Aspeq news

Prioritise people, and staff wellbeing - and success - will follow

Jun 13, 2024

Nick Jackson, Aspeq’s People Advisor, shares the organisation’s secret to its striking ability to retain exceptional talent. A hint: at Aspeq, it’s all about the people.

Passion for people

As an extroverted and passionate people-person, Nick Jackson has found the perfect role as Aspeq’s People Advisor, looking after the business’ 60 plus full-time staff across New Zealand and Australia.

“My role is everything people,” Nick explains, “from looking after people’s health and wellbeing, to training and development.”

Nick’s background managing teams at big retail stores - KMart, Mitre10, and the like - led him to realise that it’s people, not profit, that motivates him.

For Nick, covid lay bare the harm that can come from not prioritising well-being, as he saw people being undervalued and overworked.

“As a leader, I found it very hard to put profit over people. I realised I needed to find a workplace that aligned with my own values.

“From the moment I walked into my interview with Aspeq and the CEO offered to make me a cup of tea, I knew it was a place that shared my values. I’ve been here for three years and I love it - it was absolutely the right choice.”

It’s not about pizza parties

Aspeq’s deep commitment to its people is expressed through a series of deliberate initiatives, policies, and procedures. “As the saying goes, it’s not about pizza parties.”

It starts with flexibility. As well as a hybrid working model, employees are encouraged to take time off: “We allow our people to take as much leave as they need to look after the well-being of themselves and their whanau.”

The company even renamed ‘sick leave’ to ‘well-being leave’ to better represent the policy’s purpose.

Moreover, each employee receives a wellness fund that can be put toward anything that promotes good health, from gym memberships to dental work or - in Nick’s case - a new mattress. A generous training budget also encourages staff to develop new skills that will help grow their careers.

Diversity and equality is embedded in company policies and celebrated through shared events like Diwali and Pink Shirt Day.

Aspeq looks beyond its own people, too: “Aspeq is very conscious of our place in the world. We take a lot of pride from being a member of the Hutt Valley community. We encourage our people to volunteer and often donate time or money as an organisation to support local causes.”

And just because it’s not all about pizza parties, doesn’t mean the team doesn’t also enjoy casual get-togethers. “Every Friday at 4pm - and I mean every Friday - we put our tools down and enjoy drinks and snacks together.”

Nick’s first Friday drinks solidified why Aspeq is so special. “I looked around at my colleagues sitting around the kitchen table and enjoying each other’s company, and it struck me that people are really happy here.”

Happy people are good for business

The best evidence that people are happy in their jobs is that they tend to stick around. At Aspeq, the retention rate averages at 98% - incredible for any business, but almost unheard of for one trading in tech.

“Our people are exceptionally skilled and they could work anywhere, but they choose to work at Aspeq.”

That loyalty is good for business, too. Aspeq has prominent clients operating in tightly regulated markets, like aviation and healthcare, where the work is demanding and the stakes are high.

“If someone leaves, it’s not trivial to replace them. By maintaining an excellent culture that attracts and retains people, we ensure that specialist knowledge stays at Aspeq, which ultimately helps us deliver better and quicker results for our clients.”

The remarkable retention rate also leads to some unintended consequences: “People leave so infrequently that we have to relearn the off-boarding process each time it happens.”

Not one to rest on his laurels, Nick, with support from Aspeq’s leadership, is looking for new ways to boost wellbeing.

“Our most recent employee wellbeing survey indicated that people want to be more involved in environmental issues, so that’s what we’ll be focussing on this year. Our people are happy, our business is thriving, so it’s time to look after the well-being of the world.”

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