Good Employer Series: Your workplace culture is your competitive advantage


Media headlines of late have focussed on the “perfect storm of wage inflation, increased overheads and talent shortages” in New Zealand.

Organisations seeking to grow are competing with border restrictions for those trying to enter the country and many taking the opportunity to do their OE now New Zealand is opening up to the world.   In addition, highly skilled workers are part of the ageing population and the ‘Great Resignation’ phenomenon.  Organisations are facing high recruitment costs due to more discerning job seekers, and many have turned to offering significant referral and signing bonuses for current or prospective employees.

In this article, we explore what a good employer looks like in an employee’s market.



The ‘Great Resignation’ and Employee Retention

Since the pandemic, the ‘Great Resignation’ has dominated business headlines.  The phrase describes the record rates of resignations we are seeing as employees’ work priorities shift.

Workplace culture and flexibility have become as important as pay and progression opportunities.  Working from home is increasingly being seen as the desirable norm as employees place increasing value in work-life balance.


Is Elon Musk right?

Whether employers are prepared to facilitate this work-life balance is a question of culture.  A more extreme example of this is Elon Musk telling Tesla employees to return to in-person work or “pretend to work somewhere else”(ie. leave the company).  While Tesla is known for its innovation, we question whether this extends to adapting to the future of work.

Not all leaders have been in favour of Musk’s hard-line directive.  Critics have been quick to point out that remote working is a benefit sought by many employees in the current market, and studies indicate that a forced return to work could result in loss of key talent and diminished productivity.

With the current labour shortages, we know employees are now in a position where they have more influence over their working arrangements than ever before.


Tips for retaining employees

Employers should work with their existing team to identify and implement strategies which increase job satisfaction and reduce turnover (and the subsequent recruitment costs).  These can include:

An organisation’s culture will set it apart in this market, and a positive culture will see employees becoming great advocates or referrers for their workplaces.


Staffing shortages and employment obligations

Even if operating with reduced staff, employers must ensure they continue to provide a safe working environment and continue to monitor their timesheets and payslips to avoid breaching their employment law obligations.

Staffing shortages may result in increased shift hours (and frequency) for employees.  This increases the risk of fatigue and burnout if appropriate rest and meal breaks are not provided, or if there is insufficient down-time between work periods.

While it may seem rooted in employment law, the prevention of burnout is highly dependent on an organisation’s culture and priorities.  Read more about how you can increase productivity by effectively responding to burnout in our burnout series.


Opportunities for training and development

Pathways for development are a good indication of an organisation’s culture – more so than being rewarded with a pizza party or gift vouchers.  A good employer should ensure employees have:

As a baseline, a failure to provide adequate training and supervision may see an employer in breach of their health and safety and employment law obligations.

At Black Door Law, we have a deep understanding of our clients’ workplace culture and incorporate this into our advice.  For bespoke advice on managing a staff shortage, get in touch.

Disclaimer:  This information is intended as general legal information and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a specific issue and wish to discuss it, get in contact with the Black Door Law team.