good people.
Now he manages a team of 30 and liked the dynamic atmosphere.
''Things are always new and exciting.''
Legacy Funerals general manager Kiri Randall said her team was also amazing.
They stepped to the fore following the latest lockdown, which presented its own challenges.
''As you can imagine, for funeral directors who say yes to families all the time, then having to say no, it was very difficult working in these circumstances.'
''We split the team into two and had to change the roster in two hours. We had 12 funerals planned and they had to contact each family.''
The embalmers also had to check the loved ones in their care every day, she said, as Legacy has its own cremator.
Randall said the company didn't have an issue with absenteeism - in fact, it was the opposite.
''We recently had four staff who were very unwell with the flu and they all struggled being told they couldn't come to work. I wonder whether it is the work we do.
''It makes such a difference in people's lives and they genuinely love what they do.''
Meanwhile, Boffa Miskell was adding an extra day to Labour weekend for their staff.
Chief executive Kerry Gupwell said it wants to recognise our people who've been doing an amazing job this year: managing workloads, meeting conflicting or gruelling deadlines, home-schooling, and dealing with the complications of life in varying levels of lockdown.
"Our people have been giving it 110 per cent, as they always do; and we thought an extra day to recharge was important."
Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Matt Cowley said owners and managers should look back on when they were members of a team - what made some teams better than others?
''Typically, the best teams know how their individual tasks contribute to the organisation's mission. Good workplace culture also has a respectful and assertive conversation between team members to avoid minor issues becoming major ones.
''Great teams also help each other in a supportive way, particularly if a staff member needs to leave work early due to illness or family matters.''
There were dull sides to every job, so the team needs to develop ways to have fun and lighten the day to keep people motivated and vent stress, he said.
''Culture is not what's written in a formal policy or statement. Culture is led by the team leaders, owners and executives, as everyone else follows their actions and behaviour.''
The Chamber was not-for-profit, so we cannot afford to pay our staff high wages, he said.
''We need to have a great workplace culture to retain our staff and build relationships with local businesses. Also, we're in the people business as our staff are generally uplifting, connecting and supporting local business owners.
''We have a high trust model to ensure that our team has the freedom to be themselves and show their genuine desire to help support and connect our members.''