News and Views

  • Date:01 Nov 2007
  • Type:CompanyDirectorMagazine

Avoiding staff turnover


Nearly 90 per cent of employee turnover is avoidable, according to a new study by Insync Surveys.

The study reviewed benchmarkable exit study data from 1,181 employees over the last year.

It found that the top five reasons for leaving an organisation – and within the employer’s control – were lack of job satisfaction (14 per cent), little opportunity for career advancement (13 per cent), pay and conditions (11 per cent), work/life balance (10 per cent) and lack of challenge (8 per cent).

Only 11 per cent of respondents indicated they were leaving due to unavoidable reasons, such as illness or partner relocations.

Insync Surveys’ chief operating officer James Garriock says: “Our research shows that 89 per cent of staff turnover is within the employer’s control, but not with a one size fits all approach.”

Indeed, different strategies are needed for different types of staff members, whether women, baby boomers, Generation X or Generation Y.

The study found that 59 per cent of women rated enrichment, such as growth and job satisfaction, along with interpersonal factors, such as interactions with their manager and colleagues, as the most important factor in their decision to leave, compared to 53 per cent of men.

Garriock says this suggests that strong internal relationships will have more impact on retaining women than men. “Managers also need to provide opportunities for women’s growth, demonstrate an interest in their career development and recognise their efforts. Interestingly, women didn’t rate home life factors incorporating work/life balance as more important in their decision to leave, compared to men.”

However, he says older employees, particularly baby boomers, are more likely to leave their employer because they were seeking work/life balance. The average importance rating baby boomers gave this factor was
61 per cent, compared to Generation Y at 53 per cent.

“Over the next two decades, the mass exodus of older workers from the workforce will drain entire industries
of institutional knowledge and skills. Retention of baby boomers will depend on employer flexibility and the creation of paths to retirement that reduce work stress and encourage balance,” says Garriock.

Turning to Generation Y, these employees said their appetite for career progression was key in influencing them to leave.

“To retain Generation Y, employers can invest in strategies that promote a positive culture, encourage self development and continuous challenge,” observes Garriock.



Directors ready for climate change


Ninety-four per cent of directors polled at an AICD luncheon in Sydney in October either agreed or strongly agreed that developing a strategy to address climate change related issues should be on their boards’ agendas.

In addition, 89 per cent believed that boards would experience increased pressure to disclose their policies on climate change related issues over the next five years.

Seventy-seven per cent also foresaw climate change becoming the most hotly debated topic for Australian boards within the next five years.

AICD CEO Ralph Evans says the AICD poll shows that climate change is well and truly on the radar for Australian directors and that many Australian directors will be affected by climate change.

Other findings of the AICD poll included that:

  • 51 per cent of respondents believed there would be an increase in the risk of litigation or class actions against directors as a result of climate change related issues;
  • Based on public information available to date, 37 per cent of respondents were confident their boards had adequate information to discuss their response to climate change related issues; and
  • 34 per cent said their boards had access to the expertise required to address climate change related issues.



Queensland’s golden boy


John Allpass has been named AICD’s Queensland Gold Medal Award recipient for 2007, in recognition of his significant contribution to the business and wider communities.

Allpass is chairman of Envestra, and a director of MBF Australia and Queensland Investment Corporation.

Allpass, who has contributed as a board member to a number of organisations over the last 16 years, began his career at Inglis Lavery Wylie & Co (now known as KPMG). He retired from KPMG in 1994 after 22 years as a partner. There he had specialised in corporate recoveries, established KPMG’s Queensland Receivership and Insolvency practice and undertook a number of high profile receiverships.

He has also sat on the boards of organisations like Macquarie Bank, Macquarie Life, Hamilton Island Limited Group, Bond Street Australia, Hamilton Airport, Heat and Control and Wesley Hospital Group.

In addition, he has served numerous community and non-profit organisations including the Salvation Army, St John’s College and University of Queensland.

AICD’s Queensland president Martin Kriewaldt, presented the award to Allpass at the premier event for Queensland’s company director community – the Gold Medal Award Dinner – in Brisbane in October.

At the event, Kriewaldt credited Allpass’ win to his outstanding virtues of directorship and commitment to improving shareholder value.

“Allpass exemplifies the qualities of directorship we recognise each year with the Gold Medal Award and that AICD seeks to promote to the broader director community on an ongoing basis,” he said.

“AICD is pleased to acknowledge the contribution that Allpass has made in helping many companies reach the heights they are at today.”

The award is presented annually to an individual who embodies excellence in directorship and corporate governance. Allpass is the recipient of 24th Queensland Gold Medal Award. Previous winners include Barry Thornton, Rod Cormie and Euan Murdoch.



And the Tassie winner is...


Successful Tasmanian businessman Rudie Sypkes is this year’s winner of the AICD Tasmania division’s Gold Medal Director of the Year award.

Sypkes, who is the former owner of Tasmania’s leading discount retailer Chickenfeed, was presented with his Gold Medal by the Governor of Tasmania, Justice William Cox, AC, during a special lunch at Wrest Point in October.

Sypkes was born in May 1950 in Wildervank Holland and migrated to Tasmania the following year. He began his professional life in the family business of Purity Supermarkets in 1967 and had worked his way to become the company’s CEO by 1981, after the sale of Purity to Woolworths.

The next year, Woolworths bought the Roelf Vos chain of supermarkets in northern Tasmania, effectively controlling about 32 per cent of the state’s grocery business.

In 1982, after leaving Woolworths, Sypkes became actively involved in Finance Brokers and a number of commercial and residential developments in Tasmania. He also got caught up with flower farming in Victoria and Tasmania and along with his father Engel, in cattle farming and mango production in the Northern Territory. This venture was set to eventually become Australia’s largest private mango producer.

In 1983, Sypkes established the investment advisory business Rudie Sypkes & Associates, which was sold in 1989, to become Garrisons Financial Services and is today part of Challenger International.

In 1990, he established Chickenfeed Bargain Stores, developing it into a 25-store chain over a 10-year period before selling to Millers Retail in 2001. At the time of sale, the company had around 520 employees.

In 2001, Sypkes opened the Hobart Corporate Centre as premium, serviced offices in Hobart. In the same year, he became involved in large-scale land and housing developments in Bundaberg and Brisbane and was also honoured with a Tasmanian Service Award by the then Governor of Tasmania, Sir Guy Green.

Sypkes is a 28-year term Rotarian, as well as an active member of the Hobart City Church of Christ and past member of several business associations.

In 2002, he was appointed the honorary consul for the Czech Republic, but resigned in 2005 due to a diagnosis of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. He is currently awaiting a double lung transplant and as such, has taken a back seat in his business interests.

AICD’s Tasmanian president Lyn Cox says: “The award is a most appropriate recognition of Sypkes’ achievements within the Tasmanian business community, particularly the retail sector, as well as his work within the local community.

“The Gold Medal Award is presented to an outstanding person acknowledged as having contributed service to the community in a number of areas. These include business, charitable works and employment creation. Sypkes, through his business activities and his community commitments, excels in all of these categories.

“The Gold Medal is also awarded on the basis that an individual upholds high ethical standards in both their personal and public life and it is made in recognition of outstanding effort by the individual as a company director and citizen in Tasmania. AICD is delighted to be able to acknowledge Sypkes’ contribution to our community in this way.”



Hunt on for carbon emissions


Managing climate change was set to be one of the great challenges of our time, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Greg Hunt, said at a recent AICD luncheon in Sydney.

“This is ‘big history’ in the making – perhaps the most significant economic decision in a generation,” he said. “With such a profound change, we need to make sure we get our policy responses right. For business, the impact of climate change will be far-reaching – and will present both major challenges and opportunities.”

Hunt told the AICD gathering that climate change presented Australians with two major but achievable challenges. The first was to allow the poor of the world to continue to develop, and the second was to progressively shift from a high carbon emissions to a low carbon emissions economy.

Hunt said Australia aimed to limit greenhouse gas emissions to 108 per cent of 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012. “This is the target we would have faced under the Kyoto Protocol and we are tracking to meet this target with emissions in 2005 being only 2.2 per cent above 1990 levels.”

This meant that Australia was doing better on its own than many countries which had ratified Kyoto’s mandatory targets. “It is a curious logic which praises those who fail to meet a promise, while punishing those who actually meet their targets while not having lightly promised to do so,” Hunt observed, adding that the Government believed it was time to look beyond the Kyoto Protocol to a new post-2012 arrangement.

“The Kyoto Protocal, in its current form, does not deliver a genuinely global response involving all major economies with significant emissions. As it stands now, during the period covered by the Kyoto Protocol, China and India will build almost 800 new coal fired plants and the combined emissions from these plants will be five times the total reductions in CO2 mandated by the Kyoto Protocol.

“Equally damaging, the Kyoto Protocol has established a perverse incentive to literally slash and burn rainforests
– which hold on average 900 tonnes of CO2 per hectare – and replace them with palm oil plantations, which hold less than 300 tonnes of CO2 per hectare.”

Hunt noted that the Government’s Task Group on emissions Trading concluded that Australia should not wait until a genuinely global agreement had been negotiated and that there would be benefits for Australia in adopting appropriate emissions constraints earlier rather than later.

The Task Group also believed that the most efficient and effective way to manage risk would be through market mechanisms and that over time, market responsiveness would drive improved energy efficiency and the development of low-emissions technologies.

“As part of our work to create a comprehensive national emissions trading system, we are consulting heavily with business to ensure this system will be effective and viable,” said Hunt. “An immediate priority will be to work towards clean energy targets, which will be a key determinant of the carbon prices faced by companies and the economy more generally. To underpin an effective emissions trading system, a long-term goal will be needed to guide emissions reductions over the next 30 to 40 years – to be set in 2008.”

In the shorter term, however, Australia would need a series of short-term emissions caps beginning with the Clean Energy Target recently announced by the Government. Under this target, 15 per cent of energy would need to be in the form of clean energy by 2020.

Hunt said the changes created three fundamental opportunities for business. “First, the Clean Energy Sector will grow profoundly over the coming decade. That means development and deployment of clean gas and coal, geothermal, solar concentration, wind and wave power are the great economic opportunities for entrepreneurs.

“Second, our emissions trading system makes energy efficiency an enormous growth opportunity and third, adaptation in the form of water recycling and water efficiency is a fundamental need. Australia should be the world leader rather than a world laggard on recycling for industry and agriculture,” he said.