HR Leaders: Employee benefits and talent retention

'The financial benefits for our people are insane,' says head of people and culture at hipages

HR Leaders: Employee benefits and talent retention

Highlighting the benefits associated with working with Australia’s largest online tradie marketplace is a key element in helping attract and retain talent at organisation hipages, says Marianne Passafaro, head of people and culture.

With employees across four locations - Australia, New Zealand, China and the Philippines - the organisation has recently relaunched its benefits programme, now called Thrive, as well as a new wellbeing platform that gives access to medical help at reduced cost to employees.

“The financial benefits for our people are insane,” says Passafaro, who was featured in the HR Hotlist 2023.

“This is allowing our people to show that they are fundamentally keeping fit and keeping mentally stable,” she told HRDTV.

Assessing benefit use

Continually communicating the benefits associated with the Thrive programme is imperative, says Passafaro, to ensure people are accessing and using them.

“We’ve had lots of benefits that are part of our Thrive program for a while at hipages but people always say, ‘I'm not aware’ or ‘How do I access that? What do I do to utilise that benefit? How do I claim an expense?’ So fundamentally, it's about continually communicating, even if you're over communicating.

“We’ve partnered with CU Health, which provides holistic wellbeing sessions and they are virtual. So you can have sessions with dietitians, doctors, psychologists, GPs, and these are all unlimited.”

Utilisation rates of benefits are continually assessed too to ensure people get maximum benefit, and it’s important to be curious, she says, and seek more information if something isn’t being accessed. “Speak to your people” she says, and consider every way you can promote knowledge of the benefits, including flyers on desks, or internal TV opportunities.

Flexible hybrid model

“People in their day-to-day forget about this stuff regularly. So it's ensuring that we're constantly recapping and reframing what we have on offer to increase utilisation.”

As an employer, hipages – which was named Australia’s top workplace in 2021 and 2022 - operates a flexible hybrid model. Team members are able to split their time evenly between working from home and in the office. The flexible policy also gives people the option of working part-time, or different hours, and in some cases fully remote roles.

Responding to changing demands with regards to flexibility has been essential, she says, especially given that attraction and retention has been particularly challenging during a time of low unemployment.

“It really is the hardest time,” says Passafaro, who has over a decade of experience in HR and recruitment and sees managing a great employee experience as priority.

“In many countries across the globe, it's so hard to find talent with low unemployment rates. We’re literally facing the tightest talent market, and that's enabling us to be creative about how we can think differently to attract people, how can we showcase our benefits – our employee value proposition - to ensure that we are recruiting the best talent and also not just recruiting, but retaining.”

Leadership development

One area in need of attention, given the changes in workplace flexibility since Covid, she says, is leadership development.

“What we saw with remote working over the last two to three years, is organisations haven't done enough to support their [staff] growth in developing them to really take on how to be effective leaders whilst working in a remote [environment]. A lot of organisations now are really ramping up the development of their leaders and supporting them to ensure that they can be effective.”

To create a successful culture, and ensure everyone knows the organisation’s purpose, hipages’ strategy starts at the top, says Passafaro.

“We recently just did a company kick-off [to] set the scene for the next financial year, what we're working towards longer term, where we want to go, and to ensure that all of our people are aligned.”

Diversity, equity and inclusion

Values are also key to creating a successful culture, she says.

“As an organisation we've got company values, we've got a leadership charter. It's ensuring that our people understand what that means and how to live our values and our leadership charter every day, and what they can do to ensure that they are working towards being part of the organisation, the company, the guidelines.”

Also crucial to the successful culture is having a diverse, inclusive and equitable organisation, she says.

“At hipages, we are naturally inclusive and naturally diverse, everybody can come to work and be themselves every single day. And outside of that we have lots of diverse social celebration. Everybody just fits in so beautifully to create such a really nice family type of culture.”

In terms of advice to emerging HR practitioners, Passafaro emphasises the importance of “Staying true to your values” and keeping it simple.

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