Maintaining staff happiness has been a significant part of Isles Construction's recent growth.

The Manawatū company builds housing and commercial spaces, in an industry that is suffering from serious staffing shortages. But the company's internal culture has been effective in retaining and hiring more staff from Palmerston North's immigrant community.

"What we do at Isles Construction is beneficial not only to the business, but also to the wider community," said project manager, Jim McKenna.

"We have a diverse background and the amount of staff that we employ, we try and
ensure that they feel as comfortable as possible, and feel at home in Palmerston North. And we positively encourage them to get out and explore the city, and the surrounding regions.

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"We hold a bi-monthly company breakfast where everybody can be introduced to each other and also you know, get people included."

One of the beneficiaries of the purposeful internal culture is Yash Sharma who moved to Palmerston North in 2018.

"When someone from a very different background moves to a new country, you can get homesick," he said. "And I can say after two years, I haven't had that feeling yet. So, I take it as a positive sign that Palmerston North has been welcoming to me."

"I hail from India. It can be difficult, but due to the social club that is there in our company, it was so easy to talk to people outside work, get to know each other, and to be honest, make new friends.

"We've had quiz nights, we've had some curry dinners, so that was an interesting one being an Indian. And we've had go-kart racing.

"Just going to these events not only with my colleagues but meeting their families, meeting their partners, their kids, has been amazing."

The company culture means a lot to the team, but for a growing construction firm, it's allowed the company to expand to meet increasing business demand.

"Isles Construction started back in 1973 with my mum and my dad," said managing director, Tarsha Isles.

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"As we've grown a lot over the last five to 10 years, our workforce has become a lot more diverse over those years. And probably too, as Palmerston North city has become a lot more diverse.

"We've got about seven or eight different nationalities working for us, and in all range of jobs too - from senior management, right down to our new guys just starting out.

Video footage supplied by PNCC

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