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Clayton Cardinalli

Let’s Talk: How to become an employer of choice during the great resignation

Employers around Australia are facing problems filling positions. What started in 2021 with millions of employees globally quitting their jobs in search of better possibilities has turned into a full-fledged crisis for many businesses.

The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly wreaked havoc on Australia’s job market, forcing many to dub it the “Great Resignation” or the “Big Quit”. Businesses have struggled to attract and retain employees over the last two years; therefore, being an employer of choice is more important than ever. 

In this week’s let’s talk edition, we asked experts how businesses can turn the tables and be an employer of choice during the great resignation.

Let’s Talk.

Brenda Gaddi, Managing Director at Women of Colour Australia

“Workplace diversity and inclusion has been top of mind over the past couple of years as more companies begin to release their diversity numbers and as employees increasingly hold their employers accountable to live up to their pledges to become more inclusive. 

“Gone are the days when applying for a job was all about how high the salary is. Any company that wants to attract the best talent in its respective industry has to offer much more; career development paths, disclose what it’s doing for corporate social responsibility and also be transparent about its efforts to move the needle on diversity and inclusion.

“A study by at Work Australia which surveyed over 1,600 businesses to determine attitudes towards workplace diversity, found that over a third of Australians would refuse to work at a non-inclusive workplace. The report also found that employers who foster diversity and inclusion are more likely to achieve greater revenue returns, higher profit margins and net income and will see staff retention rates climb by 90 per cent.

“The employers that will stand out in 2022 and beyond are the ones that walk the walk when it comes to diversity and inclusion because as a society, we have become more aware of these inequalities within the workplace, and lip-service just won’t cut it anymore.”

Sam Kothari, Head of Growth, ANZ at Airwallex 

“Building a positive working environment and overall company culture has never been more important, particularly when attracting and retaining top talent. Below are some key considerations for business leaders looking to become an employer of choice: 

“Be a leader that inspires: Encourage innovation within your team by making people feel comfortable making mistakes and trying something new — giving employees a sense of ownership (whether task or project-based) builds higher engagement and often drives better results for the business.   

“Promote flexible working arrangements: This goes without saying. Creative feedback loops around how your team wants to work (i.e. in the office, remote, or otherwise) execute accordingly. Check-in regularly as preferences can change. 

“Clear career pathways: Work with your employees to understand their professional goals and pathways to achieve them. You can start by agreeing on what success looks like, discussing expectations and holding review meetings regularly. As your business grows, it’s worth considering a set framework for job levelling and career growth.”

Peita Lane, Chief People Officer at Sekuro

“Largely thanks to the pandemic, what were seen as progressive work policies two years ago have become today’s basics. There is no way you can be an employer of choice in 2022 if you’re still relying on your flexible work policies to attract talent – it’s now an expectation, not a perk. We’re also seeing a lot of brands struggling to get it right. For true flexibility to work, people need to be empowered to have a voice, and that’s only going to happen if we equip leaders with the skills to think differently about how they manage their teams. 

“Beyond flexibility, employers of choice genuinely strive to create team connections, support strong upward (and sideways) career mobility, provide a sense of purpose, and foster an inclusive environment. 

“Whilst it’s easier said than done, the most important step is seeing employees as a whole person – one with their strengths, stressors and ambitions. Employers of choice will strive to support their people’s lives in every possible way, not just 9 to 5, Monday to Friday.”

Rimonda Ohlsson, InDebted Head of People and Culture

“Times have changed, and today being a good employer is about far more than just pay – prospective employees now have greater expectations for flexibility to work not just where they choose, but when. At InDebted, we’ve recognised this by moving to a permanent four-day workweek – attracting and retaining top talent by prioritising employee wellbeing. 

“There are no T’s and C’s – working hours aren’t longer, remuneration is the same and employees can choose when and where they work. Our team works smarter to accommodate this, with fewer meetings to allow for more focus time and asynchronous work tools to enable staff to be more productive at times that suit them best.

“Employees are encouraged to use their extra day off to do whatever it is that makes them happy, whether that be relaxing, spending time with loved ones or working on passion projects. We’ve already had a great response from our current employees, as well as seeing a marked increase in applications for the new roles we’re hiring for.”

Irene Georgakopoulos, Director of Talent Acquisition and co-founder, Physio Inq

” Allied health is traditionally a high turnover sector as health professionals have a propensity to constantly develop their skills and then leave to start their practice. At Physio Inq, we decided to add another level for the practitioner to grow into franchise ownership. 

“This way, they can experience the benefits of being their boss while continuing to receive the support and resources that being part of our network can offer them. This also means we can continue to grow as a business.” 

“Our first house rule is “staff come first”. This rule guides the working environment we provide and focuses on key areas like offering flexibility, autonomy, career progression, and clinical support. It has been a great compass to lead the way as an organisation.”

“Internal referrals and recommendations are also a huge component of our recruitment strategy. Someone who receives the recommendation from an existing internal employee will probably value that much higher than just being sold a job. 

“We have faith in our team to recommend people that they know are right for the company. We listen and give them the avenues to recommend, and potentially bonuses or incentives to do so as well.”

Neal Woolrich, HR Advisor at Gartner

“Talent competition has been rising, and employees know it. Moreover, employers who ignore the needs and wants of their staff risk high levels of employee burnout, or worse, a mass exodus of talent. 

“Jobseekers are focused on finding an organisation that can offer them flexibility, personal growth, great company culture and more. In fact, research from Gartner reveals 22 per cent of candidates will abandon an application process if they feel their expectations towards work/life balance won’t be met in a role. 

“If you want to become an employer of choice, it’s critical to consider how you evolve your Employee Value Proposition (EVP) to be more human-centric. This starts by listening deeply and often to staff members’ professional and personal goals.

Ultimately, it’s about organisations creating an environment for their employees that leads to better harmonisation between their working and personal lives.”

Caitlin Zottti, Operations Manager, Pin Payments

“We recently received accreditation from Great Place to Work highlighting our employee’s satisfaction with their work-life at Pin Payments, which was a big achievement for us. It’s been very important to us, particularly in the last two years, to keep our staff happy and mentally healthy, so the accreditation was the recognition we needed to see that our practices have been working. 

“We recognise that staff have ‘pandemic fatigue’ and that a healthy work-life balance has never been more important. That’s why we try to promote holistic happiness through initiatives like flexible work and access to online resources and portals for mental health, education and recreation. 

“While achieving outcomes at work is important, employers need to see staff as human beings, who are impacted by global events and personal circumstances, and not just as workers. Ultimately, investing in the overall wellbeing of your staff will improve your workplace and the lives of your employees.”

Tom Cornell the Head of Assessments (APAC) at HireVue

“Cementing yourself as an employer of choice in today’s environment is no easy feat, but if you’ve been paying attention to the shift in values catalysed by the pandemic, then you’re already halfway there. Aussies are no longer content with commuting into the office five days a week.

“They value their work-life balance more than ever before, so if their employer provides a level of flexibility that supports childcare commitments, mental health or hobbies, they too will feel supported. Flexibility is a benefit that should be extended beyond current staff to prospective employees. 

“Interviews scheduled within working hours can be disruptive and stressful for your interviewee, so consider offering them the opportunity to complete an assessment in their own time or pre-record their answers to a set of predetermined questions that you can review at a time that suits you. 

“Taking the same approach to the interview process as you do to the workplace will greatly expand your talent pool, resulting in a win-win for your business.”

Andrew Cornale, Co-Founder and Digital Experience Director, UnDigital

“As The Great Resignation continues to dominate headlines across Australia, it’s imperative to reflect on why it’s happening and what to do to make sure it doesn’t affect your business. Employees have wants and needs that deserve to be heard.

“Taking the time to listen and understand can be the difference between a long term, prosperous business relationship and a short-term one that fizzles out under pressure. 

“There are five things business owners should prioritise to retain and engage their employees:

  • Understand the needs/goals of the individual 
  • Respect that these goals can change and be willing to check in regularly and pivot where needed 
  • Ensure they’re allowed to achieve their goals
  • Invest in creating a culture that nurtures your values, even in your busiest or most stressful times – this is when culture matters the most.
  • Train and up-skill them in areas of interest; new opportunities create excitement and result in better engagement.”

Ashley Scott, Executive Officer at Rainbow Families

“As the movement towards creating more inclusive and safe environments for all heightens, we’ll start to see an increase in demand for more LGBTQ-friendly workplaces and employers who truly champion LGBTQ equality.  

“Whether that’s through public support, partnerships with LGBTQ organisations, policy support or a commitment to a safe and accepting workplace, companies that truly advocate for LGBTQ rights and have a robust anti-discrimination policy will display high ethical and moral values, especially to those who identify as LGBTQ and want to work for a company that is going to welcome and support them.

“Competitive salary, birthday cakes, Friday drinks, funky office designs, will take a backseat as companies are increasingly held accountable for their ethos and employees increasingly seek a sense of purpose behind their work and seek workplaces that are aligned with their values. Corporate Australia has a powerful part to play in driving equality and progress in our society.”

Christine Mawal, Head of People and Culture, Catalyst Education

“An employer of choice will ensure that it fosters a culture with open communication and positive working relationships and experiences. To do this, staff must feel fulfilled and valued in their role.

“Valuing your people is about providing an environment that supports a diverse, flexible and adaptive workforce. Committed to providing work practices that ensure your people can be their best selves at work – motivated and passionate about the contribution they bring to the team.

“Investing in staff’s skills and career paths contributes towards a sense of fulfilment and confidence that allows them to succeed and make a positive impact while feeling proud to work for the organisation.

“As a training provider, Catalyst has seen – first-hand and through its clients – the difference it makes when an organisation prioritises its people. We’ve found that taking a people-first approach to becoming an employer of choice creates a culture of care and compassion that boosts morale, engagement levels and, crucially, a sense of fulfilment and value.”

Ruby Kolesky, Co-CEO at global employee feedback startup, Joyous

“Great employers put their people at the heart of everything they do — they start any change or improvement by first including their people. It continues to amaze me how many organisations push change down the chain instead of allowing it to flow up.

“Making work better for women is of utmost importance. Invest in and make work better for your female employees by asking them what they need and ensuring representation across all levels and decisions within the organisation. Create a world-class parental journey that supports parents through potentially the most challenging time in their lives. 

“Think carefully about your retention strategy. Create as much opportunity for people to learn and grow as possible and pay your people what they’re worth — stay across the market and proactively increase salaries where relevant. Making your people the priority will not only benefit them but your entire organisation.”

Stuart Low, Founder and CEO at Biza.io

“Being an employer of choice is about creating an environment where employees can work at their best, no matter where they are. At Biza.io we are reframing the concept of ‘remote-first’ that’s been normalised by so many tech companies. Whilst many of us have enjoyed the work from home opportunities afforded by the pandemic, not everyone’s experience is equal. 

“We’ve seen much of our team growth during the pandemic and realised that whilst most of our staff work remotely by default, pushing ‘remote-first’ felt like we were giving up on office working and not investing in the right systems to maximise the benefits that both can offer. 

“A ‘remote-native’ culture empowers employees with the tools and processes to work just as effectively remotely as within an office while retaining the choice to do either or both. We’ve found this approach to be a great drawcard for employees looking for the best of both worlds.” 

Emily Moore, People & Culture Manager, Linktree

“At Linktree, we believe in taking a holistic approach to employee experience. Especially now, with our personal and professional lives more intertwined than ever, we want our employees to bring their best’ whole selves to work, and we are committed to creating policies and initiatives that help achieve that. 

“Fundamental to being an employer of choice is how we scale — from a team of 13 pre-COVID to a 200+ workforce globally. Our team values a flexible approach to workplace culture, and having flexible benefits that support each individual’s personal and professional journeys is core to that. 

“This is why we launched our new Total Rewards program, which offers employees $6000 annually to spend on whatever they choose across wellness, growth, lifestyle and impact. 

“This program, alongside our other inclusive policies around parental leave, mental health and gender transition support, helps us build a values-driven culture with flexibility at its core.”

Jill Berry, Adatree CEO and co-founder

“To attract and retain talent, particularly in the competitive tech landscape, our focus has been on being purpose-driven – not solely focusing on salary, but how you can give employees an enjoyable work-life balance that incorporates engaging and thoughtful activities and also give back to society or the wider good.

“It’s important also to consider how you can make employees feel more valued. We want ours to be working for us and have ownership, so this sense of proprietorship encourages commitment and longevity with the company. At Adatree, we’ve created a strong Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) and a framework on how we will grant shares to employees. This creates a strong team who are backing themselves and all working together to back the company as well. 

“Company-wide inclusiveness and an openness to communicate are also important. Strategy workshops with the whole team rather than a top-down strategy allow everyone to contribute, challenge and align our objectives and goals.”

Shannon Karaka, Head of Expansion AUNZ at Deel

“In a tight job market, competition for the best talent is fierce. And while not all companies can compete on salary alone, there are ways they can position themselves as an employer of choice. 

“The first step is by offering benefits packages to employees that are important to them, from flexible working hours to childcare support and wellness programs. At this point in the pandemic, many companies also offer a home office stipend to cover phone, internet and energy bills, and equipment.

“At the same time, with border closures and restrictions, many Australian workers are desperate to catch a flight and start exploring or visiting family members without having to worry about their work commitments. In order to retain these employees and contractors, businesses can compete by offering them the freedom to move, live and work in any place at any time.

“The infrastructure to easily hire remote workers and provide employees with the benefits they want is available to workers looking to position themselves as an employer of choice, and can even support the business’ growth objectives at the same time.” 

Danielle Dobson, Founder, Code Conversations

“In a post-pandemic world, as change continues to be the only constant, it’s important to reframe how we’re thinking about our work environments and accept this new normal. Talking about “when things get back to normal” is far less productive than accepting “this is our reality for at least the next three to five years”. 

“Leaders can lean into what’s not changed – for example, showing up at your computer every day, reporting to the same manager – and acknowledging that while the things out of our control are challenging, the things within our control can provide comfort. 

“Now is the time to have open and honest conversations, rather than continuing to roll out wellbeing programs when your people might be feeling well and truly ‘wellbeing-ed’ out’. Every person within the organisation has unique needs, challenges, aspirations and context and what works for one may be a reason to look for greener pastures for another. The only way leaders can gauge what is best for each person is to ask them.

“Try to help your people to recognise how their role in the business is aligned with their purpose and how they might find more meaning in their contribution to the overall business mission.

“The hybrid work culture can be challenging, but encouraging managers to have regular one-to-ones with their people is a great way of encouraging feedback and helping remote team members to feel connected. For women, in particular, recognising that traditional business hours might not be the best way to work can be a game-changer in re-establishing a good relationship between work and home life.

“When teams are feeling disconnected, community building is important. Use it to help people understand what it feels like to be a member of the community, and create community-building activities – for example, volunteering, charitable giving or team events.”  

Erin Brindley, Head of Programs at Generation Australia 

“The influence of Gen Z in the workforce has helped to push diversity, accessibility, and flexibility in the workplace. In 2022 and beyond, becoming an employer of choice will increasingly depend on whether the organisation has created an environment where people from all walks of life can find meaningful employment.

“To accomplish this, organisations must continuously seek to improve their employee experience for all. This can include progressive, flexible working practices, improved psychological safety in the workplace, and inclusive company culture to ensure their staff have every opportunity to perform in their role.

“Business leaders must think about what the future is going to look like in terms of workforce expectations and embed policies into their organisation that remove current barriers and biases to employment. Organisations that do not create a compelling working environment for people risk losing talented individuals to other businesses that are willing to drive the agenda forward.”

Andy Mellor, Regional VP, ANZ at Kofax

“Employees don’t enjoy being weighed down by monotonous manual tasks that steal time away from projects they want to be working on. As an employer, creating an environment that allows your staff to focus on important and exciting tasks, rather than the dull and unsatisfying ones, will give you a competitive advantage. 

“By automating time-consuming and repetitive workflows, employees are more likely to feel more engaged in their role, leading to higher performance and greater retention. AI-driven automation can evaluate the day-to-day manual tasks and functions employees perform and identify the “drudgery culprits” employees find unsatisfying, and suggest ways to automate them. 

“By readjusting workflows to prioritise higher-value work like customer interaction and strategic thinking, staff will feel more like a human and less like a robot, and in turn, will make you a preferred employer.”

Shaun Broughton, Managing Director APAC at Shopify

“The last two years have been detrimental to the wellbeing of Australians with mental health challenges reported to cost the nation over $13 billion. When the average person spends a third of their adult-life working, the workplace is inextricably connected to mental health outcomes, and it comes as no surprise that employers who take this into consideration will have better chances of being ‘the employer of choice’. 

“In fact, almost three-quarters of Australian employees agree that a mentally healthy workplace is critical when looking for a future job.

“At Shopify, taking a compassionate approach to mental health instead of imposing one-size-fits-all initiatives enabled us to understand and support the individual needs of employees. For example, we implemented a ‘Rest & Refuel’ program which gave employees Fridays off over two months as a way to give people time to take care of themselves during the pandemic. 

“The key is having initiatives in place and genuine engagement from the top to ensure that employee wellbeing is woven into the fabric of the organisational culture, and from that, people will naturally want to be part of the business.”

Paul Milinkovic, Regional Director, ANZ at StreamSets

“Culture can’t be created by HR, it needs to be everybody’s responsibility, and the only way that can happen is if values are embedded into every aspect of the employee experience. Strong leaders understand that this includes supporting staff outside of their working lives. 

If COVID has taught us anything, it’s that it’s important to provide people with the tools they need to invest time and energy into their relationships because we know without this, we can’t expect people to put in their best at work. 

“Being an employer of choice means leading by example. If the senior leaders make it a priority to carve out time for the wellbeing of themselves and their relationships, the rest of the company will naturally follow suit.”

Katie Burke, Chief People Officer, HubSpot

“Attracting and retaining top talent is tough in today’s market, and creating amazing cultures where people can do their best work doesn’t happen overnight. Truthfully, building a company that people love is never done. As I see it, there’s always more we can be doing so that our employees, customers, and candidates choose and continue to choose HubSpot. 

“The first step in becoming an employer of choice is to treat culture and employee experience as a business priority (versus just a human resources priority). The second is to understand what employees want, value and enjoy about work, and ensure that as a company, you can really deliver on your workplace promises. 

“HubSpot’s culture is rooted in what employees want from employers today: autonomy, flexibility, transparency, and a commitment to diversity. We’re constantly evolving how we walk the walk on our core values of HEART (humble, empathetic, adaptable, remarkable, transparent) as we scale. We’re always thinking about how we can be more inclusive in our candidate and employee experience and how we can empower employees to have an impact on customers’ lives.”

Steve Bennetts, Head of Growth & Strategy for Employee Experience at Qualtrics in the Asia Pacific and Japan

“Becoming an employer of choice is mantle organisations earn and have to continually work to keep. An important step is to regularly ask the question, ‘what can we do to provide a great experience for every single employee and candidate?’ 

“Some people will say it’s about growth opportunities and having their wellbeing prioritised, while for others, it’s compensation, location, or the technology used. Similarly, employees want to be heard. If you don’t ask this question and aren’t meeting their expectations, there’s a high chance of receiving not-so-good reviews.

“The point is, to be an employer of choice, companies need to continually understand what matters to every single employee and candidate and have the ability to quickly and meaningfully deliver against their expectations. Importantly, this process must start before someone has even applied for a role at the company. It’s not enough to ask this question just once, either. People’s expectations evolve over time, and so the ways employers meet their needs must change too.”

Jason Toshack, Vice President and GM ANZ, Oracle NetSuite

“The ‘Great Resignation’ has brought about a fierce and competitive race for talent. Employees are reluctant to lose out on the flexibility they now have with a shift to remote working. 

“Those companies offering hybrid or remote options are in a position to attract the best skills, and with cloud technology accessible to most, employees can now work wherever there is a secure WI-FI connection.

“To be an employer of choice, it’s important to provide stimulating and exciting opportunities for career development and progression, irrespective of the location. To set their people up for success, leaders should invest in digital and cloud-based tools to simplify tasks and encourage better engagement.  

“Automating repetitive and mundane tasks will free up time for employees to take on higher-value and more satisfying work. Lastly, the power of positive praise should never be underestimated. Celebrating the wins, both large and small, goes a long way to making your employees feel valued.” 

Alex Frolov, CEO of HypeAuditor

“The criteria to be an employer of choice have significantly evolved over the years. If there’s anything that the past couple of years have taught us, it’s that employees don’t all need to be in one location during the same hours of the day for any business to run effectively and efficiently. 

“Although the ideal work-life balance that people often seek looks different for everyone, COVID and remote working have shown that work-life balance is achievable if workplaces are willing to offer flexible working conditions to their employees.

“Now that employees around the world have had a taste of that flexibility, they will hold on to that, and it will become something they would expect from all workplaces. Remote working and flexible hours mean so much more than just avoiding the commute and working from home. It means people can fit their life around work and still be productive.

“To be an employer of choice nowadays, employees will be looking for the flexibility to work wherever and at a time that’s most convenient for them and most importantly the trust from their employers. In this day and age, people are less likely to sacrifice their life for work because they know both can co-exist in a healthy and satisfying way if only their employers would allow it.”

Bill Zeng, Senior Director, APAC, Poly

“With the threat of a Great Australian Resignation on the horizon, employees are demanding more flexibility, more time with family, and more options to choose different ways of working.

“In order to become an employer of choice, businesses will need to make drastic changes to attract and retain top talent. They’ll need to create flexible work environments that allow employees to work from anywhere, focusing on output rather than time spent in the office.

“Most importantly, employers will need to provide employees with the highest quality technology that helps achieve work equality – ensuring that those who wish to work away from the central office are not penalised with an inferior experience. Collaborative technology will be the focus so that employees can feel they are sitting beside their colleagues, clients, and business partners, no matter where they’re working.” 

Marco Zande, Marketing & Digital Comms Executive at WLTH

“After a long 2020 and an even longer 2021, many Aussies are now searching for new opportunities to build their careers. Whether you’re currently looking to hire or retain staff, here are a few steps to become an employer of choice.

“Dissatisfaction arises when your expectations differ from your experiences that can harm your work satisfaction. Take it easy! Setting the bar too high can harm your productivity and mindset.

“One of the hallmarks of pessimism is the worry for the future. Using mindfulness can help you maintain stress levels and know every working moment is an investment into the future. 

“Celebrate the strengths of those around you and reap the benefits of positive work culture. Logically, gratitude is associated with optimism. Practising gratitude at work improves your psychological health leading to a great capacity to be productive and strengthening your relationship with peers. 

“Focusing on the longer-term goals when faced with challenges can help lift yourself and those around you, especially important during COVID-19. The complexities of managing clients, deadlines, workflows and coworkers may seem significant today, but as time passes, so too does the anguish.”

Rad Mitic, Head of Partnerships, ANZ at eCommerce marketing platform Yotpo

“Fun, positive company culture is without a doubt the best way to become an Employer of Choice, for two reasons. Firstly, it increases productivity. When employees are eager to come to work because you have built such a fun work environment, they will show up and work harder. 

“They are more likely to respect and replicate efforts to be different, and in return be enthusiastic about their tasks and their role. Secondly, it also means employers are able to attract the best talent. When you love what you do and love where you work, naturally, you’ll share this experience with your friends, family, and broader professional network. 

“It’s just like leaving a review and positions the company as an ideal place to build a career in a competitive talent market. Your employees are your biggest brand ambassadors, and when their industry peers see them happy, they will want to join the team too.” 

Kerry Swan, author of Heartfelt Leadership 

“The danger in working from home is that our conversations, on polite Zoom calls, become all about the task, the job and our results. And, in those polite Zoom calls, we often miss the subtext, the human connection and the heart of our business relationships. Life on the other side of COVID, or as an Employer of Choice, is all about connection or perhaps reconnection with your people. One of the best ways to do this is through the sharing of stories.  

“Stories help us to connect and feel united. That we are all in this together, and while there is no likely end to Zoom calls or working from home, we can, as leaders, take the time to connect with our people. A simple agenda item at the start of your meeting that asks your people to share something about themselves can go a long way to building a working relationship.  

“One of my favourite icebreakers is a simple ‘what is your favourite movie and why?’. If we listen, we might just learn a little about each other and what drives us. An important foundation to building our Employer of Choice culture.”

Roxanne Calder, founder of recruitment agency EST10

“As an Employer of Choice, retention is key. It’s the truth serum. No matter the vision statement, best practice policies, etc., it’s a leaky bucket without retention. The cost goes straight to the bottom line: time and resources backfilling roles, the cost of an empty seat, loss of intellectual property and the toll on your customer base. Retention is all about employee relations:

  • Hire right the first time. 
  • Onboarding is critical, let alone if working remote or hybrid. Consider training, support, tools, and check-ins. 
  • Know your employees, i.e., what is going on in their life? These impact other decisions, usually work-related. They might view resigning as their only option, not aware of alternatives; secondments, reduced hours, etc.
  • Compromise–no one is perfect, and retention is not just for your top performers. Look to everyone as key. 
  • Priorities have shifted and are constantly changing. Consider using surveys to uncover vital issues and remedy them!”  

Adam Pay, Managing Director, mycar

“As Australian businesses enter the third year of managing the impacts of the pandemic and the challenges it has delivered, in 2022, organisations need to focus on being a place that team members want to work, as opposed to just a place they turn up to. 

“People must come first. mycar engages with school leavers to encourage them to enter the automotive sector, and this new generation of workers want more than financial reward. Our team members know they can grow from an entry-level position all the way up to managing director, and through career pathway development programs, we will support that growth every step of the way.

“Businesses need to prepare for changes in how teams want to experience work and what feels rewarding to them. We always consider how the decisions we make influence our existing team and new starters, for example:

  • Ensuring effective career pathway and growth programs are developed in partnership with our team members to create something that’s rewarding and inspires passion at work.
  • Establishing programs that allow team members to move from technical to managerial then leadership roles, so they can pursue their career goals whatever they may be.

Nina Mapson Bone, Managing Director for Beaumont People and President of the RCSA

“Whilst the focus on workplace culture is by no means new for many organisations, the conversation has certainly been amplified by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. A focus on people and workplace culture has never been more critical to the success of an organisation. The basic need for safety and security has seen Australian’s questioning the efforts of their employers when it comes to employee wellbeing and support. 

“As Stephen M. R. Covey writes in The Speed of Trust, “When trust goes down (in a relationship, on a team, in an organisation, or with a customer), speed goes down, and cost goes up…The inverse is equally true: When trust goes up, the cost goes down, and speed goes up.” HRD reported that the latest data from ADP saw a 40 per cent increase YOY in employers increasing their efforts to promote employee wellness (such as benefits, paid time off, and employee assistance programs). 

The key areas for us when designing a thriving workplace culture include: 

Communication – clear and transparent communication, from the top-down and bottom-up, is vital to building trust and commitment throughout an organisation. Even the most difficult messages need to be addressed in the same manner. In fact, it is in the more challenging times that clear and transparent communication is essential and will see trust levels soar. 

Health and resilience – take a proactive approach to support your people’s health and resilience levels. High-performing teams are at high risk of burnout and are often the last to recognise it until it’s too late. Build frameworks and policies that promote health and resilience in the same way you build reward systems that promote performance. For instance, at Beaumont People, we adopted a 4-Day Work Week policy and focused on Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) over a number of hours worked. We also encourage EAP sessions frequently, not just during times of stress, and provide training on how to manage workload. 

Professional Development – provide opportunities for continued learning. Be it through formal training or peer-to-peer learning opportunities, professional development is an attractive differentiator for many employees and job seekers. Through our own Mentoring Programs and Strengths Profile Assessments, we see first-hand the significant contribution that professional development and self-awareness offers when it comes to the growth of team members. 

Meaningful work – understand what factors provide meaning to your people. Our own vision to connect people to organisations that provide meaningful work saw our research and developed the Meaningful Work Profile Tool that provides individuals and organisations with an assessment profile, indicating how much value is placed on meaningful work factors. 

“Understanding these factors allows you to design and implement initiatives that will increase engagement, commitment, and overall performance. Those who have paused to reflect on putting people first can expect accelerated results, as employees feel a deeper level of commitment and satisfaction towards their employer. 

“Creating a thriving and sustainable workplace culture requires consistency, longevity, and commitment by all within the organisation.”

Lily Li, Founder, CEO and Entrepreneur at Hygea App

“I agree that COVID-19 wrecked the world, and it’s time to change to this new work environment. As the pandemic is not over yet, working from home presents strong advantages, especially for women. At Hygea, we use lots of task management software. We find it’s enough to manage people’s daily routine. 

“We use software to manage tasks instead of managing people face to face. A task-driven working environment can help employees to manage their life and working time. 

“A task-driven working environment can help women to build up not only a good working environment but also a good living environment because she needs to look after children (before the pandemic, women sent children to baby care). Working from home can help them organise time between work and life, so they have time to look after their kids. 

“Adapt to the new working trends — Remote working, hybrid work-culture. We use software to catch up every morning. The tasks are given prior to the catch-up. We use the Silence work management platform, where employees will leave questions online for others to help them. Our team can constantly check if they can answer any of those questions. We have Zoom meetings to discuss work and life. Although we are physically far from each other, we feel like we are closer than ever. 

“When we have catch-up meetings, some of our employees bring their children to the meetings. We also arranged an online Christmas party last year in which our teams from all over the world attended working from home is more effective. I talked to friends in San Francisco — lots of big companies in Silicon Valley let people work from home forever. According to this article by Seek, the top three benefits of working from home are “better work-life balance”, “improved productivity”, and “increased job satisfaction.”

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Yajush Gupta

Yajush Gupta

Yajush is a journalist at Dynamic Business. He previously worked with Reuters as a business correspondent and holds a postgrad degree in print journalism.

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