The importance of a ‘learning workplace’ to prospective employees

I’ve worked in the Human Resources team at RB for almost 15 years. That’s a long time when you consider the average Australian employee tenure to be 3.3 years, according to McCrindle.

In that time, I’ve seen many changes to the need states of employees at our company, as advancements in technology, workplace arrangements, philanthropic awareness, and more change the face of our workplace – often for the better.

Collaborative technology

Business leaders are now recognising the role of technology in retaining and attracting the best talent and are increasingly looking to have these features built in to office spaces. Open spaces, communal dining areas, an open-flow space and standing desks can all help create a collaborative team culture.

A recent study from Dell and Intel revealed 82 per cent of millennials say a high-tech office influences their decision to take a new job, and this is definitely a trend we are seeing at RB Health in Australia. This year we will see increasing emphasis on the ‘learning workplace’ where employees are constantly being trained to ensure they have the skills to complete the jobs of the future.

To give employees access to the best technology, our global team developed an internal professional development program called Learn.RB, within which employees can self-direct education using insights from around the world. By partnering with TED, Forbes and other leaders in their field, we offer our employees an opportunity to continually up-skill, right at their own fingertips. Feedback from the team with regards to having access to technology of this kind has been overwhelmingly positive since launch.

This online platform also has a digital hub where each individual employee can map out their career with RB. This includes transparency around available positions both here and in our global markets, the skills required and day-to-day undertakings of each role level, and access to upskilling (digital and physical) to help RB employees reach their career goals.

Tenure and working to learn

Employment and innovation thought leader, Heather McGowan, believes that in the past we learned in order to work, but now and into the future we must work to learn. Those employees who continuously learn will continue to lead and thrive in the workplace of the future. RB’s investment into individual staff from a local and global level feeds into this belief and has also helped us to maintain an average tenure of over six years for over a third of our staff.

With the McCrindle study also showing employee tenure tends to remain short for those newly entering the workforce1, it can be harder to retain and stimulate the younger generation in the workplace. RB ANZ has a best-in-class graduate system that gives potential staff the opportunity to really immerse themselves in various sides of the business before making a decision as to which field they would like to work in.

Our graduate roles are real full-time employee positions, so our staff have the opportunity to lead teams and make a real business impact, reaping the same rewards as all staff within the company. This immersive program results in our graduates staying on long after their program is completed, as they already know what their role will look like day-to-day, compared to their peers who may not be afforded a similar opportunity.

One aspect of employee management that hasn’t changed throughout my one and a half decades is the need for employee personalisation through all dealings. It could be easy as a larger company for employers to become ‘just another number’, however this is not something that we see at RB. All employees have direct access to all levels of the team, there are many ‘away days’ planned that breed team culture, and our staff are encouraged to put their own mark on campaigns and projects, collaboratively.

An example of the communal spirit of RB Health is our partnership with Our Big Kitchen, a community kitchen inspiring individuals to come together to make and distribute meals to Australians in need. This not-for-profit was identified by the RB Health team as a charity which the majority of employees believed in, and so they have become a long-term partner for the team.

For instance, more than 30 of the team are excited to run the City 2 Surf in a few weeks to raise money for Our Big Kitchen – RB covers registration costs and will match the total funds raised, dollar for dollar. In addition, staff are given two days of leave per year to volunteer at a charity of their choice, and many choose to do this at Our Big Kitchen, where they cook for the homeless and serve food within Sydney shelters.

This like-minded initiative is more than just CSR for our team, it’s an example of people working together for a greater good and an initiative that also helps us to attract the next generation of millennial employees become even more engaged in philanthropic causes.

Donna Kent is RB Health’s HR director in Australia and New Zealand.

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