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The new concept of “OK-nomics”

Proof that businesses with happy staff perform much better.


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Is your business reaping the rewards of practising OK-nomics – the simple art of making bottom line profit even healthier by making your people happier? 

Now, more than ever, businesses need to consider work wellbeing and how it impacts that bottom line, says Jane Kennelly, General Manager Wellbeing at Skills Consulting Group: “New Zealand continues to face uncertainty as we transition back into a country that is ‘open for business’ 

“In the second year of SCG’s the Work Wellbeing Index research, it’s clear that measuring the wellbeing of workers is still a definite indicator and predictor of an organisation’s success.” 

The research commissioned by Skills Consulting Group reveals a distinct correlation between work wellbeing and the bottom line of a business. In short, if your people aren’t happy, your bottom line isn’t likely to be either, she says. 

 The Skills Consulting Group Work Wellbeing Index found that dissatisfied staff are less effective at work than those who are satisfied – with dissatisfied staff 68 per cent less motivated and 80 per cent less effective. They are also 57 per cent more likely to leave, increasing recruitment and training costs.  

Kennelly says the research shows a sense of wellbeing in the workplace, the feeling that your employer has got your back, leads to a higher sense of satisfaction: “It shows that 81 per cent of employees who believe their organisation has a wellbeing culture felt satisfied.  

“Businesses who are embracing wellbeing practices are not only seeing better business results, but they are positively impacting the lives of their people – which in turn creates better outcomes for New Zealand as a whole.”  


“It would be easy to dismiss the findings as specific to our current times, however the impact of the pandemic is far-reaching and has meant significant changes to the way we work. The issues we are facing around work wellbeing won’t go away any time soon and need to be addressed.  


“What we are talking about is OK-nomics – the direct link between successful organisations and happy staff. This isn’t just about fruit baskets, employment surveys or good pay packets, although that certainly helps.  It’s about feeling valued and taken care of beyond remuneration.”  

New Zealand’s overall workplace wellbeing score was 61 per cent – only one point down from last year – but she says cracks are starting to show.  

“In this year’s research, we dug deeper into certain areas and found that there were industry sectors, age groups and ethnicities which were struggling more,” says Kennelly. “We are working on a series of reports that will go into more detail, but we are encouraging business leaders to get to grips with OK-nomics. 

“If the cracks aren’t addressed, it could affect staff morale, add fuel to the fire of the so-called ‘great resignation’, and ultimately impact your bottom line.” 

Kennelly says there are six key drivers of wellbeing:  

  • Organisation genuine care  
  • Enabling personal care  
  • Structures and programmes to measure and support wellbeing 
  • Enabling care of others, 
  • Manager genuine care   
  • Team members’/colleagues’ genuine care  

The ‘genuine care’ categories have the biggest impact on workplace wellbeing, so that is a good place to start, she says. 

“Design a workplace environment that focuses on individual and team care. Start from the top and let it flow down – stressed managers won’t be able to care for their team but managers not well supported by the senior team will be supportive of others.  

“Open the lines of communication, allow your staff to offer feedback and make suggestions relating to the six key drivers. How do they think OK-nomics will be best enabled at work? Give them ownership of the process.” 

Making a concerted effort to address employee wellbeing is essential to thriving business in 2022 and beyond, Kennelly says: “When you think about it, it’s the smart thing to do. Everyone benefits; your employees and their families, your company both culturally and fiscally, and ultimately New Zealand Inc.” 

For more information: Skill Consulting Group have a dedicated wellbeing team who can provide tailored advice for your business.  

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