Employer of Choice: Hokubee Australia
Who are you?
My name is Emily Clayworth, Business Development Coordinator for Hokubee Australia (Meltique Beef)
Describe your core business:
We are a further meat processing establishment located in Wauchope, with 75 employees. We buy vacuum packed strip loin and process it for a premium market.
How would you define an excellent employer?
An employer that focuses and puts emphasis on staff health and wellbeing not just on the company’s profits.
In your organisation, what are some of the things you do that make you an employer of choice?
We have a 4-day week, with Fridays if worked paid as overtime, always optional, with a bacon and egg burger for breakfast! All the uniforms and equipment are provided at no cost to staff, and we provide tea, coffee, milk, cereal, toast, spreads, snacks, and lunches every day. A hot/cooked meal is made on Wednesdays for all staff. There is on-site physiotherapy every Thursday available for all staff at no cost to them. When we have a good audit result, staff are rewarded with an extra special lunch (subway, pizza, sushi, KFC etc). At Christmas time we have a catered lunch, each staff member gets a monetary bonus, ham, bag of steaks and a present – and steaks are given to staff if they work extra long days/overtime as a reward. Staff are rewarded with allowances as they progress into new roles, and we encourage all our staff to do further study, in any field they desire. We have policy of promote from within – Emily started 6 years ago on the floor, and the business supported her to study and progress within the organisation. We pay above award wages and we support staff in not only professional development, but personal development as well.
Why is it important to you that you are an excellent employer?
It is important because as the world changes, we want to change with it. The focus used to always be on the employer, but it is becoming more and more important that the focus should be on the rights of the employee.
We want our staff to come to work and enjoy themselves, to ultimately make life easier for them. Productivity has a direct relationship with staff morale, so every little thing we can do to increase morale, in turn increases production and everyone benefits. We understand that we are a unique establishment and the nature of our workplace may not be the most suitable for prospective employees as it isn’t the most glamourous role but it can be rewarding in so many ways. Everything that we try to do here is to benefit and look after our employees by creating a supportive, positive workplace. We treat our staff with respect and support them as much as possible to keep them. We also realise that times are tough with the cost-of-living such as high rental prices, home loan increases, unavailability of accommodation, food costs and fuel costs amongst other things, which is why we started providing lunch as well as breakfast – and we recently increased our wages again to help our staff adjust to the new cost of living.
What have you learned along your journey to becoming an employer of choice?
- That sometimes no matter how hard you try to help someone, sometimes it just isn’t enough.
- Communication is the absolute key to a successful happy workplace, the communication between management and staff, and staff and management has to be open and respectful.
- We have learnt a lot about changing the “old school” mentality to adopt a more inclusive, friendly environment.
Do you employ young people (under 25)? Do you consider you do that effectively? Why/Why not?
We employ people of all ages – all the way from early school leavers to people who are close to retirement. It can be challenging working with young people – sometimes they come with a lot of personal issues, and are trying to figure their lives out. The biggest thing we do for them is to help them through this phase of their lives and set them up with transferable skills. It doesn’t matter if they stay with us or not – as we see it, if we help the young people then we help the community. We give everyone a chance at face value and encourage everyone to see the value in a career here with what we do. We always say that yes, we are a small factory in Wauchope but we open bigger doors, the skills you learn here are very transferable Australia wide, if not internationally.
What is your advice to organisations that want to improve as an employer?
Value your staff – invest in them, as they are one of your biggest assets and they play a major role in the success and future of your business.
- Happy employees mean increased productivity – you cannot have a successful workplace when employees are turning up to work miserable.
- Showing your staff how much you value them is integral.
- They are not just workers, they are people who have their own problems/issues outside of the workplace that sometimes they can’t leave at the door on their way in. It is important to check in and address these issues and help resolve them where possible – even though it’s technically “not your problem”, in practice it is, because someone’s unresolved personal issues can negatively impact the mood of the entire workplace.
What key trends do you see impacting your business in the next 5-10 years?
- Raw material supply is always a consideration for our business as we rely on product from the abattoirs. Currently a lot of abattoirs are experiencing staff shortages themselves due to visa shortages (covid-related), as well as fires, floods and droughts which all impact our supply.
- Demand for our product is high and our factory is currently expanding with some constructions works being undertaken.
- We will be able to increase our production levels once complete but the issue will always be the same as it is now: trying to find staff who can see the value in what we do here.