An Auckland business owner who has given his 120 staff a 30 per cent pay hike says it is not, on its own, a solution to company growth.
"I could pay my people $100,000 a year but if they are working 70-80 hours and never seeing their families that is not sustainable," says Ian Crawford, owner/managing director of security services firm CityGuard.
So as well as lifting pay rates by a third, Crawford has taken another step – he's reduced working hours to a standard 40-60 per week.
Crawford, who bought Cityguard four years ago, has been sharing his business philosophies with Suncorp New Zealand as part of the research for Suncorp's 2018 Business Success Index.
The index forms part of the company's annual From Risk to Reward study, which examines what Kiwi businesses think about risk and success.
The 2017 study showed 78 per cent of Kiwi businesses value work-life balance as much as growth and see having quality people as a key to their success – findings that Crawford says resonate deeply with him.
He says when he took over Cityguard staff were working a minimum of 60 hours and it was not uncommon for them to put in 80 hours.
"We were an industry where no-one was happy and clients hated us because they saw high staff turnover and a bunch of disengaged, low-skilled and under-paid employees," he says. "When I discussed my plans for employee salaries and working hours with the previous owner, he thought I had rocks in my head.
"But quite frankly we were turning married couples into solo parents because our staff were working so much they had hardly any time left to be with their families."
Crawford is again participating in the research, which in 2018 will look at the power of disruption and how changing business models – or the need to change them – can impact the success and future prospects of a range of Kiwi companies.
Suncorp New Zealand CEO Paul Smeaton says many of the factors that make businesses successful are not likely to change: "We are living in a world of rapid change, and this year we will be looking at the way we interact with factors like people and technology, and how that is changing in the age of disruption.
"Last year's research showed that people – leaders and employees – are key factors influencing how successful a business is," he says. "Cityguard is a great example of the way these people working together can harness the power of engaged, happy and productive employees to build a more successful business."
Crawford agrees: "But times are changing and we need to look for new ways to invest in people, trust and develop them and update our business models in a way that ensures our people are the key to our business success."
He says a defining moment for him came several years ago when he was working in real estate and attended a conference at which the then CEO of Disneyland was a guest speaker.
"He talked about core values in business. It was the first time I'd seen core values being used efficiently rather than just as a slogan," he says.
As a result Crawford has taken the concept into his business by developing three key core values for Cityguard - safety, courtesy and family.
"These are the driving force of all the changes we have made and the operational decisions we make because when I came here I could see workers were struggling to have influence over their kids."
Crawford says outdated business models that separate parents from their children mean they don't do well at school, they get in to trouble, and end up as unskilled workers themselves.
"We were effectively creating our own future workforce – and that was the bit that got me annoyed."
Crawford also thinks it is unsafe for people to have to work 60 hours or more in a week. "We all do it, but it is not sustainable to do it consistently."
Crawford says while staff might be willing to work long hours - and can still take additional shifts if they want them – it shouldn't be because those hours are the only way they could earn the amount of money they needed.
As a result of the changes, Crawford says staff turnover has dropped dramatically, falling from around 40 per cent when he took over the company to around 20 per cent now – "and I have had wives ringing me up to tell me how pleased they are to see more of their husbands."
The company specialises in community, commercial and events security and operates at some of Auckland's highest profile areas including the Wynyard Quarter, Viaduct Harbour and the Newmarket retail strip.
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