Ask the experts: What makes a good employer?

Q: What qualities do you think make up a good employer?

Steve Stark's answer:

First up is flexibility - and I'll refer to an exemplary model of a successfully flexible employer to illustrate why this works.

BDO Taranaki, winner of the EEO Trust Work and Life Awards: Workplace Work and Life Award has a flexible workplace structure that's so successful they haven't advertised for staff, literally for years.

Why? Flexibility, equality and respect. They made an evolutionary shift from a command-and-control system of hierarchies and silos to a flat, self-management structure supported by flexible hours and job-sharing systems.

People have a choice about when and where they work (as long as they get the job done) resulting in higher productivity, reduced staff turnover and a culture of trust and respect.

As part of this flexible and open structured workplace, open communication is encouraged so ideas and issues are shared and people feel valued as part of the team.

The firm promotes positivity and a general respect for each other as to be successful full flexibility requires honesty, commitment and trust.

Being flexible may also require investing in remote workplace systems and hardware but pays off in increased productivity from staff enjoying better work and life balance.

It's also important to provide inspirational leadership, engaging your staff in discussions about the business' future offering them a part in its sustainable growth - ensuring job security and future opportunities.

Career development opportunities are also a must, fostering and supporting the growth of your team's skills and experience in a way that benefits them and the business.

Finally, make sure you create a fun and warm environment. Gather for celebrations, Friday drinks, birthdays and social events.

- Steve Stark is a partner of BDO Waikato

Mark Robotham's answer:

I am a real believer in open management style, giving people clear mandates and letting them get on with it.

Be clear on your expectations of staff and recognise your staff as individuals and as a team - saying thank you for great work is gold. Take action against non-performers, there is no better way to loose your best staff than to accept mediocrity or worse poor performance.

Be clear on a defined culture - hire and fire based on it. Have one standard for every one in the company including you. Do not ask your staff to do anything you would not do your self.

There is a great book by Daniel Pink called Drive The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. He says pay people enough they do not obsess over how much they are paid and then focus on giving your staff - autonomy, mastery and purpose - check out the great You Tube clip on this book: Search RSA Daniel Pink Drive.

 - Mark Robotham is an SME business adviser. Website: 

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