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how to be a best employer

How To Be A Best Employer

RedBalloon was acknowledged by Hewitt as one of only five employers to be accredited best places to work in 2009.

I have had interesting discussions with the people from Hewitt. They have shared much of the research outcomes of employee engagement and good workplaces we’ve done with us. I like hearing about the theory about why we have achieved such a high engagement score.

The reality is we tried a lot of things – some worked some did not. We have made mistakes on this journey for which we have paid dearly. It is only now, as we mature as a business, that we have more things that are working than not working.

So when people ask the question – “tell me the ‘one thing’ that has caused engagement in your business”, really the answer is ‘never giving up’… that we keep doing new things, investing in our people and making sure that we know what makes our people tick.

There is no doubt that leadership is a big part of this. In fact, Hewitt says that organisations that have a clearly defined purpose that people believe in and want to be a part of.

When I speak about engagement, one of the first questions is usually ‘But you are a smaller organisation with less the 100 people, you can still get in a huddle, and people have easy access to you… this is much tougher in a big business?’  Well, of course, being the person I am my instant reaction is ‘Don’t give in’, just because it is hard, doesn’t mean that it is impossible. There are massive global businesses that have amazing engagement scores – think Google or Apple.

Engagement comes back to a shared belief in ‘why’… that is the single minded purpose.

I met Martin Nally from HRAnywhere at a lunch today where I spoke on employee engagement. He came up to me afterwards and shared a delightful story about engagement.

Some years ago he was in an HR role for Pasminco in Tasmania. He was tasked with increasing engagement (not sure if that exact language was used). The zinc produced was 99.4% pure and this is something that everyone could be very proud of… however it really didn’t mean that much to the average employee on the shop floor.

800 of the Pasminco workers were brought together in one room… his job to engage them. A cynical bunch, he started by asking them all to stand up. Then he asked them to each look down and see the zip in their overalls. He asked ‘what does it have written on it?’ one employee yelled out ‘YKK’. Martin beamed, ‘exactly’ he announced – ‘YKK means that the manufacturer uses our zinc in every zip they make… how does it feel knowing that we are in the front of every pair of Levi’s?’ The group cheered… they got it, they could see the difference they were making.

Martin went on to produce a massive global map that had sample products from all around the world of what the zinc was used for. The team got it… it was no longer the best zinc they were producing, they were helping people everywhere on the planet live their lives.

When trying to understand their purpose, I often keep asking the question ‘why?’ to get back to the difference we are really making to people. I want to improve employee engagement in Australia (even by just 1%) which is what ‘Changing gifting in Australia forever’ means to me.

Thanks Martin for such a vivid story.

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  • Oh my it looks like I'm about to take a massive bite out of someone on tomorrow's @sharktankau .... 😆 join me On TEN at 7.30 💃🦈
  • I never tire of #sunrise over #sydneyharbour. It changed within minutes. Swipe left to see the changes over 3 minutes. It's gone already, #nofilter #fire
  • Happiness:
Think less, Feel more;
Frown less, Smile more;
Judge less, Accept more;
Watch less, Do more;
Complain less, Appreciate more;
Fear less, Love more....
Give it a crack 😎on a weekend like this what's to stop you! #naturalbeauty #happiness
  • Friday drinks must be here soon surely ... or I'm out! #friyay
  • In the 90s I left my cushy job at Apple.

I’d be a squillionaire if I still had my stock options.

I don’t regret it. Here's why:

After 10 years of corporate, I wanted to ‘do my own thing’. I started with freelance marketing.

My strategy? Hard work and build strong brands.

It seemed to work - new clients came from referrals.

But after 18 months, I came to a realisation:

All my clients wanted was “more customers”, not complex branding plans.

SO I thought I’d build a brand of my own. Something to get them “more customers”. RedBalloon was born. The purpose? Give people amazing experiences.

16 years on, RB has delivered 3.8 million customers to 2000 small businesses.

Now, when I give talks, I always get the same question: “How did you build such a strong brand?” Funny how it comes full circle.

I can’t answer that with a time limit.

Though I think I found a way - an online course. “How to Build your Business Brand” - years of experience in one place (link in bio if interested). But, that’s not the point of this post.

If I stayed with Apple I’d be unbelievably wealthy.

Quitting was still the best thing I’ve ever done.

So if you want to take a leap of faith, do it.

All I ask you is this:

Trust yourself and never underestimate the power of brand.


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