People and employment at centre of business strategy – The Gisborne Herald

Published June 13, 2022 5:08PM

Now that New Zealand’s borders are reopening, more businesses are again considering employing migrant workers.

Jenny Currie’s People Plus focuses on employment — recruitment, immigration and human resources (HR).

She founded People Plus three years ago, primarily as a business to provide external human resources and guidance to employers navigating the maze of employment regulations.

Jenny had a 10-year career working in HR and recruitment in Perth, Brisbane and Sydney, managing HR for the east coast operations of a large construction company.

“It was a really solid grounding in HR,” she said, “and then I got homesick I suppose and decided to come home”.

She had fallen in to HR after studying a double degree in commerce, majoring in marketing and management, and a Bachelor of Science in psychology. In Australia she undertook further post-graduate studies in HR.

Back in Gisborne she worked for the council for two-and-a-half years as the HR business partner, an internal role supporting department managers and fulfilling their staffing needs.

Then, with several businesspeople asking her about staffing and HR, she decided to make the move into her own business.

In the early days she did not have a business strategy as such, but sought first to simply meet the needs of businesses trying to find and build their own staff.

Within six months People Plus had grown and she had two part-time staff working for her. After that six-month establishment period the business was ready to grow, and they moved to new premises and worked on a business strategy. This phase took a further six months.

Three years down the track they have just completed an extension. With a team of five now, they had outgrown the space.

“I wanted to utilise my skills and experience to support local business, as there was a great demand with employers asking questions around employment contracts and processes,” she said.

With more and more queries coming locally and internationally about employing foreign nationals, Jenny completed a further post-graduate diploma in immigration law, becoming a licensed immigration adviser. That put her in a strong position to advise everyone from employers to visa holders and prospective employees on complex changes to immigration law, especially under border closures when Covid-19 hit.

“Employers need to be accredited if they are employing migrant workers,” Jenny said.

“We work on behalf of employers to submit their application to gain accreditation status, ensuring their business is viable and compliant with current employment and immigration law.”

The Government has been clamping down on the exploitation of migrant workers, so another area of work is supporting businesses to ensure they comply.

The team at People Plus are building networks with organisations and institutes overseas, pairing the skillsets of workers or new graduates in countries as far-flung as the Philippines, South Africa, the USA and the UK, with demand for labour and skills here.

“We are running offshore recruitment campaigns, matching people who are interested in immigrating here with suitable employers.”

People Plus considers itself to be a partner of local businesses, helping across all their employment and staffing issues, to help build productive and sustainable workplaces.

“We are in a very tight labour market at the moment so we focus on employers’ retention strategies, looking at how they recognise and make sure their employees feel valued and have opportunities to grow and develop.

“We work closely with employers and the make-up of their business, what their employees are looking for, and are they meeting the needs of their staff. There are different ways you can find benefits for your workforce, to make your employees feel more valued in the workplace.”

A constraint she has felt at times is finding the right people with HR and immigration law experience for her own business. The shifting landscape of immigration and Covid vaccination requirements has challenged People Plus, as it has many businesses over the past few years.

“Immigration law changes pretty frequently, and the changes can also get held up,” Jenny said. “Last July we ran three workshops on immigration law changes, and they all got delayed.”

Jenny said People Plus’s main business strategy had always been working with integrity, and the effort they put into their work.

“It’s pretty much what makes us survive.

“Our strategy is to do the best we can for every client.”

Services for Employers and staff: The team at People Plus are, from left, founder Jenny Currie, Megan Newman, Micky Fenn and Tom Woods. Picture supplied

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