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A happy workplace is a productive one

STAFF motivation has been in the media spotlight of late with revelations that many Australian workers place satisfaction in the workplace ahead of fiscal bonuses.

While this no doubt comes as great news to those bosses who are reluctant to give monetary bonuses to their staff, it also means companies’ human resource sectors have had to put their thinking caps on to find new ways of getting the very best out of employees.

Perth firms are engaging in a variety of schemes to make their staff happy, from putting them in TV commercials to giving them shares.

Tony Ackland, the human resources manager for Perth accounting firm Ernst and Young, said motivation for his 275 staff was not about lectures from hyperactive speakers, but rather about giving staff a real connection to their work.

“I don’t think it is an extrinsic activity. We don’t run rah-rah sess-ions,” he said.

“It is more about giving the staff something worthwhile to work with, which motivates them intrinsically.

“What essentially we’re talking about is giving them (staff) meaning in the work they are doing.

“To own that work, to participate in the decision-making process and then report on the outcome of that work, so they can see what the financial and other results are. So they see what the outcome of that work is.”

Mr Ackland said encouraging staff to feel a sense of ownership towards their work not only made the staff feel better about their jobs, but also increased productivity for the company.

“What we are trying to do with our staff is to get them to understand that they really are a part of the business,” he said.

Mr Ackland said it was important the staff felt as if they were part of a team and that they felt some sense of ownership for that team.

Another important part of the process was encouraging interaction between the employees and the clients.

“It is important that staff have a sense of ownership towards the clients as well, because accounting is a service industry,” Mr Ackland said.

“It’s all about building healthy relationships internally, and also with the client.”

He said the ultimate goal was to improve the quality and value of the work, while simultaneously creating honest and open internal and external relationships.

“That’s a really good outcome. That is meaningful for the staff.”

Mr Ackland was reluctant to discuss details of the practices his business used to motivate staff – after all, Ernst and Young is in intense competition with the other big four accounting firms in Perth.

He did, however, say that his secret policies were working.

“(If) you look at turnover, client satisfaction and profitability, they are all good measures of the impact of how we engage with our people,” he said.

Burswood Resort has come up with some unique ways to try to make its staff happy, including giving them the opportunity to be involved in television campaigns to launch the “all new Burswood”.

Another recent idea was the implementation of interactive on-line kiosks for staff – particularly for those in frontline positions without PC access – to source information, communicate with management and submit ideas.

Burswood also has invested in new uniforms in an effort to promote pride in the workplace and improve visual presentation, and has doubled the budget for training investment to $2 million.

Burswood spokesperson Julie Cameron said her company engaged in both traditional and new activities to keep its 3000 staff productive and satisfied.

Ongoing initiatives included traditional motivators, such as employee of the month and year, as well as staff feedback schemes. Burswood also distributes a quarterly magazine to its staff, which is written by a staff editorial team representing all key departments of the organisation.

Burswood also has taken on an expansion of its employee share ownership scheme in an effort to give both full time and part-time employees (with three or more years’ service) a personal stake in the company.

Ms Cameron said she believed this fostered staff interest in, and contributed towards, the com-pany’s bottom line performance.

Staff at Burswood are even briefed by the managing director following the announcement of the half-yearly financial results, the aim of which is to educate employees and generate excitement about Burswood’s future vision.

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