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Look after your most important asset: Your people

By Kelley Reynard

Your people are what set you apart from your competitors. They drive business growth, affect the bottom line, and contribute to organisational success. In reality, without people you have no business. A sustainable and thriving business only exists when you have internal people who are willing to commit their energy and time into the business goals and outcomes. An important driver that stimulates the effort and energy people will devote to tasks is the culture of the organisation. The culture is what attracts people to the business, and employees are more likely to stay with a company that has an innovative culture and a culture where they are invested in and appreciated. They will also want to devote their time and energy for a great leader; a leader who cares about them and encourages them to achieve. However, creating an environment and culture like this, won’t just happen overnight. Senior management needs to become dedicated to developing talent and setting an environment that allows talented people to thrive.
Creating a culture where people want bounce out of bed every day and their development is invested in, doesn’t happen from a top-down approach. Culture is developed by all the people that work there, not just the management team. Employees want to experience accountability for projects and have a sense of ownership to understand their personal contribution that contributes to the overall success of the organisation. In addition, providing people with the flexibility to structure their own day, or be able to work from home, gives them a sense of autonomy and control over their work. Graeme Strange, managing director of app developer Readify, says some of the company’s most popular policies around employee autonomy actually save money. He says that advocating a flexible workplace and the ability to work from home enables the company to attract staff they might not otherwise be able to afford. The company also provides employees with $60 a month to spend on a mobile phone plan, and if they lose their phone or exceed data allowance, it’s their responsibility.
Employees also value when management understands their capabilities as an individual, as well as at a team level. When individuals are invested in by management, and have an established learning and development plan with a clear timeline and developmental benchmarks, this leads to a greater sense of ownership and in turn, teamwork and co-operation. Further, to keep people engaged in their daily tasks, which can sometimes become a bit mundane, injecting a bit of fun and competition in the office is a good idea. At recruitment firm TRC, consultant’s earnt chips over a 2-week period for milestones like arranging an interview or landing an exclusive new role. The consultant with the most chips at the end of that period won $500, and ended up giving it to charity. Creating events and activities that bring people together helps to create a shared sense of purpose, whilst adding in varying levels of adventure. Sounds like a pretty fun culture to be involved with.
Notable initiatives that cost nothing to instigate have been implemented by some of the best places to work. Amgen Australia employees leave at 2pm one Friday a month, and AIME Mentoring holds staff meetings outside. At IT distribution company Distribution Central, HR manager Jean Scott says “We are a very flat structure and we try to maintain that. The other benefit is we do look for innovation from our employees. When you’re in a relaxed environment it’s easier to talk about ideas you have”.
In essence, creating a culture where people want to come to work, can be creative and innovative with their ideas, can challenge the status quo, and have positive relationships with management and their colleagues, can save an organisation money and increase productivity. Remember, business and the world as a whole revolves around people. No matter what industry you identify with, we are all in the people business!

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