Humankind and the future of work

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A recent study  by Suncorp New Zealand shows that people are once again the most important factor influencing business success - a statistic that resonates strongly with Samantha Gadd, founder and managing director at Humankind.

The research also shows that only 13% of respondents said that staffing issues are top of mind when it comes to disruption in business today – something that she says worries her but doesn’t surprise her.

“Very few businesses are thinking about the workforce when they think about disruption, but employment and the traditional HR sector are undergoing huge change,” she says. “One thing that really worries me is the level of complacency across New Zealand businesses, because although many equate disruption with technology, I can’t think of one industry that isn’t going to be disrupted when we look at the future of work.”

Gadd believes that the kind of ‘purposeful employee experience’ that Humankind develops is now critical to growing businesses that will be successful now, and in the future.

“The modern workforce is changing. People are craving more purpose, meaningful connection with their businesses’ leaders, more flexibility, more recognition. And at the same time businesses are looking at how to optimise their workforce, and technology is enabling efficiencies like offshoring, automation and AI, gig style employment.”

Gadd says that although many businesses believe things like automation lessen the risk posed by people factors, the opposite is actually true.

“As the workforce changes, businesses may have fewer people – but the people you do have play a more intensified role in representing your brand and delivering for your customers. And attracting and retaining the best people becomes even more important.” 

As a result, she believes that businesses need to provide employee experiences that are one-size-fits-one. 

Gadd says that Humankind’s is taking a disruptor approach to the world of HR by designing “moments that matter” for people at work.

“One of the things that motivates me is to see New Zealand businesses leading the way in terms of the way we work and providing better work experiences for our people. Employee experience is a big focus for CEOs globally, and for Humankind it’s a huge opportunity because there are very few globally doing what we are doing.”

Gadd says that as a niche business that started out almost six years ago, growth at Humankind has become a bit of a runaway train.

“I didn’t start out wanting to grow the business but the demand for the kind of cutting-edge services we are offering has driven huge change for us internally. And we had to adapt to that change and pick up the pace or stand still - which eventually means die.”

The Suncorp New Zealand research also showed that, when prompted, the number one action to minimise risk (86%) was providing good work conditions for staff. Gadd agrees, adding that employee experience is not something you can just ‘tick off’.

“People are the most critical success factor for any business and that means constantly investing in your team – to retain them, but also to retain a cutting-edge advantage.

“Humankind’s purpose statement is to help people love what they do, and that has literally driven me since the beginning of my career. Our clients want to succeed and evolve, and to do that we help them create a work environment that offers their staff something much more than just an income.”

And does Humankind practice what they preach? Absolutely, says Gadd.

“For myself, there is nothing that spins my wheels more than walking into our beautiful space, seeing our team really happy, working with our amazing clients and helping them love what they do.  The ripple effect is contagious,” says Gadd.

Suncorp New Zealand would like to thank Humankind for sharing their story.

About the Suncorp New Zealand Business Success Index

In 2018 Suncorp New Zealand spoke to 600 New Zealand companies to find out what success today looks like for them and how they are tracking in the 12 months since the inaugural Suncorp New Zealand Business Success Index launched in June 2017. 

Suncorp New Zealand conducts the annual survey to find out what is important to businesses, what is holding them back, how they perceive risk, and how they see their businesses evolving in a disruptive market.  

The 2018 findings show buoyant business optimism, but a reluctance to take risks in order to be successful and general complacency towards disruption.

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