The human face of health

As a health worker, you understand that health care is all about people.  In New Zealand, health expenditure makes up well over 11% of our GDP. As the need for health care rises, this is giving rise to an expanding need for health care workers, a workforce seen globally to exceed the growth rate of the general population. MBIE in their reports identifies over 230,000 people in New Zealand as being active in health and social services.

The challenges that this brings have been well documented.  Health organisations are working hard to try and keep pace with:

  • Growing and aging populations;
  • Skillset shortages;
  • Capacity shortages;
  • Reduction in workforce engagement and increased ‘burn-out’;
  • A shift in focus from treatment in the hospital to prevention in the community; and
  • Increasing patient and treatment complexity, to name a few.

The pressure on health care workers is significant, and with this pressure, we are seeing a desire to keep up with technologies such as artificial intelligence and automation in the hope that they could help alleviate some of these strains. For example, automating or obliterating administrative processes or ‘time-wasters’ that take clinical time away from patient care can have benefits across a number of fronts: Staff get to operate at the top of their scope of practice improving engagement, whilst the efficiency gains allow providers to see more patients.

So who is doing what? Below are some of the international trends and associated insights that could be worth considering in New Zealand:

Caring for carers

The health care leaders interviewed as part of the Time to Care report’s investigation recognised the need to address declining mental and physical wellbeing of staff. Persistently high workloads and therefore stress levels can have, and are having, a negative impact on the physical and mental wellbeing of our health professionals.[1] Most interviewees in the Time to Care report raised serious concerns about the morale of the health workforce, linked to working conditions and higher working loads - doctors in 8 of the 11 European countries surveyed responded that their workload had become considerably more difficult to manage in the last five years. Left unaddressed, they anticipated a downward spiral in the emotional, mental and physical wellbeing of doctors and nurses.[2]

Part of this comes down to investment in programmes and services directed at increasing staff wellbeing, with examples including access to fitness classes, social clubs, childcare support and counselling services.

However, creating an organisational culture that enables, rather than restricts the health provider’s ability to thrive, is one of the most effective ways to bring about change. Improving organisational culture has been a large focus in our Human Capital Consulting practice of late, with clients wanting to understand challenges with their current culture, articulate the desired culture (purpose, values and behaviour) to align with their overall strategy and then implementing initiatives in the most effective way to accelerate the culture change.  Facilitating culture change within our hospitals and other health providers presents a huge opportunity to have a positive impact.

Health organisations are seeing the benefits of things like culture visualisation and acceleration with leadership teams, culture-focused engagement surveys and soft-skill training programmes. Supporting a culture of collaboration, trust and transparency is crucial in a workforce that operates in high-stress conditions and where a breakdown in internal relationships could have disastrous consequences.  This kind of change benefits from strong leadership. A leader who models desired behaviours and connects with employee’s to align them to a common purpose sees marked improvements in the organisation’s performance.[3]

A stronger team environment and high levels of trust in the workplace can only benefit the patients, the population that the health providers service. As a hospital Director of Education interviewed as part of the Time to Care Report put it, “Getting the culture right means you can do much more with the money you have”.[4]


Today’s technology presents enormous opportunities to relieve some of the pressure.  In the back office we are seeing a desire for automation, for example for in recruitment for the screening of applicants, and in payroll.  For health care workers there is a strong drive toward micro learning to enable staff to keep pace with evolving processes and practices.  We have also worked with one of the large DHBs to implement a HR service management solution that saw immediate results in reducing the time spent by HR professionals on administrative tasks, thus increasing their ability to provide fundamental HR support and business partnering to the health professionals in their workforce.

How can we help?

Deloitte are experienced practitioners and market leaders, with a range of methodologies and tools that we can bring to help you articulate the needs of your organisation and develop a strategy for positive change. Read the following articles to find out more, or get in touch with our Human Capital team.

Deloitte New Zealand’s health care services are led by Thorsten Engel, a Consulting Partner in our Wellington office. Thorsten has experience working with medical institutions and public sector organisations across New Zealand, Australia, the United States and Switzerland.

Partner Sonia Breeze also specialises in Healthcare as well as Human Capital Consulting. A former nurse and manager of a national health service, Sonia leverages 25 years in Consulting and Health, and as a CHRO in New Zealand and Australia.

[1] Deloitte, ‘Time to Care Report’ (2017), pg. 30

[2] Ibid, pg. 25

[3] Deloitte, ‘Culture or the leader?’ (2016),, pg. 2

[4] Deloitte, ‘Time to Care Report’ (2017) pg. 31


Did you find this useful?