A“think boldly” strategy leads to engaged, productive workforce

Published on 06-Feb-2014

Yealands Estate Wines

Retail, Wholesale Distribution & Services

Deployment country:
New Zealand

Smarter Workforce, Social Business for Human Resources, Social Business


Located in the Awatere Valley of Marlborough, Yealands Estate Wines produces award winning New Zealand wines in harmony with the environment.

Business need:
Yealands needed to create a culture where employees were encouraged to be innovative and constantly push the envelope with their ideas and suggestions.

Yealands participated in IBM® Kenexa® Best Workplaces to enhance the value of its employee feedback and to encourage innovation in the workplace.

· Ranked among the highest organizations participating in the survey for employees who feel their leaders value their contribution · Increased engagement levels to 87 percent in 2012, and achieved 100 percent employee participation rate · Enhanced business effectiveness by focusing on employee ideas and feedback and making them feel valued

Case Study

Located in the Awatere Valley of Marlborough, Yealands Estate Wines produces award winning New Zealand wines in harmony with the environment.


As a relative newcomer in the New Zealand winemaking industry, Yealands Estate Wines is already making a name for itself.

The winery opened for business in 2008, and already some of its wines have been recognized around the world for their taste and quality. Yealands Estate was named producers of the World’s Best Sauvignon Blanc at the International Wine Challenge 2012, and several of the company’s other wines have won international awards.

In addition to producing award-winning wines, Yealands wants to be the most sustainable winery in the world. The company is well on its way – Yealands Estate was the first winery to be carboNZero certified by the world’s first accredited greenhouse gas certification scheme since inception. The winery has measured and offset all its greenhouse gas emissions since it opened for business.

The company has worked hard in a short period of time to build a solid brand reputation, and management realized it would take the work of all 130 employees to maintain that reputation well into the future.

The challenge: encouraging innovation
To accomplish its goals, Yealands needed to create a culture where employees were encouraged to be innovative and constantly push the envelope with their ideas and suggestions. The company’s desire is to be a leader rather than a follower in the wine making industry, and to succeed it had to be more open to trying new ways of doing business and providing a workplace environment where employees felt safe sharing their ideas and opinions.

“Coming up with better ways of doing things is not the sole domain of our management team,” said Jason Judkins, Yealands Chief Executive Officer. “We encourage everyone to share their ideas and we find we get a more engaged team accordingly.”

From the early days, Founder Peter Yealands played a big role in creating this culture of innovation by listening to employees give their ideas or feedback and considering each one carefully. Yealands even encourages outlandish suggestions, viewing these as learning opportunities that may trigger different ideas and innovations.

Yealands’ philosophy is simple: “Think boldly, tread lightly and never say it can’t be done.” This balance of risk and innovation is a fundamental pillar of the culture at Yealands and continues to play an important role in helping build a successful business.

The solution: listening to employees
As a way to enhance the value of employee feedback and to encourage innovation, Yealands Estate Wines participated in IBM® Kenexa® Best Workplaces. Kenexa, an IBM Company, designs its surveys to measure what matters for each individual client, in order to improve the effectiveness and efficiencies of an organization.

Encouraging employee feedback fits into the family atmosphere of the business. “Having good systems and process is important, but you need to remember the human factor,” says Leonie Woolnough, Human Resources Consultant for Yealands.

Our surveys can be tailored to focus on key areas that are important to an organization with the goal of creating a more engaged, productive workforce. For example, Yealands included questions in their survey to specifically measure employee perceptions of their product and unique culture.

Kenexa is one of the leading employee engagement survey administrators in the world. It maintains a three-year rolling database with more than 850 million employee responses – one of the largest of its type in the world. By using this database, companies can compare themselves with similar organizations around the world. Being a New Zealand based organization, Yealands tapped into Kenexa’s New Zealand benchmark data to obtain an external comparison.

Kenexa’s consultants use their expertise to design exceptional survey tools to help meet virtually any situation, and then help to evaluate and report on the results of the survey in a concise, easy-to-understand way that provides insight into how employees feel, what trends have emerged over time and external benchmarks.

The results: valued employees are successful employees
Yealands’ employees feel leaders value their contribution, an area that many organizations struggle with. In this area, Yealands ranked among the highest organizations that participated in the Kenexa Best Workplaces Survey. Judkins believes this is because people are made to feel personally valued – not just for the work they are doing, but for who they are and what they bring to the company. Managers invest in their employees by confirming one-on-one catch-ups take place, which helps employees feel individually looked after, in terms of their development opportunities.

There is also an open door policy at Yealands that comes from the example set by founder Peter Yealands. Not only is the founder accessible, he goes out of his way to learn all he can about his employees and their families.

Overall engagement levels rose seven points to 87 percent in 2012, and Yealands achieved a 100 percent participation rate with their employees. This focus on employees and valuing their ideas and feedback has helped make Yealands a productive, effective business.

“At Yealands, it feels good to go to work,” Woolnough says. “You are part of a family environment. You are part of something great.”

About Kenexa, an IBM Company
To us, business has always been personal – and it has always been about helping to make the workforce smarter, which is why we are proud to be a platform for a Smarter Workforce. We look at it from two angles – empowering people and transforming business. Our tools help enable businesses to attract and keep the best people, develop their skills, cultivate new leaders and capitalize on their collective intelligence by applying human insights, social tools and workforce analytics to transform the way they work. We provide deep insight and experience in employee engagement, talent management and leadership develop­ment mixed with industry-leading technology and social platforms, giving us the unique ability to build a Smarter Workforce.

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Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

IBM Kenexa Best Workplaces

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