The persistent 'war for talent' remains a formidable challenge, especially against the backdrop of increasingly diverse and dynamic career paths, coupled with the allure of international businesses. As we head towards 2030, market trends indicate the world is expected to face a significant talent shortage. Numerous reports cite a growing and significant talent shortage.  In such a landscape, to effectively attract and retain sought-after talent, it’s key to enhance the overall employee experience and cultivate a strong organisational culture.

The 2023 Randstad Employer Branding Research highlights that in recent uncertain economic times, some employees have wanted to hunker down and remain in their current job, yet they’re still prepared to make the move for the right role and offer. One that takes into consideration a competitive salary and benefits, alongside offering work-life balance. 

Hato Hone St John is an excellent example of a trusted Kiwi brand (voted New Zealand's Most Trusted Charity for the 10th time in the 2023 Reader's Digest Most Trusted Brands survey) that is committed to delivering great people experiences, underpinned by a strong workplace culture. 

In our first blog in this series, we explored how Hato Hone St John is facing talent shortages head-on with innovative initiatives such as an international recruitment drive, supported by a strong employer brand message and experience. In this second blog, we’ll explore how the team continues to build its employee experience and workplace culture within its large and diverse team of volunteers and paid staff. 

an image of two volunteers workers for Hato Hone St John
an image of two volunteers workers for Hato Hone St John

bringing together thousands of volunteers and employees

With 4,000 paid and 8,000 volunteer staff, and a large team of frontline workers, Hato Hone St John is a unique organisation in that it must cater to the unique and varied needs of its workforce while also building an inclusive, collaborative culture.

Broadly speaking, the organisation is made up of emergency services, community services, and enablement services. 

Supporting the strong team of volunteers, is the volunteer sustainability team, Mahi Aroha. This team focuses on ensuring a positive volunteer experience at Hato Hone St John, where volunteers feel supported, valued, visible, and empowered to support communities. 

On a regular basis, Hato Hone St John actively engages with all paid and volunteer members to gather feedback and insights about their experiences, perceptions, and overall satisfaction with their work environment. As a large, complex organisation, Hato Hone St John understands the importance of listening to the views of their people. By understanding experiences and hearing ideas regularly, leaders can ensure they make changes that will have the most impact.  

As Sara Symons, Recruitment Experience Manager says,

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“Our community engagement team and the initiatives they support make a real difference in local communities, and this is a great motivator for people. It's a fantastic organisation to work for; we're all working together towards the organisation’s strategic aim to help everyone in Aotearoa live healthier, happier, and longer.”

an image of a first aid instructor teaching people CPR
an image of a first aid instructor teaching people CPR

building a culture where everyone belongs

The 2023 Randstad Employer Brand research provides valuable insights into the shifting preferences and priorities of the Kiwi workforce, highlighting how employers can adapt their talent attraction and retention strategies to create a more powerful and inclusive employer brand. 

Delivering a strong employee experience for Hato Hone St John, means understanding and being responsive to changing employee wants and needs, offering health and wellbeing support, and underpinning this with strong leadership.

In line with post pandemic workplace trends, Hato Hone St John has adopted a more personal approach to addressing employee needs in areas such as flexible working to support work-life balance.  Where possible, it’s placed more emphasis on working from home and flexible hours, allowing staff to adapt their working patterns as best suits them, with direct managers overseeing this as opposed to a more traditional one blanket rule covering all employees. While their frontline staff can’t work from home, Hato Hone St John offers various shift patterns and types of employment to fit with individual needs.

Ensuring the health, safety and wellbeing of their people is also extremely important to Hato Hone St John, especially as their ambulance and community workers are often in the front line dealing with crisis situations. Hato Hone St John has a range of support systems developed and delivered by their Health, Safety and Wellbeing Team.  This includes a strong focus on risk management, and health support for those needing a stronger foundation of general and specific health and wellbeing in the workplace.   Wellbeing support includes access to a wide range of resources and support services available via The Wellbeing Hub.  On top of this, a specific peer support program has been developed for their emergency ambulance service personnel.

Hato Hone St John also understands the importance of excellent leadership.  Sara Symons, Recruitment Experience Manager says,

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“Peter Bradley, our CEO, is a phenomenal leader. He has a sign outside of his office door that says, ‘Work hard and be nice to people’, and that sums him up. He’s accessible, transparent, and authentic - and leads from the front. That goes a long way for the culture of the organisation. There is definitely a strong sense that we’re all in this together.”

Woman smiling talking on a mobile phone. She's wearing a white polo shirt with the Hato Hone St John logo
Woman smiling talking on a mobile phone. She's wearing a white polo shirt with the Hato Hone St John logo

The Hato Hone St John capability team has also recently launched a new system to support their paid staff and volunteers with all things learning and development, performance conversations and talent management. The interactive collaboration tool is designed to support all paid staff and volunteers with all things learning and development, performance conversations and talent management. In essence, it makes it easier for the user to manage their ongoing professional development in a more personalised way.

underpinning real-world change with a DE&I strategy

Finally, a strong and inclusive culture wouldn’t be complete without a robust DE&I strategy. According to Randstad’s 2023 Employer Brand Research nearly one in two workers in New Zealand (46%) have experienced barriers to applying for and securing employment and more than half (54%) of employees believe it important that their employer actively supports equity, diversity and inclusion. 

Recognising the need for leadership in the space, Hato Hone St John’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Lead, is focused on supporting the organisation to create an environment where everyone feels safe and comfortable bringing their authentic self to work. 

Katie Watt, Head of People Experience concludes 

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"Hato Hone St John's journey underscores the critical importance of prioritising employee experience, which in turn cultivates a strong employer brand. Through a commitment to inclusive practices, flexible work arrangements, and strong leadership, we continually adapt to changing workforce dynamics and set a compelling example for creating a workplace where employees feel valued and connected.

As we navigate the ever-evolving landscape of talent management, Hato Hone St John has high aspirations to deliver fantastic employee experiences, which is fundamental to building a resilient and thriving workplace culture."

If you are interested in finding out more about paid or volunteer opportunities at Hato Hone St John click here.

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