This is what NZ leaders are getting wrong

As a senior leader, Alison Bamford knows how important it is for executives to champion initiatives

This is what NZ leaders are getting wrong

As a senior leader, Alison Bamford knows how important it is for executives to champion initiatives that help support and mitigate people risks.

Bamford, who is benefits leader for New Zealand at Mercer Marsh, said that many organisations talk about how they put their people first, but the question based on these results is ‘are they really?’

Her comments come following new research by Mercer Marsh Benefits and the Human Resources Institute of New Zealand (HRINZ) which found that a lack of senior leadership buy in has been cited as a key factor in the low prioritisation of people risks within New Zealand organisations.

The People Risk Survey Report asked 229 NZ HR leaders how much of a priority they thought people risks were within the organisations they worked for.

It found that 58% said that they did not believe that people risks were a priority - with 28% pointing a lack of leadership buy in as being one of the key reasons.

Bamford added that this result is “obviously quite disappointing”, and one reason for the deficiency around leadership buy-in could be down to the lack of data and analytics available to HR leaders to support ROI / investment in people risk –19% said this is an issue.

Moreover, the research found that the top five people risks currently being faced by organisations were talent attraction, key person risk, talent scarcity, talent retention and succession planning.

Nick McKissack, chief executive for HRINZ, added that there’s been a number of economic commentators who’ve said that the supply of labour is a key constraint in terms of future business growth for New Zealand organisations.

“So the issue of talent acquisition and retention is certainly top of mind for our members,” said McKissack.

Key person risk, which is perhaps not talked about as frequently, poses a problem for organisations of all sizes but particularly SMEs where the owner may be taken out due to sickness or disability.

Additionally, research from ACC has shown that more than 70% of self-employed businesses which close down do, at least in part, because of serious injury.

It found that 56% of those surveyed did not have a plan to deal with key person risk nor did 50% have plans in place to deal with succession planning, which also has a roll on effect with this risk.

Another area organisations need to focus on is employee benefits, which is an important part of any people risk strategy.

Only 54% of the survey respondents review their employee benefits programme each year, while 27% didn’t even know when it was reviewed.

The survey also found that some of NZ’s benefits fall quite short – especially when compared to other countries.

For example, 46% of those surveyed offered life and total & permanent disablement style benefits – compared to Australian organisations at 81% and the UK at 92%.

Bamford added that benefit programmes must keep up with current medical and lifestyle related illness such as cancer and mental illness.

“Older style benefit programmes no longer support these changes so need to be reviewed on a regular basis,” she said.

“They must also take into account the differing needs of the generations.”


Related stories:
How to 'futureproof' your organisation
How to define your HR leadership style


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