The “OE” in most young kiwi’s eyes is still in many cases seen as a rite of passage.

Now, as an employer and running a small business the thought of losing an important team member to the “overseas experience” is one which turns my stomach. With the shortage of skill workers and the amount of work currently in the Auckland construction boom, having an apprentice or trade qualified person leave to do their OE is not an ideal situation for any business.

The “OE” is seen by most young Kiwis as a rite of passage. With all the places around the world so easy to travel to, not to mention find temporary work in, it’s no wonder why the temptation is so strong. A working holiday is a great way to get out see the world and everything it has to offer, it also provides freedom and great life experiences which in my opinion build strong people. Your main concerns are normally do have enough money to scrape by, and when is the flight to my next amazing destination!

Now, with a young family, mortgage and a business, my days of the great Kiwi OE seem like a life time ago. For me, the majority of my time was spent in the UK and Europe, and was an absolute blast! I loved every minute of it from backpacking with mate to working on some awesome projects in London. Working in London was unreal, I worked for a company called JETS electrical which gave me the opportunity to work in some world-famous places like Harrods & Selfridges. Just so happened that James (Brother & now Business partner) and I were traveling at the same time and got to work together in Cartier, Selfridges, top restaurants and wine cellars in Heart of London’s banking district. We completed some amazing work and had a great time working together, perhaps our OE has had something to do with the birth of Hart Electrical Ltd.

So although it is not ideal for one of your team to leave on an OE, in my eyes it’s a must. At HART we treat our staff well knowing that when that time comes we wish them all the best and when they do come back to NZ with more experience and more skills they look to us for their next big job.

So, would I be happy for any of our staff to leave to head on there “OE” … No! Would I encourage them to go, ABSOLUTELY! What you can learn, experience and appreciate is unlimited! The people you met will change your life, the experiences you have will educate and teach you things, and the time away will give you an understanding on what is truly important. They won’t come home the same person as you left, they will come back ready to make a difference.

Treat your staff well and with the right relationship they will come back and build your business stronger than ever before.


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