Rabo Construct Limited – Manukau Major Projects Franchisee for G.J. Gardner Homes

Nominee/entrant details

Rabo Construct Limited – Manukau Major Projects Franchisee for G.J. Gardner Homes

Organisation details

Size: 6-19 staff

Industry: Construction

Organisation background

Rabo Construct Limited is the Manukau Major Projects Franchisee for G.J. Gardner Homes. We specialise in medium density residential developments and build approximately 120 homes per year, with 19 full time staff based in East Tamaki. We are currently completing projects in Manurewa, Glen Innes, Hobsonville Point and Orakei for both the private and public sector.

Executive summary

In 2019 as part of a WorkSafe SafePlus assessment we identified work related stress and fatigue as issues we were not giving adequate attention to. We recognised the need to address mental health with a more holistic approach and our Mental Health and Wellness Programme was born. We have arranged a wide variety of activities and education sessions as part of the programme and have continued to grow it over the past three years. We are proud to see decreased absenteeism, improved morale and other key indicators that the programme is having a positive impact.

Background on situation and opportunity

Using the WorkSafe SafePlus Self-Assessment tool, work-related stress and fatigue were the two key areas that were identified by our employees as needing additional focus. The Safe Plus Assessment is completed anonymously by all employees, giving us honest feedback on what they thought needed improvement. This information coupled with the high pressure nature of the industry, a culture of prejudicial masculinity and the BRANZ ‘Mental Health in the Construction Industry Scoping Study’ our next company wide focus was clear.


As a smaller franchise within the G.J. Gardner group we wanted to set a clear direction for the coming years for our employees in regard to health and wellbeing. Past years had a strong focus on onsite health and safety, however we quickly began to realise that mental wellbeing is one of the most valuable business assets within any given organisation and an issue that we needed to front foot by creating a Mental Health and Wellness programme that would align with our businesses core values. We set goals; to improve morale - measured in company wide feedback surveys and a repeat WorkSafe SafePlus assessment annually, to reduce the absenteeism and to normalise mental health conversations within the workplace. The biggest hurdle to overcome was the stigma around mental health and making the programme something people wanted to participate in by choice, not something that they had to do because they were told to. The only way it was going to have the impact it needed was for it to appeal to the employees and make them want to participate. We tackled this by collaborating with all branches of the business, having key team members heavily involved in what the programme would look like and the frequency, duration and timing of activities to ensure that it met the schedules of both site and office based team members, giving them the best opportunity to participate. The programme took a few months to develop and during this time was frequently presented in draft at team wide meetings to ensure it had the best possible chance to achieve the goals it was created to tackle and was truly meeting the employees needs.


Our programme has been highly rewarding to date with great feedback from the team. One of our first events was a Healthy Points Programme, encouraging healthy eating and physical exercise for a month, competing with a rival franchise who tenants the same office. To support the team we have provided a fruit bowl each week so that there is fresh fruit available for everyone in the office to snack on, and we have promoted for staff to get up from their desks and stretch, go for a walk around the block or even visit the gym during work hours. As each month approaches, our Construction Administrator and Health and Safety Advisor collaborate to organise the events planned and send out a group email to our employees letting them know our key focus for the month ahead. This is also discussed at our ‘Vision Board’ and Operations Meetings, to ensure that there is a continued conversation around mental health and wellbeing within the organisation and that topic isn’t stigmatised in any manner. We have recently introduced a Buddy System during the first Covid 19 lockdown, we all have a buddy (work colleague) whom we check in with and to make sure they are doing ok. This has continued and is something all the staff are engaged in.

Engagement and communication

Once we identified the need for a Mental Health and Wellbeing programme we talked to the staff about our ideas, they were very responsive and wanted to be a part of the programme. We also contacted EWP Services to discuss our ideas and how to implement them into our work day. Our Mental Health and Wellbeing Newsletter was created. Each month our Construction Administrator puts together the newsletter and distributes it to all our staff along with the franchise we share offices with. This includes what we are concentrating on each month (one of the Five Ways to Wellbeing and or Te Whare Tapa Wha), what organisations to contact for support, along with some tips and helpful information on how to keep mentally healthy. We hold a Mental Health event each month which involves the team getting together for some learning and bonding with each other. We find the staff are all very engaged with the programme and continue to support it. Partnering with MATES in Construction was another way for the staff to become engaged and learn how to communicate with each other about Mental Health and Wellbeing.


Throughout the two last years of developing and running this programme we have seen a real appreciation from the team and an eagerness to be involved throughout the process. We have been able to create a shared sense of purpose within the organisation, communicate our vision to have a mentally healthy team and have taken on board feedback from everyone involved to ensure that we are actively promoting and supporting our employees so they are able to participate in the planned monthly activities. Financially we have recognised the benefits of the Mental Health and Wellness Programme, as there has been a reduction in absenteeism and productivity within the office and on site has increased which has enabled us to hit milestone claims and progress payments. As the programme has been running for a number of years now and we have seen a strong expansion into our subcontractor group and now throughout the G.J. Gardner homes network of franchisees. We will look to continue to develop the programme and facilitate a shift in removing the stigma that surrounds mental health within the construction industry, aiming to create a healthier working environment for our team. Being a small company we believe the key to success is small steps with the constant feedback and participation from the employees to ensure the end result achieves the main goal. As an organisation we believe we are now front footing the issue of mental health and wellbeing by championing the Five Ways through our staged approach and are able to act as the role model for others to follow suit within the construction industry.


Talking about Mental Health and Wellbeing started to become an everyday topic in the office and on our sites. The more we spoke about it the more all of the staff felt safe to talk about Mental Health without judgement or stigma. Getting our sub-contractors involved was a natural progression and reading the ‘BRANZ Mental Health in the Construction Industry Scoping Study’ has really kick started this wider reach programme. Reaching out to our subcontractor family has further opened the lines of communication and normalised talking about not just mental health but also helped develop our work relationships into friendships, creating a fantastic community on site and sense of shared purpose and culture. Our sub-contractors have also been involved in the MATES in Construction GAT training with us and some have also completed the Connector Training so they are able to provided assistance to their staff and colleagues, empowering them with the same positive change that Rabo Construct has embarked upon.

Innovation and creativity

2020 saw us take on the Te Whare Tapa Whā as our model, which takes the Māori holistic model of health and reminds us all to take care of the different aspects of our lives to support our wellbeing. To date we have supported the Ronald McDonald House Charities cooking for 100+ well deserving families, we’ve hosted our team and our subcontractors to back the I Am Hope Foundation by having a ‘gumboot throw’ on site and a mental health advocate come and talk to everyone. We have introduced the staff to Yoga and Reflexology, as well as had a Nutritionist and Personal Trainer come to the office to talk to us all. With the momentum created from the programme we have had Worksafe reach out to us in October 2020 to invite us to create a short video about the importance of mental health and wellbeing within the workplace In mid-2020 our franchise partnered with MATES in Construction, providing GAT (General Awareness Training) and Connector training to our team and our extended family of subcontractors. Following the success and strong feedback from the team to continue with the programme, G.J. Gardners has now signed up with MATES in Construction as a Foundation Partner to roll out the programme nationwide.

Supporting materials (optional)

Photograph of key staff (optional)

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Referee details

Berhamport (B) Peleti, Field Officer (MATES in Construction)

027 7788243 • [email protected]

Key contact

Denise Batchelor, Construction Administrator (Rachel Soakell)

027 544 4155 • [email protected]

3 Months
Since posted
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