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Podcast: What makes a great place to work?

Reading Time: 10 minutes

CreditorWatch was recently certified as a Great Place to Work and also made the AFR BOSS Best Places to Work list for 2022.

So how did we get there and, more importantly, how to we stay there?

CreditorWatch CEO Patrick Coghlan and General Manager of People and Culture, Fiona Crawford, share their insights into what makes a great place to work and the importance of authentic and transparent leadership, employee empowerment, inclusion and non-work related personal growth initiatives.

PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Patrick

Welcome to the latest CreditorWatch Business Insights Podcast. Today I’m joined by our GM of People and Culture Fiona Crawford. Thank you for joining us Fee, good to have you with us.

Fiona

Pleasure to be here.

Patrick

So off the back of CreditorWatch being nominated as one of the AFR BOSS Best Places to Work in Australia – round of applause, everyone – we thought we would do a podcast around culture, workplace, people and culture, that sort of thing.

And we’ve got the best in the business joining us in Fee, so I get to interview her today which is fantastic and Fee is under the spotlight. So first off, well done. Congratulations on a fantastic submission and a fantastic award to get.

Fiona

Yeah, I’m so proud of it. I think it’s a true testament to just how the business views culture and views the importance of you know, of employee well-being, learning and development. So, to be able to be placed with some of the other businesses on the list is you know, is a huge credit to the employees.

Patrick

Yeah, that’s right. I think culture and people have always been really important at CreditorWatch, and we never had a formal GM of… we don’t call you HR obviously, you just put your HR hat on if things happen to go wrong, but they don’t. They don’t ever happen. And you’ve been with us now for eight months which has been phenomenal and to then pick up the award, pretty much first submission. Well done.

Fiona

The beauty is I didn’t walk into an organisation or a role that was broken. CreditorWatch was doing so many fantastic things that just really just needed someone to wrap their arms around it and package it together and really put it out there to the business and to the wider community. These are all the fantastic things that we do because when we listed it, it was almost quite eye opening to go, well we really are a Best Place to Work. We’re one of the best and we’re truly deserving of that recognition.

Patrick

Yes, spot on. Formalising it for me, and we’ve got a document now which is great. We knew that we did a lot of things but even reading through the document, also ‘oh yeah, that’s right, we offer this and this. This isn’t a big CreditorWatch plug but it is at the same time, but yeah, it was fantastic to have that. So, thank you. So I’ve got a couple of questions for you. And we’re going to just keep rolling in a nice informal conversation. So let’s talk about the ingredients for creating a great place to work. You know what, what do you believe are the sort of essential ingredients for that?

Fiona

For me, the main thing is authentic leadership. I certainly know that was the main driver for me joining CreditorWatch was just the authentic leaders that run the business genuinely believe in the products that we’re building, the service that we provide our clients and genuinely believe in the growth strategy.

So actually, seeing leaders role model that behaviour is so empowering for everybody. And I love the fact that the leaders in this business are accessible as you know, we sit opposite each other, you know, in an open floor. Nobody has an office, everybody’s accessible. We have things like ‘Coffee with Coghlan’, you have lunches with all the new starters so that people have access, there is no hierarchy in the business so authentic leadership is a big-ticket item for me.

I also think genuine care for employees, I think that is what CreditorWatch does remarkably well. In the sense that we have fantastic, you know, rewards and benefits that we offer people, but they’re bespoke for what our business needs. It’s not this blanket approach to you know, we’re going to roll this initiative out to everybody. We take time to make sure that we genuinely find out what people want in the business, and we roll out initiatives targeted to that. And again, you know, a key fit for our business is that alignment to strategy. I think people when they come to work, and they’ve got a really clear line of sight.

Patrick

It’s not just about fun.

Fiona:

Exactly, exactly. Sure. You know, we work hard, and we have a good time doing it. But people know what it is that they’re doing and how it rolls up to the overall strategy, the business so people know that when they’ve got skin in the game, they’ve got an ability to impact the business.

Patrick

Yeah, there’s that clear line of sight between what I’m doing on a daily basis and how we’re going to achieve our goals each quarter.

Fiona

Exactly. And you can’t underestimate how empowering that is because so many people go to work and they can’t see how they can impact whether it’s the bottom line that you know, the client experience, the products that we build. Everybody at CreditorWatch has five strategic goals that they have set each third clearly aligned to where the business is going.

Patrick

Yeah and I think we’ve got a bit of a reputation at CreditorWatch for having a really good culture and I always talk about it as our number one most important thing or my number one most important thing and it’s easy to say that it’s certainly not easy to, you’ve got to work hard at it, but I feel like we’ve got a really good mix of people and the way about how we go about it which is which is really positive.

So, it’s kind of hard people ask, you know, what makes such a great culture and I’ve got someone actually coming in today to sort of have a bit of a tour and walk around and see what it is that we do because he’s heard great things about it. So it’s got to be habit, right? You’ve got to be doing it every day all day, you know you can’t just have a set initiative and sort of go off and do it right?

Fiona

Yeah, exactly. And I think it’s a real sense of connectedness also. And I think, again, the beauty of CreditorWatch is that we really don’t have silos. We understand that. We’re not the biggest player in the market, but we have huge aspirations to be there. So we recognise that we’ve really got to link arms to get this over the line.

So there’s you’ll never hear someone say, Well, like I can’t help that. That’s not my job. I pride myself on I know the leadership team does or knowing everybody’s names, knowing what their kids’ names are, what sport they play, you know, and being accessible. And again, it goes back to that role modelling. I love the fact that I walk the floor every day I offer to get people coffees, I know what their coffees are. And you know, just that the little things like that, that people pick up on that just again generates this real sense of connectedness.

Patrick

Yeah, the silo one’s really important for me. So we’ll obviously have lunches in the sort of main social area on a, you know, twice a week. But then we’ve got other events that we put on and it’s so good to see sales sitting with developers, you know, marketing sitting with operations, you know, everyone mixing together it’s not just the salespeople all sitting in one place and you know, the devs and product people sitting elsewhere. You know, everyone mixes together which is which is great.

Fiona

I do think it’s a really valid point that you make in terms of something that you’ve got to constantly work on. We were growing at a rate of knots in terms of, you know, revenue, but also staff numbers, and that’s something that we’ve got to make sure that we continue to do, because the nature of people’s personality, some people aren’t inclined just to go off and sit down next to somebody so it’s creating those safe environments where it’s not forced or contrived that you do create opportunities for that, you know, cross department collaboration and also you know, some really fun events that that tailor to everybody.

Patrick

Yeah, spot on. Thank you. So back to the AFR BOSS Best Places to Work list and our I won’t call it victory, but you know, being noted as one of the best places to work in that list is certainly an honour. Can you tell us a bit about the initiatives that we had in place that helped us get there?

Fiona

So again, as we kind of said once we listed everything, it was quite remarkable when we took stock of everything, obviously looking after the health and safety of our employees is paramount.

We’ve got a beautiful office in Sydney. We’ve also got lovely offices in Melbourne and Brisbane also so making the environment a healthy and safe and a place that people want to come to. A destination. So obviously we provide things you know, fully stocked kitchen we have breakfasts, we have lunched a couple of times a week.

We provide heaps and heaps of opportunities for team building, wellness days we offer which has been, you know, incredibly well received across the business so people can take one day a month you know, to whether it’s to focus on volunteering, their mental wellness, whether it’s to spend time with family members, they can’t do during the week

So those sorts of things have been so well received but little things around learning and development and that’s something that we take very, very seriously at CreditorWatch. So making sure that everybody has clear strategic items that they’re working on, learning and development plans in place, we have bespoke sales training programs and

Patrick

That came through on surveys didn’t it as well? Asking staff what more do you want?

Fiona

Exactly! It’s this sense of I really love my role. I don’t necessarily want to leave but I want to be more effective in my role. Can you help me? And again, I think what we do really well is utilise the existing talent and expertise in the business.

So we’re constantly running Lunch and Learns around our product and our engineering team sales demos. So really making sure that we’re not relying on external people to come in and upskill our people it’s really utilising the talent that we’ve got within the business.

Patrick

Yeah, and you sort of touched on the variety of benefits there. It’s not just okay we’ve got you know, a keg in the in the Sydney office, which is which is great, obviously, and that was probably the first thing I put in when, we were designing and that’s all I really did. Because it’s not a boozy culture.

But it is it is fun to come together and celebrate at the end of a month. But having that ability to know where I’m going as an employee, how am I going to improve? What is my career trajectory, that it’s really important? It’s not just about the fun things.

Fiona

Yeah, exactly. And I think a lot of our employees have incredible career aspirations and will want 100 per cent support for them, but you know, there’s also points in time where you don’t necessarily need to lean in, you’re happy to stand straight or even lean out.

It’s supporting people in the roles at that period of time to make sure that they still feel like they’re growing and they’re learning, not necessarily climbing the corporate ladder because it may not be what they want at that particular period of time. So, but just making sure that you know, I almost feel like it’s almost a duty of care. To make sure that regardless of whether people are leaning in, leaning out, they are continuing to grow.

Patrick

What are the biggest challenges at the moment? You know, we’ve heard all about this great resignation. How do leaders sort of combat that?

Fiona

I think there is the great resignation. I think the pandemic has really forced people to look at what’s important to them. And people want to work for a values-based organisation that genuinely cares about them.

So I think there’s that challenge people re-evaluating what they want out of work, and hybrid work is here to stay. So it’s about understanding that you know, people do want that flexibility. It can work, the only way it can work is to create a culture of trust and accountability. So, CreditorWatch when you join us, you don’t come in and have to earn your trust. You come in with trust because our managers can hold you accountable to that.

So, you know, they’re the challenges that we’re going to be facing into you know, for the next you know, two, three, four years as this hybrid working environment really starts to evolve. And organisations need to be nimble enough to understand they need to, to work towards what employees actually want out of their careers, their life.

And again, as I think the pandemic showed that work and life morphed into one, you know, we suddenly saw who had kids, who had pets, who was a fan of Midnight Oil because we saw the poster behind them in a Zoom meeting. So, it’s actually taken the time to understand what it is that people want out of work and making sure that you’re, as I said that we’re nimble enough to tailor to that.

Patrick

Yeah, and I think that’s going to change again, right. We sort of had the full-time work from home then we’re back and then lock downs and what not and and I think we’re starting to see a desire for most people to want to come back.

Look, I’m certainly a pro work from office advocate, but not full time even I know that that’s not the thing and I worked from home on Monday, and it was fantastic. Just found a bit more time that I needed. So yeah, I agree that hybrid working is here to stay. I just want to finish off because I know people have short attention spans nowadays with devices at their hands all the time. But what have we kind of got coming down the pipe for CreditorWatch with some new initiatives and is there anything else you wanted to add after that?

Fiona

Yeah, so we recently did a survey of our employees and there was this resounding feedback of we’ve got offer great benefits, but we really need to be probably aware of the diversity that exists within the business. So I’m really proud of the fact that we’ve got a dedicated focus group to look at,

Patrick

What’s the name of the focus group?

Fiona

It’s called the Culture Club and that is why I don’t work in marketing because that is as creative as I get. But it’s some it’s a fantastic group of people that that are tasked with making sure that the initiatives that we put in place are tailored to our diversity, equity, inclusion, and wellness.

So you’re right, it’s not just about you know, pouring yourself, you know, a pint out of the keg. It’s making sure you’re recognising things like Ramadan, you know, people’s heritage, access to AIP so that’s really exciting and also looking at life skills really upskilling people.

You and I are working on looking to offer swimming lessons for our staff. That’s a duty of care to provide people with that skill. It’s so important in Australia, things like finance ‘Lunch and Learns’. So you know, entering the property market, buying my first home, the share market 101.

Patrick

How to read a balance sheet, P&L…

Fiona

Absolutely, so people you know if they do choose to leave CreditorWatch, I know where they live, so I’ll stalk them, but they do walk away going ‘I’m a better and more well-rounded person because of my time with the business’.

Patrick

Awesome. Well with that in mind Fee, thank you very much for joining us and great to have you on the CreditorWatch team and great to have you on the Business Insights podcast. Thank you.

Fiona

My pleasure loving every minute.

Patrick

Thank you everyone for joining as well. Please keep an eye out for future podcasts as always more to come from creditor watch until then stay safe and we’ll hear from us again very soon.