HR Awards: Spotlight on last year’s employer of choice winner

by Janie Smith19 May 2014
It’s no accident that the Port Stephens Council was named last year’s Employer of Choice for the public sector and not-for-profit at the Australian HR Awards.

Michelle Gilliver-Smith, the council’s organisation development manager, said the council set out to become an employer of choice and being recognised for its efforts at the awards was a huge boost.

“Personally, it was probably the highlight of my professional career so far. To have been here when we decided that this was what we wanted to be and to have that recognised formally was incredibly satisfying,” she said.

“For the organisation, I think the people who work here know it’s a good place to work and it was a wonderful thing to come back after we won that award and to feel the buzz. People were genuinely really proud of the fact that we had been recognised, against all of those organisations that had entered. It has impacted very positively. People talk now about the fact that we are an employer of choice and why would you want to work anywhere else? You hear those sorts of things all the time from our own staff and also externally. Our applicant rates have doubled since we began this journey.”

For the Port Stephens Council, becoming an employer of choice meant working out what that meant for the organisation and developing a strategy around it.

The first step was to define what it could offer employees that would make it a great place to work.

“For us, those things are all centred around lifestyle. We truly do provide work-life balance, it’s not just something we tick off. We have a huge array of different flexible working arrangements,” said Gilliver-Smith.

Teams can choose the working arrangements that best suit their members, as long as the standard of customer services is maintained.

The council’s other focus was a well-developed talent management strategy.

“We provide opportunities. Councils are extremely diverse. We have 51 different businesses within our organisation so there’s a great variety of things you can do. There are lots of opportunities and a lot of diversity. We will support you to develop your career, providing that’s good for the organisation as well and we will help you grow.”
  • Click here to nominate an organisation for the 2014 Australian HR Awards. Nominations are free


  • by Heidi Alexandra Pollard 19/05/2014 12:45:51 PM

    Great to see a local council doing good work to empower and engage their people. #Startwithu

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