As I reflect on my 100-day milestone as Randstad’s NZ Country Director, I can’t help but think that this has coincided with a time of significant change in our working lives. As businesses in New Zealand and worldwide navigate through a series of seismic shifts in how and where work gets done. 

There are a few trends that define this new era. This includes the rising importance of leaders to exemplify soft skills such as empathy, the shifting priorities of employees that are driving the significant 're-evaluation' and the need for employers to deliver even greater value to their people.

leading with empathy

My leadership journey, which began a decade and a half ago, taught me that it's essential to understand the people I am working with and lead by example, with empathy at the core. In a post-covid environment, this approach is more critical than ever.

The leaders I've always looked up to were those who could inspire their people to go the extra mile, to achieve great things while also developing themselves personally and professionally.

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Great leaders lead with empathy - they have your best interests at heart and take the time to get to know you and understand what you need.

Our leadership team at Randstad works hard to create an empathetic environment that puts our people's needs front and centre. A great example of this is our renewed flexible working approach, which recognises that everyone's individual needs and preferences are different.

This people-first approach to finding a solution managed the business requirements while factoring in what our people wanted to be resonated with our team. Our retention rates are healthy, and we see greater team collaboration. It's fantastic to be part of this change and deliver many positive outcomes for our business and customers.

responding to shifting priorities

Our latest 2022 Randstad Employer Brand Research highlights the shifting priorities of employees, with the pandemic leading to a greater emphasis on other preferences beyond salary.

The study found that work-life balance was the top priority for Kiwis, followed by salary and benefits, training, a pleasant work atmosphere, and job security. 

As a leader, I’ve seen the importance of putting value on work-life balance while ensuring commercial targets and outcomes are reached.

During the pandemic, I was responsible for twenty-three direct reports working remotely. This showed me just how important it is to prioritise health and wellbeing and how putting your people first will deliver the rewards of a loyal and productive team.    

understanding ‘the great re-evaluation.’

The term ‘the great re-evaluation’ is gaining popularity and describes the worldwide phenomenon of employees reconsidering what matters most and making the necessary changes to achieve this, including changing roles.

Findings from our 2022 Employer Brand Research report were notable in that they revealed that one-third (31%) of New Zealanders planned to switch jobs in the first half of 2022, which is much higher than the 20% considering the same move twelve months ago.

I also know this from first-hand experience, having recently moved from Australia to take up the role of Country Director at Randstad New Zealand. For me, it was a fantastic work opportunity that also allowed me to experience the extraordinary lifestyle benefits that New Zealand has to offer. I was excited to test and develop my skills in a new country and culture.

changing internal practices

Suppose we drill down into why people are looking for new jobs and what they seek? In that case, we find most people respond well to an environment that delivers more excellent work-life balance, a positive work environment and growth opportunities.

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For me, an environment that champions empathy is also essential.

One that is not only open and transparent with communication but also actively considers what matters most to its people when making critical decisions.

Within our team, this has been hugely important in several areas, including the recent refresh of our flexible working policies. 

To draw on an example close to my heart, I’m very proud of our Randstad Workaway programme. It enables Randstad New Zealand’s permanent employees to apply for the opportunity to work from a different country for up to eight weeks annually. Positive steps like this go a long way towards building greater team loyalty.

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creating strong connections 

A photo of the Randstad team
A photo of the Randstad team
Celebrations at the RCSA awards earlier this year

It's been fantastic to hit the ground running here at Randstad NZ. One of my top highlights was the RCSA Awards, where Randstad was a finalist for the large agency of the year. We walked away with a rising star winner [Samsara Crawley], which I see as a testament to Randstad's support and mentoring. The emphasis we also put on outstanding leadership within our organisation.

Another highlight has been how we promote work-life balance and human connection. We recently launched a connection day on a Wednesday, and it takes place across all offices.

It’s an opportunity for teams and groups to come together to collaborate and connect, participate in group activities, and win prizes and awards for the best and wackiest dressed. I like to think my sailor suit went down a treat.

A photo of the team during the Dress-Up Sailor Day
A photo of the team during the Dress-Up Sailor Day
Team connection day

striking the right balance

I genuinely believe that in today’s environment, those businesses that are taking a more empathetic approach to leadership and are prioritising their people are the ones that are succeeding. 

However, striking the right balance between managing the needs of your people versus the commercial priorities will look different for every business. But we can no longer ignore what our people need and want.

My first 100 days at Randstad have been as eventful as the market trends that continue to redefine how we attract, retain, and lead our people. It’s undoubtedly an exciting time for leaders, and I look forward to the next 100 days.

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about the author
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a bearded man wearing a suit while smiling and looking to the right

Richard Kennedy

country director, NZ