Congratulations to Woods - One of 2017 Best Employers in Australasian Awards!

  • 22 August 2017

Congratulations to Woods - One of 2017 Best Employers in Australasian Awards!

Woods, a New Zealand- and employee-owned multi-disciplinary services consultancy, has been judged as one of New Zealand and Australia’s best employers in the 2017 Aon Hewitt Best Employer accreditation process

The most credible study of its kind in Australia and New Zealand, the Aon Hewitt accreditation process uses a mix of surveys and interviews to determine the organizations who record high employee engagement scores and deliver outstanding people practices. This year 123 organisations took part in the process - 16 Australasian businesses were accredited Best Employer status.

Managing Director, Daniel Williams - who is also an NZIS Board member, says "Woods are really proud of being recognised as being a best employer for 2017, more importantly, it shows that member firms of NZIS can be recognised as best employers, and if we want we to raise the bar in terms of employment and retention of staff we should all aim for these results."

Woods had an 81% engagement rate in their initial employee survey and delivered a 93% employee engagement result this year which put them in the upper end of the upper quartile of NZ and Australian businesses. Last year’s list of Best Employers recorded an average engagement score of 83%.

On each of the four measures of talent management (employee engagement, aligned employer brand, effective leadership, and high-performance culture), Woods rated higher than the standard of Best Employers 2016, something Woods managing director is very proud of.

“We are absolutely thrilled to have made the list, and to be in such amazing company. The Company was established in 1970 and when I joined 25 years ago there were four of us – now we have 120 in the team but we still think of ourselves as being a family, which is why I think our employees enjoy working here,” says Williams.

Woods, which has worked on some of the biggest projects in New Zealand including the Long Bay, Stonefields and Millwater housing developments, works hard to ensure their employees are happy in the workplace. In 2016 their Newmarket offices underwent a major redesign, to better reflect their business and culture. Their top-of-the-line office fitout includes open-plan office space, break out pods for collaboration, a large kitchen for work drinks and barbecues, and a dedicated training space with its own kitchenette. Woods regularly use this space to run training to help their staff develop new skills and progress in their career.

Other ways they achieve high engagement:

• They retain a flat structure, with no HR or marketing departments. All directors are accessible, involved in projects and know everyone in the business by name. They encourage face-to-face chats over email or phone calls.

• There is no tolerance for bullying of any kind. The organization encourages diversity and expects their clients to respect this too – in fact, they let one major client go because of the way they continually treated Woods staff off site.

• They enjoy each other’s company. There is an active social club and every Friday Woods puts on beers and a BBQ.

• There is a real caring, “family vibe” at Woods. Staff are given the flexibility to take time off for things like children’s sports days or school camps.

• Likewise, they support their employees’ cultural and spiritual beliefs and interests. Employees are supported in observing their personal religious days or cultural events. This year they held an international lunch, where Woods paid for ingredients and employees proudly cooked up their national dish to share with their colleagues.

• Woods invest heavily on technology to give their employees access to the best tools to do what they need. “We like to think that we lead the pack in terms of acquiring and adopting the use of new and innovative technology.”

• They invest in team building, flying their staff in Christchurch up to be a part of it. Amazing Races, costume parties, meals out, gaming nights, epic Christmas parties, family days – Woods see social events as an investment in their people.

• They really support career development – in fact, there’s an expectation of it. To progress employee’s careers they offer career training, individual career path plans, give them access and exposure to the right projects and offer regular training at their in-house training space with specific providers. They even sit employees down with an independent knowledge accessor who tells them what they need to do next to get to where they want to be.

Many companies don’t see the need focusing on employee engagement but Woods can see a clear pay-off when it comes to recruiting and retaining the best talent, especially in a small pool of talent where competition is fierce.

Mark Fisher, managing director of Eighty4 Recruitment which specializes recruiting for the construction, planning and surveying market, agrees. “It’s much easier to recruit high-performing talent for a company like Woods because candidates can immediately see the benefits of working there. Good people are looking for a company that really values and cares about their staff and Woods has a positive, successful vibe as soon as you walk through the door of their custom-designed office. They always have social activities on the go and they’re extremely family focused – a major consideration for the dynamic demographic who want to have a life outside of work.”

Fisher says Woods’ success in the industry and their work on many of the exciting iconic projects shaping NZ communities gives employees a higher sense of purpose, which makes for meaningful work – “which makes for happier employees”.

“We find most of the candidates we deal with are wanting a clear career path and the promise of ongoing development and progress in their role. The fact that Woods can prove this by showing the longevity and progression of existing staff definitely makes them stand out among their competition. It’s true that a great company attracts great people,” says Fisher.

Williams says, “We are very excited to have been acknowledged as a great employer amongst these prestigious firms. We undertook the surveys as an internal exercise to identify any issues that we may have had. To achieve that results that we did, and to have them recognised externally is an amazing achievement by the whole team at Woods."