Michael Bailey Deputy editor

Michael has been a business journalist for 12 years. He has extensive experience editing magazines covering funds management, commercial property and the travel industry. In 2011 he won a Citi Excellence in Financial Journalism award for a BRW cover story on economic indicators.

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Being the best pays dividends for employers

Published 20 June 2012 21:30, Updated 21 June 2012 17:25

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No.4 ranked Best Place to Work E-Web Marketing’s chief executive Gary Ng used to spend up to $12,000 per new hire on headhunters and referral bonuses, but in the last two years he claims that’s been almost entirely eliminated.

“Word has gotten out about our positive workplace culture. We now find ourselves inundated with hundreds of high calibre job-seekers approaching us directly,” Ng says.

E-Web use some conventional ‘perks’ such as a napping room, ping pong table, video games and regular ‘thankyou’ events to lure staff. But Ng says these are secondary to management which genuinely listens and supports career paths,

“We aim to empower staff, for example, we don’t do ‘performance reviews’; we do ‘personal growth projections’ and ask staff to set their own KPI’s and growth areas,” says Ng.

E-Web has joined other companies, such as No. 9-ranked Atlassian, in dispensing with traditional performance reviews in favour of more ongoing, conversation-based staff guidance.

“A hallmark of the companies on the list is transparency, making sure staff get regular and genuinely two-way communication with their immediate manager,” Great Place To Work Institute Australia’s director Zrinka Lovrencic.

Ernst & Young’s Oceania people leader McGregor Dixon says his employer wouldn’t have made the top 50 – E&Y came in at No. 33 – if it had a traditional “command and control” structure”.

“We’ve got 5000 people in Australia alone, so the attracting and retaining of our staff happens at the level of their relationship with the partner they actually work for,” he says.

“If we’re successful in instilling in our partners what we call our ‘spirit of partnership’, then they all start to lead in a consistent way, making sure their people feel recognised, are excited about a career path here and are not afraid to ask about flexible work arrangements like job sharing,” Dixon continues.

“There’s a million other things you can do but if you get that right, things like perks start to take a lesser focus.”