Tuesday, October 31, 2006

So .... where do YOU want to work today?

One of my esteemed colleagues pointed me to an article in Computerworld this week which gleefully describes that Microsoft is currently seeking to hire about 50 people in Australia and New Zealand (and then goes on to describe how they go about this, who they are looking for and at what stage in the process the chip is inserted into the brain…. ). On reading this I couldn’t help but draw comparisons with the work that we are doing at Hyro on team building and growth.

Right now at Hyro, we have about 25 positions available across our Australian operations in a wide variety of roles. All of these positions are there for reasons of growth, both current and future – as we have said a few times in the market announcements we have made, most of our clients are buying more of our digital services offerings and our reputation is bringing more clients. A great position to be in.

I do think that it is interesting that a little (albeit ASX Listed) company of 150 people in Australia and New Zealand and 250 people world wide, is recruiting half as many people in our market as the biggest software company in the world!

In looking at the comparisons between Hyro and Microsoft, there are many similarities – we are also pretty strict about “who gets in,” how we test for skills, etc – but there are some big differences (as far as I can tell from this article). I think the biggest of these differences is in the basis of the relationship between Hyro and the team, something which we are very focussed on and constantly work at to improve.

As I constantly point out, in order to attract, retain and develop the very best team we can (this is an important part of our promise to our clients) we can’t think of our relationship with our people in terms of the old “master/servant” relationship. Today, every single one of our team is a highly skilled, highly employable, capable professional and we MUST consider ourselves to be COMPETING for the privilege of having those people build their careers in our company.

So what will make them work for Hyro instead of working somewhere else? Well, here is my 5 minute checklist (in no particular order):

  • Quality of the Work – everybody wants to work on projects and with clients that are innovative, challenging and interesting. Hyro has worked hard to be at the forefront of the constantly evolving, exciting and (dare I say it) sexy world of the Digital Services industry (and we aren’t finished yet) and so the people who are in our team and join our team can be assured that they will to work on some interesting and transformational projects.
  • Quality of the Team – it is only natural that team members expect to work with others of equal or higher skill and experience as themselves. People want to know that when they take on complex, challenging tasks (which may have an impact on their professional reputation) that they are part of a crack team that will deliver the right results. You have to be strong in only taking on people who will add to the team and be equally strong in removing those people who don’t prove up to the standards required by the team. (Proof? This year we have increased our total headcount by 20, but have actually taken on 40 new employees)
  • Company Culture – where you work must have values that are in line with yours. We maintain some very strong values in our company – honesty, trust, teamwork, fun, commitment to be the best. If your people cannot see their values within your company, then the relationship will ultimately fracture. The team must be PROUD of where they work and the team they are a part of.
  • Reward – this is not just about salary. The people today all want to earn an income and build value and so expect to see that their relationship with their employer will provide a mechanism to create wealth. This is a huge advantage of being a listed company as we can offer equity participation schemes which are real – they are based on equity in a publicly listed company, so it can be delivered, valued, traded. (Proof? We have some people in the company who were invited into our Employee Performance Options Program when the share price was 6 cents and now, less than a year later, it is around 20 cents – a result of the hard work of the whole team. It is only right that those who were a part of building the success have an opportunity to share in it).
  • Flexibility – this is the toughest one for many big companies. In this day and age, many people do not live to work and you need to be able to accommodate the fact that priorities are different and may change from time to time. The differences required range from people with different work patterns (some people AREN’T “Morning People” and so want to work from 10.00 am) or need to work four days a week. The relationship between employer and employee must be a partnership and that implies a mutual obligation which must be respected. (Proof? We are implementing a new program called the Hyro Lifestyle Employment Scheme which, in part, provides a framework for this flexibility.)

I know that in writing this particular blog, I have started to chip at the tip of the iceberg (are there any of those left any more?) and it is hard to say in 600 words what has been, and will continue to be, one of the most complex areas of managing a business today – this is for those experienced and important HR professionals out there. What I can say (and here I am being repetitive again) is that you MUST think DIFFERENTLY about the relationship you have with your people .... particularly if you expect those people to go out there and change the world.


pascoe said...

I think all of the points you mention above Richard are where the "medium"-sized company can really get a competitive advantage - large enough to be well-resourced to allow for flexibility and muscle in the appropriate areas, but small enough to still apply common sense to HR matters (as an old friend used to say, "common sense isn't that common")...

Chris said...

Richard, It is great that you recognise the value of your employees. Many managers/employers don't "get it". I agree that is critical to the culture of any organisation.

A colleague of mine recently questioned the timing of the most recent resurrection of non-salary benefits to employees. My response - don't be so cynical. Instead REJOICE; and ask for a pay rise ;-)

Ramping up of non-salary benefits is a pretty sure sign the employment market is running hot.