Tairāwhiti-based infrastructure company Eastland Group has been announced as a finalist in the Deloitte Energy
Excellence Awards 2019.
They are nominated in the new Well-being Award category for their workplace initiative “Mind Matters”, which aims to
increase staff’s mental well-being and resilience. Other finalists in the category are Contact Energy and Meridian
Mental well-being at work
“We’re delighted to have been selected as a finalist in the Deloitte Energy Excellence Awards,” says Eastland Group
People and Performance Manager Jarred Moroney.
“Mental health is a vital piece of the health and safety puzzle. We can implement every health and safety policy under
the sun, but the reality is that if staff are not mentally prepared to be at work, they could be a hazard to themselves
and others around them.”
Mind Matters programme
Eastland Group operates several energy businesses: Eastland Network, the lines company for Gisborne, Wairoa and the East
Coast; Eastland Generation, which runs geothermal power plants in Kawerau and a hydro scheme near Wairoa; and Eastland
Energy Solutions, which is exploring the opportunities offered by emerging technologies.
In 2017 the company began looking for programmes to improve staff’s mental well-being at work.
“For Mind Matters to be effective, we were going to have to create a fundamental cultural shift at Eastland Group, from
the stoic Kiwi “she’ll be right” to a friendly Kiwi “how’s s/he doing?” says Mr Moroney.
Mind Matters is a 4-step approach to promote mental wellness and resilience. It consists of three training programmes
and a combination of supporting policies from Eastland Group.
1. Recognise: Busy Brain Management training
Teaching staff to recognise when their brains are overloaded with information and their decision-making skills are
compromised, and techniques to overcome this.
2. Talk: Courageous Business Conversations training
It takes courage to talk about mental health or speak up when something is not safe. Courageous Business Conversations
empowers staff with techniques to be able to have tough conversations with each other, and with any support services
they may need to engage with.
3. Connect: Mates in Tairāwhiti workshops
Workplace suicide prevention programme Mates in Tairāwhiti teaches staff to notice patterns of behaviour or
circumstances which may signal that a friend, whanau member or colleague is struggling. And, how to connect them to
4. Support: Eastland Group policy
Changes to Eastland Group policy ensure ongoing support and enhancement of mental well-being. This includes access to
EAP counselling services and allowing staff to take mental health days as sick leave.
Since beginning Mind Matters, Eastland Group has seen an increase in the number of people using EAP counselling services
– a free service provided to all staff.
Mr Moroney explains: “I believe this demonstrates that Mind Matters is working. Our staff are feeling more comfortable
talking about their mental health, and reaching out to the appropriate services. We’ve also seen a significant reduction
in workplace harm.”
“Since the training, there is a lot more of an open attitude,” says Murray Carman, Eastland Network Asset and Planning
Manager. “‘Are we thinking straight?’ ‘Did we have an okay day?’ ‘Are we ready for the job?’ It has changed the whole
way people think about sharing with each other."
“For any business, providing a safe working environment is essential,” adds Eastland Group Chief Executive Matt Todd.
“The Mind Matters programme goes far beyond this, to equip our staff with the tools to stay mentally as well as
“The uptake of these programmes across the Group has been inspiring to see. It’s largely thanks to the support of the
Eastland Group board and senior leadership team, combined with the unwavering enthusiasm from our staff, that has made
this programme a success.
“We’re also mindful of the fact that some of these learnings can be of real benefit for other local employers and
employees. So we’re rolling out Mates in Tairāwhiti to workplaces around the region, with the support of Eastland
Deloitte Energy Excellence Awards
The Deloitte Energy Excellence Awards are open to organisations operating in the New Zealand energy sector such as
retailers, generators, network companies, pipeline owners, oil/gas explorers and producers. The winners will be
announced on 21 August.