B3 Monthly – May 2019

HR Extras


Flexibility – The Key to Productivity

Recent data published by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development reveals the average hours worked per year by employees in various economies. Mexico and South Korea top the list, with employees working more than 2,000 hours per year on average, far greater than the 1,300 hours worked by an average German employee.

However, the extra hours worked by Mexican employees relative to their German counterparts do not necessarily translate into higher productivity. In fact, when considering their working population and GDP, German employees in one hour of work generate nearly 7.5 times what a Mexican worker will in GDP terms. This confirms an underappreciated truth – it’s not how long you spend working that matters, but how much you get done.

Germany’s case serves as another example of the benefits flexible working arrangements can have for a business, having the potential for more work being done without needing employees to spend more hours at work. Indeed, in a 2018 survey, cloud HR company Zenefits found that 78% of employees working flexibly believed they were more productive at work, whilst 73% found flexibility to have increased their satisfaction at work.

Take Melbourne based digital marketing firm Versa for example, who has shut down on Wednesdays. Despite some initial scepticism from employees that they would not have adequate time to complete their work at the expense of the business, revenue at Versa has increased by 46% and profit has “nearly tripled” since the policy was introduced in July last year. Of course the entirety of these gains cannot be solely attributed to the scrapping of Wednesday work, but CEO Kath Blackman does believe it has played a large role in reducing staff turnover and increasing productivity.


Source: OECD

The Creative Introvert



Keeping on theme of hot-desking, a 2017 survey found that two-thirds of 400 surveyed multinational corporations intended on moving to a shared workspace system or hot-desking by 2020. It is likely that the intentions of these companies were to promote collaboration, discussion and a more dynamic work environment, ideal for extraverted employees, despite research suggesting that introverts constitute up to half the population of the world.

In a 2012 TED Talk, Susan Cain discusses the growing social bias that assumes creativity, innovation and performance are best fostered in a group context, when in fact “research strongly suggests that people are more creative when they enjoy privacy and freedom from interruption”. She elaborates that the increasing prevalence of hot-desking is somewhat attributable to this social and organisational bias.

Cain also laments that as a result of introverts’ less vocal personalities, they are continuously glazed over for promotions, despite the Wharton School of Business finding that introverts can be better leaders, owing to their careful outlook, risk-averse nature and willingness to let their employees run with ideas as opposed to stamping their own will on them. Cain cites Charles Darwin, Mahatma Gandhi and Steve Wozniak as introverts who achieved incredible feats as a result of their creativity and intellectual prowess whilst working in solitude. She emphasises that whilst teamwork collaboration and discussion have proven benefits in the workplace, particularly amongst extraverts, modern workplaces must recognise the importance of “freedom, privacy and autonomy” of introverted employees to maximise collective performance.



Super Legislation Changes Affect Your Staff!



Recent superannuation legislation changes will most likely affect you and your staff.

Effective 1 July 2019, all super funds are required to cancel your insurance cover if no monies have been added to your account for 16 continuous months. The purpose of these new super laws is to make sure people aren’t paying for more cover than they need. Estimates expect “three million low-balance superannuation accounts being consolidated, saving members up to $2.6 billion each year in fees and life insurance premiums.”

These changes will affect staff who have nominated a super fund other than your employer default super fund but may have opted to keep a minimum balance in your default fund to enjoy the insurance benefits you offer.

Legislative changes are often complicated and difficult to understand and/or communicate with staff. If you need help with a communication template or would like access to a webinar explaining the changes to distribute, Stanford Brown can help.

Super Ways to Support Your Employee’s Super

Planning for retirement can be a boring and overlooked task for many younger (and older) Australians. It’s hard to engage staff when retirement can seem so far off, especially in an evolving work climate where we don’t know what the workforce landscape will look like or retirement age will be even 20 years from now. Arguably, this uncertainty is what should encourage us to be even more invested in our retirement plans and the money we will need to retire comfortably.

Providing employees with greater than the 9.5% Superannuation guarantee contribution amount is one way to support their long-term financial wellbeing. An article by HRM argues, however, that people are brought up to want the reward now rather than wait for the reward 20, 30 or 40 years down the line.

Stanford Brown’s approach is to offer a super contribution matching scheme rather than a blanket increase in employer contributions. This means that the employer will match any additional contribution our employees make to their super, promoting employee buy-in.

The matching scheme strategy may be of particular interest to smaller companies who are unable to increase base salary rates but would like to offer financial benefits in order to attract and retain staff.

If you are interested in exploring the matching scheme strategy, then reach out!

Renting Better Than Buying?

With the Sydney property market likely to continue its recent downtrend, many millennials are now asking themselves a previously unfathomable question – should they rent or buy?


Ernst and Young have given their two cents, reporting that over 60% of Sydneysiders who bought property in the last 25 years would have made more money if they had rented and invested their savings in the sharemarket. But before they ditch their mortgage broker for their stock broker, millennials should keep a few things in mind:

  • There is more to life than maximising your net worth. The average person would also be wealthier if they never went on holidays and worked weekends, but that would not be a life well lived. Buying your first property is a major life event, especially if you’re planning to raise a family in it.
  • The Ernst and Young report is flawed in a number of ways. It assumes that property investors were only buying units, despite houses outperforming units over the last 25 years. It also assumes that renters were mindlessly investing in the sharemarket each month, even though both retail and professional investors tend to let their emotions get the better of them, getting carried away when markets are booming and panic selling during downturns.
  • One of the benefits of a mortgage is that it forces you to save. Many renters would be tempted to spend their savings rather than invest it in the sharemarket. Property owners don’t have that luxury, with the bank demanding their pound of flesh each month!

As always, the answer to the rent-vs-buy question varies from person to person. As to whether property or shares are a better long-term investment, here’s our Chief Investment Officer Ashley Owen going toe to toe with renown buyer’s agent Patrick Bright!



Hot Desking: A Heated Discussion



As companies grow, real estate becomes more expensive and work forces expand, it makes sense for leadership teams to review physical space structures to best suit the needs of the company.

And with all the benefits to staff too? Well it’s a win/win!

While the theory is that having fluid style seating arrangements (hot desking) encourages collaboration, creativity and autonomy, the practice often proves the opposite.

A GLWS article goes as far as to say that rather than the positive outcomes companies desire from introducing hot desking, there are some worrying negative effects on employee wellbeing and performance.

Noise and distractions are two of the biggest complaints that come out of open plan offices. The University of Sydney found that 50-60% of people with either a completely open office floor plan or low walled cubicles were dissatisfied with their sound privacy.

The biggest challenge, however, with working in an open plan/hot desking office environment is a sense of ownership and belonging. Especially as we move more into the blurry world of work/life integration, and there is an ever-evolving focus on agility, innovation and growth, it can be as simple as having a dedicated personal space at work that promotes better mental wellbeing.

So while we are always on the lookout for the best way to support both our company’s bottom line, while implementing topical employee benefits (such as hot-desking) it becomes vital to research the practical outcomes before jumping on the bandwagon.

Read more about Hot-Desking and supporting your introverted staff in ‘The Creative Introvert’ article down below.

Around the Water Cooler


Let’s be thankful that Grant doesn’t work at your office:


The below is our new mantra:


James McFarland

Stanford Brown

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