Plan a people strategy

Back in 2014, as Director of People and Culture at Ramsay Health Care, opens in new window, Gavin O’Meara was responsible for 25,000 people working in 68 facilities across Australia. While this operation is on a very different scale to a small business, the same challenges apply – finding and retaining the right people to drive new business growth.

The right approach to hiring employees

“Recruitment can be difficult for smaller providers, especially if they approach it in the wrong way,” O'Meara says. “It isn’t about putting an ad in the paper when someone leaves – it’s about planning."

"Of course there’ll always be the occasional, unexpected resignation but, if you have a good culture, you generally have an idea of your staff’s intentions. When you’re aware that a vacancy is likely to crop up in six or 12 months you can prepare for it.”

Strong communication in the business world enables you to know what's happening and prepare for change. Preparation might mean staff training so that someone within your business is ready to move up into a role. If there’s no one suitable, you’ll have time to look around, make contact with people and assess their level of interest.

O’Meara also suggests asking people you trust for recommendations. “The more you know about a recruit, the better,” he says.

Planning should also take your strategy for business growth and any other potential changes into account. “This way you can stay on the front foot,” O’Meara continues. “When recruitment is a reactive process, you’re limiting your choice to whoever happens to walk through the door.”

Skill your workforce

You not only need to find employees you need to retain the best people for your business. “The only way to build an engaged, skilled and productive team is to have people who are committed to the business, so retaining quality staff is at least as important as finding them,” O’Meara says. “Conversely, high turnover is expensive, disruptive and very demoralising.”

An employee is more likely to leave in the early days of service than at any other time – statistics show that turnover in the first 12 to 18 months is typically three or four times higher than across the organisation as a whole. “Proper orientation is crucial, but so is continuing support,” O’Meara says.

“I recommend designating someone to keep an eye on new recruits and, for the first six months at least, making time to chat to them on a reasonably regular basis about how they’re going and whether anything is causing concern.”

Brand development

Think about how to market a business to employees as well as to customers. Your internal company culture is an important part of your brand strategy. Being known as a great place to work will help to attract the best people to your company. Developing your employees and retaining them over time will lead to a better customer experience and help with overall brand development.

“The ultimate goal for any business owner is to create an environment where good people want to work,” O'Meara says.

Tips for recruitment and employee engagement

  1. Make recruitment a proactive, rather than a reactive, process.
  2. Know your staff so you're aware of their goals and intentions.
  3. Where possible, promote from within.
  4. Ask people you trust for recommendations.
  5. Establish a sound induction process.
  6. Follow up with continuing support.
  7. Respond to the needs of the people you want to employ.
  8. Build your brand – be known as a great place to work.

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The information contained in this article is correct as of July 2018 and is intended to be of a general nature only. It has been prepared without taking into account any person’s objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on this information, NAB recommends that you consider whether it is appropriate for your circumstances. NAB recommends that you seek independent legal, financial, and taxation advice before acting on any information in this article.