High Performance Working Initiative (HPWI)
What is the High Performance Working Initiative?
The Government has introduced a new productivity initiative to support enterprises to improve their business processes, through effective employee engagement and workplace practices. The Department of Labour High Performance Working Initiative (HPWI) provides support by partially funding “High Performance Working Partners” who contract specialist business consultants to help firms develop high performance working processes. Best practice models will be developed to highlight the benefits of high performance working.
When does it start?
The Minister announced the initiative on 7 October 2010 through a media release. Expressions of interest from organisations wanting to become an HPW Partner are being sought now.
What is a High Performance Working (HPW) partner?
HPW partners can include regional business networks, industry bodies, trade or union based organisations and similar business entities. As an illustration, bodies that have performed a similar role in the past include:
- the Northland Chamber of Commerce
- the Canterbury Development Corporation.
- the Industry Training Federation
- New Zealand Master Contractors Incorporated
- Dairy New Zealand
- the Centre for High Performance Working (an initiative of the Engineering, Printing & Manufacturing and Dairy Workers Unions), and
- the Central Employers and Manufacturers Association
Is there an application or selection process?
Yes, as the funds are public money, there is a certain amount of rigour that has to accompany release of any funds. Before agreeing to fund any project through this Initiative, the Department needs to be satisfied that the project falls within the funding criteria and that there is a likelihood of success in terms of productivity benefits.
For instance, the activities proposed must:
- involve a systematic approach to business improvement
- enhance workplace practices in order to raise productivity
- include a high level of employee engagement, and
- become part of an organisation’s normal and ongoing way of working.
Any proposal submitted for funding must also include plans for follow-up activities, such as participation in a case study or opportunities to further extend the benefits achieved to date.
See below for information on how to apply either as an HPW partner or as an individual firm.
How do we apply to be an HPW partner?
The process includes the following four key steps:
- potential HPW partners submit an expression of interest outlining their initial idea to the Department
- the expression of interest will be considered by the Department against certain criteria (see below)
- once the expression of interest is accepted as being suitable, the organisation will be invited by the Department to develop a project proposal for funding consideration
- once a proposal is approved by the Department and a funding agreement is in place, the organisation will be able to contract business improvement consultants directly to start working with firms.
How do we submit an expression of interest?
The expression of interest for an organisation wanting to become an HPW partner needs to include information that demonstrates:
- its ability to successfully deliver the project - including its organisational capability, understanding of and commitment to HPW, and connections with members
- project objectives with a clear focus and strategic alignment (that is, why the project is important and relevant to the industry/member firms).
The expression of interest will also need to outline, at a broad level, how the project would operate. For example, it needs to include the preferred consultant, a timeline, budget, number of firms involved etc. However, these do not need to be detailed at this stage, and could be modified in the proposal stage.
If the Department considers (from the expression of interest) that the proposed project may be suitable for funding, it will invite the applicant organisation to develop a project proposal. This will need to include more detail about how the project will be run. See our EOI process page for more information.
The Department will have staff available to advise and assist the potential HPW Partner through the expression of interest and proposal processes.
How do we apply as an individual firm?
Individual firms are encouraged to partner with an industry body or similar business entity to take best advantage of the HPW Initiative. However, if there is no way of doing so through an HPW Partner, individual firms can do so by a one-stage application process. They will need to submit a full proposal to the Department.
Information required in a proposal for an individual firm would include:
- a description of the firm and its commitment to HPW
- project objectives
- methodology - how it will go about making business improvements, and what external advisor will be engaged for this
- project plan including timeline, milestones, risks and issues
- how the project would be managed
- a project budget and the amount of co-funding the firm would provide, and
- follow-up activities.
The Department has staff who can talk with you about what would be required in a project proposal.
What level of funding can we expect from this initiative?
The Initiative is designed to kick-start firms in putting in place high performance working practices that will deliver productivity gains and involve employees in their design. Once the practices are underway, there is an expectation that ongoing rollout, development and maintenance of the work practices will be funded directly by participating firms.
The typical two stages for funding are:
- inception stage (fully funded by the Department): this stage is likely to involve initial training in HPW, diagnosis and identification of key business problems, planning and implementation of initial activities
- implementation stage (partially funded by the Department): involving more intensive, hands-on support in implementing and rolling out the HPW business improvement processes.
The Department’s focus is on ensuring that participating organisations or firms receive the most benefit from the funds invested, so the estimated cost of each project will be assessed against the expected outcomes. The actual level of funding approved will, therefore, vary according to the nature of the activities proposed. However, it is envisaged that most projects would require $10,000-15,000 per firm (net of any funding contributed by the firm itself).
Is this open to any organisation?
Funding for consultants can be provided for any private sector organisation and some publicly owned commercial entities (such as State Owned Enterprises, Council Controlled Organisations and local authorities). However, it excludes some firms that are already receiving comparable support through other government programmes, or where other programmes would be more appropriate to their needs.
When can we apply?
You can apply at any time.
Can we choose the consultant ourselves?
Yes. The partner organisation will know better than the Department what type of consultant will be able to work effectively with member companies.
The choice of consultant is one factor that will be considered in the selection of project proposals for funding. To be approved, a project proposal will need to outline why the organisation has chosen that particular consultant and describe, for example, their level of experience and expertise in this area and how they will approach the work.
How long will it take to get funding for a project?
When an expression of interest is submitted, the Department will advise the applicant within 15 working days about whether it is suitable, and what will be needed to develop it further.
The timeframes for developing an expression of interest into a fundable proposal will vary according to the nature and complexity of the proposed project. The Department has staff available to provide the applicant organisation with advice and assistance in order to develop the project proposal as quickly as possible.
What does the Department expect from firms that take this up?
The Department expects that organisations or firms that participate in the HPW Initiative would provide:
- time, enthusiasm and commitment to their project
- a contribution to the project’s costs during the implementation stage (negotiated between the Department and participants)
- a commitment to engage in follow-up activities such as participation in a case study or industry best practice guide
- promotion and championing of the High Performance Working approach to others, and
- a commitment to good workplace communications, relationships and culture.
How long would these projects be expected to last?
This depends on the nature and scope of the project. However, in order to achieve measurable results, experience shows that similar workplace projects are designed around a 12-month timeframe.
Do we have to refund the Department if the project fails?
Funding will be provided for meeting defined milestones, so if the project is stopped or scaled down partway through, adjustments would need to be made to the contracted funding arrangements before further payments are made.
Is it a requirement to involve staff or the union?
Employee engagement is a key criteria for activities funded through this initiative. There is an expectation that employees will be actively involved in making decisions about what needs to change or be introduced to improve productivity in their workplace.
If the workforce includes union members, then it is expected that the union would also be involved to ensure their members’ input is represented. However, to take advantage of this initiative, the organisation does not need to have union representation in the workplace.
For organisations wanting to improve the employer and union relationship in the workplace, practical support and assistance can be provided through the Partnership Resource Centre (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Can consultants apply for funding of a project through this initiative on behalf of their clients?
In order to make an impact in the business community, this initiative is targeting potential HPW partners. Consultants are, therefore, encouraged to partner up with an industry, trade or similar business entity (a potential HPW partner). However, all expressions of interest and proposals will be considered on their merits.
Information on Productivity Initiatives to Date
Similar Government programmes to improve productivity have had largely positive outcomes among firms that have been involved. See our page on Workplace Productivity for more information.
How does this connect to the Productivity Commission?
The NZ Productivity Commission is still in its establishment phase and its work programme is yet to be decided. The main focus of the NZ Productivity Commission, however, is likely to be high-level regulatory issues, therefore the HPW Initiative will provide a complementary source of information about influences on productivity within workplaces.
For further information on the High Performance Working Initiative
Contact HPW@dol.govt.nz or call +64 4 915 6259.