37 Entrepreneurs Reveal How to Find And Keep Great Talent in Australia

37 Entrepreneurs Reveal How to Find And Keep Great Talent in Australia

Firstly, we would like to express a special thanks to eCompanies for sponsoring the Australian edition of our Global Startup Report.

In this week’s chapter 37 Australian based entrepreneurs reveal how to find and keep great talent in Australia.

At IntelligenceBank, we’ve always found it relatively easy to find and keep great talent – especially in the IT area. However, full time staff are expensive, so we tend to outsource front end programming and design jobs to contractors here in Australia and overseas. There is a special 457 visa you can use if you need to import talent if you can’t find the right person to fit your role. We have done this once, and it has worked out well.

@TessaCourt / IntelligenceBank

Finding great talents is not that difficult. Australian professionals are trustworthy, hard working, committed people. Even at the beginning of their careers, they compensate easily the lack of experience by an incredible motivation and personal drive.

The first problem is actually to attract them and get them to work for you. Australia is a wealthy country, where the job market is in favour of the employees: with a 4-week notice period and a dynamic job market, salaries are generally quite high and so is generally the staff turnover.

As a startup, it’s clearly difficult to compete with the levels of salary proposed by the big players. You will have to be very inventive to share the passion of your ideas with your staff to make it theirs and get them so committed and involved that they want to stick around. Of course, participation to the company’s equity is a good way to incentivise your staff, but the current Australian regulation makes it not so attractive for the staff, which will hopefully change soon.

To keep your talents in Australia, there is no magical formula. I guess they will keep on board if they feel involved, empowered and they share your vision. As the entrepreneur, it’s totally up to you to make that happen. Always keep in mind that even in a startup where you work 90 hours a week, Australians are all about enjoying themselves.

So ensure that your workplace is enjoyable, dynamic and relaxed. The overall productivity will reflect the well-being of your staff. And never, ever, forget beer’o’clock on Fridays. Without it, your company will not be attractive at all, no matter what.

@StephaneIbos / Maestrano

I do not think this differs to anywhere else in the world. Great talent need to feel engaged, inspired and rewarded. If the staff are clear on the vision of the company and where it is heading then you are off o a good start. I have recently read Daniel Pink’s Drive which solidifies this view.

Even though cultures differ, I do not believe that what motivates people does. As such, I think in Australia, just as anywhere else in the world it is important to have open lines of communications with staff, be clear about expectations and boundaries, create a hard working yet fun work environment and most importantly, lead by example.

The last point is something I believe is crucial to keeping and growing good talent. Always acknowledging a part you may have played in things not working, being honest about your own weaknesses and demonstrating your own willingness to be resilient and grow.

@JaneMartino / Shout For Good

This is a tough question for all the reasons I’ve outlined above — population, scale, adoption and attitude — and one which I do not have a good answer for. However, wherever there is a problem, there’s also an opportunity!

So, if you have an idea that helps startups reach scale and become successful in Australia, you will most likely have a nice first mover advantage. Startups like https://sideracket.com/ are one such company trying to solve some of these problems by helping like-minded entrepreneurs connect.

@JoshStuart / Zoop Commerce

This is tough and the media doesn’t make it any easier due to the massive focus on the San Francisco Bay Area.

However, Australians are highly educated and many young Australian’s are becoming aware that entrepreneurship can be a viable career choice if you do the right things and work with the right people.

From what I’ve found, finding people who have a purpose or a ‘why’ is critical. If they are motivated by the same stimulants as you then keeping them engaged and ensuring they deliver is much more likely.

@NathanKinch / Edgelab Ventures

The great thing about Australia and finding great work talent is that the idea of being an entrepreneur isn’t as common but if you’re a good leader and can show the people who you’re looking to hire how much more they can utilize their skills and do and build something amazing they are usually all for it, but they need a good leader to guide them.

Everybody has their own way of finding and keeping great talent, for me I need to be able to share similar values and have the person I want to work with fit into the culture I’ve created. We’ve created a team mission for our start up – this is a ridiculous mission that seems almost impossible but that is the driving force behind what we’re all working towards, we also have a noble cause – the reason behind why we do what we do, and then aside from these two we also put happiness and growth as top priority – when everybody is happy, feels that they can contribute and grow then productivity comes naturally, not forced. So to sum up, I feel that creating a great culture and work environment is key to keeping great talent.

@PeterMai / Moolah’d

It’s quite achievable to do your own recruitment in Australia and networking is the only way to find some of the best people. Apart from the obvious routes there’s a reasonable amount of fluidity of great talent around the start up community.

You can tap in to this piecemeal and you’ll likely find dedicated people that benefit from working on lots of projects, and who are passionate about working for startups.

@JamesGoodridge / Waysact

Us Australians are relatively simple human creatures. We want our talents set free, our decision making abilities empowered, our efforts acknowledged and rewarded and most importantly, a cold beer or two on a Friday night.

Tick these obvious yet often eluding boxes, particularly at large established companies, and you are more likely to retain top talent than lose it.

@SteveGlaveski / Hot Desk

Competition for talent is fierce so you need to make sure you look after the talent you have. Keep the work interesting and challenging; keep bureaucracy to a minimum and flexibility to a maximum; and give key staff the opportunity to own equity in the business.

AndrewHill / OneConfig

Keeping good talent in Australia is difficult because it is hard to scale certain industries in Australia. However it is about asking the right questions to find the right people, seeing and feeling how people react to you and then enabling individuals to run themselves so that you don’t have to micro manage.

@BillieWhitehouse / Wearable Experiments

Again relationships tend to be pretty important. As mentioned because industries are comparatively smaller, most people with an industry tend to know each other pretty well. As such if you’re a good business and treat your staff well, word tends to get around.

Seek is very dominant on the job advertisement front, and as such tends to throw up a pretty reasonable selection of candidates for most jobs. At our company, we have a pretty firm focus on work/life balance – we don’t ask anyone to work hours well outside what they’re being paid for and that works for us anyway in keep churn down and retaining good senior staff.

PhilSim / MediaConnect

By offering better/more interesting work than in the States. It’s the only way to offset the distance and remoteness of relocating to Australia.

@DjordjeDikic / SwatchMate

Finding and keeping talent is hard, especially in the tech industry where great engineers are often lured to the US to work for tech startups or big companies like Google or Facebook.

Remember that employees are not always just driven by money and developing a fun, exciting and open culture is important to attracting and retaining staff. You brand yourself to your customers but its just as important to present a brand to your potential staff. What is it that makes your workplace amazing?

@DanDraper / CodeHire

That’s a tough question especially when you’re running a start-up with limited funding. You have to make sure you find the right people and that’s a difficult task.

The best way to find talents is through friends of friends or start-up meetups/groups. You need to find people that are passionate about what you are doing and trying to accomplish.

However if you have enough funding/revenues the best way to attract and keep talent is to pay them a good salary, provide other compensations such as gym membership, company retreat etc…

@PierrickGanon / Timeblend

I haven’t recruited yet myself in Australia, however good resources to use is Linkedin, Seek.com.au, careerone.com.au and spotjobs.com.au. Recruiters are expensive but there are some great ones there if you have the money. Attend networking events and leverage your network to provide recommendations for talent where possible.

Also Effective Measure have won the “Anthill Coolest Company” awards and we were rated in the top 100 for the Deloitte Technology fastest 500 growing companies in Asia Pacific. Entering and receiving awards like this, also helps to attract great talent.

@DineshArasaratnam / Effective Measure

Ultimately people are tied to their places of family and friends and although Australians travel extensively, most prefer to stay in their home towns, so I wouldn’t say it’s a great challenge to keep them in Australia. And because of the relative lack of startup options, then startups can compete on the simple fact that they are small, nimble and on a worthwhile mission.

@NikiScevak / StartMate & Blackbird Ventures

This is tough. We’ve had to use our network of friends and recruiters to find good talent in Australia. LinkedIn is your friend. The job posting sites like Seek have never worked for us and there’s no site quite like Craigslist here in OZ. We’ve often used sites like Odesk or Freelancer to find someone for the odd job. Just like everything else in the world it often comes down to who you know.

@RickLee / Castify

From experience I’ve found lots of talented and motivated people by attending meetup groups such as meetup.com If people take time out of their work and busy schedules to attend industry and community meetups then it shows they are passionate about what they do.

You can also find lots of available talent but contacting colleges and universities and offering attractive internship programs for aspiring students. The combination of both strategies should see you land some talented evangelists.

@ArminNehzat / Eronka

I believe there are two kinds of talent. Firstly there is raw talent which entails those individuals who are focused on improvement and innovation. Secondly there are those talents in whom are focused on self-promotion and self-preservation.

To keep the former working in Australia companies need to be allocating enough resources to drive their core ambitions. The latter only need positions with pay checks and no apparent glass ceilings.

@AdamMiller / Wahuna

For me attitude is more important than experience and skills. It’s vital to your success, that you find people who believe in your vision just as much as you. Rewarding hard work and sharing your success will go a long way to keeping your team driven and happy.

@JakeMcKeon / Moodswing

Pay them. Options, equity and revenue share don’t motivate people well in Australia.

@BartJellema / ZeroMail

Australia is a pretty fortunate place in terms of job opportunity, so you definitely need to sell the vision to future talent, to keep them in your company. Equity components are essential in start up businesses.

@AlistairMichener / Drawboard

Give them something to be proud of, a product they can attach themselves to, a message they can spruik. Australians will very happily be entrepreneurial in spirit while the work exclusively for your product, just give them fair pay and something to call their own when they’re at the game on he weekend.

@BenPrendergast / Copper Project

The same as anywhere…

1. Give responsiblity & reward initiative regularly and visibly.

2. Lead by example and invest time and effort to support their self development.

3. Trust that good people never come to work to do a bad job, it’s your job to find what makes them tick.

@DougalEdwards / Bright Arena

Finding is about looking in the right places, keeping is about giving people meaningful work they can fully engage with, challenge themselves with, learn from and thrive on.

Meetups are great for startups to source talent – less so the “Startup Group XYZ” meetups and more the “Specific Skillet X” meetups though. The startup meetups are full of people with ideas, making it difficult to find the right person with the right skills, in the right frame of mind. The skill-oriented meet ups are often smaller, but full of people with the right skill set. Often they’re more open to working on your idea, rather than their own too.

@MarkHendrickson / Side Racket

1.Appreciate work life balance
2.Provide autonomy in their work
3.Match skill with tasks, so they can take pride in their efforts.
4.Provide a purpose they can identify with.

@ShabuThomas / Carrot Leads

My philosophy is that if you concern yourself with the motivations of those you deal with, communicate open and honestly and can ensure that they are in-line with the overall direction of your business, you will enjoy long term relationships with both staff and clients.Michael Correa / AdSounder

Australia’s quality of life is the best in the world if you enjoy outdoor pastimes and social interaction so I like to find new hires who are active outdoors in their personal time and highly social at work.

Australia feels like a long way and many timezones from friends and family in most situations so I try to find people who are genuinely looking to make a fresh start in a new place. It’s going to be hard to maintain close relationships with people back home and homesickness can make it hard to enjoy everything Australia has to offer.

@AlanJones / BlueChilli

There is absolutely no denying Australia creates great talent. There has been much debate about the talent drain to countries like the United States. However, there are some great Aussie companies that are creating amazing cultures that are attracting and retaining world class talent to stay right here in Australia.

In my view, a creating a great culture and providing the right leadership & mentoring, and getting your team to believe in your vision is key to retaining talent in Australia.

@KiranKumar / Pricify

I don’t think this is unique to Australia. Speaking for Studio Proper – we keep role requirements central to our hiring process however beyond that, we hold ourselves accountable to making sure we add tangible value to the careers and lives of everyone on board.

We’ve been exceedingly lucky to have attracted the best Melbourne has to offer without formal recruiting activity. Each member of our team has reached out to us and pursued an opportunity with the studio, and we’ve worked hard to find an opportunity to offer.

@AlonTamir / Studio Proper

Finding great talent is about having a solid network or at least knowing where to look. Once you meet a few people and start asking questions about where to look locally things will start to happen. There are jobs boards and groups on social media that can be a good starting point. Keeping great talent is about inspiring them to work for you and being a great boss!

@RohanWorkman / RosterCloud

Make the mission of your company something that greatly talented people can identify with. They will then come to work for you, and stick around.

@DrorBen-Naim / SmartSparrow

Like all places around the world finding good talent is really difficult. You need to use your networks and select your recruitment agents well. We have had success a couple of times on Seek.com.au

Keeping talent isn’t that hard. You need to offer them flexibility so the job fits their lifestyle. You need to keep them motivated by giving them tasks that keep the job interesting. You need to give them feedback on how they are going. And most importantly, and something people don’t, you need to say thank you for all their hard work.

@CarolynHarrington / Moco Insight

Like anywhere, most people don’t move for better money. Keep staff interested by aligning passion with skills and always lead, don’t push.

@GregFurlong / ChannelPace

Like most other competitive environments, you’ll be looking after your talent very well – which would include a great compensation package and the potential to grow further, not forgetting great work conditions. There’s great tendency here to telecommute and to work flexible hours.

@DamithHerath / Robological

I’ll let you know when I know! One resource which has been of great help to us is Sidekicker, which allows you to tap into a pool of talented people (usually) for one-off jobs – thus letting you scale up and down your resource pool, as required… Their staff are all handpicked so there is a certain level of quality you can expect, no matter whom you might select for any particular job.

@MichaelMehmet / eLEDGER

Our startup is based in a regional hub (Wollongong) which is only 1 hour away from Sydney. Wollongong is still a reasonable sized city with a big University and a recent push to support entrepreneurs, innovation and technology.

We find that the quality of life in this area is such that a lot of great work talent is keen to live in Wollongong, so the war for talent is not as hard as it might be in a capital city. We see high rates of consistent retention for great staff.

@MichaelLawler / Selera Labs

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