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Helping stars to shine

“To retain employees, we created an environment that encouraged our people to achieve both their work and personal goals and surrounded them with the right support to enable them to perform their roles successfully.”

Coming from a family of small business owners I've always felt passionate about the sector.


It’s so vibrant and it is the growth engine of the Australian economy, accounting for 65 per cent of private sector employment and almost 55 per cent of private sector profits, according to the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman.


I was appointed ANZ’s State Manager of Business Banking for South Australia and the Northern Territory almost two years ago, leading a team of about 80.


These bankers support business owners across several sectors including hospitality, agriculture, manufacturing and professional services.


Given the importance of the sector to Australia’s economy, it was crucial to build a strong team to help those customers achieve their goals.


But like many businesses in a post-COVID era, the banking industry has not been immune to workforce challenges.


This is particularly true in regional Australia where, at times, we’ve found it difficult to fill vacant roles. COVID-19 also led people to reassess their careers, work-life balance and values.


Many of our experienced bankers, including high-performing women, were also balancing family commitments, volunteering, study and other important roles within the community. This is not unique to banking.


The Australian Bureau of Statistics in May this year pointed out the higher proportions of women than men working part-time hours, largely to balancing work and care responsibilities. 


Of the 1.5 million couple families with children where both parents are employed in 2021, 48 per cent had the male employed full-time and the female part-time. While only 3 per cent had the female employed full-time and the male part-time.

The juggle is real


This is very real across the workforce.


Pressures such as these led one of my gun assistant managers to want to pursue more volunteering work. She didn’t think this would be possible while juggling her work commitments.


This was a vital team member who had extensive knowledge, background and experience. So we designed a role that would focus on her strengths and work around her community and family commitments.


This involved reducing the number of customers she managed to create capacity for her to work part time. And leadership was a key strength, so we encouraged her to act as a coach and mentor to new assistant managers.


We identified we had a number of experienced and talented bankers who had a passion for training and coaching others. However many lacked the confidence to progress into more senior roles.


Or they thought their personal commitments such as family, volunteering, studying, and cultural commitments would prevent them from taking the next step.


To retain employees, we encouraged our people to achieve both their work and personal goals and surrounded them with the right support to enable them to do just that.


Flexibility was crucial.


We implemented compressed working weeks for some team members in consultation with the team to ensure there was always someone available to meet a customers’ needs.


Mentor support gave a newly appointed relationship manager the opportunity to manage a broader set of customers, providing exposure to different industries and building their confidence and capability. The benefits from this approach have been endless.


We have a more diverse team and we’ve been able to attract new staff who are picking up the necessary skills more quickly. The flexibility approach has also led to better staff retention.


Like families that need to balance work and care responsibilities we are showing that same balance with our own people – and helping them to flourish.


Adele Fiene is State Manager for South Australia & the Northern Territory, Business Banking at ANZ.

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