Australian Mid-Market Puts People First for Business Success

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20 May 2014

Australian mid-size businesses are most likely to turn to people-based strategies to get them through future challenges, according to a new report from Bankwest.

The Business Leaders Report – the first instalment in the Bankwest Future of Business Series launched today – reveals that mid-size businesses have a heightened focus on people-based strategies to overcome future business challenges. In particular, mid-size businesses identify recruitment of talent (41.2 per cent) and staff retention (36.5 per cent) as the key aspect they would focus on to mitigate future challenges which could interrupt the overall direction of their business.

Pricing strategies (36.5 per cent), diversification of products and services (31.8 per cent) and new distribution channels (30.6 per cent) are also key factors in mitigating potential challenges that could interrupt the overall business direction.

With human resources crucial to mid-size business in overcoming future business challenges, effective leadership and staff motivation are natural extensions that play key roles.

While monetary rewards and open recognition are common motivational strategies for many Australian businesses, findings from the report show that these are not the most effective strategies according to leaders of mid-size businesses. Instead, the respondents state the key to motivating and influencing staff is to be a good role model and to foster employees’ ownership of a common vision and goals. Close to three in five (59 per cent) believe that leading by focusing on the individual and providing coaching and mentoring is most effective in motivating and influencing staff.

When it comes to addressing a generational gap, more than 70 per cent of respondents cited the need for different motivational tactics for junior and senior staff. To get the best out of junior staff, more than seven in 10 (71 per cent) of leaders said that focusing on providing coaching and mentoring is effective. Conversely, 73 per cent said the top approach for leading senior staff is to lead by being a role model.

When implementing incentive programs in the workplace, leaders agree that there must be a difference in how they are used to motivate junior and senior staff. Of those who believe there is a difference, close to three in five (58.6 per cent) say that career progression opportunities are most effective for motivating junior staff while close to half (48.3 per cent) believe cash bonuses work best for senior staff. Flexible working policies also show their merits, with 51.8 per cent of respondents allowing flexible working hours in their business as a key strategy to retain staff.

“Perfecting your leadership strategy is crucial for any business and the Bankwest Future of Business Series report certainly supports that in identifying some specific trends, particularly around people-based strategies and new techniques for motivating staff. Profit comes from productivity and we all know that a motivated team is a benefit for any business,” said Sinead Taylor, Executive General Manager of Business Banking.

“At Bankwest we aim to assist our customers in growing their businesses and we believe these insights, and others still to come in the Bankwest Future of Business Series will offer us the opportunity to assist companies in their business interests not just their banking,” Taylor said.

The report continues by unveiling the favoured leadership style of Australia’s mid-size businesses with a democratic approach preferred by close to half of all respondents (47.1 per cent). Second most popular is a transformational leadership style aiming to redirect the needs and motivations of employees to suit the specific business challenge ahead.

“It’s encouraging to see mid-size businesses adopting a democratic or transitional leadership style and it’s a testament to how forward-thinking mid-size businesses in Australia really are,” said Taylor.

The Bankwest Future of Business Series will continue over the coming months with subsequent reports set to identify national trends which company leaders believe will shape the future of business.

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