HPE - In the News

April 2018 - Peace not war in industrial relations - Workplace Relations Minister Iain Lees-Galloway

"Speaking at the Employment Law Matters Annual Forum in Wellington, Lees-Galloway said he wanted to see the a new partnership approach adopted, one that brings employees into the decision-making process.

Called High Performance High Engagement, it centres around an idea that people closest to the problem, including workers and unions, are best placed to gather to brainstorm solutions.

The process has been adopted by Air New Zealand and KiwiRail, with Lees-Galloway telling the conference he has visited the latter company to see it in action.

“It’s a way of working that requires quite a bit of investment from the employer and it requires a different way of thinking from unions as well.

“It is a much more collaborative and engaged approach to industrial relations than perhaps the combat and conflict of the past but in my view, this is the future of industrial relations.”

13 Feb 2018Finance Minister Grant Robertson promises to deliver NZ's first 'wellbeing' budget:

Robertson called for "a renewed social partnership between businesses, workers and the government work, and cited Air New Zealand's "high performance engagement" model, which involved workers in strategic decisions and change processes, and had helped lift productivity and create a more harmonious workplace.
16 Nov 2017 Labour MP Marja Lubeck (former E tu Aviation Director), Maiden Speech to Parliament

"High Performance High Engagement is a workplace democracy model. It makes employees part of the decision-making process in their workplaces. At Air New Zealand, for example, for the last five years we have worked under a model where those closest to the problem in the workplace work together to find sustainable long-term solutions, and, as a result, everyone wins. It's about companies, their employees, and unions working on shared interests, building trust and relationships. People are treated respectfully, treated decently; they're engaged; there's positive energy. It translates to higher discretionary effort, productivity, and efficiency. It is a balancing act to improve the working conditions of New Zealand's workers and their families while also ensuring that businesses can thrive. It requires hard work and an open-minded approach on the part of both unions and employers."
20 November 2017 - High Performance High Engagement National Framework for DHB's

"All District Health Boards and participating Unions commit to work in partnership in accordance with Te Tiriti o Waitangi and utilising the principles of High Performance High Engagement (HPHE)."

The framework is a comprehensive document and areas covered include:
  • Vision
  • Objectives
  • Scope of HPHE
  • Governance
  • Decision making
  • Engagement
  • Integration with other initiatives
  • HPHE dispute resolution
  • HPHE protocols
  • Selection of participants
  • Confidentiality
  • Dealing with collective issues
  • Dealing with Employment security for HPHE initiatives
  • Rostering and pay for HPHE activities collective issues

In 2017 the Ministry of Health NZ began a High Performance High Engagement initiative for District Health Boards:

The Ministry’s role, as one of the tripartite parties, is to provide assistance to DHBs entering HPHE. Some funding has been approved and as DHBs engage in development work and training and any resultant work with consultants they will be able to access funding.

26 October, 2017 - E tu Aviation welcomes new Government's rejection of low wage economy

E tu Aviation has welcomed the new Prime Minister’s call for productive relationships between business and workers, and an end to low pay and its negative economic effects.

In her speech to the Council of Trade Unions yesterday, Jacinda Ardern praised the High-Performance Engagement agreement which E tu and other unions have with Air New Zealand.

"That agreement means business and unions sit down together and help each other with their problems and the results speak for themselves," says E tu’s Head of Aviation, Kelvin Ellis.

"Working together has saved jobs, ensured good pay and conditions and helped transform Air New Zealand into one of the world’s most successful and profitable airlines.

"The new Government has clearly drawn the lesson that working together benefits all parties, and we’re delighted with its support for this model."

Kelvin has also welcomed Ms Ardern’s rejection of the low-wage approach of many employers which actually erodes productivity.

"Ms Ardern has correctly made the link between an engaged, well-paid workforce and Air New Zealand’s strong financial position.

"We fully support her message on this: that low wages aren’t simply a problem for low-wage workers, they are a problem for businesses and the economy as a whole."

8 April 2017 - The NZ business where 46,000 people a year want to work

Over the past five years, the airline has introduced a High Performance Engagement programme in conjunction with the unions which cover about two thirds of the workforce.

This is based on genuine consultation during all aspects of any change process, and according to a representative of the biggest union group, it's working.

The E tu union's head of aviation, Kelvin Ellis, says that from the time when workers first start, there's a collaborative approach.

''We still have the odd hiccup but there's a process for talking to each other rather than shouting at each other across the street," he says.

When the airline won awards for service, it was a reflection of the work staff did and good for morale.

Union membership is growing at the airline because the organisation is a means for staff to work alongside the company, rather than being locked in conflict with it, says Ellis.

King says staff culture is one of the three main metrics at the airline, besides customer engagement and commercial goals. It is something chief executive Christopher Luxon insists on.

''What I like about the executive and Christopher is that we manage all of those things together. It's not just about the commercial at the expense of the culture or the customer. Every conversation we have is about all three of those elements."

5 November 2016 - Grant Robertson: Launch of the Future of Work Commission Report

We are recommending a greater sense of ‘workplace democracy’. In our project this was exemplified by Air New Zealand and E Tū and other unions in their High Performance Engagement process.

HPE is built around teams made up of equal number of management and workers solving problems and making plans by consensus.  Once an organisation that was riven with industrial dispute, HPE is contributing to Air New Zealand being a more productive, inclusive working environment with better pay and conditions.  We want to support other workplaces across New Zealand to adopt new models of workforce engagement. 
6 August 2015 - Working Wonders

As unprofitable Government-owned rail operator KiwiRail struggles to reduce its reliance on Crown funding, it’s hoping a new agreement with unions will boost productivity. It’s close to finalising a memorandum of understanding with the Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU) and other unions on high performance engagement (HPE) with its 4000 staff, a move only a handful of New Zealand companies have made, although it’s common globally.

Those that have include Air New Zealand, which until 18 months ago had an adversarial relationship with its unions and 11,000 staff, and Auckland Council, which introduced “The way we work” to its 8000 staff three years ago.
24 July 2015 - What's it really like to work at Air NZ?

"We sat down with our union partners and asked how can we do this differently, we're all exhausted. As Christopher said, 'It's like the Punch and Judy Show. I hit you, you hit me, we throw a tantrum, you throw a tantrum,'," says the Australian-born Murphy, who came to the airline from the Campbell Soup Company.

While there are varying views among unions and the company on the new industrial landscape, they are unanimous about the past.

Murphy tells of "anger and mistrust" in the relationship, pilots talk of bad blood and a complete breakdown in relations at some points and engineers speak about being "damaged and wounded" in dealings with the airline.

It had to change. Luxon, the pragmatic airline outsider who is comfortable with unions, has made peace with the travel trade and simplified the business, saw an opportunity to do something about it. "We sat down with our union partners and asked how can we do this differently," says Murphy.

What became known as High Performance Engagement (HPE) had to start with the unions which represent more than 70 per cent of the airline's workforce - far greater than the national average of 16 per cent of workers. "They very much trusted the unions - they didn't much trust Air New Zealand to be on their side," says Murphy.

The airline had to convince unions it had no ulterior motives and "then we together went to employees with our hands open and saying there's no agenda here. We just want to work better for the benefit of all of us." First, they had to get an outsider to set up the system.

"We knew we had to use an external partner because there was a long history of bad behaviour on both sides, us as much as anyone else."

23 July 2015 - Air NZ and unions collaborate on high performance engagement

Air New Zealand has spent the past 18 months working with its staff and unions on high performance engagement designed to lift productivity by allowing worker participation in decision-making.

2014 - PSA Briefing to the government

High performance / high engagement work practices:

The PSA is leading the way in working with employers to implement high performance/high engagement programmes which lead to significant productivity improvements. We know this is also a goal of government through the Better Public Services programme.

High performing workplaces:

A high performing workplace is one where our members can mobilise their knowledge to improve the efficiency and quality of services and embed positive and productive workplace relationships and practices with a view to creating sustainable services, sustainable jobs, and productive workplaces.

There is a significant body of evidence that high performing workplaces are those which have high levels of staff engagement. Unions have a unique ability to deliver the commitment of staff. This ensures programmes can achieve maximum efficiency, and lays the foundation for a better long-term working relationship.

The PSA and its members want to see public services delivered as efficiently and effectively as possible, through building a workplace culture where staff and management work together.

June 2012

"If employees choose to be represented by a Union it is absolutely crucial and essential that the Unions be at the table and involved and engaged in the same way as their members. Engagement strategies, whether it be Six Sigma, Lean or any of those things that do not involve the Union are not sustainable and, in fact will be undermined over a long period of time."

Dr. Tom Schneider is a global authority on High Performance Workplaces.
8 June 2012 - Public Sector needs bolder change management - expert

Dr Schneider said in a traditional organisation, management would tell their workers what the problems were and how they should fix them.

In a high performance organisation the manager goes in and says: 'We aren't getting the results: tell me what the cause of the problem is.'

"So the manager, instead of being a boss telling people what to do and checking upon them, is know recognising the people who have the knowledge to solve the problems are the people who do the job."
5 April 2011 - High Performance depends on High Engagement

"... it could be tempting for organisations to plow into high-performance mode by focusing on customers, improving quality and building market share, but to forget about the critical parallel goal of building employee engagement and a great workplace. "Organisations that focus purely on delivering results ... are missing a significant opportunity,"

Experienced High Performance Engagement Facilitator, Coach and Consultant.

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Karl Perry

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