Auckland Council Chief Executive Jim Stabback today received the findings and recommendations from a review of employee wellbeing support and has committed to becoming an exemplar among employers, when it comes to supporting employee wellbeing.
The review, commissioned by Mr Stabback in late 2020, considered the experience of council staff in relation to how the organisation supports their wellbeing.
“The last year has presented challenges of a scale and intensity that many of us have never had to face before.
“Not only did COVID-19 affect the council’s delivery of services and our bottom line – it changed the way many of our people do their jobs and impacted greatly on their private lives and families.
“Reflecting on this, it seemed right to take a look at what we, as an employer of nearly 7000, are doing to support our people,” says Mr Stabback.
The review found opportunities for improvement in workplace culture, the role of leaders in identifying and responding to wellbeing issues and leadership capability. It acknowledged the impact that continuous change, like restructuring, and workload in light of reduced staff numbers, is having on employees.
“The review found that, for many parts of our organisation, and for many people, the resources and support that we provide, is good. But for some parts of our organisation, there are opportunities for improvement,” says Mr Stabback.
“Some areas for us to focus on include our workplace culture, our leadership capability, dealing with poor behaviour and building trust in the council’s ‘speak up’ channels.”
While the review focused primarily on employees, it also acknowledged the interface between staff and elected members and the need for ongoing conversations across the whole organisation about wellbeing.
“When it comes to wellbeing, we don’t want to be average,” says Mr Stabback. “My aspiration is that Auckland Council is an exemplar on how we support wellbeing.”
Mr Stabback says the first three actions from this work are to look at how the council supports frontline teams who have to deal with unacceptable and/or antisocial behaviour; strengthening the independence of the council’s ‘speak up’ channel and setting up a staff-led Hauora (Wellbeing) Challenger Group.
“This is unlike anything we’ve done before and implementing the review’s findings will take time and determined effort,” says Mr Stabback.
The review was carried out by an internal review team including staff from the council’s Health, Safety and Wellbeing unit and Employment Relations team and includes feedback gathered from targeted interviews with staff, interviews with staff support networks and union representatives, and lead teams across the organisation. It includes insights and data from two staff surveys carried out in 2020 on the impacts of COVID-19 and the most recent staff engagement survey.