Employer of Choice – Men and Women at Work

Who are you: Ross Cargill is the Managing Director of Men And Women At Work (MAWAW), and Learning Live, which is our training arm – we deliver training for courses in Work, Health Safety (WHS), Traffic Control, First Aid, High Risk Work Licences, Liquor and Gaming, Small Plant, Confined Spaces, and Working at Heights. We have three locations across the Mid North Coast: Coffs harbour, Port Macquarie and Taree, and around 200 employees at any one time (the number fluctuates).

Describe your core business: Traffic management, Labour Hire, Registered Training Organisation (RTO)

How would you define an excellent employer?

The team is well remunerated and the people find intrinsic value in their role. It doesn’t matter how good the money is, if people aren’t happy they won’t stay.

In your organisation, what are some of the things you do that make you an employer of choice? We are nice to our people. We have each other’s back: people know as a team that we look out for each other, and in turn are supported. Emotional intelligence is a key part of our business strategy into the future. We have authentic conversations. We have a flexible workplace with family friendly practices. We have cake for every permanent staff member’s birthday, and everyone sings!

Why is it important to you that you are an excellent employer?

Happy people mean happy clients. At the end of the day, we are a service industry, and if our staff are unhappy, then good service is compromised. You can sense an unhappy business when you walk into one. 

What have you learned along your journey to becoming an employer of choice? Trust and respect are so important – you need to build trust and respect, and at the same time be aware that it is a 2-way street. It is essential to listen and communicate effectively. For years I have been doing a short unscripted Whatsapp video every Monday to all my staff where I give an organisation update, tell them who’s on leave or training, give a public pat on the back for outstanding work, announcements and anything else.  That same communication channel became indispensable during COVID.

Continuity, regularity, authenticity and vulnerability are key aspects of good communication.

Do you employ young people (under 25)? Do you consider you do that effectively? Why/Why not? We just employed a 16-year-old traffic controller, and we’ve had other young controllers as well – we’ve had good success when a senior member of staff has mentored them. Our workforce is getting younger – we now have four permanents under 25, and eight under 30. 15 years ago when I started here, I was the youngest team member and the only one under 40, and we were wondering how to find young people to work with us. Generational change is happening and it has given us a more vibrant workplace.  

What is your advice to organisations that want to improve as an employer? If you want to change your culture it has to start at the top. Being an effective leader is essential and there is always room for improvement. Emotional Intelligence is crucial.

What key trends do you see impacting your business in the next 5-10 years? 

  • Artificial Intelligence is something I’m excited about because I can see the opportunities to assist people in their work rather than replace them.  
  • Trends regarding increasing workplace inclusivity – DV training, gender equity, people from different cultural back grounds.
  • Industrial Relations is an interesting space. We are watching to see how some of the new Federal legislation will be tested over the next couple of years. 


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