Best Mobile Workforce Wellbeing Initiative
Jaclynn Davidson, KiwiRail in partnership with Bridget Romanes, Mobile Relocation

KiwiRail is New Zealand’s state-owned freight rail service. KiwiRail’s TEMi Award Partner, Mobile Relocation, provides specialist services to recruit, resettle, retain and develop international talent.

In 2023, KiwiRail worked with Mobile Relocation to implement ‘CARE’ (Candidate Attract, Resettle, Engage), a pastoral care program to support workers brought in from offshore to deliver essential services.

Highlights include:

  • Improved candidate care: KiwiRail faced challenges in recruiting domestically for specific skilled roles, leading to a focus on international recruitment. CARE provides comprehensive, culturally sensitive and personalised support to new international hires, ensuring a smooth integration into both New Zealand and KiwiRail. The program includes pre-arrival orientation, accommodation arrangements, briefing webinars, local WhatsApp groups and a dedicated Resettlement Advisor, as well as practical support, like local bank account setup, city familiarisation, and cultural integration activities, with ongoing support for long-term employee satisfaction and wellbeing. CARE serves as a unique selling point in Kiwi Rail’s recruitment efforts, differentiating them from other employers which may not offer such extensive support to their international hires, assisting with attraction and retention.
  • Operational efficiency: The initiative streamlines the onboarding process. By taking care of essential aspects like bank accounts and accommodation, the program ensures that new employees are ready to start their work effectively from day one. By addressing the wellbeing of new hires from the outset, KiwiRail is also increasing employee satisfaction and loyalty, reducing turnover and, consequently, lowering recruitment and training costs. Satisfied employees who have had a positive relocation experience are also more likely to refer others to the company, aiding in talent acquisition through trusted networks.
  • Risk mitigation: By providing a structured and supportive integration process, KiwiRail mitigates the risks associated with international relocation, such as cultural misunderstandings or non-compliance with local regulations, which can lead to recruitment delays or legal issues. Meeting and exceeding regulatory requirements for international recruitment not only ensures compliance but also builds trust with potential candidates who are assured of ethical treatment.
  • A culture of wellbeing: The CARE initiative enhances KiwiRail’s ability to source and recruit talent effectively, while creating a supportive environment that acknowledges the challenges of international relocation and fosters belonging and a sense of community, demonstrating organisational commitment to long-term employee wellbeing.

By ensuring that the basic and long-term wellbeing needs of international hires are taken care of, KiwiRail can focus on long-term talent development and career progression, which is both critical to organisational success and attractive to candidates looking for growth opportunities.