Size: 500-999 staff
Industry: Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing
Zespri is a global organisation with its roots firmly in New Zealand. We are a team of 850 people globally, with around half of us based in New Zealand. We’re here to deliver strong sustainable returns for kiwifruit growers, generating benefit for growers and the communities where we live and work. We’re an organisation driven by purpose. We are driven by a focus on the consumer, on quality and on innovation. However, another strategic pillar for us is to thrive together, investing in our people, protecting their safety and wellbeing and leveraging our diversity to unleash Zespri's full potential.
We are proud marketers of one of the world’s most healthy products, helping people, communities and the environment thrive through the goodness of kiwifruit. But… We can’t truly live up to our brand purpose unless we support our own people to thrive. So… We faced the challenge and found powerful ways to connect with Zespri people to foster physical health and mental wellbeing through a movement that we call ‘Boost’. We've more to do but have a great platform to engage people and change lives. Boost is here to stay and is becoming vital to our purpose.
Background on situation and opportunity
Our team at Zespri has been challenged by two key circumstances over the past 18 months. 1) Covid impacted us early as we had people in Wuhan, China as well as throughout Italy where the seriousness of the situation really became known. 2) ‘Growing pains’ creating real pressure for our people. Double digit growth in demand creates fantastic opportunities for business but it also means work demands and relentless pace. Furthermore, being spread across the world and trying to connect while working from home and in different timezones made it tough to support people. We had to take action.
Prior to 2021, Zespri didn’t have a wellbeing strategy, we had adhoc initiatives but no formal programme / strategy in place for long-term wellbeing of our staff. COVID was a catalyst for us to stop and rethink our work. We knew have a duty of care for our people but we want to go above and beyond simply protecting our people. We needed alignment with company strategy and values - Personal Connections, Guardianship (kaitiakitanga) and Results Driven. To achieve our mission we need our people to be at their very best and truly flourishing. We looked globally at mental health and wellbeing frameworks and felt the “Five ways to Wellbeing” (and resources from NZ Mental Health Foundation) best aligned to our organisation and also reinforced a number of things we were already doing in a more adhoc manner ie Make a Difference Day - Give; Zespri Learn - Keep Learning; Personal Connections - Connect; physical health challenges - Be Active. It was important to us that we kept it authentic, humanistic and real. Accessible to all, connecting us not only with our immediate teams, but globally, with everyone. One Zespri whanau. Taking guidance from Mental Health Foundation principles, we developed “Boost” in a manner that was aligned to Zespri’s purpose and values, helping to weave it through the fabric of our organisation and make it not feel like an initiative or another "thing", Boost is a cultural evolution and lift in focus of everyone’s wellbeing. We used our quarterly Glint survey to ensure we really listened to the needs of our people and used this to guide us with our approach and sharpen our strategy. At Zespri we want our people to be protected and able to flourish. Allowing our people to be at their best has so many benefits for our organisation, our people and our community.
How we framed Boost was vital in connecting with people. Language and positioning mattered, as did consistency with our brand vision. We needed a vehicle for change. A first step was to work with our marketing teams to align Boost internally with our external brand. We were up front with people about the connection to our brand proposition which is ‘Make Your Healthy Irresistible’. In our launch communication we explained how we wanted to reinforce internally what our external brand is helping to foster for consumers. Who is speaking also mattered. This wasn’t to be another initiative from health and safety but a movement wholeheartedly championed by our most senior leaders. So, we started with the CEO. We got the language right. We got the speaker right. We also had to get the channel right in a way that made Boost real and engaging. We used video messages from our CEO Dan Mathieson and then from all our Executive Team on a weekly cadence during the launch phase. The videos were real and authentic, filmed on phones by themselves, with a commitment, and example and a call to action. We posted them on Yammer, our internal social media, to let people engage, respond and react. The point about execution here is permission. It’s one thing to hear your corporate internal comms team say take some time out to give, connect, learn, take notice, be active. It’s different when you see and hear your leaders actually doing it. That’s powerful. It signals that ‘I’m boosting and I’d love you to boost as well.’ That’s leadership. This was the launch phase of execution. Since then we’ve worked hard on integration, including through leadership programmes and through routines. Boost has become a verb, a noun, a word in the lexicon of our lives.
Engagement and communication
Simple. Fun. Regular. Relatable. Some magic ingredients to make Boost stick, but a recipe that involved careful planning and smart delivery. First, we needed to build a coalition in readiness for launch. So we shared our plans with our People Business Partners, our Health and Safety Committees and our Culture Champions. They became our insiders, our supporters. And then we communicated with all people leaders across the company in a pre-launch email. Second, we needed to make it simple which meant breaking down the five ways to wellbeing, communicating in phases, giving people ideas. For example, what does it mean to Take Notice? We gave examples, such as stopping to enjoy nature around us. We tried to make it easier for people to translate Boost into simple actions and activities that can be easily inserted into their day to day lives. Our engagement and communication approach was certainly regular. We built Boost into all our channels – our intranet, our digital screens, internal social media and internal events. It didn’t feel forced. Then we had fun with experimentation. We created a ‘Boost Wheel’ to create a team game and shared activity in meetings to take a short Boost break. Yes, we have had people ‘planking’ in planning meetings, but it’s not all about physical activity – a learning moment or a giving moment is just as good. We improvised and innovated with ideas like sushi making lessons, baking challenges, learning te reo Maori. To be fair, Boost was and is a communications dream!
Boost – it’s part of our language. It’s us, it’s how we work, we learn, we give and we connect. Wellbeing impacts are hard to measure, and a long term benefits are still in the making. What we did see was clear permission that our people prioritise their wellbeing. Every week, without prompt, our people are talking about how they are Boosting their Wellbeing. On Yammer, on Teams, on email out of office messages or talking to colleagues, everyone talks about #boost. Eg. “I’m out of the office #boosting this afternoon” Boost strategy has created a greater focus on people and welling being – our greatest asset. Colleagues all around the world now feel they have to flexibility to look after their well-being, boost – the 5 ways of wellbeing. Boost is strongly recognised internally as part of Zespri CEO and Chairperson Awards - Thrive Category, with the winning team making changes with wellbeing the main focus and process second. Zespri staff regularly post their boost activities on yammer, they are mentioned in our weekly newsletter ZespriConnect and during meetings we have a digital boost wheel we spin with different activities to do before a meetings starts. It’s a great ice breaker. Boost - it’s a way of life at Zespri.
Zespri is a diverse global workforce, a part of our strategy we needed to ensure the 5 ways of well-being meant to something to everyone. During COVID and to this day Zespri has a strong digital focus to help ensure we are inclusive of people who were and are still are working from home or, at Zespri HQ or in the field, everyone at Zespri is included and involved equally. Zespri early adopted te strong technology platform Microsoft Teams and Yammer. These two platforms helps us to bring people together virtually and stay connected. Our flexibility policy also enabled people to get involved on their own terms, at a time that suited them best and at a place that best suited their needs. All Zespri’s global events are online eg. Global Forums – key global information update from our executive team, board or celebrating people or Connect Live – short, action packed info session once a month, updates from the business in real time for everyone. These events are schedule twice in one day to ensure all colleagues in every times zone is able to hear, interact and be included. Each event is recorded and available to staff to watch at a time that is convent for them, ensuring everyone has access to information, no matter where in the world they live. Its all about kaitiakitanga, guardianship, people first, delivery the kiwifruit season was secondary to this.
Innovation and creativity
Reach and impact was the name of the game. First the word itself: ‘Boost’. A single syllable. Memorable. Actionable. Hashtag-able. It was a stroke of genius to distil a complex idea into a single word that has become a Zespri word. But that word still needed nurturing, so we gave it love. We developed the Boost wheel to create a game. We created a Boost calendar to give a visual example that your working day should not be eight hours of relentless toil. Perhaps this is the biggest innovation: that Boost is not an add-on. It’s not something for the lunch break. We built it into meetings, we inserted it into our rituals and routines with recognition and shout-outs. We celebrated absenteeism, not presenteeism. So, taking time to contribute to your community, learn something, walk up the Mount, was loudly and proudly celebrated. And then we didn’t need to innovate any more. Our people started to do it for us. Out of office messages started saying, “I’m taking a day off to have a Boost” was an individual act of rebellion against the idea that I need to be on call 24/7 in order to feel valued. In fact, I’m valued because I’m looking after myself and in doing so am being a better person for my friends, my colleagues and my loved ones. This is empowerment. This is wellbeing.
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Edith Sykes, Chief People Officer (Zespri)
0210461517 • [email protected]
Angus Bell, Head of Safety & Wellbeing (Zespri)
021819874 • [email protected]