What makes a Best Place to Work?

Submitted on Wed 19 Sep 2012

We’re used to hearing about the big corporates winning ‘best workplace’awards but when a small Sydney recruitment firm did it recently, Dynamic Business wanted to know more.

The recruitment industry has always been regarded as a highly competitive one; fast-paced, with a high turnover of staff. This isn’t far from the truth. In light of this, we wanted to break the mould – to create a company that people enjoy working for and where they see their role as more than just a job.

It was this vision of setting ourselves apart from the pack that led us to focus our efforts on developing our ability to hire, train and retain the best people in the market for every position within the company. We are only three years into this initiative, but our recent accomplishments of being recognised as Australia’s 10th Best Place to Work by BRW and #1 Recommended Employer within the recruitment industry at the Australian Business Awards, have certainly reaffirmed our belief that we are on the right track. What have we learned so far, you ask?

We can sum that up in seven key points:

1. Hire only those whose values are aligned with that of the company – create and maintain a winning company culture

Understanding that creating and maintaining a high-achieving and supportive company culture starts with the type of people we hire has paved the way to us employing a rigorous hiring strategy with the aim of hiring only the best people for each position within the company. This hiring process ensures that we hire based on skill and values alone. We are uncompromising when it comes to integrity and hard work, and employ those who emulate those qualities in everything that they do. Our hiring process is extremely thorough, and includes a four-stage interview process with more than 12 hours worth’ of interviewing with various managers within the business. Each of these interviews aims to assess different aspects of the individual – do they have the skills needed to excel in their role? Do they share the values we uphold? This focus on ability and potential has led to a strong team-oriented company culture and a workforce that shares our company values and has a genuine passion for the company and its vision. We have found that hiring the best gives us the foundation for becoming the best.

2. Inspire and motivate – create a compelling vision

We believe that to be an employer of choice, staff must not only know of the company’s long-term objective, they must also believe in it. To ensure everyone is behind achieving this, we have clearly stated a singular vision for the company, one that is both achievable and ambitious, that is set in stone as the company’s long-term objective. We constantly communicate this vision so that all actions and decisions can be measured against progress towards this and how each person’s role is instrumental in our success in achieving this goal. These are communicated not only during team and company meetings but also through the Position Agreement that each staff member has. These Position Agreements outline how a person is measured within their specific role, how their role fits into the organisation, and the level of performance required in order to progress within the role and the company. The ability of each person to assess their own performance and be aware of how their individual efforts contribute towards getting the company closer to its goals has led to a much more motivated and engaged team.

3. Communicate – and over-communicate

Effective communication is an essential pillar for employee relations in every business. Realising the importance of this, we put in place a meeting structure that could enable us to facilitate the cascading of information throughout the business and improve lines of The meeting structure that we have in place, which is a mixture of daily, weekly,monthly, quarterly and annual meetings between managers and members of each team, has been instrumental to our success in creating a rapid and efficient flow of communication throughout the company. An example would be our daily catch-ups; a 10-minute meeting held by each team in the company at the start of each work day. The same meeting then takes place between the management team. The daily catch-ups

ensures that by 9.30am every morning,information has effectively cascaded from every individual within the organisation all the way to the CEO.

4. Train and develop staff – give them the tools they need to succeed

As we aim to hire only top achievers, we recognise the need to constantly challenge and develop them. This training and development is not only available to employees during their first few weeks with the company, but continues on throughout employees tenure no matter what level of the organisation they are at.To ensure new employees have the best foundation they need in order to be successful, we carry out two-to-six weeks of intensive training. Training also extends to managers and potential leaders.  In these Management Training sessions, managers discuss different management theories and practices in assist them in successfully mentoring and leading. Focusing on training and development from the moment someone joins the company has resulted in a staff tenure that currently sits at three times the industry average and a leadership team where each member has been promoted from within.

5. Tap into the talent you already have & encourage employee involvement

We aim to look beyond the obvious and commonly used skills of each employee, instead looking further to other talents and interests they may have. This ability to recognise and act on individuals’ characteristics and traits is a powerful tool for us, as it enables us to not only encourage employee involvement, but also helps us identify future stars, nurture their strengths and develop their weaknesses. In the spirit of encouraging employee involvement, we run a quarterly ‘Ideas Tank’ in which all employees are invited to attend. Here, ideas and suggestions brought to the table by everyone are debated and discussed. The meetings centre around finding areas in the business that can be improved or in which value can be added. It is through initiativeslike this that we are able to harness the hidden talents that would normally be overlooked and use these to keep employees engaged.

6. Demand results – and reward accordingly

We believe in each person’s capabilities and talents, and their ability to drive and influence results with the help of the tools and resources we provide. It is largely because of this respect and belief that we have in our staff that we demand people’s best work. Not only do we uphold achieving results but also the constant living out of our company values. Those who work hard and achieve results while living out the values we preach are not only recognised, but rewarded. All incentives, internal initiatives and compensation models are designed to reward and encourage the living of our company values. Our sales team is rewarded with optional commission structures that are some of the most generous in the recruitment industry. An industry-first benefits package is also available to each person in the organisation. The number of benefits offered increases throughout the employee’s tenure and includes flexible and optional components.

7. Explain the WHY

We’ve found that where many managers fail is by simply directing and telling people what to do without explaining why it needs to be done – what the reason is behind it, how it fits into the larger picture. It was this realisation that made managers within our business take greater care in explaining the reasons behind tasks or actions that need to be done. What we’ve found is that when you communicate the ‘what’ and the ‘why’, the employee will readily come up with the ‘how’.

Our journey is certainly far from over. We continue to focus our efforts on maintaining our place as a true -employer of choice. We are still learning rapidly as we go. However, one thing we are sure of is that the seven points above are some of the key essentials to becoming a best place to work.


– Andrea Alegre is Operations Manager, TRC Group, Australia’s tenth best place to work.


Featured: Dynamic Business Magazine, September 2012 issue

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