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Let’s Talk: How to find and keep great staff

As SMEs recover from the disruption of COVID-19, the Great Resignation is far more than HR jargon; the current lack of skilled workers is a serious impediment to consolidation and growth.

Skills shortages are evident in almost every industry, and so are greater employee expectations regarding flexibility and opportunity. So never has it been more critical for you to understand how to position yourself as an employer of choice and establish a nurturing culture that inspires loyalty within your existing team.

Let’s Talk…

Aaron McEwan, VP Research & Advisory, Gartner  

Let’s Talk: How to find and keep great staff

“Employees’ expectations around compensation have increased this year, so organisations will need to step up and offer more attractive packages and benefits. However, business leaders should recognise that it’s not all about the money.  

“The secret to attracting and retaining great staff is to recognise just that it’s about people. Employees no longer want to be seen as workers. They want to be seen as individuals with rich, full lives that extend beyond the work they do. 

“Investing in your employees’ lives beyond their day-to-day work and making significant changes to frustrating and unhealthy work practices is the secret to making your organisation a more desirable place to work.

“We’re already seeing this play out, with employers trialing innovative solutions like four-day weeks and more comprehensive leave policies including paternal, miscarriage, and menstrual leave. The most progressive companies are investing heavily in holistic wellbeing and redesigning work to be more human-centric. 

“So how can Australian businesses figure out what their staff want? It’s as simple as this; listen to your employees, respect them as people and ask them what they want from work and life.

“Leaders who can find ways to deliver on that will not only attract and retain people more easily, they will become talent magnets. 

David Curry, Chief Operating Officer, WLTH

Let’s Talk: How to find and keep great staff

“Your business is only ever as good as the people running it, so it is no surprise that companies allocate a lot of time and resources into finding staff members that fit. Fit is the key word because the ‘smartest’ or ‘best’ new hire may not be the appropriate hire for your company. Let’s be real, it’s not easy.

“On top of all this, the business will have a hard time retaining top talent if they don’t get it right from the start. Many companies simply throw more money to their valuable members in the hope that they stay, but there are many other ways to find and keep great staff.

“To find staff that fit, you need to first understand what is important to the company culture. Do you value hard work? Attention to detail? Or simply how well they talk? During initial interviews, we always try to think if the potential hire will get along with everyone. I find that employees that enjoy the people they work with are generally more productive. And while technical prowess obviously can’t be ignored, I tend to hire those who nail the interview.

“I’ve spoken in length about the importance of fitting company culture, but don’t get me wrong – we are not only after staff members that suit a specific mould. In your screening process, diversity is a vital factor to take into account. Is it better to hire a young graduate who has less experience but is ready to learn new processes? Or do you require a more experienced professional who has seen the ins and outs of that certain industry. The answer isn’t simple, but in reality, you could probably use both types of people in your team.”

Martin Dineen, Managing Director, MJD Executive

Let’s Talk: How to find and keep great staff

“There are four priority areas to master if you want to find and keep great staff: authenticity, networking, balance and mindfulness. 

“Show potential employees what it’s genuinely like to be a part of your business by sharing information. This can be online or in person and should be as authentic as possible. 

Make real, valuable connections. Good people recognise and will refer you to other good people, so it is beneficial to nurture this. Reach out regularly and offer assistance without wanting something in return. 

“Encourage balance. COVID-19 has shown businesses that this is possible. Employees can be highly effective when given the flexibility to do so. This increases loyalty, longevity and improves motivation.

“Be mindful that employees need growth and stimulation at all levels. Look to consistently develop your teams with valuable IP and train lower-level positions with those who have highly transferable skills.”

Kate Furey, Career Insights Specialist, Indeed

Let’s Talk: How to find and keep great staff

“The first step to successfully recruiting in a busy job market is writing a well-crafted job ad that’s appealing, authentic and detailed.  Be specific about the qualifications, experience and technical skills you’re looking for, and be up front about the options for flexible working and the renumeration package.  Sixty-five per cent of job seekers find it helpful when employers give an indication of salary at the start of the interview process, yet many employers don’t openly disclose this information.

“Finding a great hire isn’t just about your job ad. During your interview stages, frequent communication and relevant feedback are key to ensuring your top candidates maintain interest in your vacancy and will conserve your reputation as a desirable employer.

“Don’t forget to look internally when you’re recruiting. Hiring from within your organisation enables you to tap into the skills, interests and ambitions of existing colleagues who bring an established understanding of your business. Empowering your team and fostering a creative workplace culture will ensure you retain great talent. 

“Finally, a little pat on the back never hurt anyone. Reward and recognise your people appropriately to highlight the positive and impactful contribution they make to your organisation.” 

 Ben Lipschitz co-founder & managing director, FoodByUs

Let’s Talk: How to find and keep great staff

“Existing staff are the best advocates for your company and most likely to know people who can join. Encourage sharing of news (including that you’re hiring!) and what it is like to work with the business on LinkedIn and other networking platforms.

“When it comes to retaining staff, don’t lose sight of the power of communication and reinforcing the ‘why’ behind the business. Most people want to be part of a team that is united in purpose and clear on their mission. Make sure you communicate the journey you’re on and the impact it has.

“With the talent shortage the way it is, finding people who are not comfortable in their current role is challenging. Of course, salary is important but money on its own just won’t cut it (and if it does, be careful) so you really need to sell the vision, career progression opportunities and culture of the business.”

Yvonne Teo, Vice President Human Resources, APAC at ADP

Let’s Talk: How to find and keep great staff

“We are witnessing a paradigm shift in the relations between workers and employers. To retain the best talent, devote time to making the company the greatest draw to stay. This translates to several aspects, such as organisational purpose and values, culture, management and long-term prospects.

“We need to remind ourselves that the employer-employee relationship is a two-way street for building trust early on. 

“First, nail the learning and development program. Devoting time to training and supporting employees often reap immeasurable benefits down the track.

“Second, create a culture of trust and collaboration. I’ve discovered that the value of a business is founded on the working relationships – the people who keep things going. ADP has done research and found that staff are 3.7 times more likely to stay in their employment and 8 times more likely to speak highly of their company if they find HR valuable, showing that effective HR can not only retain, but also attract workers. 

“We’ve all been through a lot since COVID began, and this brings me to my third point: employers can take a leading role in creating a genuine people-centric culture. Whether it is speaking openly about the stress around returning to work or leveraging technology to facilitate ongoing conversations, leaders must prioritise employee wellbeing and help them feel supported, as they continue working toward the goals of the organisation.”       

Sabri Suby, Founder and Head of Growth, King Kong

Let’s Talk: How to find and keep great staff

“Perfecting your product and hitting the right market are vital when starting a new business. Without these areas firing, it’s unlikely you’ll have a business for very long, but there’s a third factor at play to ensure success – the right people. 

“Business owners today should hire for attitude, not ‘good on paper’. A good CV is a start, but not everything. We once had an opening for an intern; one candidate bombed the interview, but then contacted us afterwards to ask for a second chance. Her enthusiasm and initiative landed her the job. She went on to excel as an intern, worked her way up to a full-time position and is now our Head of Paid Social.

“Team members should also envision how they will grow within your company. Today’s skills shortage and a competitive labour market means a smaller talent pool, but offering continued learning gives businesses an edge.”

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

Let’s Talk: How to find and keep great staff

“Finding and keeping great staff is essential to running a successful business. While it can be time consuming to interview people, finding the right fit pays off in the long run. So, once you’ve got them, what can you do to keep them? 

  1. Curate a positive workplace: Think about what type of characteristics your workplace nurtures. Does it facilitate growth and confidence? Is general happiness and respect for one another prioritised? Staff who come to work with a positive mindset are built for success so prioritise this as a value in your culture.
  2. Foster growth and learning: Don’t pigeon-hole your staff into performing one role only. If they express interest in other areas then allow them the space to grow and explore this interest. 
  3. Understand individuals: Each team member has their own passions and goals they want to achieve. Take the time to learn about what makes them tick and then share opportunities with them based on their interests.”

Dominic Woolrych, CEO Lawpath

Let’s Talk: How to find and keep great staff

“Having a strong set of business ethics is not only the basis for trust between employers and employees, but it’s also key to attracting and retaining top talent. 

“Job seekers are looking for competitive salaries and workplace benefits, but these are ‘hygiene factors’ and expected as a minimum in this competitive market. 

“To stand out, business ethics need to be front and center when recruiting. Gen Y and millennials are also driven by a sense of belonging and cause. Employee Equity Schemes are becoming an increasingly popular way to entice and retain talent. 

“While employees may share a common vision, there needs to be a way for employees to have a share in the business. Rather than only giving equity to select senior employees, all employees should be given access to company shares. It is a fantastic way to attract talent who want to be rewarded for their contribution and to retain staff who are growing something other than their base salary.”

Pat Devlin, Director of Aruba South Pacific (ANZ)

Let’s Talk: How to find and keep great staff

“Genuine personality and authentic communication is so important in bringing a team together, and keeping them together. It sounds like a quote from an inspirational poster, but if you can genuinely be yourself, everyone around you will feel safe to be themselves too. 

“We all have such diverse backgrounds and different personal priorities, but we all go on a journey together. Highs and lows on that journey are inevitable, and as a leader, being open in sharing those moments is a powerful thing. 

“Playing the straight-bat with corporate speak can create distance between leadership teams and the team on the ground. We shouldn’t be afraid to admit if things aren’t going well, and we should take a pause to celebrate when teams or individuals achieve great things.”

By Paul Hadida, General Manager APAC, SevenRooms

Let’s Talk: How to find and keep great staff

“In an industry often reliant on short-term visa holders and students, Australia’s hospitality sector has been hit particularly hard by staff shortages. To acquire, engage and retain great staff, hospitality venues must develop a comprehensive hiring strategy built around a strong and supportive culture that acts as a great incentive for staff to stay. 

“This can be in the form of ongoing training to keep employees motivated and satisfied. Technology also helps take the pressure off by allowing businesses to do more with less and offer their staff the best tools to make their job easier and help them develop more skills. In addition, setting staff up with a career development plan to ensure they’re working towards a goal and not stagnating. 

“Creating an environment where staff feel valued and supported remains the best way to attract and retain the right staff with the right motivations.”

Mark Rendell, CEO, BK’s Gymnastics franchise network

Let’s Talk: How to find and keep great staff

“We’re currently in the middle of a massive recruitment drive for coaches so this is very timely! With what’s being called the Great Australian Resignation, many people are re-assessing their careers, goals and work/life balance after the challenging year that 2021 has been. 

“For those looking to hire, it’s a wonderful opportunity to engage passionate people who are really wanting to find a role they love and make a difference. We’re looking for passion above everything else right now – as passionate people care and that makes all the difference. Incentivising and rewarding staff is also a great way to attract and retain – at the moment we’re offering to pay to get new coaches qualified and providing discounted gymnastic lessons for their children/friends, for example. When you show people you value them, you are valued in return.”

Rebecca Houghton, founder, BoldHR

Let’s Talk: How to find and keep great staff

“The trick to finding and keeping great staff is to think about keeping before worrying about finding. First, understand why your people are thinking of leaving – acknowledge the desire to seek greater satisfaction elsewhere, and find out – why not here? Then, engage your people in what needs to change – and be prepared for a very uncomfortable dialogue that will put leadership at the blame-centre of everything.

“To truly listen, understand the context – two years of ongoing uncertainty has frayed everyone, which blame is high and tolerance is low, even yours.  Know this, and don’t take it personally.

‘Finally, take action.  Identify and agree a different mindset, agree the methods (and responsibility) for getting there, and commit to a roadmap to ensure you master the changes sought.  Change is not going to be easy, but it’s essential to retain your team in 2022 and beyond.

“Now you can worry about finding new staff.  If you do it the other way around, you’re simply pushing more people through a revolving door without stopping it from spinning in the first place.

“Now you can engage your team to help you find new staff – because they are re-engaged and more likely to say yes and do a great job.

“You can talk with confidence about how you engage differently and how you’re listening to learn what your team really needs – which is what today’s Talent really wants.

“What’s worked in the past won’t work today, and instead of putting pressure on yourself to know the answers, share the problem and in the process re-engage your team and reduce the risk.”

Dr Lynda Folan, leadership specialist & founder, Inspired Development

Let’s Talk: How to find and keep great staff

“Organisations that have not prioritised their people will find the next three to five years challenging as businesses face ongoing attraction and retention issues. We have known for years that there are two key reasons why people leave their organisations. 

“Firstly, ineffective, or poor leadership has a significant impact on this. We have known for years that people leave their managers, not their organisations. Gallup (2015) reports, 50% of people have left a job to get away from their manager at some point in their career. 

“The second key aspect in retention is an organisations culture. A significant proportion of people choose not to work in a toxic culture. If we want to attract and retain great staff, we must tackle these critical aspects; enhancing leadership capacity and supporting leaders to build a positive, engaging culture.”

Steve Bennetts, psychologist and Head of Growth & Strategy for Employee Experience,  Qualtrics

Let’s Talk: How to find and keep great staff

“A critical component in an employers’ response to the current challenges in the Australian job market must be creating long-term, sustainable solutions that help them attract, retain, and develop talent. Doing so will be important for an organisation to meet its hiring goals, and it’s crucial in helping address the skills shortage in the country. 

“Qualtrics research outlines how people are making career decisions based on a multitude of factors – and these factors differ for each individual. It means employers need a clear and constant understanding of what matters to their employees and candidates, and the ability to deliver the experiences people quickly and meaningfully are asking for. 

“This will help them continually meet expectations to cultivate high rates of retention and attract people to the organisation. Having access to growth opportunities was important to both people looking for new jobs, and those deciding to stay. This willingness to learn and grow among workers in Australia must be cultivated and acted on by employers and is an opportunity to close talent gaps by reskilling the workforce. To do this effectively, employers need to work with their people to identify their goals and aspirations, and then deliver the programs and frameworks helping achieve them.”

Erin Cook, Head of People, Dovetail 

Let’s Talk: How to find and keep great staff

“Australia’s tech talent shortage has been intensified amid the pandemic, so to engage and retain quality technology hires, businesses must be appealing to employees’ needs which extends beyond a good paycheque. At Dovetail, we’ve always offered salaries that compete with the large tech companies to attract and retain quality hires. In addition, we also offer ample flexibility allowing employees to work from wherever they are, whenever suits their lifestyle and personal commitments. 

“On top of attracting remarkable talent with these benefits, we also retain great talent by empowering and rewarding our people for their contributions. Dovetail works with everyone from ambitious non-technical founders to large tech companies like Afterpay to build technology companies and high-growth products. We invest in the companies emerging from our venture studio and have shared this ownership with everyone on the team since day one. Every Dovetail employee recognises that they have a stake in these companies’ success, where their reward is directly linked to the quality of any output, encouraging them to perform their best and reap its success.”

Andy Brockhoff, President APAC, Unit4

Let’s Talk: How to find and keep great staff

“Australia’s talent shortage has undoubtedly worsened amid the pandemic. To find and keep great staff, it’s imperative that businesses offer employees the right tools and environment to thrive.

“Beyond a good salary, basic working conditions and respect, to find and keep great staff, organisations can leverage technologies, like Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system to help people-centric businesses, including non-profit, government, private and public sector industries, thrive by cutting down the administrative workload and make mundane tasks automated and easier than ever. 

“By leveraging the right technologies, organisations can enhance employee satisfaction, allowing them to focus on the things that really matter. ERP systems are also available on the cloud, meaning that businesses can offer employees flexibility when remote working from anywhere around the world, something employees have become accustomed to during the pandemic.” 

Irene Georgakopoulos, cofounder of allied health business Physio Inq

Let’s Talk: How to find and keep great staff

“At Physio Inq, our first house rule is “staff come first”. When we get to a ‘sticky’ spot in making a decision, it often guides us more easily to the next decision. It has been a valuable tool in making sure we hold ourselves accountable.

“This rule then guides the working environment we provide and includes focus 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.

”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 own 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 own 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.” 

Rebecca Page, Head of People and Culture, PharmaCare

Let’s Talk: How to find and keep great staff

“The average staff tenure at PharmaCare is more than five years. We put this loyalty down to the Company’s foundations of health, family, and business. Combined with our core values of entrepreneurialism, performance-led, ownership and integrity, PharmaCare has created an environment that prioritises staff wellbeing, inspires success and encourages people to stay.

“More than a job, the career experience is a priority at PharmaCare. Implementing strategic Human Resources initiatives, such as coaching and mentorship promotes a culture of growth and learning, while also fostering leadership and ambition. Even our review process is led by human connection, with leaders facilitating authentic conversations rather than focusing solely on output or performance.

“The advantage of PharmaCare’s large wheelhouse of brands is that it encourages staff to seek experience across different categories and teams. As a global organisation, we are looking forward to borders and travel opening up, as it will present exciting opportunities to mobilise our talent, allowing them to develop their understanding of the business at an international level.”

Sam Kothari, Director of Growth, Airwallex

Let’s Talk: How to find and keep great staff

“When looking for new talent, there can be the temptation to get someone in quickly, but you’re unlikely to source the right fit if you rush. Finding the best candidate is a long-term process, nurtured over time.

“Keep an eye out for ‘Dhandho bets’ – these are candidates that have little experience but make up for it with their attitude. Be realistic about the job at hand and ask yourself, ‘Why shouldn’t the candidate join the team?’. Qualities that don’t necessarily come through on a CV, like determination and drive, can end up being far more valuable to your business in the long run.

“Remember there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to managing your team. Tackle problems – not people! Listen (and most importantly, respond) to your employees’ needs and wants, and adopt a way of working that can fulfil both employee satisfaction and meeting your organisational objectives.”

Nada Wassef, HR Business Partner, People and Places, Intuit Australia

Let’s Talk: How to find and keep great staff

“It’s no secret that the past two years have been difficult for the many Australian professionals juggling work and personal commitments through extended lockdowns. So many people have done a fabulous job of maintaining productivity under challenging circumstances, but mental health and general wellbeing have taken a hit.

“Intuit QuickBooks’ latest research has shown that retaining and bringing on staff is a top concern for Australian businesses, with two in five saying that they are concerned about finding suitable staff. 

“Despite these hurdles, Intuit QuickBooks has grown its local workforce by more than 50 full diverse and talented employees since July last year, and we believe that consistent messaging and employee experience has been key to this growth. It’s important that employees are getting the same experience from when they read the job ad, to when they join the business.  If you’re a company that prides itself on personal growth and development, it is important that this messaging maintains consistency throughout an employee’s journey.

“When it comes to retaining staff, it is important to listen to what your employees are saying, whilst being mindful of setting realistic expectations and keeping well-being at the core of your business practice. This focus on well-being feeds into personal development programs, with Intuit finding that tailored approaches that cater to individual needs and career stages have been most beneficial in the quest to retain suitable staff.” 

 Natalie Brooke, Head of Human Resources, Menulog

Let’s Talk: How to find and keep great staff

“Culture is key! Menulog began as a family-run, small business and as the company has grown and become part of Just Eat Takeaway, we’re proud to retain a collaborative, caring culture among our team. We really are one big family. We are known for our fantastic culture and it’s therefore critical that we protect it and hire talent who are a great cultural fit. 

“Maintaining a great culture is crucial to the success of the business, it has been key for us in attracting and retaining talent in a tough labour market. A great culture starts from the top. At Menulog, our leaders really care for the teams’ wellbeing as well as personal and professional development, and that really filters through the business. As we grow, we seek to maintain a ‘start-up’ mentality as much as we can, with our senior leaders very hands-on and available to the team so our innovation isn’t stifled by any unnecessary processes. We have a Wellbeing Committee arranging frequent group fitness activities, and we also arrange regular team building activities that bring different departments together. We also ask our team to regularly complete engagement surveys, which help us better understand our peoples’ lives at Menulog and we take these learnings onboard for improvements and new initiatives.”

Rolf Howard, Managing Partner, Owen Hodge Lawyers

Let’s Talk: How to find and keep great staff

“With the threat of a U.S. style “Great Resignation” looming in Australia, many employers are acutely aware that attracting and retaining great talent has become harder than ever. 

“The pandemic has driven some fundamental changes in the labour market, reducing the pool of available talent and putting the bargaining power squarely in the hands of employees.

“In this environment, the best way to find and keep staff is to become an employer of choice. By executing best practice when it comes to creating an inclusive, flexible and engaging workplace, employers will be more likely to attract and retain the right people.

“Importantly, these practices should be legally enshrined in company policy and/or employment contracts and enacted accordingly. Simply saying you’re an employer of choice isn’t enough, employers need to put their money where their mouth is so employees can trust they will be looked after. This may include developing and facilitating a flexible work policy, diversity protocol, health and wellbeing initiatives, additional leave entitlements or bonus structures.”

Andy Mellor, Regional Vice President, ANZ, Kofax

Let’s Talk: How to find and keep great staff

“With skills shortages and border closures throughout 2021, finding and keeping great staff is one of the biggest business challenges in Australia. Organisations in many sectors are struggling to fill job openings and find the right candidate for the role. As we enter 2022, companies need to focus on staff retention – including improving staff wellbeing, easing workloads, and allowing staff to spend time on the tasks they enjoy – and look to alternate solutions to better support them.

“One way to achieve this is through automation. By automating those meh manual tasks, employees will be empowered to focus on more strategic, higher-value projects. This will leave staff more satisfied with their job and able to spend more time on the projects they enjoy most. In addition to this, automation will assist employers with managing staff workloads by providing further workflow visibility. All in all, automation is here to help businesses increase employee satisfaction – boosting your chance of retaining great staff.” 

Rhys Hughes, Regional Vice President, APAC & Japan, SumTotal 

Let’s Talk: How to find and keep great staff

“There is no doubt the huge shift to remote work during the global pandemic has had a profound impact on how people think about when and where they want to work. According to Skillsoft’s survey of workers across Australia, 81 percent wanted at least one COVID-19 practice adopted permanently in their day-to-day lives.

“The trouble is, once everything started to reopen, businesses expected employees to jump back on the 9-5 bandwagon, picking up where they left off, pre-COVID. Employees are reacting to that expectation and deciding to leave their jobs in droves.

“In order to attract and retain the best talent during this time of flux, businesses need to make career progression front and centre. When employees do not feel a company is supporting their progression, their eyes will start to wander towards the job market. That is why companies need to offer more career mobility opportunities, which support employees who want to move across different departments or even change their occupation.”

Nick Hudson, Founder and Chief of Push-Ups, The Push For Better Foundation

Let’s Talk: How to find and keep great staff

“Finding and keeping great staff can be tricky, particular in today’s employee-driven market. The important thing is leading with your organisation’s values. What is it about your organisation that will resonate with the sort of team member that you’re looking for? Being clear on this will help you design the language you use in advertising, as well as the channels selected for that advertising.“As we all know, a generous remuneration package can attract a lot of candidates, but will this attract the right person for you? Sure, you might get a highly qualified and experienced employee, but will they actually care about your organisation?
Having aligned values and a clearly communicated mission allows for a deeper understanding of business and personal needs, fostering stronger connections, and hopefully a work environment that is intrinsically rewarding for staff at all levels.”

Josh Foreman, CEO and Founder, InDebted 

Let’s Talk: How to find and keep great staff

“In recent times the goal posts have moved.  The modern employee has greater expectations for flexibility to work as and where they choose, and pay is no longer the only factor in consideration. At InDebted, we’ve recognised this by moving to a permanent four-day work week – attracting and retaining top talent by prioritising employee wellbeing. 

“There’s no catch – working hours aren’t longer, remuneration is the same and employees can choose when and where they work. To accommodate this, our team works smarter, 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 employees, some of whom have even been able to launch their own successful side-hustles with the help of the extra day off.”

Libby Shade, Senior Human Resources Manager, SAS ANZ

Let’s Talk: How to find and keep great staff

“Amid the “Great Resignation”, there is increasing value being placed on curiosity as a workplace skill. Curiosity is becoming an increasingly valuable skill for employers and managers, with the potential to address some of the biggest challenges facing organisations today – from improving employee retention and job satisfaction to creating more innovative, collaborative and productive workplaces. 

“Today’s managers are finding it especially challenging to keep employee morale and motivation high. Most of which are facing challenges retaining good employees, getting employees to push beyond just basic job duties, and driving cross-collaboration with other teams and departments. Unfortunately, many organisations risk falling behind due to an inability to develop and harness this skill among the workforce.

“Many of the benefits associated with curiosity directly address these key business challenges, at SAS we are fostering greater efficiency and productivity, more creative thinking and solutions, stronger collaboration and teamwork, and greater employee engagement and job satisfaction.”

Shannon Karaka, Head of Expansion, Australia & New Zealand, Deel

Let’s Talk: How to find and keep great staff

“Successful business no longer hinges on a traditional 9 to 5, office-bound structure. This has given employees much greater control over the organisations they choose to join, with many demanding flexibility around how, where, and when they want to work. As many employees have their sights set on gaining overseas experience, the businesses that support this by allowing staff to work from anywhere in the world, are the ones that will attract and retain top talent. This will also allow them to reap the benefits of having a culturally and cognitively diverse team that offers new perspectives and skillsets and gain access to a wider resource pool.

“Additionally, staff are looking beyond the paycheck and value employers who support their quality of life, mental health and work-life balance. With perks and benefits becoming a bigger attraction than ever before, organisations that are managing a distributed workforce should consider setting them up with the devices and technology of their choosing and investing in them by offering co-working space memberships, wellness programs for remote teams, and online team building and knowledge sharing opportunities. All of this will help to build a human-centred company culture and ensure staff feel understood and valued, in turn increasing employee retention.”

Caroline Henshaw, Head of People & Culture, Mantel Group

Let’s Talk: How to find and keep great staff

“Companies across Australia and New Zealand are struggling to find great people, particularly those with technology skills but most of those companies are running the same internships and graduate programs they were ten years ago. Businesses need to think differently about talent management if they’re going to attract and retain the best. A lot of businesses are still caught up in old-fashioned ways of thinking such as requiring applicants to have a degree.

“At Mantel Group we’ve taken a step back to address all the areas where talent disappears and are investing in growing the market ourselves. For example, students enrol in computer science degrees because they are business savvy and it looks good on their resume, but they have no intention of completing it. Our Future Associate program welcomes people with or without a degree and works with them to tailor a career and training path. This is a blended and inclusive model of recruitment and retraining that seeks to catch people before they slip through the cracks and allows them to build their own career.” 

Debbie Rigger, Head of HR, SAP Australia and New Zealand

Let’s Talk: How to find and keep great staff

“People are the driving force behind the success at SAP. As a people-focused business, we are committed to driving an inclusive and flexible culture. To do that effectively, being proactive about reviewing and updating our policies is important. With the right support in place, we can help our people to maintain a healthy work-life balance in general and during life-changing moments.

“To me, how you approach your policies reflects how you feel about your employees and their families. We listen to what our people want, seek external counsel where appropriate and think hard about how we can best offer support though all the moments that matter in life. Given Australia’s current talent market, where organisations are battling to find ways to attract and retain the best talent, we use data to make informed decisions to achieve a robust set of employee offerings and policies. 

“Our new Parental Leave Policy is an example of this approach in action. After listening closely to what our people wanted, and seeking external advice, we increased the entitlement to offer 22 weeks of paid parental leave for primary carers and 12 weeks paid parental leave for secondary carers. Another important change for us was to ensure that, for any pregnancies where a miscarriage or stillbirth occurs after 20 weeks, SAP employees are entitled to the full parental leave period to take the time they need for themselves before returning to the workforce. We want to help our staff navigate major transitions in their work life, while understanding that professional and personal lives overlap.”

Sandra Kelly, acting head of people operations, Go1 

Let’s Talk: How to find and keep great staff

“Amid the ongoing global skills shortage, businesses need to cast their net wider and be more creative about whom they target for recruitment. In this competitive market, it is getting increasingly challenging to find candidates who tick all the boxes. Consequently, we are looking for candidates who might not necessarily have the right experience but are eager to learn and share their skills with the rest of the team.

“It is important to support new hires with efficient, comprehensive onboarding – whether you’ve hired internally or externally. Online training can be a key component of this. It gets new people up to speed quickly so they feel confident about their new role and responsibilities. But even beyond onboarding, online training enables all employees to further develop their skills which can be a strong reason to stay with a company long term.

“Incentives to find and retain good talent don’t have to be all about money. Employees are increasingly attracted by ethical practices and a positive work environment where you can form connections with your colleagues and profession. Post-COVID, most employees expect flexible working arrangements and the ability to work remote, hybrid, or part-time. By embracing flexible working arrangements, you can attract and hire the best talent, no matter where in the world they are.

Peter Philipp, General Manager ANZ, Neo4j

Let’s Talk: How to find and keep great staff

“Tech skills are in huge demand and short supply globally, so competition is fierce. Combined with the Great Resignation, organisations need to do all they can to find and hang on to talented people.

“Technology is one way to identify the people you need. By using graph data platforms you can better understand and classify candidates based on their relationships with others, the networks they are in, their background, specific skills and their interests. These aren’t things that you can easily see from a social media profile or CV, but they can be critical factors in whether someone will be a successful hire or not. For example, a particular candidate may have a lot of contacts and associates in an industry you want to target.

“For us, relationships always come first. We hire smart and creative people who share our drive and vision, and we value and build relationships in everything they do.”

Andy Hurt, ANZ MD, Poly 

Let’s Talk: How to find and keep great staff

“With skill shortages surfacing across Australia, finding and retaining top talent has never been more important. Possibly more important than finding employees with the right skill set is finding people who fit in with your company culture and values. This will provide lasting business success.

“With many employees now demanding flexibility, companies must also ensure they’re implementing inclusive, flexible, hybrid work policies – and making these policies clear to potential new hires – in order to attract and retain great talent.

“Fostering a people-first culture will also ensure that your best employees will stay. Providing them with excellent support by listening and understanding their needs will be crucial. Appreciating and rewarding your staff with great incentives is another key to employee retention. 

‘As Richard Branson once said, “A company’s employees are its greatest asset.” When a business takes care of its employees, it will naturally draw and retain its top employees.

Mandy Galmes, MD and Partner,Sefiani Communications Group

Let’s Talk: How to find and keep great staff

A great business starts with outstanding people. As the talent market becomes even tighter, finding ways to recognise, reward and develop team members is critical. Focusing on individuals’ strengths and passions has been our key to creating a highly engaged and thriving team. Our people love doing work that matters, and finding opportunities for them to put purpose into practice through their work has been critical to keeping their passion up in trying times. This has proved to be good not just for retention and growth but for also business, as we are seeing increased demand for Sefiani’s ESG Practice. Built around a highly experienced team, our approach has helped us attract great talent, new clients and challenging, strategic work. Leaning into the passions and strengths of our existing team has enhanced our employee value proposition; as borders slowly open up, we know this only serves to differentiate our business and help attract new and returning talent.

Jason Toshack, General Manager ANZ, Oracle NetSuite

Let’s Talk: How to find and keep great staff

“It’s becoming increasingly challenging for employers to find and retain great staff over the past 12 months, with a recent Oracle study finding 83% of Australians are ready for a professional change. The talent market has always been competitive, but business leaders must now step up their game if they want to be seen as an attractive place to work.

“Finding and retaining employees is vital to success, but with the recent shifts in work practices, the traditional recruitment process may require a rethink. Businesses should consider hiring for skillsets, rather than for roles. This can help address skills gaps and diversify the talent pool. By taking a skills focus, businesses can also help create tailored professional development pathways, which can help employees fulfil their potential while boosting engagement in return. 

“Once your star hires are in place, it’s down to leaders to create an environment where employees can reach their full potential. For best results, business leaders should clearly communicate goals and expectations to ensure everyone is aligned and working towards a common purpose. Scheduling regular catchups to understand any pain points and what can be done to improve, or support staff is a great way to make everyone feel valued.

“Businesses must also ensure they are using the right tools for the job. Leaders should consider investing in the technologies that will help make the job easier for their employees, and keep them engaged. Rote or mundane tasks that can be automated, should be – this puts employees in a position to take on higher-value work that is both more important to the business and more engaging for the employee.”

Ben Pluznyk, Director & Country Manager ANZ, Freshworks

Let’s Talk: How to find and keep great staff

“The current skills shortage, which has been exacerbated by the lack of migration, has pushed businesses to re-think their hiring processes, and staff retention strategies. The key to finding and keeping great staff in the current climate comes down to ensuring the values and culture of your business align with what your people are looking for.

  “One of the best ways to do this is to have a solid and inclusive benefits package – one that can be accessed by everyone in your organisation. These benefits don’t have to set you back financially, but they do need to be unique, attractive, and most importantly, things that your staff have genuine need for.

  “Other things that help in finding the right people for your business include: the ease of your hiring process, knowing what candidates want from the application process, and knowing where to look for great talent.”

James Fox, CEO, OnePlace Solutions 

Let’s Talk: How to find and keep great staff

“Flexibility has never been more important as workers demand the freedom to work in ways that suit them. Structured flexibility lets employees determine things like which days they work in the office versus from home. Unstructured flexibility is just as important, because it lets workers take time off as needed to attend appointments or care for children without having to take leave; they can make up the time on another day. Organisations that don’t offer this will struggle to attract and retain quality staff. 

“The ability to make an impact is also important. Employees want to know how their work has contributed to the business so they can see the real impact they’re making. 

“The business also needs to be on the cutting edge of innovation to attract candidates. This keeps work interesting and varied, so employees are more likely to remain loyal.” 

 Tass Melissinos, Vice President & Regional GM A/NZ at WSO2

Let’s Talk: How to find and keep great staff

 “At WSO2, we understand the importance of great talent; however, finding and retaining great employees does not come without its challenges.

“One of those challenges has been COVID-19 and the shift to remote work. This has pushed enterprises worldwide to accelerate their digital initiatives — with many starting years earlier than originally planned. As a result, more employees are contributing to the development of new digital products and services, driving demand for more low-code approaches to improve employee productivity and satisfaction. 

“To address these challenges, we recently launched Choreo, an integration platform as a service (iPaaS). The solution helps employees at various skill levels to collaborate and build cloud-native, digital products and solutions with agility and at scale. Empowering more staff to assist developers has ensured more productive development and improved job satisfaction. 

Tom Cornell, Head of Assessments, HireVue

Let’s Talk: How to find and keep great staff

“Under the pump and desperate for staff, Australia’s workforce is in a unique position as a result of its isolated positioning. The skills shortage has been exacerbated by the world’s longest international border closures, but with skilled workers now admitted into the country, the race is on to hire now and hire well.

“One way companies can capitalise on the influx of international talent is by harnessing tech to conduct fair, structured and data-driven interviews. Introducing AI to the hiring process will mean your organisation no longer has to rely on archaic and unreliable CVs or a gut feeling and can engage the top, incoming talent faster than your competitors. By standardising the interview process at scale with video, game-based and coding assessments, you can evaluate what truly matters, source more candidates, save time and hire the best talent that is more likely to thrive and therefore stay in their new role.”

Rachel Zerr, Head of People, Slyp 

Let’s Talk: How to find and keep great staff

“We can’t deny that Covid led to a shift in priorities and routines for many of us. And we recognised that as business leaders, we need to not only set ourselves apart in an increasingly competitive market, but also continue to support the existing team.

“Throughout Covid we learned that people work in different ways, hours, and styles – and no one was better than the other.  We conducted regular surveys and check-ins with our staff to understand how to best meet their changing needs, And we then went big with a complete policy revamp. 

“We recently launched Open Leave which allows all Slypsters to take as much paid annual leave as they need, and it’s completely uncapped. We also announced Open Place, which allows the team to work from anywhere in the world, for a few months at a time. This means big life commitments like having to move for a partner’s job or visiting family internationally can be done without impacting their careers.

“To us, it was a no brainer to introduce some ground-breaking policies that will mean a lot to those that value family, adventuring, and rest just as much as life as their professional contributions. So far we’ve learned that both can co-exist, and people are healthier and more productive as a result.”

Monica Watt, CHRO, ELMO Software Group 

Let’s Talk: How to find and keep great staff

“Real and meaningful connection is key for everyone in life. At work, employers must create meaningful opportunities to engage, share, listen, and learn from and with their people. Ensuring there is an appreciation and alignment to a common goal means everyone knows how they are contributing to success.   

“Understanding employee expectations and proving you care means communicating with employees needs to be done in a two-way cycle.

“Finding and keeping great employees is not solely dependent on whether they align with the company ethos, but how the organisation can support their values. For example, ELMO Software’s Climate At Work report identifies that almost half (48%) of Australians would not work for a business that did not take climate action (71% Gen Z, 52% Millennials). This highlights that what is important to employees should be important to employers.”

Sascha Giese, Head Geek, SolarWinds

Let’s Talk: How to find and keep great staff

“Building a strong team is no easy feat, therefore a solid recruitment process is essential to ensure smooth sailing.

“A great way to determine a potential candidate’s aptitude is to pose hypothetical questions to assess their level of professionalism, critical thinking, and communication skills. For example, “How would you handle an influx of support tickets?” or “How would you deal with a frustrated employee?” 

“Cultural fit is also key. Invite a few team members to the interview and look for chemistry cues. Insights from both sides are critical, especially since they’ll work together every day.

“Lastly, once you find the best employees, retention is all about understanding their aspirations and needs. Actively engage in an open discussion about career goals, opportunities for development, and long-term ambitions. Set clear expectations, provide them with tools for success, and trust in their abilities to perform.”

Read more: Let’s Talk – Toxic employees – how to deal with troublesome staff

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Clare Loewenthal

Clare Loewenthal

Clare is an author, business commentator and passionate contributor to Dynamic Business. She was the Founder and Publisher of Dynamic Small Business magazine, which became Australia’s largest small business publication.

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