I have deliberately avoided talking about what it is like to work in New Zealand thus far because I wanted to have time to give more than a knee-jerk assessment…so here we go…
In writing this, I can only comment from my own experience which is bound to be incomplete but there are cultural things that come out which are quite noticeable…along with what I would deem to be more employer-based quirks.
The first thing which came as a shock is the confidence that people seem to show consistently. This is quite odd for someone from a typically more reserved culture. As with any workplace there are of course those whose confidence and volume is well-placed and those who are more akin to empty vessels (they do make the most noise you know)…but spotting the difference is quite hard to start with especially as so many folk have this confidence.
This confidence also translates into a keenness of people to get to know other people at all levels. There seems to be a need to have a name to a face and to know who someone is which is quite nice, if slightly odd at first.
There is certainly a very cliquey environment I work in (which I do not trust) and a very laissez faire management approach which can be good but not at all times! I am sure everyone has had good and bad managers over time…there is the usual smattering of both here too.
People in NZ are entitled to 20 days paid leave per year as a rule and 11 statutory days on top of that. Because of where NZ is (far from everywhere) people seem to like to save days up and then take 5-6 week holidays in one go. Fair enough. Even though the workplace seems quite laid back, people do seem to work long hours but on a fairly flexible basis…I like the latter part of that…not the former.
The next thing (and this may be just based on my place of work) is the enthusiasm people show at all levels. I have yet to really hear anyone complain about the employer which from experience is completely bizarre! My cynical side starts to wonder what everyone is hiding! The only things I have heard relate to how bad the company is at penalising poor performance and the quite tiresome (and childish) competition between sites. People are generally proud to work there which is quite nice.
I see an historic culture in NZ, driven by isolation in geographical terms, of innovation and working things out as they go along (for any NZ readers, please forgive me if this seems wildly inaccurate) and I think this translates into the working environment. There seems to be a good deal of stock placed in technical innovation but not as much in structure and making sure i’s are dotted and t’s crossed. There is a lot of key person dependency. This last point may be a factor of a more limited labour pool but I see it in our corporate suppliers too.
Employers need good people. I never declined a job before I came here…and I felt that I was wanted which was great. There seems to be a real desire to get people and to keep people…quite different to the UK. I see quite a lot of long service personnel.
I came from a very enjoyable working environment in the UK with some genuinely great people to work with…and there are undoubtedly still some of those here…but so far the jury is out as to whether I really want to continue to work where I am or in what I am doing. Time will tell…but for now I will keep my head down and do what I can to add value…because there is so much opportunity to do so…and seemingly lots of other opportunities elsewhere if not…