Prioritise your people when the going is tough, and they’ll be more likely to stick around for the long haul.
Is the so-called “Great Resignation” likely to cut a swathe through local proptech businesses in 2022, as contributors collectively call time on their current positions?
Scan the headlines in recent weeks, and it’s a hard topic to avoid. Thousands of virtual column inches have been devoted to the theme (including, in this instance, my own!), many of them adjuring organisations to brace themselves for a string of departures once Australia’s economy – and borders – are once again wide open.
The shift to sellers’ market
In the proptech sphere, the prospect of developers, product managers et al moving on, en masse, is a sobering one for owners and managers, coming, as it does, hot on the heels of the very hot war for talent that kicked off a few months after COVID slammed national borders shut.
With the option of plugging skills gaps with overseas talent abruptly taken off the table, companies like ours have had to work doubly hard to find and secure the personnel we’ve needed, from a tight domestic labour pool, to keep developing our products and businesses.
We’ve had to lean on our networks and ensure we’re leveraging our brand and highlighting the opportunities we can provide to talented local professionals who can hit the ground running. (Paying market rates and offering flexible working conditions that meet their needs and those of the business are, of course, both givens.)
Should I stay or should I go?
Will we see some of these folk saying “so long”, before too long, along with other more longstanding employees looking to light out for somewhere new and different?
In our case, I’d like to think not. In common with almost every other start-up, we entered the pandemic lean. Shortly after it struck, we identified a number of priorities for our small but growing software house, and top of the list was employee retention.
While scores of larger organisations lost little time slashing their headcounts, cutting hours and pay packets and furloughing workers whose projects had been postponed or cancelled, we opted to take a different tack – retaining each and every member of our team on full pay.
Yes, there were financial risks involved in doing so but, to our way of thinking, those risks were well and truly outweighed by the benefits that would accrue from holding tight to our prize asset – the people whose expertise and commitment have enabled us to develop a world-class suite of property valuation solutions.
Cuts both ways
Keeping them in the loop and assuring them they could get on with the job without worrying whether or not they’d have a job a month hence, helped our team feel as relaxed and comfortable as possible in the early days of COVID.
In return, they’ve repaid us ten-fold with their loyalty and commitment, even as head hunters have come knocking at their doors, offering opportunities and sweeteners to anyone possibly contemplating a move.
Navigating COVID’s challenges together has resulted in another benefit. It’s helped us to enhance and elevate our already healthy corporate culture, turning a willing workforce into a formidable, tight-knit unit with crystal-clear common values and purpose.
It’s that culture – along with the opportunity to work for a software house that’s experiencing 50 per cent growth and is starting to kick goals internationally – that we believe will help us keep our team intact, Great Resignation or not.
It’s also what we hope will attract new stars to our firmament as we continue to enhance our solutions and pursue our ambitious expansion strategy.
Thus, as proptech professionals collectively consider their options in 2022, we’re looking forward to welcoming, not farewelling, a clutch of colleagues.
Scott Willson is the chief executive of Forbury.