TUNING INTO OUR TIMES:
CLIMATE CHANGE IN THE
NEW ZEALAND LABOUR MARKET
A PRESENTATION AND DISCUSSION • MARIANNE DOCZI • WORK DIRECTIONS • 26 JULY 2006
• How the future is happening now
• Why we need to understand how society, business and
technology are interacting
• Why we need to question some of our assumptions to
strengthen the things we’re doing to support Better
Work: Working Better.
We’re living in times of unprecedented change and, as
William Gibson said - the future is here, it’s just not
So, you are thinking, what’s new? What’s different about
The pace: fast. The scale: huge. The direction: changes on
First half of 20th century - technology enabled a move to
mass production: Fordism. But no equivalent social
or cultural revolution.
Second half of 20th century: Carnaby St and California
Dreaming - social and cultural revolutions but the means
of production and distribution didn’t essentially change.
This time round it’s climate change on a global scale.
I call it the 4 C’sons in one day: Culture, Commerce,
Connectivity and China.
Culture - attitudes, values, life patterns, demographic
Commerce - how business is done, what a business is,
where it takes place, who runs them, are all changing.
Connectivity - not just the internet and broadband.
But also the development of social and economic
networks, and networks of networks.
China. Where to start. Clever, Huge, Innovative, Nation-
alistic and Ambitious. Not Cheap, Humble, Introverted,
Naive and Amateur. That view, to paraphrase my niece,
is so last century.
The 4 C’sons in one day. Climate change, but not as we
know it James.
What’s different this time are the ways in which the
social, economic and technological are converging as
the internet, broadband and mobile multi-media devices
(M3D) provide new ways of operating; personally and
commercially. And the force of the East Wind: China.
As we quoted from Edward Elgar, in relation to innovation,
in our Planning for New Zealand’s future labour market
paper, it’s not just the economy that transforms, it’s the
whole of society: politics, social relations, how and where
we live, how we organise our education system, and how
our culture shapes our beliefs and attitudes.
We now have a mass market of individual consumers and
a mass movement of everyday people, who are increas-
ingly putting themselves ﬁrst, as consumers, citizens and
In more than an electronic sense, we’re experiencing a
revolution from e-commerce to Me-Commerce.
The individualistic society and economy, empowered by
the internet, might be strongest with Generation Y, the
born to iT generation, but it’s infusing other generations
How’s this all affecting the labour market - the supply of
and the demand for talent?
The answer is that we simply don’t know enough to judge,
and adjust our advice and services accordingly. To be
future prepared to the extent we should and could be.
We’re in danger of making assumptions about the future
that might have use-by-dates. That we should be testing.
So let’s improve our future preparedness by exploring ﬁve
assumptions: things we shouldn’t take for granted.
What if ...
• Life patterns don’t go on much as usual ...
• Business isn’t just business as we think of it ...
• Innovation isn’t all about the big discovery, the high-
tech stuff ...
• We don’t just need more tertiary qualiﬁed, technically
skilled people ...
• Money doesn’t matter most ...
But before we start, let’s be real:
• We do live in increasingly complex times - while we
need to know more, actually we’re over-informed and
over-choiced - and some groups in society have little
or no choice about how they live.
• Governments and ofﬁcials can’t pull the ‘big levers’
anymore to improve wealth and well-being: we have to
harness the mood of the times.
• While there’s a larger divide between the very rich and
the very poor, most people are more afﬂuent, but not
• There are lots of paradoxes: we want simplicity and
sophistication; privacy but openness; novelty but
constancy; to take risks but for the government to
• We’re increasingly a ‘me, me, me’ society, but we
want, to “belong”, to have a sense of connection and
community: but often we care more about the wider
world than we do about our immediate community.
If, as Voltaire said, the present is pregnant with the
future, we’d better ﬁnd out what’s about to give birth.
And the obvious place to start are with relationships,
families, and households - life patterns.
People move through adulthood largely as they always
have. Grow up; settle down; training; OE; job; family; work;
retire at 65.
BUT we know it’s not like that now
• Much more variety in our personal relationships,
our sexuality, in how we partner and re-partner, in
our living arrangements.
• Fewer children, later, and fewer people having
• Hypermobile - living further from our families.
• Increasingly having family responsibilities for
young and old.
• Closer to friends, and people like us or who we’d like
to be like - more than with families or neighbours. Or
feeling closer to people we meet only in cyberspace.
• View work differently - less attachment.
• Want more meaning from all aspects of life.
• Super busy - earning the basics or because of
demanding, high powered jobs.
• Spending on experiences & consumables, rather than
physical assets or saving.
• Spending assets in retirement rather than leave an
inheritance to our children.
Increasingly our lives are more about ME, than about us.
“Also today, I think you’ve got different support mecha-
nisms in our society. A lot of it, a lot of the previous sup-
port may have been the neighbour and may have been the
grandmother or the aunty, or whatever. The aunty’s now
200 miles away, the neighbour doesn’t actually even know
your name, or is working. A lot of the traditional things
that we had, say, even ﬁve years ago, especially 10 years
ago, just have gone because you’ve got now both parents
having to work.”
NZ Families Commission research 2006
While NZ society has substantial differences from other
Western societies because of Maori as tangata whenua
and the high proportion of Paciﬁc people, cultures based
on a strong sense of caring and community, the move to-
wards individualism and changing family and life patterns
is also reﬂected here.
It’s not just demographics and life passages that are
changing. It’s how we care. Why is how we care as a soci-
ety so important to the labour market, to the economy?
Because, at a time when society is becoming much less
caring and connected, we’ve got an economy that re-
quires more caring and connection, on a number of levels.
If work ever had a religion, I suggest it’s no longer the
blend of Protestant work ethic and Catholic guilt, it’s
moved on to New Age religion!
• Love your job or organisation - passion for the brand
• Love your colleagues - teamwork, tolerance
ASSUMPTION 1: LIFE GOES ON PRETTY MUCH AS USUAL
• Love contributing your ideas - be creative and
• Love your customers - ‘have a good day’
• Love looking after those in need, or those from whom
we need protection: young, old, sick, the not-coping;
drug addicts; criminals.
So, we’ve got two important dimensions, which should
be in sync, going in opposite directions. The caring-less
society and the care-more economy.
This is a challenge given our changing life patterns, the
increasing stresses of modern living, and our recent
employment relations history.
• Public dialogue is still heavily about labour as a cost
rather than an investment.
• Budgets are tight in the caring sector and jobs are
increasingly being ‘industrialised’.
Are we in danger of taking caring for granted? Will
enough of us:
• Continue to be willing and able to look after relations
• Continue to be willing to pay taxes so that people who
can’t look after themselves are cared for; take an
interest in caring for the wider world in need?
• Continue to put work before life?
• Continue to be tolerant of those who can’t make it?
New Zealanders in the World Values Study were asked
why people live in need. Are people poor because of their
laziness and lack of will power? Or is it because society
treats them unfairly? Sixty per cent of respondents
considered that people were poor because of laziness
and lack of will power. Remember what people used to say
about the unemployed.
A recent UK report on child and adolescent mental health
identiﬁed that at any one time in the UK, one in ten
children under 16 years of age has a clinically diagnosed
mental health disorder, and amongst 11-16 year olds,
10-12% are affected. This creates issues not only for
the children but also for parents and carers in the paid
workforce. And the quality and quantity of the future
workforce. In a society where people are expected to be
much more capable of looking after themselves.
Our OSH specialists have identiﬁed stress as a major
workplace issue. And there’s increasing research about
the anxiety of modern living.
Will our increasing rates of mental health problems mean
we’re less able to care for ourselves, let alone others?
Will better wages and conditions alone solve the recruit-
ment and retention problems of the care industries?
Or do changing life patterns, driven by economic condi-
tions (cost of having children; desire to improve our cir-
cumstances by internal or external migration or the need
to work longer hours than we want) create less of
a willingness or capacity to care?
Information from the UK suggests they’re becoming less
caring. The issue for New Zealand might not be so much
one of “how different are we?” as what happens when
children live/work in different cities or countries, far
distant from their parents/grandparents, and it’s not
physically possible to provide direct caring even if the
desire is there.
What are the implications of all of this? The pluses
As with any changes, there are up- and down-sides:
• More entrepreneurialism - amongst Generations Y &
X, and Baby B(l)oomers, as they seek to follow their
own interests rather than work for someone else.
• Regions reinvigorate - as people ‘downshift’ by
moving to climate and family-friendly provinces.
• Growth in the ‘I’ll care for you for a fee’ sectors -
e.g. complementary health, spa and refresh tourism,
• A more assertive, articulate, socially skilled, ambi-
tious workforce. Here, it’s interesting to note that
in a recent National Library survey, Gen Y staff said
that they expected to take personal responsibility for
learning, needed to have some fun, be free to make
mistakes, and wanted to be fostered to think entre-
BUT there’s also the prospect of:
• Less well socialised workers - As parents increasingly
‘outsource’ childrearing, and fewer people are avail-
able for voluntary, community activities, where are the
entrepreneurs and employees of the future going to
learn creativity, persistence, empathy, self-reﬂection,
self-management etc. so vital for increasing produc-
tivity and innovation?
• Less of the features of New Zealandness - good
public health system and good education for children,
plus a low crime rate - that reinforce the commit-
ment of New Zealanders to remain here, and attract
• Less caring extended to strangers who “invade” peo-
ple’s familiar spaces: workplaces and neighbourhoods:
new visibly different migrants; people with mental
health problems: NIMBY.
• Less innovative capacity because of a reduction in
altruism and good will.
We’re starting to look at this with our research
programme, e.g. Quality of Work. But we need to tune
into our times more explicitly. We could look at:
• Implications of changing life attitudes - not just de-
mographics but how people are thinking and feeling:
Gens Y, X and Baby B(l)oomers: how this affects the
supply of and demand for labour, and incorporate this
into all of our work.
• Understand better the impact of population-based
health trends - mental health and stress, obesity,
iPod deafness - on the current and future workforce,
and the workplace.
• Understand the potential life patterns and attitudes
of Asians aged 15-39 years who will increase from 9%
to 16% of the population by 2021.
Proﬁtability; scale; efﬁciency; productivity, all continue
to be important but how they’re achieved, and who can
achieve them is now very different. The internet and
broadband are reﬁning industrial logic - mass production
efﬁciency. These increase the ability to outsource and be
part of complex global supply and value chains. They en-
able a new sort of global reach and scale to be achieved
by reducing not only the costs of transactions but more
importantly the costs of interactions, and of innovation.
They’re changing business models in traditional industries
- retail, entertainment, advertising, manufacturing, and
tourism - and making new business models viable.
Epiphyte capitalism: New internet based multi-national
enterprises (MNE) - Google; Skype; e-Bay; MySpace -
allow small players to achieve global reach.
The Long Tail: Chris Anderson, editor Wired magazine, in
his 2004 book The Long Tail, identiﬁed the ability to make
a proﬁt by selling less to the few: Niche products can
be produced proﬁtably over a long time because they’re
largely digital, and can be produced on demand to a mar-
ket aggregated across time and distance. Proﬁtability no
longer requires selling mega volumes within a short time
of a product being marketed. The long tail challenges
the paradigm that proﬁtability comes only by selling high
volume within a short time.
e-commerce has become ME-commerce as smaller play-
ers/individuals leverage their offerings via the internet:
Knowledge products, scientiﬁc and technical, musical,
visual or personal reﬂection - the low, the middle and
• Blogs - commercial and amateur - make money
directly or indirectly.
• The rock group Clap Your Hands Say Yeah sold
100,000 copies of its CD without using a traditional
• 37signals.com made $130k proﬁt from 6000 down-
loads of a PDF of their web application book.
• Netﬂix the world’s largest online DVD rental service
distributes indie ﬁlms and documentaries as well as
mainstream releases: 4 million customers.
• On-line cognitive behavioural therapy is approved
by the UK National Institute for Health and Clinical
• InnoCentive is an internet network of 75,000 contract
scientists available for R&D.
Cultural economy: These also reﬂect the escalation of
the cultural economy - the production of goods and serv-
ices previously provided within families, or only consumed
by hippies - Western developed nations’ economies are
increasingly being built around the consumption of mean-
ing (the experience economy and importance of brand-
ing), and the purchasing of personal services.
ASSUMPTION 2: IT’S BUSINESS AS USUAL
Thirty years ago, who’d have envisaged that so many peo-
ple would regularly pay $70 for a hair cut? That so many
meals would be eaten out or bought in a pre-prepared
state; that childrearing would be outsourced; that enter-
tainment would be purchased off the web and consumed
via hand held mobile devices. That yoga and yogurt would
move from the margins to the mainstream?
The cultural economy is a manifestation of the changing
life patterns outlined in Assumption One: both voluntary
and the involuntary changes. It reﬂects the 4 C’sons:
• People want, and can have more meaning and control
over their income production activities and connect
directly with customers, and get production done in
• We’ve got a large generation of ‘born to iT’ young
people, who’ve never known life without the web:
digital indigenous cf digital immigrants: the older
“We are entering an age of cultural richness and abundant
choice that we’ve never seen before in history. Peer pro-
duction is the most powerful industrial force of our time.”
Chris Anderson, editor Wired magazine, ex The Economist
“Participatory media must be understood not as a pub-
lishing phenomenon but as a social phenomenon.”
David Weinberger, fellow Harvard University Berkman
“In the present century you’ll get large by allowing the
many and small to gather on your lawn.”
Paul Saffo, Institute for the Future
While we don’t have much data on NZ teens and the web
- the digital indigenous - to see how the future’s happen-
ing now, we have only to look at US and UK teens:
• US: 81% play games and 76% get news online.
43% have made purchases on line.
• US: 57% (12 million) create content for the internet
- artwork, photos, stories or video.
• US: 22% keep their own web pages.
• UK: Nearly 50% aged 8-11 use the internet at home,
and nearly two thirds aged 12-15.
• UK: 20% have set up their own web site. Nearly 50%
say they have or would like to set up a web site and
make a short ﬁlm.
• 17% would end a close friendship or relationship with
someone via text messaging.
It’s all about ME - about self-actualising: These cultural
and commercial trends suggest that we’re reaching
not just the apex of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, as
reﬁned by Alderfer - physical essentials; social connec-
tions; personal expression - but a time when all three are
operating in concert. It appears that, as the Copenhagen
Institute for Future Studies (CIFS) suggested in their
book, Creative Man, all people do possess a creative urge
to self-actualise, which they will follow if they have the
opportunity. Which they now have.
Increasingly generating income is about self-actualisa-
tion: people don’t want to be wage slaves. People want
quality of work and quality of life to be in synch. Epiphyte
capitalism enables many more people to be in this space.
It’s not just a middle-class or a western, developed na-
tion phenomenon. With the rise of reality television and
celebrity worship, and China’s ability to produce quality
goods cheaply and quickly, ‘ordinary people’ can not only
look like celebrities, thanks to the internet and multi-me-
dia mobile devices (M3D) they can be the celebrities.
Gallop’s been polling China for the last 10 years. Recent
trends show a growing number of Chinese want to self-
actualise, live a life that suits their tastes: prefer fashion
over function. They’re putting themselves ﬁrst, rather
than giving service to society or working super-hard to
get rich. With personal goals of self-satisfaction and
expression, this suggests the emergence of a Chinese
So some of the things we need to understand
• The impact on entrepreneurship - who’s likely to be
thinking about starting a business. How will their
workplace cultures and practices be different?
• With epiphyte capitalism, what sort of New Zealand-
ers or immigrants could run global businesses
from New Zealand?
• What and where is the workplace - in your living
room, your bedroom, a café, a car, a van, across the
planet courtesy of cyberspace?
• How do workplace cultures, and the organisation
of work, have to change in order to harness the
positives of the self-actualising, internet savvy
generation of employees.
• Which key global and NZ sectors and industries
are having, or going to have, their business models
changed by the internet, and how? What’s going to
grow or shrink? What will be the impact on the
demand for skills?
• Which regions stand to beneﬁt or lose from these
trends, and can their capacity to beneﬁt be maxim-
ised and their likelihood of suffering be reduced?
While NZ needs to continue to invest in science and
technology (S&T) discovery, commercialise S&T more
effectively, and increase private sector research and
development (R&D), we also need a new way to think
about and practice innovation because the current
system is unsustainable, inefﬁcient and inappropriate.
• Few businesses can afford the costs and time of
doing it in-house
• Innovation increasingly occurs at the boundaries
of disciplines and most companies specialise
• Companies can easily harness a wealth of global
• China will outpace everyone with its scale and
• Customers and lead users offer expertise
• Innovation is a social not just a purely technological
• Innovation is about leveraging incremental improve-
ments to big effect
• The energy and talent of employees are an asset
waiting to be harnessed.
To create productive and innovation workplaces, to
support economic transformation, we need to reframe
innovation: democratise it. Make the brand: innovation
from everyone and from everywhere.
“Business innovation in some circumstances has more to
do with the human capital of its employees and how these
skills and capabilities are applied and managed than it
does with technology and invention.”
Business Council of Australia Changing Paradigms: Re-
thinking Innovation Policies, Practices and Programmes
Two approaches: Tapping into talent within and tapping
into talent around the globe.
Now, as TIME magazine puts it: “The authorship of
innovation is shifting from The Few to The Many.” Bold
ideas used to come from small groups of experts. Now
they come from you as well. The NEXT big thing in
innovation is US.”
Or as Gary Hammel notes for Toyota:
“Toyota gave every employee the skills, the tools and
the permission to solve problems as they arose, and to
head off new problems before they occurred. The result:
Year after year Toyota has been able to get more out of
its people than its competitors. Toyota’s real advantage
was its ability to harness the intellect of the “ordinary”
Tapping into global expertise is the Proctor and Gamble
(P&G) approach. Harnessing the brains of 700,000 scien-
ASSUMPTION 3: INNOVATION VIA BIG SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
tists and researchers through NineSigma, P&G resolved
a technology problem and compressed time to market
for a new product that involved printing cartoons and
jokes on Pringle potato chips by circulating the problem
to their global networks of individuals and institutions to
see if anyone had a solution. A small bakery in Bologna,
Italy run by a university professor who also manufactured
baking equipment did. He’d invented an ink-jet method for
printing images on cakes and cookies that they adapted
to print cartoons and jokes on Pringle chips. The innova-
tion helped P&G achieve double digit growth over the last
Excellent evidence that socially, technologically and ﬁnan-
cially the time is right to make the move, as John Seely
Brown puts it, from R&D to C&D - connect and develop.
And we need to remember that innovation is not just
about new S&T, it’s also about new business models and
using existing technologies better. And by doing both:
• Life insurance that pays out when you’re alive, if you
have a terminal illness, rather than providing your
heirs with cash after you have died.
• Easy Jet and Ryan Air - book through the internet,
pay for what you get and, by the way, if you don’t mind
not getting much, then we won’t charge much.
• iPods downloading music through iTunes.
Innovation’s a social not just a technical process. This
is where the caring less society and the caring more
economy need to be aligned if we’re going to be able to
harness innovation from everyone and everywhere and
rely on the principle of generalised reciprocity, of the
altruism of users and customers, which is such a strong
force for innovation.
• Lego is a good example of this. It’s rebuilding its
business through robot kits, ﬁrst by harnessing the
passions of four fans and customers, then by tapping
into a hundred customers’ insights and experience.
Harnessing the insights of customers and lead users
isn’t novel. When the automobile ﬁrst went into manufac-
ture on a mass scale, it was clubs of motoring enthusi-
asts who suggested innovations, who solved problems
alongside, or in some cases instead of, the designers and
The opportunity is here for the Department to sup-
port ﬁrms to harness the willingness and capacity of
front-line employees to become, as Gary Hammel puts it,
problem solvers, innovators and change agents: to give
employees the skills, tools and permission to contribute
to the max. To really increase the number of productive
and innovative workplaces needed to transform the New
Zealand economy and keep Generation Y excited about
staying in the country: and skilled foreigners keen to im-
migrate to New Zealand.
“Na-ku te rourou,
na-u te rouou ka ki te kete”
“With my knowledge and your
knowledge, we will achieve greatness”
As we seek to create more innovative and productive
workplaces, are high levels of technical skills and for-
mal training the only things we should be concentrating
on? Maybe, while necessary, they’re no longer sufﬁcient,
• Proﬁtability is increasingly through the produc-
tion and delivery of more individualised services and
experiences to more demanding customers, custom-
ers who want to be part of the design and production
• Most of what can be automated or standardised
So increasingly employees have to exercise judgement
about time- and location speciﬁc situations, for which
there aren’t always standard operating procedures or
someone to refer to for advice. Or metrics to measure
performance. They have to:
• Empathise: make sense of emotions and respond ap-
• Collaborate with colleagues and supply or value chain
partners, within New Zealand and overseas.
And, an increasingly large percentage of both the young
and mature workforce is seeking to express themselves
more fully through their income earning activities: they
want more meaning from their jobs.
This increases the quality and quantity of high level inter-
actions internally and externally. Indeed, I’d almost go as
far as to say that “interactions” are the new units of pro-
duction as the world economy morphs towards becoming
The importance of skills that enable effective interaction
are revealed in a 2005 McKinsey Report which noted that
70 % of all US jobs created since 1998 (4.5 million) have
been tacit knowledge jobs that require judgement and
experience because of the relatively complex interactions
involved. While McKinsey’s have focused on higher paid,
professional knowledge jobs, increasingly employees at
all levels have to exercise judgement, and be empathic
with customers in order to deliver value. And proﬁtability
depends on delivering this value.
This is reinforced in a recent NZIER report on industry
“Interpersonal and HR skills, analytical and research, net-
working and negotiation and computer skills are all likely to
play an increasingly prominent role. Many commentators
note the increasing importance of personal attributes
such as motivation, “soft skills” or “emotional intelligence.”
And because knowledge is increasingly created socially,
in a semi-structured way in the workplace, rather than
by formal off-the-job learning or memorising facts, emo-
tional intelligence is also required to learn “hard, techni-
ASSUMPTION 4: INCREASED PRODUCTIVITY COMES FROM
TECHNICAL SKILLS AND FORMAL LEARNING
The expectation of life being about ME
That’s the demand side of the skills equation. On the
supply side, research in the UK, Scandinavia, the US and
Australia shows that increasingly people of all ages and
status are seeking more meaning in their working lives:
they want to be managed with emotional intelligence.
It’s the basis of much of Peter Sheahan’s advice in his
book “Generation Y: Thriving and Surviving with Genera-
tion Y at Work”. And the analysis behind Jean Twenge, an
American psychology academic on “Why Today’s Young
Americans are more conﬁdent, assertive, entitled - and
more miserable - than ever before” -book of the same
name: subtitled Generation Me. In this she looks at how
to-day’s, and our future workforce, take it for granted
that they, the self, come ﬁrst.
A Generation Me-aged reviewer supported her ﬁndings
as reﬂecting the fact that:
“We think of work more as a path toward self-fulﬁlment
than as a means to a stable livelihood; we feel we can have
it all and believe in ‘following our dreams’ and doing things
our own way; we heed social rules and ﬁgures of authority
only insofar as they don’t get in our way.
The implications for DoL?
We need to become more informed about emotional
labour skills in relation to the capacity of companies to
increase productivity and innovate, and provide qual-
ity work environments. This will improve our capacity to
provide leading edge advice and resources that support
people in workplaces to:
• Develop effective systems for recruitment and
retention, and monitoring, managing, recognising and
• Create a stable and motivated workforce that is will-
ing to invest emotionally, be loyal and committed, and
ride through the ups and down of change.
We need to consider how best we can generate discus-
sions between business, labour and government on the
development of emotional skills and meaning in the work-
place: reframe the skills discourse.
People nearly always say they don’t have enough money,
and some people clearly don’t. Despite rising afﬂuence,
there’s a greater gap between the very rich and the very
poor. The middle-class feel like they’re struggling to af-
ford the sorts of things that they think they should be
able to take for granted. So money is important.
But, maybe people are increasingly valuing things other
than money - like time with family and friends, time to
chill out or to be creative. And it’s not just Generation Me.
Because, while people are better off, a lot of research
suggests that we’re not happier. Are we seeing the
inﬂation of the non-monetary aspects of people’s lives?
Henley Insight, the UK consumer and citizen research
company, has created a framework around ﬁve resources
that people trade and exchange for well being - happi-
ness - which is useful to look at in relation to the labour
market. They call this framework ITEMS: Information,
Time, Energy, Money and Space. While their research is UK
based, it’s likely to reﬂect what’s going on here. Perhaps
even more so given our long hours of work syndrome.
The information that’s coming through from overseas
and NZ research reinforces my earlier theme that we’re
becoming a less or, if you like, a differently caring society.
Caring about me, but not necessarily about you and them
as people are stretched juggling the limited amounts of
time, energy and space they have, as distinct from money.
This has two sorts of implications for the labour market.
One is people’s willingness and ability to do paid work. The
other is changing consumer demands for new products
and services as they juggle their ITEMS - which in turn
creates new labour market demand.
There are two views around information and choice.
Henley’s research suggests that more people are ﬁnding
it difﬁcult to cope with the number of decisions they
have to make. In their Planning for Consumer Change re-
search, Henley Insight has noted a shift in people’s ability
to deal with choice. A move from 60% who in 2002 agreed
that “You can never have too much choice in life” to 52%
who agreed in 2004. This sits alongside the 25% who said,
“I ﬁnd it difﬁcult to cope with the number of decisions I
have to make nowadays.” Interestingly, this was 32% for
15-24 year olds and 28% for the 65+.
People increasingly wish life were simpler, and they had
people to sift through the information and make deci-
sions for them. As Barry Schwartz put it in his book, The
Paradox of Choice, too much choice can lead to a reduc-
tion in well being.
ASSUMPTION 5: MONEY MATTERS MOST
A contrasting view comes from the Pew internet &
American Life Study conducted in April 2006, with 60m
internet users saying that the internet helped them
make big decisions or negotiate major episodes in their
lives. From coping with major illnesses, to pursuing train-
ing for a career, to making major investment or ﬁnancial
decisions. Because the internet connects people not just
to information but also to on-line communities: experts
or people who’ve encountered similar problems.
The issue may not so much be one of too much informa-
tion as about the availability of ﬁlters or decision sup-
port: software or people who can narrow the choice. If
this is a growth area of the economy, what sort of labour
force does it require?
The signiﬁcance of choice was highlighted by Peter
“In a few hundred years, when the history of our time will
be written from a long-term perspective, it is likely that
the most important event historians will see is
not technology, not the internet, not e-commerce. It is
an unprecedented change in the human condition. For
the ﬁrst time - literally - substantial and rapidly growing
numbers of people have choices. For the ﬁrst time, they
will have to manage themselves. And society is totally
unprepared for it.”
Time and energy
Henley’s tracked people’s views over the last 5 years by
asking them to respond to statements such as, “I’m so
tired in the evening I often don’t have the energy to do
much.” And “The pace of life is too fast for me nowadays.”
“I never seem to have enough time to get things done.”
“I’m willing to spend money to save time.” Obviously the
answers vary according to age and gender, but it would
seem that generally, people have either too much or too
little of both time and energy.
This trend is supported in a MORI study on Currents in
British Society and Politics, where 56% of people aged
45-54 agreed that “I resent overtime eating into my
free-time, even if it’s paid”, as did 43% of 35-44 year olds,
and 37% of Gen Xs (15-34).
Given that we’re relying on the Baby Boomers staying in
the workforce till they’re 65, it should be of concern that
only 18% of them agreed that “Fulﬁlment in life is achiev-
ing a prominent position in your chosen career” compared
to 37% of pre boomers and 35% of Gen X.
What this suggests is that increasingly time and energy
are valued by people more than money. In the Henley Euro
PCC 2001 study people’s agreement with, “I never seem
to have enough time to get things done” increased from
49% in 1998 to 56%. Up from 32% in 1999, by 2002 40%
of all UK adults agreed that they were, “willing to spend
money to save time.”
This won’t surprise those of you with families as the NZ
Family Commission’s research revealed that being able to
achieve a balance between family time and standard
of living was identiﬁed by families as one of the most
signiﬁcant challenges they faced.
Lastly, space. In Henley studies respondents were quoted
as saying, “I’ve lived in the same place for 24 years and
people have changed. Everyone just minds their own busi-
ness these days and rushes about.” People spoke openly
of avoiding neighbours deliberately for fear of being
“trapped” in unwanted conversations, just wanting to get
inside and shut the door. Parents were too exhausted to
visit their parents.
People are being much more deliberate about who they
let into their personal space, and who they think of as
All of the above have profound implications in a tight la-
bour market where we’re trying to improve net migration. And
the labour market demands of a caring-more economy.
In the department, we’re starting to understand how
people are managing their ITEMS, and the dynamics of
changing life patterns. We can build on this by deepening
our understanding of:
• The shifts in work-life balance, and tensions between
a caring-less society and a caring-more economy;
• How the internet is changing business models and
enabling the rise of ME-commerce;
• The power of innovation from everyone and eve-
rywhere to create more productive and innovative
• The importance of emotional labour skills; and
• The ways in which people trade and exchange the
non-monetary aspects of their lives reﬂect changes
in their respective value, and the role of work in
If we can improve our understanding of the dynamic
between the 4 C’sons, we’ll be better placed to avoid, as
George Will put it, having the future arrive unannounced.
Or the fate, in times of unprecedented change, as Eric
Hoffer describes it, of being amongst the learned who
ﬁnd themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world
that no longer exists.
Because, in these complex times of unprecedented scale
and speed of change, as governments are increasingly
unable to pull big levers to achieve desired social and
economic outcomes - to improve wealth and well being,
and generate sustainable economic transformation - we
need to tune into the increased willingness and capacity
of New Zealanders to sort out their own situations. To
secure better work and have New Zealand working better.