WELLBEING AWARD FINALIST: Manawa Energy – People support through retail business sale process

15 Jun 2022

In January 2021, Trustpower announced a strategic review of its retail business, and the business case for a standalone generation and commercial and industrial electricity business. It knew this would create considerable uncertainty for its employees. 

At the time the company, now trading as Manawa Energy, employed about 800 people across almost 30 sites countrywide, including about 550 at its corporate office in Tauranga. 

As one of Tauranga’s largest employers – and with high instances of dual household employment – that uncertainty would create a great deal of stress for its people.

Trustpower concluded that strong communication channels and people support measures were essential to maintain business continuity and to deliver on its commitment to being a responsible employer. 

Transparent communication

The company created multiple avenues for two-way dialogue, committing to open and honest communication, and providing a range of tools and workshops.

This gave its employees the means to transform a time of anxiety and uncertainty into one of personal and professional growth. 

The programme prioritised transparent communication channels. It was characterised by regular updates; opportunities to ask questions anonymously; sharing information as openly as possible in a commercially sensitive process; and sharing announcements internally before or concurrently with their external releases. 

A workplace support team and other external wellbeing experts were given high visibility to ensure employees knew that people’s mental wellbeing and psychological safety were prioritised throughout the retail sale process.  

Employees had access to a series of podcasts, workshops and tools designed to address a variety of needs – from financial planning to stages of grief, to areas of personal control and influence, and CV writing. Whatever an employee’s go-to response was in a time of uncertainty, there was a tool available to empower them to take charge of their wellbeing. 

Engagement and responsibility

A regular engagement survey was implemented to monitor and respond to employee sentiment in a rapidly changing environment. Survey results consistently showed that employees felt informed and supported through the strategic review. 

Efforts to prioritise communication and employee wellbeing through the review and sale process enabled staff to undertake the necessary work to successfully transition the retail and generation departments to ‘operational independence’ as Trustpower awaited the completion of the sale of the retail business. It also increased staff’s resilience to change and enhanced their personal and professional strengths. 

Transactions of this type frequently take place with lower levels of employee knowledge and engagement. Trustpower opted to undertake this process with maximum employee knowledge and engagement in order to reduce anxiety and empower its people through this change. 

The Well-being Award category is sponsored by nib