In our recent Quarterly Review, we suggested that now is a good time to step back, take a deep breath and objectively assess how you are traveling towards your plans for this year (business as well as personal). After all, a lot of stuff’s been happening! (<<Business Health Newsletters/Blog>>)

Perhaps not surprisingly, most of the feedback we have received is focussed on staff – many of whom continue to work from home, under lockdown restrictions. Testing times for all.

And, given salaries make up around 61% of average practice expenditure, staff are clearly the biggest investment a business owner can make. They are your frontline to clients and without them, your business will certainly struggle and fail.

We noted with interest a comment from Brisbane based Ric Zanetti, CEO of Zanetti Recruitment and Consulting: “In our 14 years recruiting within financial services, we have not seen demand like this for skilled administrative staff.”

In addition, ‘working from home’ and the ‘expedience of virtuality’ have further opened up the employment market – if staff don’t need to work from a physical office location they can effectively work for employers outside their local area, increasing options for both employee and employer. The risk is – will your staff take the call from another practice? As Ric succinctly puts it: “…if you believe that staff can’t work remotely for at least some of the time, then you need to understand other businesses do and have proven they can. Expectations by staff are that they can.”  

The message is clear – your people are valuable, look after them and ensure they know you care.

Ten warning signs that indicate possible problems could lie ahead include:

  1. A noticeable drop in productivity, with turnaround times slowing down and deadlines being missed.
  2. Client feedback/complaints – more than normal.
  3. Feedback, comments, observations from your professional network (PDMs, BDMs, product and service providers, you do ask them, right?).
  4. Staff are complaining about their colleagues.
  5. Emails are being sent out of business hours, at night or on the weekends for example.
  6. Attendance/participation in team meetings is well below the usual experience. Proactivity has been replaced by reactivity.
  7. Requests for holidays and sick leave are on the increase.
  8. You haven’t checked in regularly – those ‘how’s things’ calls are really important. As is saying ‘thank you’ and asking how their family is.
  9. You haven’t checked how competitive your compensation package is, not just in terms of dollars, but also in benefits. Why should your staff work for you, and not your competitor? A great question to regularly ask yourself.
  10. Poor results from your most recent staff satisfaction survey. Unfortunately seeking feedback from staff in an objective, professional way hasn’t been a strength of Australian practices in the past, with a mere 6% contracting an external third party to undertake this on their behalf. In fact, one in four practices (26%) advise that they actually don’t seek feedback at all.

But perhaps the last word should go to Mr Indy Singh, Chairman of the Fiducian Group, who commented during the release of his group’s end of year results; “Our people are the heart and soul of our business and retention of skilled staff is crucial to long term business growth”.

For your consideration.