Annual report 2016 cover

Strengthening our organisational health, capability and culture

Strengthening our people and capability

In March 2016 the Ministry agreed to its first ever organisation-wide People Strategy, setting a clear transformational path to ensure that all people-related activity would move the Ministry towards its core purpose.

The People Strategy is a crucial platform that ensures we have the organisational health, capability and culture to allow us to work together better, for greater collective impact and the best outcomes for clients. It describes the need to continue to build organisational capacity, both to deliver on agreed outcomes and to deal with challenges ahead.

The People Strategy sets out four priorities for the Ministry for the period up to 2025:

  • changing the way that people experience work – ensuring an environment where our people can thrive and perform at their best
  • shifting gears – a workforce which can respond more quickly in an ever changing environment
  • redefining our leaders – ensuring the more consistent provision of the best leaders for our people and developing more capability to lead and support the wider sector
  • orienting our organisation and workforce around our clients.

Our people

Our diverse and inclusive workplace

We are committed to supporting and promoting equality and diversity within a constructive work culture based on respect, fairness and valuing individual difference.

We employ people from a diverse range of backgrounds and employ a higher proportion of females than the public sector average. The next two graphs show our demographic breakdown.

Diversity statistics by gender


Source: State Services Commission – Human Resource Capability in the New Zealand State Services – 2015, and Ministry of Social Development statistics

Diversity statistics by ethnicity

%ResidualMELAAAsianPacific peoplesMāoriEuropean
State sector 0 1 9 8 16 71
MSD 4 1 10 13 23 62

Note: MELAA refers to Middle Eastern, Latin American, African ethnicities.

Source: State Services Commission – Human Resource Capability in the New Zealand State Services - 2015, and Ministry of Social Development statistics. 

We continue to participate in cross-agency work led by the State Services Commission to recognise and increase diversity and inclusion across the sector and within our own organisation.

Other initiatives that show our commitment to develop diversity and inclusion include:

  • developing policies and practices that have led to positive outcomes for Māori employees (as identified in the Human Rights Commission EEO survey)
  • removing barriers for disabled employees, by providing an online resource of accessibility information for disabled employees, their managers and colleagues
  • improving technology to ensure impairment information is more accurately captured
  • building a human resource management system (HRMS) that will enable and improve the data capture of the diversity and skills of our workforce.

This year we undertook a survey of the number of disabled people working in the Ministry. We found that 4 percent of our employees have a disability. We have shared the results and methodology of the survey with the State Services Commission and other government agencies so that the survey can be rolled out across the State sector.

In 2015/2016, 57 percent of our Tier 1 to 3 managers were female, 14 percent were Māori, 3 percent Pacific and 1 percent Asian. The average age of Ministry staff was 45 years, and the average length of service was 10 years.

Our culture – Building Blue

Corporate culture has a significant influence on organisational capability, performance and ability to collaborate constructively to achieve outcomes.

In 2013 we introduced a culture change programme, Building Blue, to build a more constructive and collaborative organisational culture. The programme is designed to roll out over several years, recognising that real change takes time to embed. Our goal is to achieve a constructive culture by 2021.

In late 2015 we completed the first re-survey since the launch of the Building Blue programme. The survey showed that we have achieved a decrease in both passive behaviours and aggressive behaviours in the workplace. It is important that these behaviours lessen in our corporate culture, to enable consistently constructive behaviours.

In the last year we have:

  • built a deeper understanding of constructive organisational culture
  • begun work to build a culture of coaching
  • developed, and launched in March 2016, a New Manager Programme incorporating induction, skill-building workshops, coaching and mentoring, to build a common understanding of expected behaviour and commitment to our culture change vision
  • undertaken work to align human resource systems and processes, including recruitment and induction, with constructive culture.

We intend to reassess our operating culture every two years to track the progress towards the preferred ‘blue’ culture.

Ensuring a safe and secure workplace

The Security Response Programme has resulted in the development and rollout of improved business processes and solutions designed to ensure staff can feel secure and confident as they serve New Zealanders.

Maintaining stable industrial relations

Positive and stable industrial relations support a high-performing organisation. Over 6,000 of our 10,000 staff are members of the Public Service Association (PSA).

Three of our collective agreements have come up for renewal during 2015/2016. One of these agreements has been settled, and negotiations on the other two are ongoing. As we work through the renewal of these collective agreements, we look to maintain constructive relationships with the unions representing our people.

In 2015/2016 we continued to work alongside the PSA on significant change initiatives that impact our work environment and workforce, such as the Health, Safety and Security Review.

Shifting gears

In 2015/2016 the Leadership Team has placed a strong emphasis on senior leadership performance and potential (talent). Part of this work has involved making significant investment in a large group of senior leaders participating in Leadership Insight Assessments.

Building a more sophisticated system of supports

We have had a centralised Human Resource management approach for some years. However, over time, practices and processes have become significantly out of step with modern capabilities and difficult to navigate and manage.

Significant work took place in 2015/2016 to attain agreement and funding for a new HRMS system, MyHR, which will significantly improve the visibility of our workforce and its capability, enabling better people leadership.

MyHR is a modern, robust HR management system that integrates HR processes in a single system. Once implemented MyHR will ensure our people have access to stable, reliable and secure HR services. It will enhance our ability to develop a high-performance culture and leverage HR information in a meaningful way to increase our capacity, capability and agility.

MyHR is scheduled to roll out in three waves over the 18 months from November 2016.

Redefining our leaders

Leadership is the single most critical driver of successful change. Given the scale of change we are currently facing and will continue to face, it is essential we have strong leadership in place.

We have strengthened our governance arrangements to support whole-of-Ministry leadership and decision-making.

Our Leadership Team is made up of our Chief Executive, Deputy Chief Executives and a Chief Policy Advisor. These leaders have collective responsibility for ensuring our organisational health, capability, and capacity to deliver services and achieve outcomes.

Four governance sub-committees of the Leadership Team support strategic decision-making across the organisation:

  • Information Management Governance Committee
  • Finance and Portfolio Governance Committee
  • Corporate Capability Governance Committee
  • Policy and Cross-Social Sector Committee.

In March 2016 the Leadership Team approved the establishment of the Health, Safety and Security Governance Committee, to provide oversight and governance of Ministry-wide matters relating to our people and physical security.

Independent Risk and Audit Committee

The Risk and Audit Committee provides critical support to the Chief Executive through independent advice and challenge on risk, internal control and assurance matters. The Committee’s advisory role provides an alternative perspective on risk management and internal control, internal assurance, external audit, financial and performance matters, and governance frameworks and processes. The perspective provided by the Committee is of critical importance in a time of change for the Ministry.

The Committee met four times during 2015/2016 and comprised four independent external members:

  • Graeme Mitchell (Chair)
  • Kristy McDonald
  • Linda Robertson
  • Sir Maarten Wevers.

The Committee provided advice and assurance on the following key areas of our programme of work:

  • the strategic change programme, including the Simplification project
  • wellbeing, safety and security, including implementation of the Security Response Programme and the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015
  • the Community Investment Strategy
  • progress with our culture change programme Building Blue
  • Investor Confidence Rating
  • privacy reporting and holiday pay compliance.

Leadership development

Over the past year we developed a strategy to identify, develop and retain critical roles and key people across the Ministry. An internal talent management approach is now in place for second- and third-tier roles that is consistent with the rest of the State sector.

We provide a number of development opportunities to build leadership capability and succession planning.

Emerging Leaders is a programme designed for high-performing individuals who have the potential and aspiration to move into their first management role. Since the launch of this programme in 2013/2014, 200 employees have participated, with 13 people graduating over the last year.

Te Aratiatia has supported over 150 Māori and Pacific high-performing individuals to move into their first management role since its launch in 2002. Seventeen people graduated last year.

Te Aka Matua supports Māori and Pacific managers to complete their master’s degree in Public Management. The last intake was in 2013, and the next is scheduled for 2016.

MSD Study Awards provide an opportunity for staff to pursue a significant learning and development programme of their choice that will benefit both themselves and the Ministry. Ten awards were made in the 2015/2016 year.

Our New Manager Programme is a suite of workshops that provide first-time team leaders with core management and leadership skills. Sixteen managers participated in 2015/2016.

In addition, we provided coaching for 223 of our middle and senior managers utilising the Life Styles Inventory (LSI™), a 360 degree feedback tool linked to our culture programme.

Building enterprise capability to manage projects, programmes and change

Our Enterprise Portfolio Management Office provides an enterprise-wide view of our portfolio of projects and programmes, and is charged with strengthening our capability across portfolio, programme and project management.

Understanding performance, risks and trade-offs helps us make informed decisions on maximising our resource investment.

During 2015/2016 we have introduced benefit management and benefit realisation practices across the Ministry, and have developed our governance practices to ensure we have strong portfolio leadership across top management tiers. We have enhanced our project financial management controls, and made significant progress in integrating change management practices to enhance the quality of the end product.

Building workplace flexibility – National Office accommodation changes

During the year we have been working on the relocation of our National Office to The Terrace, Wellington from August 2016. This gives us the opportunity to design a new, flexible work environment that encourages collaboration, innovation and better ways of doing things.

Bringing 2,000 staff in our National Office together into one building [1] increases opportunities for working together in a collaborative and efficient way, enhances our capacity to operate as an integrated, cohesive agency, and enables us to better respond to the needs of our clients.

In preparation for the move we have tested new office layouts, built more digital ways of working, provided staff with mobile technology, and reduced office clutter, enabling our organisation through better technology.

Delivery of the IT Strategy and Action Plan and other improvements, such as the implementation of the Single Client Management System, have built our organisational capability to work together more efficiently for greater collective impact.

Improving procurement standards

We have made significant improvements in standardising social service and commercial procurement through the development of new policy and practice guidelines. The improvements include the establishment of a Procurement Board to govern large purchases, as well as a range of communication and training packages. We have also worked closely with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to develop government procurement best practice initiatives.

New Zealand Business Number

We are required by a Cabinet directive of 25 May 2016 to recognise in any new or upgraded information management system, where practicable and by 31 December 2018, the NZBN of any organisation with which we interact.

We can identify businesses and community organisations that interact with Work and Income, using their NZBN where one has been issued, in our upgraded Client Management System.

We are working to update provider records to incorporate a NZBN where one has been issued. In some cases, this information will only be added once an organisation makes contact with the Ministry.

For organisations that interact with the Resource Directory Approvals (RDA) and contract to provide services for Child, Youth and Family and communities, we can record and cross-reference NZBNs manually; however this is yet to be automated and integrated into everyday business practices.

We have worked with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to obtain NZBN numbers for limited liability companies that we contract with, and we are working on obtaining NZBN data on incorporated societies over the next year.

Automation and a system to recognise NZBN numbers of commercial partners are being considered for implementation.

Developing our capability to share information to support better outcomes

Safe, legal and robust information-sharing arrangements enable the use and re-use of information by all of our service lines and by external stakeholders.

We are among the largest consumers of information from other government agencies, using shared information to deliver services, undertake research, and shape policy decisions. We are at the nexus of government information sharing, with at least 22 authorised information-matching programmes in place, and hundreds of Memoranda of Understanding and other arrangements with numerous agencies. This includes sharing our information with agencies and other stakeholders.

We have collaborated with other agencies to develop information-sharing arrangements for specific initiatives such as the Gangs Action Plan and the extension of the Youth Service. We have also continued to work with Inland Revenue on shared approaches to supporting clients’ entitlements and obligations. Initiatives and innovations developed by external agencies that rely on shared information to target funding, identify risk, enable service efficiency and develop policy have benefited from access to our data.

In the last year we have also focused on how to improve our information-sharing capability as a part of the Information Management Strategy. We are delivering a centralised operating model and new governance arrangements for information sharing. As a part of this, we will improve our guidance to frontline staff, supporting decision-making around when and how we can share information with agencies and service providers.

Resolving complaints and grievances

A critical component of orienting our workforce and capability around client need is being responsive to our clients and any complaints that they might have.

Resolving historic claims

We are committed to resolving by 31 December 2020 all claims by victims of historic abuse or maltreatment suffered in the State’s care before 1993.

As at 30 June 2016, 1,088 of the 1,905 claims have been resolved. We made offers to more than 400 eligible claimants under the Fast Track process in 2015; more than 85 percent of eligible claimants accepted offers.

Benefit Review Committees

Benefit Review Committees (BRCs) carry out independent reviews of clients’ applications, income support or pensions.

In 2015/2016 we received 4,784 applications for Review of Decisions. Of these, 3,648 were resolved before going to the BRC, either by the decision being overturned or by the client withdrawing the request. The remaining 1,136 applications were resolved by a BRC in the period 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016; of these, 904 (80 percent) confirmed the original decision, 92 (8 percent) varied the original decision, and 136 (12 percent) were revoked. Four were outside the jurisdiction of the BRC.

Chief Executive’s Advisory Panel on Child, Youth and Family Complaints

The Chief Executive’s Advisory Panel is the second stage of the Child, Youth and Family formal complaints process. If complainants are unhappy with Child, Youth and Family’s response to their complaint they can request a review by the Chief Executive. The Panel assists the Chief Executive in his review by providing a ‘fresh pair of eyes’ independent from Child, Youth and Family. It is made up of independent members who are appointed on the basis of their credibility, community standing and professional respect.

In 2015/2016 the Panel received 67 requests for a review, of which 64 were closed during the year. Eighteen of the 64 closed complaints were found to be outside of the Panel’s jurisdiction and one was withdrawn. A further 19 requests were referred back to Child, Youth and Family as they had not been through a Child, Youth and Family review.

The Panel heard 20 complaints during the year.

Of the 26 complaints the Chief Executive decided during the year, five were upheld in full, 19 were upheld in part, and two were not upheld.

Working with the Ombudsman and the Privacy Commissioner

We are committed to keeping personal information secure and to protecting the privacy of our clients, their families and the organisations that deliver our services, and ensuring that people get access to the information they require/are entitled to.

We have improved how people can access information and make requests under the Official Information Act 1982. In order to be more open and transparent about the information we hold, our data, we are moving towards proactively releasing information about our significant policies and work programmes.

In 2015/2016:

  • the Ombudsman received 77 complaints under the Ombudsman Act 1975 and 46 under the Official Information Act about the Ministry
  • the Privacy Commissioner received 39 complaints about the Ministry.

Of the investigations finalised:

  • four Ombudsman Act complaints were upheld
  • 21 Official Information Act complaints were upheld
  • two Privacy Act complaints were upheld.


[1] A temporary expansion of National Office staff requires a short-term lease on a second building on The Terrace, for no longer than three years.