A good friend of mine in the club industry said an interesting thing to me a couple of years ago; He had been talking to the manager of a large venue, promoting the benefits of the product he was representing, which would almost certainly see potential membership growth. The manager listened to his pitch and turned it down, saying that his club didn’t need any more members.
I listened to my friend’s story with a degree of disbelief – surely there must have been a further comment which explained this rather odd statement? But no, his manager had simply said that he thought the club had enough members already, and didn’t need any more. It’s a little like hearing Westpac say that they don’t want any more customers.
As an industry consultant for 25 years, I saw no logic in what my friend’s sales prospect had said, and here’s why: A good sized membership database is the first sign of a healthy club.
Two of the first questions I ask when I sit down with a prospective client, are “how many members the club has and how many poker machines“. Over the years I’ve used an approximate rule of thumb that tells me there should be 100 members for each poker machine on the floor, so that for a club with 250 machines, you’d reasonably expect to find a membership database totaling at least 25,000.
As I said, the foregoing is an approximate measure. The smaller the poker machine installation is, the more I like to see the ratio increase, so that if your club carries 60 pokies on the floor, I’d like to see perhaps 200 members per machine, giving a well padded database of 12,000 members.
Why though? There are many reasons why membership growth is important to a venue but let’s consider a few of them: the more members you have, the more people there are out in your community, who are aware of your club – this is a good thing. Each member is an advocate or salesperson for ‘their’ club, so having ten thousand people out there, talking about your venue, is better than having two thousand, or even six thousand! Word of mouth marketing is the most powerful marketing tool there is. So if each one of those ten thousand speaks to one other person, that’s twenty thousand consumers out there, aware of how great you are!
Then there’s the demographic spread that a larger membership database brings with it. Typically a club database can be divided into gender, age group, ethnicity, work status, marital status, location and any other number of useful segments. If the economic climate is such that it hits one group hard, then you still have other bankable groups using your venue. The more members you have and the greater the diversity, the better you will survive a downturn.
Growing membership also indicates that people are actually aware of your existence. Many clubs I have consulted with over the past couple of decades, take the view that everyone knows they exist. My research with many of these venues then shows that whilst many local residents may know you exist, they don’t know what you do, what you offer, or whether they are entitled to become members – especially so in the case of trade unions clubs, specific ethnic clubs, or clubs with a perceived political affiliation.
That’s the good news, the bad news is that many residents living within your catchment area actually don’t know you exist at all! True. Consider that on average, every year in urban areas, 25% of residents change address. They move within your catchment area, they may move into it, they may move out of it. Growing your membership is all about letting people know you exist, reminding them repeatedly what you do, and ensuring that your offering will appeal to them.
And then there’s renewals. Most clubs see a substantial drop off in membership every year at renewals time. There are many reasons for this, and some are beyond the club’s control, for example, moving away, changed financial circumstances, ageing, change in mobility, change in partnership status, all of which will see these members fail to renew.
However, making an effort to retain members at renewals, makes the job of ongoing membership growth easier. If you are only losing 12% of your members at renewals, rather than 30%, then you have a good base on which to build for the coming year.
Recruiting a new member, shows that your club has engaged with someone new. It also brings the possibility of another consumer who just may turn out to be a club regular, spending a decent sum of money through the year.
About four years ago a client looked at my growth strategy and told me that he was only interested in recruiting big-spending members. I asked him whether, if I brought ten people in off the street, lined them up and asked him to pick the big spenders, he’d be able to do it. His answer was of course, a grudging ‘no’. I then argued that by bringing all ten consumers in as new members, we stood a good chance of scooping the big spenders, as well as those who may start off small, but who may also at some stage become the big spenders he was looking for! If one in every hundred is a big spender, then membership growth will statistically capture more of them, as well as seeing a busier venue, with more members to communicate with.
And that’s an important note to finish on: databases allow you communicate efficiently and directly with the people on them. That’s why every website you visit and every store you go into, wants your information, they want to market direct to you. Databases have an intrinsic value because they allow you to sell to people who are receptive to your messages, because they have already bought-in to the concept of your offering. Growing membership empowers your communications ability to a greater number of receptive consumers.
Give Martin Watson a call on 02 9402 0627 to get him to look at your club’s marketing or check out roarmedia.com.au
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 !
“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.
It’s probably pretty reasonable to say that the vast majority, (I’d suggest 99.9%) of candidates know that they are going to be asked at some point in an interview if they have any questions for the interviewer. And yet candidates often fumble their words and struggle to present themselves in a positive way.
The questions that you ask provide the interviewer with a great insight in to you, and so asking the right sorts of questions can catapult you to the top of the “to be employed” list! Whilst poorly thought out questions and questions made up on the spot can very quickly highlight some of your deficiencies and push your application down in to the quagmire of mediocrity…….or worse.
Some of the best questions that you can ask tend to be those that have been very carefully planned and learned, but then evolve through information that comes to light during the interview. What I mean by this is – there is no substitute for doing the research and preparation, but don’t be afraid to “tweak” one or two (or more) of the questions that you have prepared to include facts and information that you have gathered throughout the interview as it shows that you have been listening. Often, your question can remain exactly the same, it will just be the lead-in that changes. For example:
(Planned Question): “What is the organisational structure of the Food & Beverage department? (and maybe something about FT vs Part Time…)“, might become:
(Tweaked Question): “You mentioned that there are 120 staff in the F&B department. What is the organisational structure of the department and what sort of breakdown is there between Full Time, Part Time and Casual employees?”
Oh! And if it helps, don’t be afraid to take a notepad and pen or an iPad/Tablet in to the interview so that you can jot down notes (like the number of staff in the F&B department) as you go. As a side-note, it is polite to ask the interviewer(s) if they mind if you take some notes during the course of the interview and sometimes, the jotting down of notes can actually buy you that valuable 4 or 5 seconds to contemplate an answer before you open your mouth (as you jot things down, generally people will wait politely for you to answer)…
For questions to really work, it comes down to RESEARCH! And with the internet at your fingertips, there are no excuses for not being able to gather enough information to ask intelligent and pertinent questions. To help you with the process, I have listed below a range of the sorts of questions that you could ask in an interview and with a little bit of thought and some manipulation of the details, they’ll provide you with a good foundation for the next time you are sitting across the table from an interviewer:
Ask specific questions about the venue/organisation and what your role would be there:
– What’s their vision for your position?
– In your opinion, what would make me a success in this role?
– Will the role evolve over time?
– What are the top 2 or 3 priorities that you believe would need to be addressed first? (Let them tell you and finish telling you, then you might like to sum up briefly your ability to address those priorities) NOTE: In my experience, candidates often jump the gun in this circumstance. They do the right thing and ask a good question like this, but rather than stop and wait for the WHOLE answer, they let their nerves get the better of them and jump on in with the “HOW” they can solve the problem or how they have the experience to do the job. This means that they a) assume the remainder of the answer (it’s never good to assume), b) miss gathering further information (could be useful later on in the interview) and c) don’t show how they can listen (this can send completely the wrong message, when in fact, it’s just because they’re nervous)!
– If legislation has recently affected the industry or if there’s something pertinent in the news, try to tie this knowledge in to a question as it will show that you have done your homework!
What systems do they have in place?
– Are they adequate? Or do they need updating?
– If they are inadequate, would it be your job to change or develop them?
Who was in this job before?
– Why did they leave?
– Will I be doing the same job as them, or has the role changed/evolved?
What is the company’s management style?
How do you measure performance and how often is it reviewed?
Do you provide any sort of professional development or training?
What is your target market?
– Is this something that you would like to expand? If so, what are you plans for doing so?
What is the company’s policy on corporate social responsibility?
In what ways is your company involved in the local community? (In our industry, there is generally plenty of information about this, so you might want to tailor this with something like: “I see from your Facebook Page that you are connected with the <so-and-so charity>. It what other ways are you involved in the local community?”).
It’s worth remembering, that to be amazing at an interview, you actually have to GET an interview and this begins with your application! Make sure you develop a fantastic resume and that you get it in promptly via the means that they request. And keep in mind that your research should start before you even send your resume in so that you can tailor your resume to the advert, the organisation and the role. You should then pick up your research once again when you progress to the next stage and expand it so that it is fresh in your memory for when you get to the interview. Oh. And if you don’t get offered an interview, try calling to find out why (again, PLAN your questions) and see if you can gather any advice on how to improve your resume for the next time! (Don’t forget to read my previous blog “To Call or Not To Call, That is the Question”, & if you haven’t already done so – you can click here.
When you do get offered the opportunity to attend an interview, think about the importance of making a GREAT first impression! The interview starts the moment you step foot through the door in to the organisation and ramps up the moment you walk in to the interview room. Dress. Grooming. Body Language. Preparation. Don’t underestimate the value of caring enough to make an effort – it goes an awfully LONG way!
Something that is all too often forgotten or done with no real thought other than because you’d heard it was the right thing to do is to follow up after an interview with a “thank you”. There are lots of ways that you can do this with modern forms of communication – choosing the right one is the tough part. In some (rare?) circumstances, an SMS to the interviewer is appropriate, but choose when and what you’re going to say and think carefully about whether an SMS really is the best way to go! For example, if you know they are about to walk straight in to another interview, wait until later to send your SMS and try to choose a time when you know/think they’ll be able to receive it without the embarrassment of their phone beeping/vibrating in another interview! Note: I would only use SMS if the interviewer has been communicating with you via SMS, if they haven’t, then an email, phone call or even a well chosen ‘thank you’ card might be the better option. Long story-short, don’t let your interview be the last time they hear from you! Follow up to assist them to remember who you are and try to remind them of one of the positive aspects/events that occurred in the interview.
Similarly to following up if you don’t get an interview, don’t forget to follow up if you don’t get offered the job and find out why so that you can use this information for your next interview.
And most importantly, don’t be too hard on yourself. Sometimes, you can do everything right and still not be offered the job – so stay positive and upbeat as it’ll show the next time you speak to someone about a job. And always remember – there is a great job waiting for you out ‘there’! So keep honing your interview skills (which can be learned & improved) and stay focused.
Whether being done for a small family business, a large multinational or as a Recruitment Consultant – the “recruitment process” provides an insight in to the human psyche. And let me just tell you, it’s not always a pretty sight!
As a “glass half-full” kind-a-guy, I’d prefer not to err on the negative, unless there is something to be gained from this insight and so in this blog I thought that there would be significant value in sharing a couple of stories, thoughts and observations about what “we” see as recruiters in a niche market.
First and foremost, let me state from the outset that for the vast majority of roles that are recruited, there is only ever going to be the ONE position available. Obvious right? Stick with me here, because whilst this should be obvious, it would seem that there are candidates out there that forget this fact and the other closely associated fact that if there is only ONE position available and say 100 people apply, chances are that NINETY NINE of them are going to be disappointed. It’s basic maths and yet it doesn’t stop candidates from being rude and at times, even abusive about the fact that they didn’t get the job even though (in their not-so-humble opinion), they were the best person for the job.
This leads me on to my next comment: how can you know if you are the ‘best person for the job’ when you don’t even know who else has applied OR what the employer is actually looking for? You’re well within your rights to believe that you’re a strong candidate because you have the necessary skills, experience and traits BUT the point is that – YOU will NEVER know EXACTLY what an employer is looking for. So rather than “assume” that you’re the best person for the role, invest the time in your application to make sure that you have the best possible opportunity of getting the chance for a face-to-face interview. Then, blow them out of the water at that interview and you might just convince them that you’re what they are looking for !
I mentioned above the competition (other candidates) and this is another point that unsuccessful candidates so often miss. Faith and confidence in yourself is a much needed trait to be successful in the job market, but a misguided belief that your “Sh#t don’t stink” is likely to leave an impression of arrogance and prima donna tendencies. Neither of which are an attractive proposition for a potential employer. Remember, you may well be a great candidate, but there is always someone out there that is “better” than you. Not a better person or even a better employee, but possibly just a better FIT. Whilst I’m on the subject of “fit”, just quickly – always remember that a good fit goes both ways. It has to be right for the employer AND the employee, so sometimes you’re better off missing out on a job if the fit isn’t right – it might just be a blessing in disguise! To put the concept of competition in perspective, I recently recruited for a senior business leader role that attracted almost 70 applications. Of the 70, there were 25 that could have done the job (admittedly to varying degrees, but they could still have “done” the job). That’s over ONE THIRD of the candidates that applied, that by rights, could/should have been in consideration for the role!
This is where process comes in to play. As a Recruitment Consultant, I am adamant about the fact that it is not my job to decide WHO a business chooses to employ. Ultimately, my client is the one that will have to work with the successful candidate and not me, so later decisions are completely up to the employer (or their nominated representative(s)). My (our) job is to make sure that we work closely with the employer (our client) and have open lines of communication (for more info on the importance of the employer-recruiter relationship see previous blog: http://blog.whitenow.com.au/2015/05/01/how-to-recruit-a-recruiter/) so that we are able to clearly identify all aspects of the ideal candidate-type in the hope that we can present our client with a range of candidates for consideration that match their requirements as closely as possible. Obviously a lot of this is dependent on their ability to articulate what it is that they are looking for and our skills at drawing out this information and sometimes the tough conversations need to be had so that there aren’t any “elephants in the room”. To achieve this, we run a tried and tested methodology that is linked to years of experience and because it is not an exact science, we then sprinkle all this with the tiniest pinch of fairy dust in the hope that it will bring us that magical candidate that fits in to our client’s organisation like a hand in to an old glove. Coming back to my point specifically in relation to the role where 70 applied and 25 could do the job – as one of those 70 candidates, “YOU” would have NO IDEA what the level of competition is like both from a ‘cold-hard-facts’ perspective (the other candidates’ credentials) nor the ‘intangibles’ perspective (the competition’s alignment to the spoken [and sometimes unspoken] criteria as set out by the employer). Surely then it is overly presumptuous to expect that you will automatically be on the short list and probably the preferred candidate for the role.
So, now that we are all a little more aware of some of the obvious, but often unconsidered facts of recruitment, why did I title this blog “It’s How We Lose That Shows Who We Are!”? Simple: the candidates that stick in my mind for all of the right reasons are those that are humble in defeat. Those that thank me for my time and effort and make comment of their understanding of how tough the market it is and how difficult the decision must have been. Then there are those that remain in my mind for all of the wrong reasons and rather than list some of the negative comments, behaviours and language here, I will simply say that their responses perhaps show their true colours when they’ve been knocked down.
Well because in business, particularly at a senior management level, it is unlikely that things are always going to be rosie! There are going to be challenges and adversity and so if it comes to my integrity versus the integrity of someone that cannot be gracious in defeat and I am asked “can you recommend this person”, I am left with the easy decision to tell my client “No. No I can’t recommend this person because I don’t believe that they would be good for your business or your culture”.
“ANYONE CAN BE A GRACIOUS WINNER BUT BEING GRACIOUS AFTER LOSING SHOWS STRENGTH OF CHARACTER” – Donald Lynn Frost
In the hectic lead up to Christmas, we missed getting our hands on one of the Aldi “Three Bird Roasts” and so in a mad panic, I called Jenny and asked her if she had any bright ideas. Her response in an understandably matter-of-fact style was along the lines of “DERRRR, have you called Tanya and Paul at RPT Promotions?”.
“Ummm….. No”, I replied somewhat flatly as my brain clicked in to gear and asked itself ‘now why didn’t I think of that in the first place, EJIT?’, (followed by a couple of expletives).
Anyhow, a call was placed to Tanya and was met with Tanya’s message bank, where I explained my predicament and went back to work. Not even 15 minutes later, the lovely Tanya was calling me back with Season’s Greetings and instructions for how to get a hold of Paul. Two minutes later I was dialing Paul’s number which was answered with Paul’s always happy & bubbly English accent. Once again I explained my stupidity and with a wry laugh and an eagerness you had to hear to believe, Paul was making arrangements for one of his Turduckens to be delivered to Gladesville RSL (in close proximity to my home) for me to collect.
I thanked Paul profusely and he promised to call me back to confirm when the delivery would occur and off he went. 24 hours later he was back on the phone, as promised, to let me know that the Turducken was en-route to the RSL Club as planned. He couldn’t have been any more obliging if he had tried. What I didn’t realise at the time was that Paul and Tanya were in the middle of one of their BIGGEST Christmas’ ever! They had orders stacked up to the rafters and were right in the thick of the logistical-challenge of getting everything delivered to the right place at the right time before Christmas Day!
The reason that I didn’t know just how crazy things were for P&T was because Paul made me feel like I was the only customer that he had, even though I was only after one item and it was probably (if I’m totally honest) a bit of an inconvenience. But Paul went out of his way to ensure that I would get my Turducken with a short lead-time, so that my family could enjoy their Christmas Dinner and BOY, OH BOY did we ENJOY IT!!!…
The pictures speak for themselves, so let me just add that we all thoroughly enjoyed the Turducken, so much so that we will be placing our order with Paul and Tanya EARLY next year for Christmas 2015!
And let me also add that we are all extremely grateful to them both for being such a pleasure to deal with and for making our Christmas Dinner so very special this year. Thank you both so, so much…
Here at White Now we are provided with opportunities to work with a range of amazing people and incredible businesses, including a large number of RSL Clubs.
After speaking with the exceptional, Geoff Evans (pictured here) who has served as a Commando in East Timor and Afghanistan, we couldn’t help but be moved by his own story and more significantly, what he is personally doing to make a difference. So we asked Geoff if he would write an article for us as a ‘Guest Blogger’.
(To read Geoff’s personal story, click on the image above, on his name or you can click here).
Spare a thought for the thousands of Homeless Veterans sleeping rough at this time of year. The Australian Defence Force has deployed 67,000 troops to various conflicts since the Vietnam War.
Homelessness was a significant issue for Vietnam veterans and their families, and sadly, is endemic among younger veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. In the shadow of the centenary of the First World War, up to 3,000 diggers remain homeless on any given night.
What can you do to make a difference?
In March of 2014, RSL LifeCare established the Contemporary Veterans Homelessness and Assistance Program (CVHAP) in Narrabeen, NSW. Homelessness itself is a symptom of war caused mental illness, such as PTSD. To the right of the spectrum is suicide, to the left: alcoholism, drug abuse, depression and other problems.
We currently have 24 veterans and two families enrolled in the program, but we have been reduced to accepting only the most severe cases. This is not due to lack of accommodation, but rather through lack of funding to provide the necessary wrap around support services that make the program work. These include everything from providing tooth paste and furniture, to transport, case management and a toy or two for the children.
Since publicising the existence of the program just a few weeks ago I have taken requests for help from right across Australia. The common and sad refrain is that currently we can only provide housing at Narrabeen. As younger veterans have children and other commitments they often cannot leave their locality, and so they remain living in cars and on the streets. We have to do better.
We have also seen growth in our services to veterans and families who are at risk of homelessness. This can occur when, for instance, a young veteran leaves the military without an illness or injury being accepted by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. If they are unable to remain employed, as is often the case with mentally ill veterans, they lose their income. Homelessness can quickly follow. We are working to try and keep them in their homes. Entire families are at risk, and its proving a growth industry for us, as a decade of war collides with an inadequate repatriation system.
For those of us working with these remarkable young veterans it is soul destroying to watch them suffer for want of funding. All veterans entering the program suffer from mental illness, most enter with an intense sense of shame as well. They were our nations finest, help us help them.
Our Most Recent Resident: Case Study Veteran X is 38 years old, and has served in Iraq and Afghanistan on multiple tours. He entered the program in mid-November 2014 and is our 22nd resident. Veteran X was still serving in the Australian military when he was admitted to hospital for treatment of PTSD and related alcohol abuse. Whilst he was in the hospital, the Australian Defence Force medically discharged him from service. This meant he was no longer entitled to a Defence house, and accordingly, his family was evicted while Veteran X was in hospital.
Tragically Veteran X’s relationship could not withstand the terrible strain of Veteran X’s condition and his circumstances. Veteran X’s marriage ended and his wife and children moved into their grandmother’s house. Sadly Veteran X no longer had access to his children. Veteran X has described to me the sense of utter desolation and helplessness he felt. “I just couldn’t believe this could happen to me” he said. “I devoted my entire life to serving the Nation, I was good at my job and I had a career”. A few weeks after his marriage failed he attempted suicide.
Many months later, as Veteran X approached the date of his discharge from hospital, he literally had nowhere to go. Like most of the young men and woman in our program he would have been living on the streets. Fortunately he met one of the young veterans we’d previously placed in the PTSD program, who gave Veteran X our details. Veteran X was initially quite a challenge, but we are a peer led program, and other veterans who have walked the same path took him under their wing. He has come such a long way; he has joined our AA support group and will shortly start a training course. A remarkable young man, like the rest, all he needed was a chance. A testament to his hard work and the program’s success: Veteran X spent Christmas Day 2014 with his children.