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Congestion in NZ's cities adds to employee strain

10 Sep 2019
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New Zealand’s large cities can be synonymous with congestion – after all, there’s a reason Auckland is colloquially known as ‘the big smoke’.

That congestion in Auckland and in other congested places can have significant impacts on business and employee health – to the point where one business CEO says employers need to make allowances for it.

According to OneHQ CEO Hamish McLachlan, small businesses face enough business challenges without adding external issues such as congestion to the list – however that congestion directly impacts staff.

Longer travel times impact personal lives. As a result, it increases costs and impacts family logistics, which ultimately causes more stress.

“Mental health issues are often born out of stress; therefore, employee well-being should be of first and foremost importance. Being aware, listening, and supporting staff in the right ways can help overcome that,” he says.

There are ways employers can help to relieve that burden, particularly as technology evolves. Part-time work, remote work, and flexible work hours can also ease the strain on employees.

He adds that conference calls and being able to log on to systems remotely can all improve team communication.

It’s also important to work with staff to educate them about the bigger business plan. If they don’t understand the values, they’re not motivated to innovate or improve.

“Employees don’t often understand what you are trying to achieve or what the overall values are, which might cause a lack of innovation around doing things, meaning you don’t get continual improvement happening,” McLachlan says.

McLachlan says that there are three ways that workplace productivity could be improved.

1. Change up the working environment

Putting employees into different office spaces will provide variation and the potential for employees to communicate differently, and with a wider group of people.

2. Delegating responsibility

Not meddling and giving employees the opportunity to lead and work freely will help empower them to make decisions and give them the space to work the way they need. Empowered and engaged employees deliver a far better job or outcome for clients than when you’re sitting on top of them telling them they need to be more efficient.

3. Good relationships within the workplace

Celebrating successes, encouraging employees instead of demanding, listening and supporting them in all their endeavours can ease external societal pressures and improve productivity.

McLachlan says staff seem to be much happier when these things are implemented in the workplace.