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Strong workplace culture key to staff retention

A CLEAR and positive culture within an organisation leads to greater staff retention and a stronger employee base, especially when management is showing the way, according to attendees.

Wood and Grieve Engineers Perth Office Manager Director Brett Davis said he believed a transparent and inclusive workplace culture was the best way to attract and retain the right people. 

“We don’t employ people for a job, we employ them for a career,” Mr Davis said. 

“We invite key staff to become shareholders in the company, which immediately changes the mindsets of those individuals and brings them into the core of the business.”

Mr Davis said giving staff a sense of inclusion and ownership within the company was just one successful method Wood and Grieve Engineers used to build a positive workplace culture. 

“We provide all the extra benefits of salary packaging, it’s really important,” he said.

“We then look at ways to reward, recognise and provide detailed feedback (to employees).”

For Cape, Mr Gordon said the focus of the business was on the culture and attitude of all its people not just its management and staff.

“The workforce is usually our first point of contact and thus the day-to-day face of the business as far as the client is concerned,” he said.

“We want people in our business who have the right attitude and build a culture that reflects our commitment to deliver outstanding performance to our clients.”

“Our people are living in camps as FIFO workers and engaging, or disengaging, with the local communities. 

“Our workforce are required to operate at peak performance 100 per cent of the time.”

Mr Gordon said the workforce — scaffolders, painters, insulators and rope-access technicians — were all engaged in high-risk occupations, so Cape needed a business culture and personal attitudes that focused on doing the right thing both individually and collectively.

“We want people who care about others as well and themselves,” he said. 

“Creating the right culture in the business, that’s the key to retention.”

Steve Leeson said having a good company culture enabled the council to not only find but to keep the right person for the job. 

He said finding ways to motivate individuals, as well as encouraging different ways of thinking, was the approach he took for retaining staff. 

“A lot of our staff have been with us for quite some time,” he said. 

“One of the things I like about local government is the variety of services and projects that we get into. 

“Finding the right people and keeping the right people helps us achieve that.”

“It’s not always about the money for me, even though I’m an accountant. It’s about outcomes for the community.”

James Malone said that for Wesbeam, a culture of success was part of the business’s ethics. 

“Business ethics demand high performance,” Mr Malone said. “You don’t want second best.”

Tonya Miller said Whittens Group also took this approach when hiring new recruits.

“We are very keen to hire A-graders because they attract other A-graders and they also assure existing employees in the business that we are best of breed,” Ms Miller said.

HBF Senior Corporate Sales Manager Grant Monaghan said this sense of purpose was something every employee needed, and employers should encourage it.

“A true understanding of what you’re there to do, and the impact you have on those around you, is a key element of culture,” Mr Monaghan said. 

“Culture permeating throughout the organisation is a really good opportunity.

“If it’s not there, the question is why not and how can you make it occur.”

When looking at ways to use culture to retain the right staff, Bankwest Regional Manager Commercial Banking Andrew Stephenson shared his key method.

“I benchmark our team against the others,” Mr Stephenson said. 

“You magnify the weaknesses and problems of other employers and you strengthen your own advantages and good points. 

“You talk positively and focus on the strengths so they can be proud when they walk into work.”

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