The energy behind the energy: taking care of the Unison team

Toby Davis, CEO Contracting Services
Unison Networks

Unison brings power and fibre to more than 114,000 customers in Hawkes Bay, Taupo and Rotorua. Powering the region's people and economy means connecting all those New Zealand households to the national grid - and maintaining that strong connection.

It takes a considerable amount of effort to take care of 9,200km of power lines and 800km of fibre cables, in all kinds of weather and every hour of the day. Unison's employees are the energy behind the energy, so taking care of the team is just as important to Unison as taking care of the lines.

"Unison's purpose is all about enabling our communities to prosper," says Toby Davis, CEO Contracting Services.

"At the centre of that is ensuring that our people are healthy; we absolutely feel it's our responsibility to deliver that for them. And it's a key reason why for the over the past 15-plus years, we've worked with Southern Cross to make that happen. They share that vision."

It's more than just insurance

Unison partners with Southern Cross to provide fully subsidised health insurance for every one of its 500-plus employees. Southern Cross helps ensure each Unison team member can proactively maintain their mental and physical wellbeing with close support from a dedicated account manager. Hayley Ceselli, Southern Cross Business Development Manager, has worked with Unison for nine years and helps every staff member sign up for their insurance, get their families on the programme and make the claims process seamless.

"It's more than just insurance, says Hayley. We're partners. The relationship between Southern Cross and Unison is about people giving their everything. They've got the insurance there so they can turn up for work and worry less about medical treatment they may need in the future."

She's seen Unison team members go through promotions, marriages and births - it's a hugely fulfilling part of her job.

"It's quite a privilege really to be able to work with the Unison employees and watch them develop their careers," Hayley says. "You're with them through their life and then you see them have babies, and they're added to their health insurance, so it becomes intergenerational. It's more than an employee benefit. It's a gift."

"For mental health, it's huge"

The peace of mind provided by Southern Cross extends all the way to the top, Toby explains: "Having well-rounded health insurance, that covers both the physical and mental aspects, ensures that we've got a well-engaged, high-functioning staff. In this dynamic industry with many risks, it just takes that stress away and enables our people to know that they've got that backing."

One of the upsides of any insurance is peace of mind, and Southern Cross gives the Unison team confidence that they can manage their health issues quickly and effectively. Southern Cross provides a dedicated Wellbeing Hub that keeps its members informed about ways to support their physical and mental health - as well as mental health seminars. They know that supporting each other is one of the foundations of great teamwork.

"If there is an issue, it's taken care of," says Kevin Corkery, Operations Manager. "For mental health, it's huge. It allows us to get support and help so we know what we should be doing, what's best practice, and what works. Southern Cross provides all that support, all that backup up and all that help you need. They are fantastic to deal with."

A successful 15-year partnership

Hayley works with the whole team at Unison to get the most from their insurance, streamline their claims, and support their wellbeing: "It just comes down to looking after the people, because without your people, you can't operate."

The partnership with Southern Cross is a keystone in Unison's commitment to caring for its team. It's not only the coverage, it's the personal connection between the two companies that has created this successful, long-lasting relationship.

"Our relationship with Southern Cross for over 15 years and my 11 years at Unison, it's a partnership, not a passive relationship, says Toby. When people at Unison talk about health insurance, they don't say health insurance, they say, 'Southern Cross'. We talk about Southern Cross as a member of our family."

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