Size: 100-199 staff
Industry: Professional, Scientific and Technical Services
One of New Zealand’s leading full-service law firms, Lane Neave has offices in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown. We have a rich, 150+ year history, hundreds of alumni, and many New Zealand awards. Historically, our firm’s operated a top-down structure where decisions are made at Board and Partner levels. Our new People Strategy turns that on its head. Designed to lift the long-term wellbeing of our people, the People Strategy gives every one of our 150 staff a voice so they guide us on how to create a better place to work This bottom-up approach is fast becoming our superpower.
The legal sector’s always been associated with heavy, high-stress workloads and conservative, hierarchical workplaces. Lane Neave committed to shattering those perceptions in 2020 with a robust, new People Strategy putting people at the heart of the firm. Through embracing Te Whare Tapa Whā, our Strategy focuses on boosting the long-term wellbeing of every person in our 150-strong team. Listening to our people is enabling us to fix issues causing stress and find innovative ways to promote mental health. Lifts in our WHO-5 mental health and wellbeing scores show it’s working and keeps us motivated to do more.
Background on situation and opportunity
Consultation in October 2020 with kaimahi and Partners identified several issues: - IT causing stress - Lack of quality sleep - Confusion about career progression In response, we: - Accelerated the implementation of new IT to address issues - Bolstered internal support structures - Provided sleep information and workshops - Committed to clarifying roles and career progression In addition, 74% of people said it is extremely or very important we make a positive social impact. That got us thinking. How to embed Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) into everything in a way that makes our people feel fulfilled and proud? We started by re-setting our People Strategy.
We knew that to deliver a People Strategy that would make a real difference, we had to let staff drive what we did. The Board asked the CEO and People and Capability Manager to engage staff on what they valued so the strategy would reflect that (particularly with regards to its CSR priorities). Based on our ‘bottom-up’ approach, an all staff steering committee was established to identify short and long-term goals and activities to deliver our CSR priorities. The overarching values identified by the committee and approved by the Board are: - Empowerment - Environment - Health - Economic These underpin the People Strategy alongside the pou in Te Whare Tapa Whā. Overall, the strategy focuses on creating a better work environment through removing stressors, celebrating meaningful work, recognising the value people add and what success looks like so that each team member can achieve their full potential. We’ve created an enhanced wellbeing programme built around the Five Ways to Wellbeing that includes activities to improve our cultural awareness: - Ka Pai Awards that celebrated the use of te reo at work - A kupu of the day for Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori - Matariki events, which opened many eyes to this kaupapa and te ao Māori Focus groups have been established to define career pathways and roles, providing employees clarity on the skills needed to progress. We’ve increased our transparency around remuneration with staff happier with having a better line of sight to how decisions are made. In the world of law firms, these are genuine milestones. IT is a critical enabler for our work - it is also one of the things staff said impacted their wellbeing most. So we have prioritised a Digital Strategy that’s upgraded video conferencing equipment and software. It has also created mechanisms for staff who need urgent IT support.
People Strategy Our People Strategy enables continuous feedback from the ground up. We work to empower the whole team so they engage and see they can influence the shape of the firm. This has led to a recommitment on our position regarding flexible working arrangements and a more compassionate view on discretionary leave. Wellbeing Programme While there are always ups and downs, we want to build our people’s ability to bounce back from adversity, so we adapt our wellbeing offering in response to feedback. Activities include: - Annual wellness allowance - Promoting ‘loud leaving’ to encourage better work life balance - Spring into Spring – To promote Mental Health Awareness Week, a Lane Neave ‘passport’ was developed to encourage staff look after their physical, mental, spiritual and family wellbeing. - Matariki – nine wellbeing activities based around Te Iwa o Matariki, including lunch time hikoi, indoor plant workshop, ‘Matariki 101’ and a time capsule activity to provide the opportunity to reflect, show gratitude, and set goals. This was promoted via an app which boosted engagement. Our staff-led social club organise a range of activities, including a mid-winter party and annual whanau picnic. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) An invitation was extended to all staff and Partners to attend focus groups to better understand how we could further enhance our approach to CSR. This led to the formation of the CSR Committee, a staff-led group that developed our first CSR Statement of Intent. It includes our commitment to strengthen relationships between the firm and Māori, both within and outside Lane Neave. Celebrating Success When we have cause for celebration, the whole firm gets involved. When Law Clerks are admitted, we invite their whānau and friends to celebrate at a firm-wide event, where they are presented with Pounamu.
Engagement and communication
A deliberate focus on enabling staff to inform our priorities has resulted in high levels of engagement. Our People Survey had a 93% response rate, providing us with a full picture of all the perspectives across the firm. It identified that mental health is affected by a range of issues, including IT, remuneration and promotion transparency, and the desire to have a positive community impact. It was clear, several workstreams were required to support mental health. We’ve been transparent and open in our work around IT, role and remuneration clarity and CSR, and have worked hard to ensure our wellbeing programme is fun and engaging - not just another thing for busy staff to do. In June we had about a third of the firm attend or Zoom into a Matariki presentation by Maraea Peawini. With one week of Matariki celebrations to go at time of writing, the majority of the firm have participated in at least one activity – a good proportion have participated in 3 or more. We use a range of tools to promote our wellbeing activities, including office champions, posters, intranet, all staff emails and have even repurposed the ‘Joy’ wedding app which provides an up-to-date schedule of activities which they can RSVP for. Our wellbeing approach has been shared nationally by the All Right? wellbeing campaign, who have written stories on our Matariki and Spring into Spring campaigns. Our social committee is run by staff, who put in an amazing amount of mahi to create family-oriented events. The engagement on these events has truly surpassed our expectations – almost 200 members of the firm and their partners attending this year’s mid-winter party. “I’ve really enjoyed the social connections, opportunities around Matariki for example...it’s good to bring us together and experience something new.” - Rachael Mason, Immigration Partner
At Lane Neave, people are at the centre of everything we do. Our 2020 People Survey provided a clear indication of people’s priorities for 2021, and we continue to make progress in these areas: - CSR - as a team, we have mapped out our CSR approach, establishing a Steering Committee, developing a Statement of Intent and Programme of Activities, and reporting progress regularly to the Board. - Role Clarity and Performance Expectations - there is now greater transparency around roles, performance expectations and remuneration decisions. - IT - staff told us what they need to do their job and we are enabling it. By developing new policies and regular reporting on their impact, and through investing in the tools staff need to do their job, we are embedding what staff have asked for into what we do and who we are. This mahi, combined with our holistic and innovative approach to wellbeing, has already led to improvements in the workplace. The WHO-5 wellbeing scale shows that there has been an improvement in emotional wellbeing. The information below shows the percentage of staff with what’s considered to be good mental health (a score of 16 or more when wellbeing surveyed): - July 2021: 60.9% (31.0% increase) - May 2020: 46.5% “These initiatives have helped me personally because it’s given me an opportunity to pause in my day and reconnect with colleagues, and develop relationships...and that creates collegiality and a great culture.” - Rachael Mason, Immigration Partner While there are many factors that influence business outcomes, we know that a focus on wellbeing and performance will deliver sustainable profitability. Lane Neave has come out of the economic disruptions in 2020 in a strong position. We have a long way to go but are proud to be on our journey and looking forward to sharing ideas with other organisations.
While mostly European, our workforce encompasses 12 ethnicities. 70% of staff and 40% of our Partners are female - one of the highest proportions of female Partners in NZ. Half our Board members and 57% of our managers are female. We know that if you’re not counted, you don’t count - and want to ensure everyone has a voice. Last year, for the first time, survey respondents were given the choice of listing their gender identity. Our business is over 150 years old and has roots in ‘conservative Christchurch’. There is a lot more we can and need to do to ensure te ao Māori informs our direction, but we are making progress. The CSR Statement of Intent outlines our commitment to support engagement with Tangata Whenua to strengthen relationships between the firm and Māori, both within and outside the firm. Te whare tapa whā has guided the development of our wellbeing work, helping us ensure we get the balance right. We have shared this model with our staff and included it in the Spring into Spring passports provided to each staff member. Our Matariki wellbeing campaign has enjoyed high levels of engagement, with about a third of staff attending the Matariki 101 presentation. We aim to create more of these learning opportunities to not only support staff wellbeing but also lift the visibility of te ao Māori in the business and increase our shared understanding of the Māori worldview. As part of this, later this year we will offer te reo lessons. “I went through the recruitment process with a number of firms and was fortunate to be able to pick where I would work. Lane Neave was able to give a clear response when I asked about how diversity was promoted in the workplace” - Michael Green, Summer Clerk.
Innovation and creativity
As a nationwide law firm, we have a high achieving and driven team. The nature of the work, and the personalities involved, can lead to a tendency to be ‘time-poor’. For us to get cut through with supporting mental health, we must be innovative and engaging. And it must be easy. A great example of this approach is our Matariki campaign, involving nine activities over 3 weeks: 1. Matariki 101 2. Massage 3. Pedal powered smoothie makers 4. Plant workshop 5. Slipper/jumper day 6. Connect4 Championship 7. Time capsule based around Hiwa-i-te-rangi 8. Lunch time hikoi to places of cultural significance 9. Matariki quiz With four office locations across the country, we needed to ensure that every staff member could participate. Through the use of Zoom, having separate sessions, and a lot Googling for pedal powered smoothie makers, we achieved this. Being able to offer a variety of different activities, in different places, at different times, led to the repurposing of the free ‘Joy’ wedding app. It is now easier for staff to see what’s on and RSVP for specific activities. ‘Joy’ is now a key part of our wellbeing programme. An upstream example of our innovative approach has been identifying how making improvements in work areas traditionally viewed as distinct – IT, role clarity and remuneration, and CSR, are all fundamental to supporting wellbeing. We can offer all the wellbeing activities you can think of, but if a siloed approach is taken you miss out on the multiplying effect. Our CSR programme is driven “from the ground up”, reflecting the passions of the firm. The current focus is being an accredited living wage employer, reducing waste and our carbon footprint, in addition to our work around collective health and wellbeing and promoting diversity, inclusion and a sense of belonging.
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Fiona McMillan, Partner (Lane Neave)
027 351 2000 • [email protected]
Mark Lewiis, People and Capability Manager (Lane Neave)
0273077015 • [email protected]