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STEVIE SAYS...

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No, I am not talking about having a sausage sizzle outside head office. Nor am I saying for you to jog with the running gait of a giraffe like our now besieged and grossly unpopular leader of the opposition. I am saying you as the hiring manager, should be steadfast in your policies, benefits, and why the people should get behind you and show their support beyond the 9-5.

Is voting something you do with pride, or do you not have the faintest idea what the difference is between the Senate and the Coalition? Do you like short-term benefits, or is it all about long-term, sustainable success?

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The current job landscape we see as recruiters often mirrors the merry-go-round in government. Employees are given less than a full-term to prove their worth before the knives come out. The ground beneath them comes shaky and what’s left is a battle for survival at the polls, so to speak. This forces voters (or stakeholders) to go back to the safest option for right now. This isn’t sustainable in the long run.

I urge decision makers to be bold and insist on clear cut policies about what their employees will do once elected (or hired). Don’t fluff about with superfluous benefits and keep the objectives and success criteria simple. Take a risk to let people develop into great employees and leaders, instead of constantly holding by-elections.

Lastly, as an employer don’t over-promise and under-deliver. Keep your policies relevant, and make sure the candidates feel safe picking you for the full-term!

Stephen Christofakakis
Consultant, Sharp & Carter
schristo@sharpandcarter.com.au


STEVIE SAYS...

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The elevator doors draw to a close. Your heart is racing. Another soldier crams into line and you huddle together awaiting the crescendo of the floodgates and the enemy. The unknown. The doors fling open. The war has arrived. But have you?

This rhythm of battle hits many people each and every day. The three espressos before 10am are cloaks of disguise, tricking us into believing that this metaphorical sharpening of the axe will adequately fulfill our fear of what is coming. The manning of the wall that is our inbox, where the arrows of fire can come at any moment, one ‘as per my previous email’ at a time. We dance the merry dance of running from meeting to meeting, battle plans a plenty for a war that we are never ready for. We fight into overtime, into late nights, weekends and this permeates our thoughts even when we put our weapons down and call it a day.

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Aligning a 9-5 office job to war (or a TV series) is far from credible, but whether we like it or not, it is the mental battle many of us face one spreadsheet at a time. Winter is coming, and it is cold and dark like an unhappy and faceless customer. As you look to the left and right of your pod, why is it that some of us are built for war, and others are hoping to batten down the hatches and pray for when it is over?

What war is to one, opportunity is to another. When your day feels like how the above reads, it really is time to assess whether this battle is for you. In that elevator was an eager and ready comrade anticipating the battle of today. They relish the meetings and yearn to show their swordsmanship in times of war. They do not stop until they are victorious.

If this isn’t you, chances are it is time to look for a new opportunity. Your career should not be a battle ground, but an arena to show your craft. Find your non-negotiables and if you are unsure where this should lead you, I would love to help you out. Reach out via LinkedIn or email me at schristo@sharpandcarter.com.au

Stephen Christofakakis
Consultant, Sharp & Carter


TIM TURNER | Partner - Sharp & Carter

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There’s a saying … “People don’t quit jobs, they quit their boss.”

When you really think about it, it’s not that surprising. Leaders have a huge impact on their teams - one could argue the biggest impact out of all workplace variables - and this impact ultimately flows into a business’s staff turnover and retention rate. Of course, there are other considerations for staff leaving jobs, such as lack of recognition, being overworked, experiencing poor company culture and limited growth/career opportunities, but the number one reason employees quit their jobs is because of poor leadership.

At Sharp & Carter, our four guiding principles as leaders are “Trust, Care, Generosity and Humility”and to reference an earlier article by Stephen Carter, the Sharp & Carter leadership group have collectively committed to “Exist to serve and care for our people to ensure individual fulfilment”. We believe in fostering an environment where staff feel supported emotionally, physically, mentally and financially.

In this article I wanted to take a moment to discuss which leadership qualities I believe are the core behaviours to master in order to have your impact as a leader positively impact your team, and in turn positively impact your turnover and retention rate.

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1. Build-up rather than tear down – it’s important to remember that regardless of the situation or work pressures you’re experiencing, everyone is somebody’s wife, daughter, grandson or father and therefore deserve the same level of respect as you do.  Good leaders communicate with and motivate their staff without yelling.

2. Confidence vs Humility – it’s a natural human trait to overestimate your value to an organisation and underestimate your contribution to its failures. Being aware of your own limitations and allowing your staff to see your vulnerabilities will help build a stronger personal connection, motivating them to want to be a part of a solution.

3. Lead by example - there is no better way to build a loyal employee than by being a leader who earns their respect.  A leader who helps the team, gets their hands dirty and positively motivates others will garner a stronger following than someone who simply manages their employees’ daily duties. Actively demonstrate the values that you want to see in your employees, and they will follow suit. 

4. Hire people who possess strengths you lack - the best leaders are not always the most well-rounded people, but those who create well-rounded teams. Successful leaders possess a keen self-awareness of their own weaknesses and surround themselves with others who excel in those areas.

5. Practice empowerment - good leaders set a clear vision, then get out of the way. If you have done a good job of building your team with smart, hardworking employees, then you do not need to micromanage their daily activities. 

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A study conducted by KPMG estimated the average staff turnover in the Australian recruitment industry to be between 30-40 per cent. When compared to other industries, this rate is similar to accommodation and food services (35 per cent), more than retail trade (25 per cent) and significantly more than education and training (13 per cent). The feedback attributed the recruitment sector’s high turnover to intense pressure and fast paced environments, as well as the high risk, high reward culture. As a general rule in recruitment, new recruiters are expected to achieve results quickly, or leave. The fast-paced nature of the sector also contributes to high levels of ‘staff burnout’, with many staff typically staying in the industry only for a year or two.

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It's clear from this study that staff retention is a significant issue within our industry. Any experienced recruiter will tell you that building long-term relationships with clients and candidates is the foundation for future success. Furthermore, if you are an owner of a recruitment business and you are experiencing high staff turnover, logic would suggest business relationships are going to be compromised. It is estimated that the average cost of losing an employee to turnover is 33% of their annual salary, so not only is losing a staff member potentially bad for office morale, it’s also bad for cashflow. 

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Sharp & Carter at Hamilton Island 2019


So what impact is your leadership having?  As mentioned, the leadership mantra at Sharp & Carter is that we “Exist to serve and care for our people to ensure individual fulfilment”. Our business is 100 per cent geared towards encouraging long-term employment and satisfaction for our staff across every area of their lives, and as a consequence of this leadership, our staff turnover for the past 5 and a half years has been less than 8 per cent, despite having increased our headcount from 15 to 120+ over the same period.

 As far as we are concerned, not only do we get to experience the enjoyment of happy and engaged staff, we also get to see that the numbers speak for themselves.

Tim Turner 
Partner, Sharp & Carter
0414 548 052 | tturner@sharpandcarter.com.au

STEPHEN CARTER | Partner - Sharp & Carter

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In my last blog I spoke about the first pillar of our culture – Care. And today I want to write about the second – Generosity.

Some of you may have seen the research by Adam Grant and his book “Give and Take” on the different approaches to generosity and the success each can bring to an individual. Adam’s research showed that there are 3 types of approaches to giving by individuals:

  1. Takers

  2. Matchers

  3. Givers

Takers

Takers are self-focused and put their own interests ahead of the needs of others. They try to gain as much as possible from their interactions while contributing as little as they can in return.

Matchers

Matchers like to preserve an equal balance of giving and taking. Their mindset is “If you take from me, I’ll take from you. If you give to me, I’ll give to you.”

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Givers

Givers are others-focused and tend to provide support to others with no strings attached. They ask themselves, “How can I add value for this person? What can I contribute?”

In terms of how successful each of these approaches are, the research showed that the least successful people are “Selfless Givers”. These people give and give and give, often to their own detriment – they’re the ones who will help others so much that they don’t get their own work done.

The next least successful group of people are Takers, followed by the Matchers. Essentially, any one kind of the above approaches is not going to be wholly successful.

The most successful people in life are Givers who are proactively generous, but who also look for win/win outcomes from the Takers and Matchers. These are called “Otherish Givers”.

 At Sharp & Carter, we are very much Otherish Givers.


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What assists our ability to adopt this style is that we are ‘considered’ in our approach. We consider both the costs and the benefits very deeply with each decision we make – always coming from a generous standpoint, but still taking into account all of the factors that our generosity could impact.

We consider the cost of damage to our culture, we weigh up the short-term costs of employee struggle versus the long-term benefit of retaining staff. Ultimately, we believe that our reputation, our relationships, our ability to have positive advocates or raving fans in the market and how people who have worked with us feel about their experience with us is incredibly valuable.

As a business owner, ‘cost’ is easy to measure, whereas ‘value’ is a little more difficult. And therefore, I believe a lot of businesses fall into the trap of focusing on cost and don’t place enough emphasis on value. We sometimes see this in the salary negotiations of the candidates we place; often companies will offer a candidate less than the expectations that had been discussed throughout the process. The company asks the employee to ‘prove’ themselves, following which a salary review will be given after a period of time (classic “Matcher” behaviour). This may save this business some cost financially but what about the cost to the relationship with the new staff member? To the new employee’s attitude and opinion of their new employer? Does it leave them disappointed and disillusioned, perhaps struggling financially outside of work, rather than enthused, energised and focused purely on their new job with their new employer who really appreciates their value? When you balance this cost with value it’s not hard to see the cost savings of the lower salary for the first 12 months do not outweigh the value lost in the other factors.  

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Good leadership takes courage, empathy and relationships. In other words, it takes a generosity of spirit. When one of our staff members is struggling we take a very long-term view as to how we approach their struggles. As an example, we once had an employee commence with us who got extremely sick about 3 months into their new role - he had a lung infection that then became a brain infection and he came very close to passing away. Needless to say, he was off sick for a number of months and there was no real timetable for his return. Very early on we decided that we would pay him for every day he was off sick, so that he didn’t need to worry about paying his rent and he could focus on getting better. Obviously, there was a ‘cost’ associated with this, but the ‘value’ was immense.

Since returning to work he tells all his colleagues what we did for him and he also often tells his clients about his experience in working with us. Really, we ‘bought’ deep engagement with a colleague who is now one of our most important, senior, high performing (and profitable) team members. True to Adam Grant’s research, being a giver in this instance and more generally has been critical to our success.

A question we ask of each other all the time is “How would we feel if we were being treated this way?”

Reciprocity - or treating others as you would like to be treated - is a key part of why we are generous. Essentially in the current market, if people don’t feel like they have a ‘fair’ deal they will leave. A lot of our staff began their recruitment career with other recruitment firms, and whilst I think our business can act as a bit of a ‘carrot’ given we are an attractive place to work, the vast majority of people who move to our organisation do so because they do not feel like they are being looked after where they are. Thus, no matter how good we are as an employer, without people wanting to leave their current organisation due to (amongst other things) a lack of generosity and care, we would never be able to hire those people.

And remember you can be generous with plenty of things aside from just money. You can be generous with your time, generous with your interest and generous with the things you possess by sharing them with others.

 So, when you are making decisions in your business or your team, I would recommend you try the following:

  1. Think about the long-term value rather than the short-term cost

  2. Think how you would feel if you were in the employee or the customers shoes

  3. Have faith that the more generous you are the more successful you will be – after all, it is what the research says!

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Stephen Carter
Partner, Sharp & Carter
0411 543 833