New Way of Working
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:

  • Operational responsiveness: CARE has enabled KiwiRail to adapt quickly and positively to changing global workforce conditions. A retiring workforce in the rail sector coupled with talent shortages domestically has seen the organisation become heavily reliant on international recruitment. By providing a highly tailored onboarding program, which goes beyond essentials like accommodation and transport, KiwiRail is ready and able to attract and retain top candidates. CARE fosters faster and better integration of new employees into KiwiRail by providing cultural orientation, community integration support and opportunities for social integration.
  • Collaborative and meaningful interactions: CARE highlights a new way of working which recognises the importance of connection within the group of new hires as well as connection to KiwiRail. Collaborating with a resettlement specialist to save time and leverage specialised expertise was a big change for the organisation, but it led to a mindset-shift and the ability to invest more time in human-led approaches. Recruits are not only well-supported by the comprehensive, human-led onboarding processes, they are also given the opportunity to onboard alongside fellow new hires and hear from site leaders before commencing their roles. This serves to create a sense of belonging that is essential for an  inclusive  work
  • Empowered staff: Through CARE existing international employees are empowered to serve as advocates and role models to newcomers, speaking on organisational values like ‘care and protect’ and lived experience with the organisation. New-hires are also empowered through CARE – they are well-informed, comfortably settled and have an empathetic network to lean on before commencing, improving employee readiness and speed-to-effectiveness from day one.
  • Enhanced employee engagement and experience: New hires were surveyed after participating in the CARE program and shared almost entirely positive feedback.
  • 100% felt welcomed and cared for during their first week in New Zealand.
  • 100% said that having a dedicated resettlement advisor was the most important part of the program, noting heart-to-heart connection the most important aspect.
  • 100% said they would recommend KiwiRail to a friend as an employer.
  • Linking talent mobility to organisational success: CARE was instigated by KiiwiRail’s HR and Recruitment Team and has had a significant impact on the organisation’s approach to global workforce management, modelling best -practice pastoral care for other business units in the KiwiRail group  who  are  also  recruiting  By increasing the speed -to -effectiveness of international candidates, CARE has also helped address historic concerns from some business units around the complications and downsides of international recruitment. As a result, KiwiRail is also now building its own internal immigration capability to further support international campaigns.