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Organisational Health and Capability

This section reports on Statistics New Zealand activities to strengthen the department’s organisational health and capability for the following areas:

  • leadership
  • people
  • systems and processes
  • relationships
  • finances
  • cost effectiveness
  • government-wide initiatives.

Figure 11 shows the seven objectives of our organisational health and capability priority and how they support us in achieving our five other priorities.

Figure, Organisational health and capability objectives. 


What are we seeking to achieve?

We will lead an efficient, effective, and coherent Official Statistics System where our partners and stakeholders are engaged and are advocates for the Official Statistics System. To be able to provide cross-government leadership, we must foster leadership at all levels of the department. We are seeking to have highly regarded leaders in the Official Statistics System who are sought after by key decision makers for their exceptional skills, knowledge, and advice.

What have we done to achieve this?

Develop a management and leadership programme

During 2008/09, we developed and implemented a leadership programme for our Tier 4 managers, or first-level leaders. This had been identified as a priority in our People Strategy as these are the people who influence and lead most of our staff on a daily basis. The programme started in April 2009 and offers first-level leaders the opportunity to attend five workshops, participate in a stress management seminar, work in peer learning groups, and receive expert one-on-one coaching.

How have we demonstrated success?

Overall leadership rating from staff engagement survey

Two statements in our March 2009 Engagement Survey measured staff perceptions of leadership at Statistics New Zealand. Staff were asked to rate the statements ‘I have confidence in the leadership of the organisation’ and ‘I have confidence in the person I report to’. For both statements, Statistics New Zealand rated in line with its sector benchmark, with around two-thirds of staff having confidence in the leadership of the organisation.

Satisfaction rating of managers completing targeted managerial training

During 2008/09, we held a series of workshops for first-level leaders. Feedback was positive, with attendees valuing the dedicated time to consider career development, how they impact on their teams, and where improvements could be made.


What are we seeking to achieve?

We are seeking to attract, engage, and develop staff who have the right knowledge, networks, skills, and competencies to deliver on our commitments, and progress our strategic priorities.

What have we done to achieve this?

Review our recruitment strategy

Statistics New Zealand will be reviewing its recruitment strategy in 2009/10. This strategy will be informed by the identified role requirements and key capability gaps discussed below, which will need to be assessed when recruiting new staff.

Deliver best practice field collections

The Best Practice Field Collections Project began in 2007, with the aim of ensuring our field collections area has highly skilled and professional interviewers to manage our increasing workload in collecting survey data.

A number of initiatives were completed during 2008/09, including deployment of new laptops with enhanced communication functionality such as email and wireless broadband; an e-Learning system that will enable interviewers to complete training modules from home; and providing leased vehicles for interviewers who consistently travel a high number of kilometres annually.

The project also negotiated revised employment terms and conditions, with a key outcome of integrating field interviewers into the Statistics New Zealand remuneration system.

Conduct methodological research

Statistical and methodological research is an important component of maintaining and enhancing capability. Statistics New Zealand’s Methodology Development Unit coordinates internal and external programmes of research, while also investigating new and emerging methods and strategies for the efficient and effective production of official statistics.

During 2008/09, this unit completed methodological research on administrative data use in the 2011 Census of Population and Dwellings post-enumeration survey, identifying factors associated with business survey non-response, the viability of reducing survey frequency by using administrative data, and guidelines for presentation and analysis of time series data.

Identify role requirements, core skills, and knowledge

During 2008/09, we identified key capability gaps in our statistical subject matter areas and IT group, and started to develop potential solutions to address these gaps. One solution is to organise customised, department-wide workshops to cover topics such as written communication, cost-benefit analysis, and analytical thinking.

Improve staff engagement

During 2008/09, the Statistics New Zealand Executive Board held a series of workshops with a cross-section of staff. Feedback from staff has been positive on the value of being able to interact with Board members and to hear about our strategic direction and challenges. We also conducted a department-wide staff engagement survey. The department is performing well in the areas of culture and values, common purpose, and the individual’s job. In the coming year, we will focus on improving opportunities to use and develop staff knowledge and skills, as well as ensuring effective performance management across the department.

How have we demonstrated success?

Employee engagement rates

We conducted our first staff engagement survey in 2008/09. The employee engagement index for Statistics New Zealand was 71.7 percent, which was close to the sector benchmark of 72.4 percent. An excellent response rate of 84.0 percent was achieved for Statistics New Zealand. This was significantly higher than the average response rate of 72.4 percent across all organisations in the survey.

The department’s engagement profile indicated a relatively lower proportion of ‘engaged’ and ‘disengaged’ staff, compared with the sector benchmark, and a higher proportion of ‘ambivalent’ staff. Our goal in 2009/10 will be to increase the proportion of ‘engaged’ staff.

Median tenure of staff

Statistics New Zealand’s median tenure of staff has continued to increase, from 3.2 years at June 2008 to 3.7 years at June 2009. While this was an increase of 16 percent, which was above the targeted increase of 5 percent, the median tenure of staff remains low.

Average tenure of staff has continued to increase, from 7.5 years at June 2008 to 7.8 years at June 2009. The average length of service has now almost met the public sector average length of service, of 8.0 years at June 2008.

Unplanned turnover

The unplanned turnover (resignations, retirements, and severances) of core staff fell from 16 percent at June 2008, to 12 percent at June 2009.

In the March 2009 staff engagement survey, 77 percent of staff said they intended to continue working for the department for at least the next 12 months, compared with 74 percent for the public sector benchmark.

Level of turnover of staff, grouped by length of tenure

At June 2009, Statistics New Zealand’s unplanned turnover was highest for staff who had been with the department for 1.0–1.9 years, and 2.0–2.9 years (see figure 12). Turnover for these groups was well above the department’s 12 percent turnover for all core staff. Staff with more than 10 years tenure had the lowest turnover.

Figure 12

Graph, Unplanned staff turnover by length of service. 

Vacancy rate

For 2008/09, Statistics New Zealand had a vacancy rate of 2.0 percent for core and fixed-term positions. That is, during 2008/09, 2.0 percent of core and fixed-term positions were vacant at any given time.

Systems and processes

What are we seeking to achieve?

We continue to face substantial challenges regarding our information technology (IT) systems, processes, and legacy platforms. Many of the department’s IT systems for key statistical outputs rely on unsupported or outdated software or platforms (known as legacy software or platforms). We are seeking to maintain business continuity, fully utilise the capacity of new IT platforms, and enable more efficient business processes. We need insightful market and organisational intelligence to inform us about our clients’ needs, and how well we are meeting these.

What have we done to achieve this?

Upgrade our technology platform

To resolve current issues with older legacy software and platforms, and minimise future legacy issues, we committed more funding to the IT area, and have invested in standardised technologies and solutions as much as possible. We developed a legacy mitigation roadmap, which provides a plan of action over the next five years for addressing our legacy software problem. The roadmap identifies the six most-at-risk software tools and a remedy plan for each tool, which ranges from simple upgrades to total replacement. In addition, over the last two years we have significantly increased our capital replacement investments in IT hardware, as much of this was old and not supported by vendors.

During 2008/09, we started to develop a long-term asset management plan, to identify and plan how best to maintain and upgrade our assets in future. We have developed a database to capture information about existing assets, such as the responsible business owner and how each asset supports or links to our strategic priorities and outputs. The database also includes proposed investment over the next 10 years for re-development or replacement of assets.

Continue to streamline and standardise our systems and processes

We have started to develop a standardisation strategy, which will lead to lower costs, higher productivity, and faster production through improved processes, less duplication, and more sharing of good practice. This strategy will recognise and articulate the standardisation needs of each statistical subject matter or service area, identify commonality, and consider when to deliver a generic or targeted solution. This will build on previous work as well as identify new process improvements.

During 2008/09, we began an ongoing process of reviewing our statistical outputs. This involves an internal review team evaluating the processes and information management of a particular output, and then developing an action plan to enhance the quality of the product and its efficient production. During 2008/09, reviews were conducted for our Quarterly Employment Survey, building statistics, and research and development statistics. Areas of improvement identified were the application of a customised template for checking the publications and media releases, and the use of ‘what-if’ analysis to assist in predicting turning points in a data series.

We have improved our project management with the reinvigoration of our project management office. We have clearer and more consistent prioritisation of projects, and more rigorous monitoring and reporting on our projects. A new development in 2008/09 was the introduction of six-monthly discussions between each project manager and five supporting business units of the organisation: human resources, IT, statistical methods, data collections, and internal audit.

Improve our information management

During 2008/09, we implemented a new document management system. An estimated 95 percent of staff received training in the new system. We have developed an ongoing programme of training for new and existing staff, from basic to advanced training, and updated our user manuals for information management systems. As part of implementing the new information management system we developed standard business rules, to ensure there was consistency across the organisation in what information was being migrated into the new system and how it was stored.

How have we demonstrated success?

Proportion of outputs produced without subsequent errata

In 2008/09, Statistics New Zealand published nine errata, compared with eight in 2007/08. While the proportion of releases produced without subsequent errata or amendments has remained high (96 percent compared with 97 percent in 2007/08), this was below the target of 99 percent.

Expansion of our generic business process model and development of more process models across statistical functions

During 2008/09, detailed business processes were documented for the Quarterly Employment Survey, and added to Statistics New Zealand’s Business Process Model Repository. This repository enables staff to access information on business processes that are particular to a business unit or collection.

Feedback from executive management on the quality, timeliness, and relevance of management information

In 2008/09, Statistics New Zealand’s Executive Board indicated that better management information and market intelligence was required to enable sound management decisions. A revised monthly report to the Board was developed for 2008/09, and a review of its effectiveness was conducted in April 2009. Feedback indicated that generally the quality and timeliness of the report was adequate, though feedback on the relevance of the report was mixed.

We are developing an activity-based costing model, and have established a project to improve management information, to ensure strategy setting and decision-making are well informed by evidence.


What are we seeking to achieve?

We are seeking coordinated engagement and productive partnerships with our stakeholders. In particular, we are focused on increasing awareness of the availability and value of official statistics, and the movement of our Official Statistics System partners towards becoming advocates of the Official Statistics System.

What have we done to achieve this?

Engage across government

We support, and are actively involved in, several cross-agency developments. One such group, convened in 2008/09 and led by the Ministry of Economic Development, is seeking to pull together as full a picture as possible of the economic impact of the global financial crisis on New Zealand. Twenty of the outputs we produce contribute to this ongoing analysis. We have been working actively with the Treasury’s forecasting team and other officials to ensure the best available information is provided.

Engage with the international statistical community

Statistics New Zealand is an active and well-regarded participant in the global statistical community. In 2008/09, the Government Statistician was nominated by the International Labour Organization to chair the five-yearly International Conference of Labour Statisticians. He was also invited to co-chair a seminar on Innovations in Official Statistics, hosted by the United Nations Statistics Division, and to make a presentation as part of the panel on innovations in data management and collections.

During 2008/09, Statistics New Zealand hosted the two-yearly bilateral meeting with the Australian Bureau of Statistics. We discussed achieving a more effective national statistical system; the demand for more environmental statistics; how to build a sustainable organisation and support for investment in statistics; our people strategies; and international engagement, particularly in Asia and the Pacific. We have developed an Asia Strategy, which sets out how we will contribute to Asian statistical development and learn from the experiences of Asian countries, as well as ensuring that we provide other government agencies with the right information needed for them to support and engage with Asia.

How have we demonstrated success?

General public perceptions of Statistics New Zealand

In our June 2009 customer satisfaction survey, which is sent to a sample of clients who request customised data, all clients who responded said Statistics New Zealand’s service level was ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’. The majority of clients said they were happy with all aspects of the services provided (including data) and did not feel that services could be improved upon. Customer satisfaction has improved since the June 2008 survey, in which 96 percent of clients said Statistics New Zealand’s service level was ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’.

Businesses’ perceptions of Statistics New Zealand

The annual Business New Zealand–KPMG Compliance Cost Survey monitors businesses’ perceptions of the helpfulness of the department. From 2003 to 2008, Statistics New Zealand’s helpfulness score has remained around 3.2, out of 5.0.


What are we seeking to achieve?

We continue to face a tight financial situation. We must prioritise where we invest, and continue to apply a concerted effort to find ways of working more efficiently and cost effectively.

What have we done to achieve this?

Ensure financial sustainability

In the past few years, Statistics New Zealand has addressed rising costs and projected budget deficits by increasing prioritisation of outputs, re-prioritising project funding, identifying savings from within baseline funding, increasing third-party revenue on a cost-recovery basis, and reducing outputs. In 2008/09, we delivered savings equivalent to 6 percent of our total baseline funding. Expenditure reductions from budget included decreasing travel and operating budgets, relinquishing vacancies, and very modest wage movements. We reduced a small number of outputs by reducing the scale and frequency of statistics and surveys, and by discontinuing particular publications. This enabled Statistics New Zealand to achieve a balanced budget in 2008/09.

During 2008/09, we began an activity-based costing project, which, when complete, will substantially improve our understanding of our costs and will be a key input to improving our efficiency and effectiveness. The project will help us understand the true cost of the outputs we produce and identify how much it actually costs to run each stage of the various outputs.
The development of a long-term asset management plan (see ‘Systems and processes’) will also be important for our longer-term financial planning.

How have we demonstrated success?

Prioritisation and management of outputs within appropriation

In our business planning for 2008/09, we projected a deficit, even after substantial expenditure savings were identified. The workload and demands placed on Statistics New Zealand exceeded the department’s resources and ability to deliver on these. The Minister of Statistics agreed to a number of recommended cuts to outputs:

  • reduce the scale and frequency of environmental accounts production and development
  • discontinue regional analyses and local government engagement, and the Quarterly Regional Report
  • reduce the frequency of some information communication and technology surveys
  • delay sub-national population projections and reducing other demographic statistics
  • reduce the frequency of the farm expenses price index release from quarterly to annual.

Statistics New Zealand ensures that it is working within appropriation and delivering efficient and effective services that maximise the use of public funds, by using an output prioritisation framework to inform funding-allocations and investment decisions.


What are we seeking to achieve?

Being efficient and effective means providing the right quality product or service for the least cost. It is important for government agencies to be able to demonstrate that their expenditure of public funds adds value. We are seeking to improve our efficiency, while at the same time maintaining or improving our effectiveness. This way, we seek to continuously improve the value we deliver to New Zealand.

What have we done to achieve this?

Improve efficiency and effectiveness

In line with other national statistical offices, we have put considerable emphasis on efficiency and effectiveness initiatives and have in many cases been innovative in our approach. During 2008/09, we progressed initiatives that focused on improving our efficiency and effectiveness, including:

  • developing a prioritisation framework for our statistical releases, statistical services, and support services, to ensure that we are focused on the outputs and services that will add most value. This framework prioritises our statistics and services into four categories, ranging from the most important statistics that require the highest levels of credibility and integrity, to those that are considered discretionary statistics and could possibly be produced by other agencies or not at all
  • reviewing our existing statistical programme and systems to identify opportunities to achieve enhanced operational efficiency. Focusing on effectiveness also means we have to take account of business continuity and our ability to keep satisfying our users. This efficiency and effectiveness focus has been a major factor in new projects, such as investigating a redevelopment of the Household Labour Force Survey
  • implementing internal output efficiency reviews, by and across production areas, including benchmarking the efficiency and effectiveness of outputs. We have completed a cost effectiveness and efficiency review in our collections and dissemination area, as well as for our balance of payments business unit
  • improving our project management through the strong leadership of our project management office. We have implemented a corporate project management tool, and we have clearer and more consistent guidelines for how to prioritise, monitor, and report on our projects. We are also seeing improved cooperation and coordination across project teams and our support services.

How have we demonstrated success?

Total expenditure, excluding census and new-initiative funding

Statistics New Zealand expenditure on core business has not significantly increased since 2000/01. Year-on-year changes to our total expenditure have been primarily driven by the census cycle and the amount of new initiative funding received for new statistical collections (see figure 13).

Figure 13

Graph, Expenditure by type. 

Government-wide initiatives

What are we seeking to achieve?

As part of the public sector, we contribute to whole-of-government initiatives and the development goals designed by the State Services Commission to improve the overall performance of the State Services, while serving the government of the day.

What have we done to achieve this?

Provide equal employment opportunities

Statistics New Zealand provides equal employment opportunities (EEO) in line with current government requirements. In 2008/09, we continued to subscribe to the EEO Trust, and all role descriptions continue to note the department’s commitment to providing equal employment opportunities. We also reviewed our disability strategy and related action plans.

During 2007/08, Statistics New Zealand and the Public Service Association undertook a Pay and Employment Equity Review focusing on gender equity against three indicators: rewards, participation, and fair treatment. During 2008/09, we completed the action points that were recommended following the review.

Reduce the department’s emissions

While the Govt3 and Carbon Neutral Public Service programmes were discontinued in early 2009, we continued to take practical action to reduce our impact on the environment, where it made economic sense. During 2008/09 we:

  • introduced a timer system for lights in informal meeting spaces, and completed an energy audit for our Wellington and Christchurch offices
  • promoted and used environmentally friendly products, recycled products, or New Zealand-made products
  • reduced our environmental footprint and expenses by encouraging shared use of taxis, and extending the use of video conferencing.

How have we demonstrated success?

The equity and diversity of our staff

The department continues to have a slightly higher number of female than male staff, with 54 percent female staff in 2008/09 (for permanent staff, including interviewers), compared with 53 percent in 2007/08 (for permanent staff, excluding interviewers). This is still slightly below the public sector average of 59 percent female staff in 2007/08. Additionally, of the 44 senior managers at Statistics New Zealand, exactly half are female (compared with 38.3 percent of senior managers across the public sector).

Staff ethnicity continues to be relatively varied with 45 percent identifying as New Zealand European, 11 percent as Asian or Indian, 11 percent as British or Irish, 4 percent as Māori, 2 percent as Pacific peoples, and a further 10 percent are other ethnicities.

Statistics New Zealand’s staff age profile has changed between 2007/08 and 2008/09, with fewer staff aged 20–29 years and more staff aged 60 years or older in 2008/09 (see figure 14). This may be because interviewer staff have been included in the profile for the first time in 2008/09, and half of staff aged 60 years or over are interviewers.

Figure 14

Graph, Staff age profile. 

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