Recently I had an email from a candidate that really made me think ! The email read;
“Please find attached my resume for the position of General Manager at XXXX Club. Please note: I do NOT give permission for White Now to provide my details to XXXX Club unless confirmed in writing prior”
Now, this puts us in an awkward situation as we have the task of assisting the club’s Board of Directors (in this instance) with the process of recruitment. When it is time to look into the ‘shortlisting’ of all applicants for first round interview, we send the FULL list of applicants to the client (in this case to the President). We are NOT a recruiter that takes a job on board and then ‘hides’ all the applicants from the client and recommends 2 or 3 applicants to look at. Our clients MUST have input ! We include them from the very beginning of the process. Why do we do this ? Well, a Board of Directors are the ones who MUST be ultimately accountable for who they employ in a governing role of a Club. White Now and the Board MUST be transparent in every step of this process. So, when I received this email I thought…
“What is this about ? How can I move a candidate forward in the process without the Board of Directors knowing who the candidate is?”.
I was simply unable to do anything before I called the candidate to find out why he did not want his information forwarded to the club he was applying for.
A really sad story followed: The candidate told me how a couple of years ago he applied for a General Manager’s role. He was called up for an interview with the Club’s Board of Directors, but prior to his interview, his current President pulled him up and asked, why he was looking for another job ? The President of the Club he was to interview with had contacted the President of his current employer, to do a reference check on him, without his knowledge or approval !
The candidate had NOT, verbally or in writing, given permission for any referees to be called – ESPECIALLY his current employer. From that point on, his current employer made life very difficult for him in the workplace and he eventually resigned without a job.
When White Now deal directly with Boards, we ask for their utmost confidentiality and ask them not to speak to anyone about the candidates who have applied. We are very serious about this and ensure that the Board understand their position of responsibility and that ultimately they could be liable for the repercussions if any breach to the confidentiality of a candidate occurred.
Sometimes, a club chooses just to use White Now to place an ad and then they run the recruitment process on their own . It is in these instances we fear that confidentiality is possibly breached. We simply hate it !
Having been doing this role for over 20 years I am SHOCKED that this behaviour continues to happen. For those who like to talk about ‘who is going for what job’ and sharing names around about who is ‘in for that role’, it may seem like you are ‘in the know‘ and getting kudos for being so knowledgeable, but PLEASE think about the lives and careers of those who you are talking about. You could be compromising their jobs and they could be left unemployed.
On hearing the reasoning behind this candidate not wanting his application to go through to the Board of Directors, we thoroughly understood why. We implore Boards to unconditionally display their confidentiality at all times.
The message we want to get out to everyone in the industry be it Directors, Managers, Suppliers, Industry Associations AND family members of candidates……. PLEASEDO NOT TALK about who is ‘going for‘ roles or who you think may be applying. People lose their jobs over this and clubs can be left accountable for their actions. STOP TALKING ….. STOP GOSSIPING and PLEASE RESPECTyour industry colleagues who do not take their applications lightly and commit time and effort in applying for their next dream position.
As you know, we are super active on many social media platforms. We boost our client’s job vacancies to a targeted audience in the area where the job is at. I had a very interesting response to one particular post that was targeted to outback Northern NSW that really made me think. The gentlemen are commenting on the company name, WhiteNow. Here is the commentary:
So, what I can assume from the comments are:
The respondents have not heard of WhiteNow
The respondents are not in the industry
The respondents senses are heightened to things that may be discriminatory
Upon researching the respondents I discovered that:
Both gentleman did not seem to be employed.
Both gentleman had personal pages that reflected that they were constantly finding fault in their world and others’ worlds.
These two gentleman were friends
After I responded to the comments, they did not respond back or ask any further questions. No-one has made comment to me on the company name “WhiteNow” in its 20 plus years of being in the market place but that doesn’t mean people haven’t wanted to say something, so I best take these comments seriously and think about it and see if there is any action I should take.
My immediate thoughts were; “well the name of the company is White Now and is named after its owner and founder, Jenny White. So how is this a bad thing?”
The funny thing is that about 3 or 4 years into White Now trading, I thought “Oh gosh I wish I had called the company something totally different that reflected what we did”….. BUT it was too late. Upon talking to our clients and colleagues, we realised that we had marketed the brand so damn well, with its logo, exclamation mark and wizardat the forefront, that it was too late to re-brand and change the company name. WhiteNow had already cemented itself in the hearts of our clients and candidates and, if you look at who the brand has touched to date, it is well over 560,000 people. That’s a lot of people to consider when you want to flip into a new brand and how many people could we lose if we did go ahead? So, we stuck with the name WhiteNow and continued on living in the hearts of our industry family.
I have never even thought that the name could be considered racist or discriminatory in any way, after all it is my name and I have never thought that my name was discriminatory either. My dad was a hard working medico who had a practice in Surry Hills in Sydney and he looked after so many of our indigenous population and, plenty of ‘ladies of the night’ as he called them. I never heard anyone mention that Dr White was racist because his name suggested it!
So the comments were enlightening. I actually understand what they are pointing out, but of course, it is not our intention to be racist in any way and our success and care of our clients and candidates proves this. But what should I do about it ??? After lengthy thought and contemplation, I realised that sometimes I have to grin and bear the one and only incident where negative comments were made against our brand and just be sensitive to those who may think this in the future as you just cannot ever read other people’s minds!
Should we change our brand and company name? Well, as I said, WhiteNow is deeply ingrained in me, in our customers and in our industry and that is how it will remain.
The lesson learnt was to take feedback, understand the person’s perception as to where the feedback comes from, analyse it, and make the best decisions regarding the feedback for your own business.
I did think about how many other companies are named after their founders and what people may think of them AND those companies that had names or product names that may also be seen as discriminatory. Here is my extensive list and if I were any of these companies, I would not change my name nor brand either;
Blackmores (racist ?)
Blackberry (racist ?)
Golden Gaytime (homophobic ?)
Yellow Pages (racist ?)
Christian Dior (perhaps just for Christians ?)
Silver Service Taxis (ageist ?)
White Kleenex (racist ?)
RSL Cabs (just for returned service people ?)
Black and Decker (Racist ?)
Good Nuts (ummm)
White King (racist ?)
Jamaica Blue (racist ?)
The All Blacks (racist ?)
Allen’s Redskins (racist ?)
Coon Cheese (racist ?)
White Magic Cloths (racist ?)
George Black Textiles (racist ?)
White Now (racist ?)
Black Leopard Skin Care (racist ?)
Black and Gold (racist ?)
WhiteGlo Teeth Whitening (racist ?)
And then there are those companies named after their founders:
Dick Smith (umm ?)
Christian Dior (perhaps just for Christians ?)
Proctor and Gamble (maybe just for gamblers ?)
and so many more ………..
Thank you to everyone who offers feedback for us to think about. We will keep on being who we are, living our values and doing the best we can for our industry.
Jenny White (yes, that is a colour as well as a last name)
Owner and Founder of WhiteNow
White Now recently interviewed Tanya and Paul Gorton from ‘RPT Promotions’ to uncover their journey to where they are now along with the ups and downs of running your own business. Here is what they had to say over a good cuppa:
WhiteNow: “So Tanya, where did the name RPT Promotions come from?”
Tanya: “RPT are Paul’s REAL bosses, Ruby, Poppie and Tanya. Ruby and Poppie are our two adorable daughters and I’m Paul’s wife! Paul is constantly reminded every time he sees our company name, of the reasons why he works so hard and the real meaning of life, his family. The company has been around for 6 years and we will be around another 60 if I have my say. We are already training Ruby and Poppie to take over. ”
WhiteNow: “What is it that RPT actually do Paul?”
Paul: “We get bums of all kinds on seats. Once the bums are on our clients’ seats, then we make sure that our clients get money in their bank accounts and smiles on their customers’ faces – it’s pretty simple.”
Paul: “I’m super proud that the industry knows us as the leader in this kind of business. It shows that when you put in the hard work you get customers returning time and time again.”
WhiteNow: “So with all of what you provide, you must have large premises and offices to operate out of?”
Paul: “Are you serious? We could think of nothing worse than working out of big corporate offices. We are a very serious and professional company, but we never want to be seen as elitist or exclusive. We have a separate building on our property that our team work out of. It is metres from our home but far enough away to know that we are ‘going to work’. We are a business built around good old values and genuine service. ”
WhiteNow: “Tanya, how did you grow your business to what it is now?”
Tanya: “Well it is pretty simple. We have a bunch of family values that we live by and realised that they could also be the values we adopt for our business as well. We live and breathe those values. Our girls learn these values from us as well. In fact Poppie, Ruby and I can recite them off by heart. Our favourite ones that ring true in the business are; to do our best, tell the truth, be happy, keep our promises and our favourite of all is to help each other.”
Paul: “We got the formula right in RPT and when we recognised that business is all about living your values, then the business just took off. We care about our customers but we also care about our family and our team.”
WhiteNow: “What do you mean when you say you care about your team? What do you do differently?”
Tanya: “I guess it’s because we know how important kids are when growing up, We make sure that our staff take time to fit in things like school concerts, horse riding lessons, sports carnivals and even canteen duty. We just make the business work and do you know what, we all work more efficiently when we have this incredible work/life balance. The simple things like seeing the kids happy makes for a happy team and a happy business. We are super serious about our business but not so serious about life.”
WhiteNow: “So Tanya, what IS Paul like to work with – you can be honest?”
Tanya: “Ha, honestly? He is the most passionate, corny, fun and loveable clown in the business, and he is the most amazing Dad to our girls. Paul’s originally from Cornwell but reckons he’s an Aussie because his first job in Australia was in the Vegemite factory. If you really want to know, he hates Vegemite! He will do anything for his customers and prides himself on saying that you can contact him 24/7, just like the hours that our industry operates in. He has taken calls at midnight from Club Managers needing urgent meat trays by 9.30am the next morning. He never complains, he just makes it happen. That is one thing everyone loves about Paul – you can count on him when you need him the most.
WhiteNow: “Tanya, thanks for being so honest – we wish you all the best ”
Give this a go… try Googling‘Chef Shortage Australia’ or ‘Demand for Chefs’ and these are the type of headings you get in return;
WE HEAR YOU !
White Now certainly hear your frustrations at trying to find chefs, cooks, apprentices and in fact anyone at all with a qualification relating to the kitchen ! We know the amount of job vacancies available for these roles and they increase weekly. It is pretty true to say that the more ads there are for a position, the more evident shortage and desperation is to fill that position.
As the headlines above highlight, there are a multitude of reasons why there is a shortage of people wanting to work in our kitchens.
Here are just SOME of the reasons why WE think people don’t want to become Chefs / why we cannot find Chefs :
An apprenticeship is perceived as too long – people want quick courses now
The reality TV shows encourage people into the industry but then they realise it is a long journey
Today’s youth are less interested ‘putting in the hard yards’ – they want to ‘be at the end NOW’
Current chefs want apprentices to ‘do it the way they did it’
Traditional RTO delivery is a bit ‘old hat’
The salary and hours of work are simply not attractive
There are more production kitchens therefore less learning for apprentices
The Government put much higher restrictions on the old e457 Visas
SOME SERIOUS FACTS FOR YOU (as at October 2015) !
The Department of Employment survey of employers who had recently advertised for chefs found that 62 per cent of vacancies were filled.
In Sydney there was an average of eight applicants per vacancy, with an average of 3.5 applicants having formal qualifications and an average of 0.9 considered suitable.
The most frequently cited reasons for the unsuitability of applicants were, in order of frequency, applicants were not in the local region, or they did not have the required skill level for the specialised position. Other secondary reasons cited were a poor attitude, lack of general experience and the level of wages offered to applicants.
The number of persons completing apprenticeships for chefs and cooks in NSW averaged around 760 in the three years to 2014-15
The number of apprenticeship commencements fell by around 15 per cent in the three years to 2014-15 compared to the previous three years.
The stock of chefs working in NSW on a temporary business entry (457) visa increased by an average of about 280 per annum over the three years to March 2015. In contrast, during the five years to 2014-15, on an annual average more chefs left NSW permanently or on a long-term basis than arrived permanently or on a long-term basis.
(Source: Australian Department of Employment, Labour Economic Office NSW – ANZSCO3513-11 Chef – Occupational Report)
CHECK OUT THESE PREDICTIONS FOR 2020 !!!
AND HOW ABOUT THIS FOR GROWTH ……. Everyone will be wanting more and more chefs !
(Source: Australian Tourism Labour Force Review 2015-2020 – Deloitte)
WHAT DOES THIS ALL MEAN?
We need more people entering the trade NOW to help us in 2 to 10 years time !!!
We can’t change how this generation behaves
We are already trying our best to attract and engage our staff and develop a culture of support so we need to do things DIFFERENTLY
WE ACTUALLY HAVE TO WORK OUT HOW TO GET MORE PEOPLE ENTERING THE TRADE and TO STAY WITH US so we have sustainable food businesses in the coming decades
There are reports, studies, trend analyses, market research, statistics galore that show that we are currently short 38,000 people to fill job vacancy positions in the hospitality/tourism sector. The ‘Australian Tourism Labour Force Report 2015 to 2020’ for the Australian Trade Commission, Austrade conducted by DeloitteAccess Economics gives a key finding that “In the absence of any change in policy or industry initiatives it is expected 123,000 new workers will need to be sourced in the tourism industry by 2020″. Put simply, we interpret that to mean “if we do nothing now, we will not be able to find any chefs in our country at all”.
This report goes on to show that ‘These shortages are concentrated in NSW, Queensland and Victoria which have a combination of large employment and high vacancy rates’ and that ‘Businesses in the café and restaurant industries reported greater labour market difficulties relative to those in the accommodation or attraction industries’. This is also inclusive of the club sector. ‘An inability to find workers with the right skills was the highest rated reason for difficulties in recruiting staff’. We hear this all the time at White Now, with other concerns, also supported in this report of ‘the lack of suitable experience’ and the ‘lack of access to training, a lack of quality training or a high drop-out rate from training’ leading to skills deficiencies.
The recommendation of all this research ‘Reducing these shortages will need more than just the direct employment of 38,200 workers, as increased output will be required from industries that support the tourism sector’. As we see it, that’s neither going to be a quick, cheap or easy solution.
Looking into skills training has lead to a report from the Apprenticeships Reform Advisory Group to the Minister for Education and Training that, ‘the views of industry on three vital areas of reform within the apprenticeships system (recommend) the restructuring of apprenticeship incentives; a new pre-apprenticeship programme; and piloting alternative models of apprenticeship delivery’. The list of key findings and recommended actions from this report are also neither quick, cheap or point towards any easy solution.
Where do we start to find people for jobs in the hospitality sector? The Australian Trade Commission’s ‘Tourism and Hospitality Careers’ report from Colmar Brunton, suggests promoting these careers to;
a) The future workforce of years 10/11/12 students. The findings from this group were that, “The key benefits of pursuing a career in the sector included the diversity of roles, opportunities for travel and the perception of many entry level roles across the sector (including those that require minimal training or qualifications). Key negatives of potentially working in the sector were identified by students as long and unsociable hours; having to deal with difficult/rude/demanding customers; low pay (relative to other sectors); and lack of opportunity for advancement in a reasonable timeframe. For the majority of students, career opportunities in this sector were simply not on their radar.”
b) The parents of the students in Years 10/11/12. The findings suggest that, ‘although parents would encourage their children to seek work in the sector to support them through study or other life goals, there is more reluctance to support a career in the sector given its perceived lack of sustainability and opportunity for growth and career advancement’ along with, ‘a fear that they would need to work hard at a low level for a long time to progress anywhere’, ‘perceived poor pay means that it may be difficult to support themselves’, ‘the perception that the sector can be tenuous’ and ‘that other pathways offer greater job security’ and ‘that there is often a drinking/drugs culture in the hospitality sector and wanted their children to steer clear of this’.
c) Mature age workers (unemployed and underemployed). ‘Are willing to take up roles within the sector (and undertake training or re-skilling to do so), but are very cynical that employers in the sector would be genuine in offering them roles or invest in training & developing them’.
d) Those aged 25-35 who have left the sector in the past 3 years. ‘These participants were still able to readily identify a number of positive aspects of working in the sector’ however, ‘left the sector due to unsociable hours, low pay, perceived exploitative practices by some managers, and frustration at a lack of opportunities for career progression’.
You think it’s difficult to find a chef, cook or apprentice NOW … well what about in the coming years … it ain’t getting any better!!… Who has the time, money and resources to get people into the industry and keep them in the industry for the future of our industry ? Attracting Chefs is NOT just about creating a great workplace culture, that is a given these days. It is FAR BIGGER than just doing that …. much more serious and the strategy has to be much more long term.
WE ALL HAVE OUR THINKING CAPS ON to see what we can do and how we can think AND act outside the square – you too need to do this AS SOON AS POSSIBLE …… If you are a hospitality leader then you will also need to think differently to combat this problem.
OUR PROMISE TO YOU: ……. AS SOON AS WE HAVE THE ANSWER TO THIS WORRYING PROBLEM … WE WILL LET YOU KNOW … WE PROMISE
To chat further about this article or ask us any questions regarding the Chef shortage , please call either David Younie or Jenny White from White Now on 02 9807 1806.
I want to share a secret with you. I am “in love“- totally and passionately in love. I am proud to tell you that I am in love with our brand. The White Now brand is like a family member, a great neighbour or even a special friend who you can rely on or call on when needed. Other people genuinely love our brand too. What I love most though is that my team also are passionately in love with our brand as well and as a business owner, you really cannot ask for more.
The White Now brand is known throughout the industry as the most trusted brand in its field of recruitment, job boards and so much more. When we ask our clients what comes to mind regarding our brand, they come up with four things EVERY time:
Purple and Yellow
The exclamation mark
The wizard: and
Service that goes above and beyond.
With this in mind, we knew that we had to ensure that these four things were evident in everything we do – this is how we will live the brand. The brand is way more than a logo or an item, it’s our heart and soul and DEFINITELY our Values (Integrity; Respect; Innovation; Quality; and Excellence in Customer Service). Our brand is not just something we think, but it represents what our customers think of us too.
At the recent Australasian Gaming Expo (AGE) in Sydney, we had a small stand. We didn’t spend a fortune on the fit out. We simply said … ‘It’s gotta be purple and yellow“… and so it was. Our team worked tirelessly to make the stand warm, fun and inviting – like our brand is. They succeeded and I genuinely love them for it.
As the owner of the WhiteNow brand for over 20 years, I had a ‘light bulb’ moment during this trade show. This was that my team and I LOVE what our brand stands for. My team suggested that they wear purple and yellow, they came up with the idea for purple and yellow miniature beach balls (called WizBalls) and they live and breathe the brand. There is not one thing that I can pinpoint that makes us love the brand, but we honestly do. It is fun, vibrant, a little bit crazy and out-there and most of all it represents who and what we are and what we deliver.
The next light bulb moment I had at the trade show was when everyone who walked past wanted one of our little purple and yellow WizBalls. By the end of each day, everywhere you walked, you saw our brand. We had so many customers take the WizBall back to their venues and take pics of it at their venue or out and about and send it to us to post on our social media. Everyone else seems to love our brand too. I had someone from The Star talk to me a couple of days after the AGE to tell me how funny it was to see so many of our balls at The Star each night after the AGE…. in the bars, on the tables, on couches and in the toilets …. everywhere. WizBalls ended up in Queensland, Melbourne, Hamilton Island and there is a WizBall in Paris as we speak.
Our team have such a love for the brand, that they also take a WizBall wherever they go (day, night or weekend) and take pics of the it to post on our social media platforms. You don’t get staff doing this unless they are passionate about their brand.
I am privileged to deliver a session each term at the Aristocrat/Leagues Clubs Australia GMDC (Gaming Management Development Course) in front of around 75+ students. Believe it or not, I wear a wizard outfit whilst I am presenting. Sound a little crazy to you ? It sort of is but I can tell you that the students seem to listen to what this ‘wizard’ has to say and they sure remember the brand when they walk away. You have to LIVE and BREATHE your brand !
Do you want to love your brand too ? My advice is to make your brand have real meaning and bring it to life in any way you can. Give it a set of values that are real and tangible. Make your customers love your brand by doing something with it that makes them smile. Give it a way that it can be mobile. Let it be seen with other brands you love and respect. Make it ‘cool’ or ‘out there’. Make it a little fun or a little quirky. Make it consistent. Don’t be afraid of it. Believe in it and never every compromise its integrity.
I am really not afraid to share my love and passion with you all. It is true love and when you are truly in love, you simply want everyone to know about it.
I hope you continue to love our brand too ! Follow us on instagram to see WizBall out and about or check us out on Facebook as well !
The world is seriously changing rapidly and for the better. This really hit me this week when I stood in front of a bunch of industry people and reflected back to about 10 years ago. Oh how my working world was different.
WhiteNow present year after year to the fresh, keen audiences at the GMDC (the Gaming Managers Development Course). This year we presented to about 70 eager beavers on the same topic as we are asked to deliver every year – ‘Designing an Effective Resume’. Every time we deliver, the presentation has to change as the world progresses. The only thing that doesn’t change is that I still wear the same old Wizard outfit that I have been wearing for years ! It is pretty ridiculous but I think it has the desired outcome which is that everyone remembers the presentation from ‘that loud lady in the purple Wizard outfit’. It’s really interesting though to reflect on what we presented today and what we presented just 10 years ago. Looking back on the notes from 2006 I see that some of the topics include things like;
The best colour paper to print your resume on for faxing (this one is funny – White Now haven’t owned a fax for the past 8 years);
How to draft the ideal fax cover sheet so it stands out (I don’t even remember how to do that now);
The best ways to bind a resume for posting;
How to professionally label an envelope with a professionally; printed label …PLUS placing stamps neatly on envelopes; AND
How to send a certified letter to the employer (sending resumes was really quite expensive back then).
Oh how the world has changed. This year we talked about totally different things including;
Locking down your social media pages;
Being careful about what you say online on blogs, LinkedIn Groups etc;
Googling yourself often;
Preparing your LinkedIn File and gaining recommendations;
Online networking; AND
Oh how the world has changed in just 10 years. I am so glad that our team are all like minded in the fact that we move with the times and often faster than the times. One thing I do know about what we do 10 years on is that we are a whole lot more efficient with changes in technology. Faxing resumes used to be so damn time consuming let alone receiving at least 220 resumes a week via fax. The savings in reams of paper is incredible in itself.
Do you want to be efficient in the way you get yourself noticed in this industry ? Get yourself online and especially on LinkedIn. Your FUTURE colleagues are on LinkedIn so start networking with them in this virtual world so that when you meet them in person, you already have a relationship ! Connect with me on LinkedIn too – I would love to share some virtual space with you. Connect with me, Jenny White, on LinkedIn here.
Also, a big shout out to Leagues Clubs Australia and Aristocrat for their amazing support of the GMDC year after year. You guys are incredible ! THANK YOU !
At the start of this month I made a conscious effort to support small, local businesses. It was my month to give back to those
who are making a go of it, often on their own, and have fought many obstacles to try and succeed. I appreciate this having run my own business for almost 20 years. Business owners are dedicated and work so hard.
Often before work I stop at the local Lebanese bakery and pick up some ‘Leb bread’, hommous and garlic dip for the night’s dinner. I always have mince in the freezer and Lebanese ‘7 spice’ in the cupboard to make my own Kafta to go with dinner. Someone told me about the butcher that was two doors up from the bakery and said that his meat was nice. I always looked at that butcher and thought “gee he has hardly any meat on display – he must be struggling to make ends meet”. This morning I decided to support him by buying my week’s meat from him. I chose his ready made Kafta, some lovely looking rump steaks, a bunch of sausages, lamb chops and a small pork roast. The total of the purchase was $72 ish. I went to hand my card over and he said that he only takes cash. Upon questioning him as to why, he said that ‘Credit Cards are too much of a hassle and it’s not worth it to me’. I explained to him that I had no cash on me and I was about to make him my new butcher. His response was “oh well – it is not my fault you didn’t see my sign there that says cash only”. I gave the logic one more go and said “I’m not the best at maths but I’m pretty sure that if I buy this amount of meat from you every two weeks, then that’s about $1,800 a year you’re missing out on by not taking credit card”. He said, “oh well, it’s my policy“. I handed the meat back.
Imagine the lost revenue to this tiny business if just 10 people had the same experience as me, yup that’s about $18,000 pa going somewhere else but in his hand.
How many other customers had said the same to him ? How many times had he not listened ? As the world moves rapidly to a cashless world, how long will this butcher survive ?
Moving with the times and meeting the expectations of customers that truly want to give you business is the only way to do business.
Oh well, I tried. The Kafta was nice though – lucky I had $20 on me !
“How much of your marketing budget as a percentage goes towards attracting CUSTOMERS to your business?”
I don’t want to know how much you spend or what you spend it on, but rather WHO you spend it on…
If I were to hazard a guess, I would suggest that 100% of whatever you spend is targeted at attracting CUSTOMERS and not EMPLOYEES.
Why is this?
In most businesses, but particular in hospitality – we so often hear the cliched, throw-away line “our people are our difference”. This is usually backed up with something like, “we all have bars, beer, pokies, keno and food. But what really sets us apart from our competition is our staff. They are what make our business SPECIAL”.
This is a lovely sentiment for sure, but it gets me to wondering quite what “YOU” are actually doing to attract these amazing employees. Just recently, we were asked to run a workshop at the RSL & Services Clubs 14th Annual Conference on the subject of (How To) “Build a Winning Team”. In attendance were over 20 businesses ranging from small-ish hospitality venues to very large multi-nationals. As part of my research for the workshop, I studied each businesses’ website and social media presence to gain an understanding of what sort of effort they put in to attracting “winning candidates” and the results were quite disconcerting. Now, before I go any further – I’d like to say that these businesses are far from unique and credit where credit is due, they were in the workshop to learn more and to do something about it. So please don’t think that I’m beating them up in a public forum – quite the reverse! I am grateful for their attendance and was supremely impressed with the vigour and passion that they showed towards learning how to go about attracting people that would make a difference to their businesses. What I am hopefully also doing is using their businesses (collectively and anonymously) as examples of not knowing any better and as confirmation of the greater problem that is out there – VERY FEW BUSINESSES are doing much (if anything) to attract the sorts of candidates that will add value to their business. They are almost passive about the whole process and do not have a plan or an understanding…
So, what is “Employee Marketing”? Simply put, it is the methods, information and strategies used to attract candidates to look at your business and then WANT to WORK for your business. In the past, businesses very much took the approach of telling candidates what they wanted with little regard for what candidates wanted or needed.
The tables have somewhat turned. With the advent of the internet, ‘everyone’ is a research analyst and is fossicking around in the deepest darkest corners of your website and social media forums for clues, hints and confirmation of what it is like to work in your organisation. You see candidates are doing as much research on where they are going to work as employers are doing on resumes, background checks and references of employees.
I am hoping that most of you know that Google consistently ranks in the top 2 or 3 employers globally. Why? Google puts in a MASSIVE effort to lure talent to its numerous international offices and it broadcasts a very loud and very clear message – “Working at Google ROCKS! It’s fun. It’s creative. And we take care of you.” (These are my words, not theirs incidentally). If you have a moment, please take a look at Google Sydney’s Career Page (https://www.google.com/about/careers/locations/sydney/) – on there you’ll find a wealth of information about teams; video on what it’s like to work at Google; pictures of the offices (which are really “cool”) and lots of information about the sorts of things that go on in Google Sydney. Google basically does a really good job of “selling” all of the positives of working for them and answers a candidate’s questions before they are even asked.
Looking beyond Google and their careers page, a lot of candidates are doing their research via social media – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Flickr and LinkedIn are the main ones, but others are also being used to help candidates form a picture of a company’s:
Culture (& how staff are treated/seen)
In a competitive market where the great candidates get scooped up quickly, candidates are looking for reasons TO WORK for you and if they can’t find them online, but they can find positive information on your competition……..guess where they’re heading (or at least hoping to head)?
So, what can you do about this? Break it down in to bite-size chunks that start with a long-hard look at who you are as an employer and what you offer your employees. If the answer is “not much”, start to think about the sorts of things that you can start providing them with – a fruit basket; annual flu shots; a weekend off once a month (or more); additional leave; a fantastic staff room with all the mod-cons (Eg. XBOX/PS4; music; comfy seating; privacy cubicles) and a range of things that haven’t even been thought of as yet!
From there, start thinking about how you are going to get the message out there that this is what you provide to your staff, without it necessarily sounding like an “advert” – I’d suggest that pictures of your staff in the new staff room or of them having their flu shots on your ‘Careers or Employment” webpage AND your Facebook Page. And before you say, “REALLY????” – think about the number of club websites that have pictures of a (generally mature) Board of Directors in their Club blazers with a serious look on their faces. What sort of message do you think that sends to a future Gen-Y (or Gen-Z who will be coming through next)? A picture says a thousand words as the saying goes – so why not have some pictures of your staff having fun and being involved in the community? It will send a far better message about the sort of employer that you are than the picture of the (Stodgy) Board and (Cranky) Senior Management Team does!
Beyond this, try to put yourself in the place of a candidate or a future employee and think about the sorts of questions that they would like answered and what it is that will encourage them to accept a role with your organisation over one offered by another (remember, candidates rarely only apply for ONE role. They apply for many and if they’re a good candidate, chances are they’ll be offered a couple of opportunities. What is it that will make them accept YOURS?). Think of the employers out there that people can’t wait to work for and WHY – names such as: Google; Apple; Red Bull; SalesForce; StarLight Children’s Foundation & Red Balloon Days – and research what it is that they are doing to make them employers of choice. From there, try to mimmick some of their ideas – so long as they fit with your organisation’s culture and please keep in mind……..a fancy staff room or fresh fruit every day won’t make up for a toxic environment where staff are undervalued and treated poorly. The physical “things” that Google and the like are doing only work because they genuinely care about their employees and want them to be the best that they can be at what they do – – – – – – being creative! The reason Google wants them to be happy and therefore being creative is because Google recognises that in the long run, this makes them $$$…….a LOT OF $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.
The correlation between happy employees and profits is a funny one. Anyone that has worked in a happy environment will tell you that it is not an easy thing to create and even if you do, success is not assured. But there is little doubt (the stats prove it) that successful organisations are most commonly HAPPY organisations and so investing in the happiness of your teams is much more likely to result in bottom line improvements (even with the additional costs)!
I realise that in the writing of these blogs, that the impression might be that I think that doing whatever it is in the subject of the blog is “simple” or “easy” or “common knowledge”. Let me categorically say that this is NOT the case! I recognise just how difficult Employee Marketing (and most of the subjects of my other blogs) is and that it is a journey that begins with something small, that hopefully gains momentum so that it becomes more commonplace. After all – think about the majority of things of true value that have come your way and then think about the effort that was involved to get them. Generally, nothing of any value comes without sacrifice, effort or commitment.
In 1988, a well-known “philosopher” by the name of Bobby McFerrin wisely said, “Don’t worry, be happy!”. And I challenge anyone that was of an age at the time to remember his no. 1 song, NOT to be singing it in their heads right now – in fact I think I can hear you whistling the intro out loud right now!!! (But just in case – here you go)…
I would hope that most of us recognise the importance of being happy both at work and at play. Unfortunately though, all too often the words “happy” and “work” don’t seem to feature in the same sentence unless it’s along the lines of, “I’m so happy that it’s the weekend and work is over for another week” or words to that effect!
Studies all over the world show that happy employees are more productive, successful and motivated. So what can you do to be one ‘these’ employees (rather than one of “THOSE” employees)?
Choose to be Happy – You Are In Charge!
Simple Right? If only… Life, family, finances, romance, neighbours, friends, vehicles, pets, etc, etc, can all get in the way of us being happy. Sometimes through intent, but mostly quite by accident. You see we all get so caught up in “life” in general that sometimes we forget all about being happy and doing things to make us happy.
We all have a right to happiness and so it is up to YOU to CHOOSE to be happy. The power of positive thought is miraculous! So when you get out of bed in the morning, rather than choosing to harp on the lack of sleep you had; the headache that you’ve got; the pile of work that you’re going to head in to, CHOOSE to look outside at the sun shining and thank your lucky stars that you’re alive and in a position to be able to take charge of your destiny and make a difference. (And I’ll bet you, even if it’s only something very, very small, you’ll make a change and feel better).
Love Every Day
Find something that makes you truly happy and do it every day. It might be walking the kids to school or reading your book. We’re all different, but that’s the point – we are all different and it’s not up to me or anyone else to prescribe what will make YOU happy. That’s YOUR job and so stop to think what it is that puts a smile on your face and then make the time to keep on doing it. Go on! You know you want to and you know you’ll feel better for doing so – so what are you waiting for, huh???
Take Charge of Your Personal and Professional Growth Throughout my management career, I have always been surprised by the number of people that want success to land in their laps. Accusations of “you haven’t developed me” or “you haven’t promoted me” and yet when I have asked, “what have YOU done to develop yourself or earn that promotion” I’ve been met by a blank stare, hunched shoulders and a “you just don’t get it” attitude.
My question to all of you is this: “why is it a manager’s or an organisation’s responsibility to better you as an employee?” Sure, I am all for supporting personal growth and development, but surely as adults we need to take accountability for our own futures? What I mean by this is that I am all for a manager supporting an interested and motivated employee and the manager requesting financial (or ‘time off’) support from the organisation and even assisting with mentoring the person and/or providing exposure to information and opportunity. But what I don’t support is the onus being on the manager/organisation to run around the building looking for people to drop training courses and development opportunities in the laps of!
Take control of your development and if this means that you need to initiate and even pay for the process yourself, then go ahead and do so. The organisation doesn’t “OWE” you anything, but is far more likely to WANT to support someone who is showing initiative, drive and determination rather than one that is waiting for a handout.
Seek And You Shall Find
When was the last time you asked for feedback? Most of us like to know how we are tracking – whether it’s about being patted on the back for a job well done; being slipped an extra couple of $$$ in our pay packets or being told that we’re on track. I liken this to a journey from a place that you know to a place that you have never been before! Sure, you might end up there eventually, but if you can get some direction before you start and then at regular points along the way, you are far more likely to get to your destination on time and in a good mood than if you are stressed out from getting lost and being challenged along the way. You’re also much more likely to be able to go back to the place that you’ve visited the next time without as much guidance…
Requiring feedback can be a bit of a two-edged sword. Managers are generally busy people and depending upon their personal quota of emotional intelligence, they may see you as needy and a nuisance. Again, to assist you with this, an analogy. When you were a child or for those of you that have children of your own – think about how frustrated parents become with children when they pick the most inopportune times to ask for something. Whether that be a play-date with their little mate or to go to the toilet at the restaurant or if it’s to ask why the person on the bus only has one arm or talks funny. Kids are masters of asking the RIGHT question at the WRONG time. Why? Simply because they are learning and testing the boundaries. And without making a few mistakes, they will never learn when the right time is.
Keeping the above analogy in mind, there is generally a wrong time and a BETTER time to ask for feedback. Personally, I never had a problem with one of my team asking me for a moment of my time. By requesting a moment, I was able to either stop there and then if my schedule permitted or alternatively, make a time to stop and provide them with my full attention. What was frustrating was those in the team that were completely oblivious to whatever I was doing and would push in and demand my attention when it was either impractical, inappropriate or downright rude. As with most things in life, try to be considerate and treat others as you would like to be treated and the results are usually that much more positive (and effective)!
Be Aware & Present (Know What’s Happening, When!)
Make a conscious effort to be involved and aware of what is going on around you in your business. Make sure you are up to date with all the goings on and make it your mission to know where to obtain the information that will enable you to be a moving part in a dynamic organisation. Business does not stand still for too long, at least not without falling over, so make sure that you are keeping up with what is happening in and around the business and what is on the horizon.
Side Note: Just make sure you don’t come across as a sticky-beak as no-one likes nosy Parker.
Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew
I don’t know about you, but nothing stresses me more than knowing that I am going to let someone down! My stomach churns, my pulse quickens and I lose (a lot of) sleep! Often we’ve only got ourselves to blame because we find it hard to say “no” when someone asks us to do something. This is an admirable trait in many respects, but it is often not conducive to making us happy in the workplace and often reduces our productivity through stress and procrastination.
You’d be surprised how much respect you can achieve when you politely say “no” to someone. Obviously there is a time and a place and it will always come down to how you handle each specific situation. But don’t be afraid to politely decline an extra workload if you think that you won’t be able to achieve it or equally as importantly – if you think that you’ll only be able to do an average (or below average) job!
Steer Clear of the Water Cooler!
OK. OK. So not all businesses have water coolers that staff stand around bitching about “Mavis in accounts or Derek in the mail room”. But you get the idea!
Avoid putting yourself in situations where the negativity will get the better of you! If “everyone else” is chatting about how crap the organisation is or what a terrible manager ‘blogs’ is, then some (possibly a lot) of the negativity is going to rub off on to you. When you’re up and pumped, you seem to have a natural reflective force field against this sort of chatter, but when you’re not feeling quite so positive about the world, the negativity finds a way to get through and wind its way in to your subconscious. Know how you’re feeling and how you’ll react to this sort of thing and then choose to avoid it or excuse yourself from it. You’ll feel so much better in the long run.
Do NOT Fear Conflict (Creative Abrasion)
Not all conflict is bad! In fact, conflict can be extremely positive and effective so long as it is handled respectfully and with some basic rules of engagement. A term for this that was doing the rounds a little while back was “Creative Abrasion” and there is plenty of info on the internet about what this is, how it works and why it is good for an organisation.
According to Google: “Creative abrasion is a phrase coined by Jerry Hirshberg, founder and president of Nissan Design International and describes a culture where ideas are productively challenged. A concept that is all too often seen as dangerous by managers and naturally so.” Mar 24, 2015
In my mind, the point that you need to take away from this is that when approached in the right way and often with the benefit of hindsight, conflict is actually an opportunity to grow. If we don’t step out of our comfort zones, we don’t learn and if we don’t learn, we don’t grow. Use conflict to learn and grow and by seeing it as a positive force, you will find that you are happy at work. (Don’t let me have you believe that it makes it any less comfortable though – that is the whole point of learning and growing. Think about the last time you learned to do something. Play golf. Drive a car. Use an iPad. On each of those occasions you would have been “uncomfortable” and it is through this discomfort that you learned something new)!
We all know it, but we’re not all good at doing it! I personally need to make much more of an effort on this front. Do you?
It’s not rocket science. I fit and healthy body lead to a clear and active mind. We are all bombarded on a daily basis with adverts around out health and yet when we’re not feeling good about things, the idea of exercising can be (figuratively) a monstrous mountain to climb. There is no doubt that you’ll fee better by being active and you’re far more likely to be able to smile when you’re feeling good about yourself.
Be Thankful For What You’ve Got
One of the best ways to bring yourself down a notch or three is to start comparing yourself to others: “Blogs has the corner office overlooking the harbour bridge, whilst my crummy little office is dark & dingy” or “Joe’s new top of the range Mercedes Benz is so much shinier than my 12 month old Commodore”.
What so often gets missed here is the fact that (in the egs above): you HAVE an office and that you HAVE a car (that is only 12 months old incidentally). It might not be the corner office or a Mercedes Benz, but hey – what a great problem to have! In real terms, if this is as bad as it’s going to get then celebrate your wins because there are people out there that are unemployed; sick; broke; depressed; going through tough times etc; etc. So by comparison, you are one of the lucky ones. Take the time to reflect on this and don’t think about what you DON’T have, but rather what you DO have. And be grateful – it will completely change your outlook on life and the world in general.
Regularly Ask Yourself, “How Much of This Do I Own?”
All too often “we” get caught up in “stuff” that really doesn’t have anything to do with us, thereby burning emotional energy that could (and should) have been diverted to something far more productive!
Pause. Stop. And ask yourself just how much of this particular problem you actually own. If the answer is nothing (or very little), move on and put your energies in to something that will return you greater results that you can celebrate on completion (see next point).
Who doesn’t love a reward? It doesn’t matter if it’s a glass of wine; a trip to the movies or a family holiday. Whatever floats your boat, as they say. Just make sure that you schedule in a reward relative to the completed task/result and where you can, celebrate it with others. Somehow life tastes so much sweeter when you have someone to share it with.
Listen To Your Instincts
This is a BIGGIE! If your ‘gut’ is telling you that you’re not happy and that you need to get out, then you need to get outta there!!! I realise that I am making a very difficult decision sound easy and when there are mouths to feed and bills to pay, it often comes down to finding that next job before you can move on. So the important part is not actually the moving on, but the DECISION to move on! Once you’ve realised that there is a mismatch and that you’re not happy, the worst thing that you can do is hang around making yourself and more often than not, everyone else, unhappy!
This blog is probably a little more “airy-fairy” than my usual stuff, but it’s funny how often I hear people say how unhappy they are in their current roles and how they just don’t know what to do about it. The toughest part is making a decision and taking control of the situation.
Hopefully the above points will help you think through some of your current dilemmas. And for those of you that are happy, hopefully you’ll recognise some of the things that you’re doing that make you feel good. I’d love to hear some of your thoughts and comments and if there’s something in particular that really works for you, please leave a comment below.
And remember: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Lao-tzu. Pick ONE or TWO of the most relevant ideas above, those that really resonate with your values and beliefs. And then focus on making them a reality. From there, you can start working on some of the other suggestions.
Best of luck and if you’re finding work and life a bit of a challenge, I urge you to reach out to someone to ask for help or guidance.
And whether you’re leaving because of a ‘bigger & better’ opportunity; because your current employer is an absolute b#@$t!@d or because you’re just not content – you need to make sure that you exit in the right manner.
Tendering your resignation is a daunting process. The stress that it brings on is up there with getting married, buying a house and moving according to some studies from around the world. Whilst the temptation might be there to tell your current employer precisely where to stick that resignation letter, I urge you to think better of it, no matter how rude/difficult/inconsiderate/abusive/etc they may be. Not that I’m condoning any of the above, but as my Mum always used to say to me, “two wrongs don’t make a right”, so it’s up to you to be the bigger person and rise above the temptation to retaliate or mouth-off. It’s paramount to you and your future career that you remain level-headed, because you never know when you may bump in to the person again and, particularly if you’re staying in the same industry, you never know when you might need “friends” (think reference/referee). Not to mention, in our industry, there is every chance that you will see them at a conference, function or meeting!
With the above in mind, here’s some further advice to assist you through the process:
1. Plan. Plan.. And PLAN…!
Get your contract out (or the Award if you don’t have a contract) and make sure you know what your obligations are – what’s the notice period you have to give; are there any restrictions on where you can work next (competition); when is your bonus due; what are your leave entitlements; etc? If there is a specific date/deadline that you need to hit (for a new role), make sure that you know what it is and make this your end goal – ie. what you HAVE to achieve when you hand in your notice and verbalise your intentions to your manager.
Make sure you know who it is that you should be handing your resignation in to (your line manager or his/her manager or the GM/CEO). Also think about your timing and plan for what will get YOU the best result. Sometimes, due to deadlines, you can’t afford to be picky about the “when”, but in general try to do it when the person that you are going to see is going to be the most responsive, ie. not in a bad mood; not rushing to another meeting; not under the pump; not leaving to go home; not on annual leave; etc. I guess ultimately, regardless of how you feel about the person/organisation, try your best to put yourself in the position of the person that will be receiving the news (and the pressure that that may bring) and treat them as you would like to be treated – being considerate goes a long, LONG way!
And plan for point 4 below – the OUTCOME of your resignation…
2 Document Your Resignation in Writing (but deliver it in person)
Your written resignation should be short and sweet. No ‘War & Peace’ ramblings required here as the important detail gets lost! Keep it simple:
Address the letter properly & appropriately
Lay it out properly and DO NOT forget to date it with the correct date as this becomes the date that your resignation is effective from.
(Having checked your notice period obligations) Inform your employer of the date that your notice period is effective from (today’s date), the period it is for (eg. 4 weeks) and what the date is that you are terminating your employment on (ie. the date 4 weeks from today)
Thank them (in one or two lines at the most). Ideally, this shouldn’t be too difficult. You might like to thank them for their support, guidance and nurturing of you throughout your tenure. Or you might like to say thank you for the development or promotional opportunities. Whatever it is though, be sincere and if you haven’t got anything good to say – say NOTHING.
And remember: LESS is sometimes MORE as the last thing you want to do is provide ‘fodder’ for your employer to come back and bash you with (figuratively speaking of course)!
If time permits, don’t tender your letter straight away. Sit on it for a day or two (change the date accordingly) and make sure you go over the pros and cons of your current role and future opportunity. Not to say that you can’t go back once you’ve tendered your resignation, but most of the employers that I know tend to take the view of “if you’ve decided to leave, I’m not going to try to change your mind” (in a positive way as opposed to a narky kind of a way)!
3 Personal delivery
When the time comes, have the fortitude, strength of character and decency to resign in person! It comes down to respect and in most cases, other than the extreme ones, your employer deserves a bit of respect. And even if they don’t, be the bigger person and show them how it should be done by holding your head high and resigning with dignity and professionalism. If you do have any feedback, the time to do it is in person (verbally, not in writing remember) and ALWAYS make sure that you do it constructively and in a positive manner. Hand your letter to the appropriate person, explaining what it is. NOTE: from this point, your resignation date is locked in as this is the date that you have tendered your resignation.
If you believe that it is going to be an unpleasant meeting – prepare yourself mentally for this and if appropriate to do so, you may choose to tender your resignation with another person present (or at least nearby), such as your employer’s Personal Assistant or maybe even your line manager. And whatever you do, make sure that you stay calm, collected, polite and professional, no matter what is said to you (I’m not suggesting for a moment that this will be easy, but stay strong and committed to being the better person)!
4 Be Prepared for the Outcome
This forms part of your planning phase also – so make sure you give this plenty of thought. Plan how you think your employer is going to react and what actions they might take and make sure that you’re prepared. Think back to when other people have resigned or have been asked to leave, how did that go down and how did your employer behave? Give very real consideration to the fact that you might well be asked to clean out your office and leave on the spot, having been locked out of your computer (and any other digital links to the organisation – eg. phone/tablet/intranet) before you even leave your manager’s office!
Whatever the situation, remain calm and professional and try to take it in your stride, without letting your guard down as you need to remain alert to your rights and the employer’s legal obligations – like pay in lieu of notice or bonus cheques that are owed to you as a couple of examples.
5 Tidy Up Loose Ends
As suggested above, this isn’t always possible – but when it is, leave on a high! Make sure you’ve cleaned up your desk, office and computer so that it’s ready for the next person and try to finish off any projects or at least leave them at a stage where someone else can pick them up and run with them. You might even like to leave some basic instructions and/or information for anyone that might need them, like logins to things that need to be kept going, even in your absence. And don’t forget to inform the right departments (when it’s your job to do so), so that the business can prepare for your departure.
Oh! And if you have a uniform (and other company property – such as keys; phones; car; etc), either bring it back dry-cleaned and pressed, ideally on your last day (if you can get away with coming in to work in your own business attire) or within a few days of your departure. Remember: the organisation might be permitted to withhold your final payment until such time as ‘everything’ is returned, so get it back promptly.
6 Your Reputation is Your Greatest Asset! Don’t BURN BRIDGES!
Often, your reputation is all that you can trade on – so make sure it remains a GOOD one! Don’t denigrate the management or organisation and do your utmost to maintain your output/efficiency throughout your notice period. Leave on a HIGH and make sure the departing impression of you is not one of a whinging, lazy, good-for-nothing bum, who slackened off in their last few weeks and did nothing but bag the organisation and belittle their manager!
As suggested above, you never, ever know when you might bump in to this person again and if you’ve read my previous blog “Negotiating Your Salary“, you may remember the employee that I had, that went on a rant as they stormed out of my office only to one day, much later on, be applying for a job in a business that I was managing. Our industry is particularly small and it’s not uncommon for “someone” to know “someone” that knows YOU! With this in mind, it is so important to keep your reputation in tact and not to burn any bridges.
Hopefully the points above will help you navigate through the stressful process of resigning. It’s also worth mentioning that, where possible (ie. when you’re leaving a ‘good’ employer), it’s a good idea to leave the door ajar. What I mean by this is: don’t cut all ties on the spot just because you are going. Make a genuine offer to be contactable should the employer need to ask a question or let them know that you have left instructions for the next person, but they are welcome to call/email you if they require any further clarification. Leaving on a good note leads to a greater chance of being remembered in a good light and therefore being referenced positively should anyone call about you or in conversations around a table (think at conferences, meetings, seminars, networking events where your “new” or “future” employers are also mixing)!