What is the competitive advantage that organisations have? Is it their unique products? Is it their exceptional service? Or is it the people who run and work the organisation?


Products and service can be copied, even where the barriers to entry are high (if something is profitable, high barriers can be overcome). We always see introduction of new products that “Leapfrog” the existing products with new and better features. Inevitably these products are also “Leapfrogged” by new advances and ultimately any competitive advantage is short lived

However, great employees with product/service knowledge, who help to form and maintain the culture of an organisation, are the most important asset an organisation can have. They can never be replaced and if treated well and challenged, will be loyal and always add value to the business’ bottom-line. To me the answer is clear.

Smart organisations recognise this and partner with their employees to grow their business and their market share. So what do these smart organisations do to try and woo and engage their frontline forces? How do these companies become an employer of choice that good employees want to work for?

The employer has to create an environment that allows the workforce to engage and want the organisation to succeed. I subscribe to the theory that a satisfied workforce is both highly efficient and very effective in carrying out their activities. This has been considered in research at a number of levels, and while I am unaware of any concrete evidence proving the case, it makes sense to me that employers should be aiming for a working environment that is both efficient and effective. The very good organisations intuitively understand this and consider and address the issues that forge satisfaction in the workplace, such as:

  • A safe, healthy and stable environment
  • Recognition of employees in front of their peers (does not have to be financial) when jobs are done well or the extra mile is taken
  • Recognition of personal achievements & milestones
  • Senior people within the organisation know all individuals and engage them in the work environment (and outside work if they happen upon them in the street)
  • Clear guidelines on positions and work to be done
  • Clear and regular feedback on performance
  • Pay that acknowledges contribution and value to the organisation. Further, good organisations have a pay structure that allows for salaries that are in the upper quartile for the market the business operates in
  • Development, Training & Promotional Opportunities
  • Responsibilities & Accountabilities
  • Transparency, Trust, Fairness & Flexibility
  • Employees who are empowered to make decisions that are appropriate and considered

From an employees perspective, a matching checklist of needs is require to be fulfillment before the employee will be totally committed. These are:

  • Having a business and manager they respect
  • A workplace that is safe
  • Having a workplace they would be proud to display to their family & friends e.g. open days
  • Work that is interesting and “makes a difference”
  • A business where they can learn
  • A lifestyle that enables them to be respected within their family & community
  • Allows the employee to give back to their family and also perhaps their community
  • Being encouraged and set up for success
  • Challenged at times but not every minute of every day
  • Being supported
  • A sense of belonging or a family environment
  • Empowered
  • Tools to do the job
  • Feedback
  • Clear and consistent communication

These two checklists are very similar. If employers and employees can match their employment requirements, Australian businesses will continue to succeed.

There is a clear correlation that getting this right, leads to lower Sick Leave and Turnover. What is your Sick Leave and Turnover? Is it higher or lower than the national average?