A GUIDE TO WORKING IN NEW ZEALAND
The New Zealand work culture
You have decided to move to New Zealand, work here temporarily, or your company overseas is sending you over here for set period of time. What can you expect?
Just like in any other country, there are cultural differences in the New Zealand workplace you should be aware of.
A ‘can do’ attitude
New Zealanders are known for their hands-on approach to work, where they simply get on the job and get it done. We also have a tendency for collaboration rather than strict hierarchy. In most companies, everyone is expected to contribute ideas and innovation is usually rewarded accordingly.
Small businesses, big achievements
40% of NZ’s economy runs on business that have under 20 employees, with the average business counting just 13 employees. As mentioned above, this allows for greater collaboration across all levels of a company. Another positive effect is a potentially less bureaucratic system. It is not uncommon for a junior staff to swiftly work alongside senior management if it is for the greater good. Status is not as important as overseas, and first names rule in the workplace. You may also be working in a less specialised environment, which in turn will get you involved in a wider array of tasks and expand your skills, making your job more interesting. Multitasking and flexibility are highly-valued assets in the New Zealand work culture and you will be judged by your skills, not your rank.
If New Zealanders are inherently independent folks, the small size of our businesses means it could be difficult to work efficiently if you never break the ice with your new work mates. Kiwis are known for being very welcoming and warm towards newcomers, so don’t be afraid to ask if you don’t know, and avoid that awkward culture clash. Work events are frequent, whether for a rugby game, to welcome a new staff, or farewell another, and good opportunities to get to know your colleagues.
With such fantastic natural backdrop, and safe environment, New Zealand is very family-focused. Businesses shut rather early in the afternoon, with very few cafes being opened after 5pm outside of major urban centres. Employers can be very understanding of family commitments and will usually allow time for special events, providing your professional performance meets their requirements and you are not taking advantage of their flexibility.