We’ve been interviewing job seekers in the Norwest Business Park for 17 years and I’ve lost count of the number of people who show an interest in working for ResMed or Woolworths. They both have an impressive presence in Norwest, but they remain a bit of an enigma. What goes on in there? It’s like driving past the largest house in your suburb and wondering who lives there and what they do.
I spent a couple of hours with the Head of Global Talent and although we’ve recruited for ResMed for many years, I learnt a lot and came away incredibly inspired. I get it! I want to work there too!
I think we all know the Australian success story of how ResMed started, but here’s a snapshot.
Just over 30 years ago, Professor Colin Sullivan and colleagues at University of Sydney developed nasal continuous positive airway pressure, the first successful non-invasive treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. He approached Baxter Healthcare. They helped to explore it but decided sleep apnea wasn’t a market they wanted to invest in further. Dr Peter Farrell was an employee of Baxter at the time and he saw the commercial potential and purchased the sleep technology from them. Peter founded ResMed (short for respiratory medicine) in 1989 and its now a global, publicly listed organisation employing 7,000 staff in 120 countries; it’s annual turnover is $7 billion and current share price at time of writing is $152.25 USD. Clearly. he was on to something. Today, Peter is still very hands on and his son Mick is the CEO.
ResMed’s Global Headquarters is at Bella Vista on a 12 hectare site. For anyone that hasn’t been inside (the security is very high) it’s a little like a new university campus, or an exclusive resort. The grounds were designed as an ‘ideas stream’; a continuous body of cascading pools and waterfalls. The driveway winds past beautifully landscaped gardens towards the office buildings. The Reception area is like a hotel lobby with impressive artwork and a huge open plan foyer. There are awards lined up and everyone’s greeted by a warm Receptionist who’s been welcoming visitors to ResMed since they opened their doors.
We started to chat in their lovely café on the ground floor and I asked the question, “So, why do people like working here? Why do you think it’s such an attractive place to work?”
“We’ve just done some work on our employee value proposition and our Net Promoter Score is really high. We are people helping people. Our purpose is to keep people at home and out of hospitals. And, we’re doing really cool things! We’re all about designing. Right now, we’re working on some really cool partnerships and awe inducing tech, we are changing the healthcare landscape. Our mission is to change 20 million lives by 2020.” She said.
“When you work at ResMed, what you do has impact. We have created this industry. That feels really good. And we’ve got far more exciting things happening in the future. The culture here is incredible. We’re given true autonomy to act and make decisions. I personally think that’s so unique in the workplace. That’s why the engagement survey is so high – people are given responsibility and we aren’t making bottle tops for a living. Staff are very motivated and have a purpose. We ask people to have imagination and build the job they want. Everyone has that licence.” Katie continued.
“We want people to be free to be themselves – we’ve recently started an initiative to dress for your day. We want inclusion and diversity; we know what same/same people bring – same/same results. We are all about outcomes in ResMed. Conformity stunts innovation. We are constantly thinking about how we build innovative teams.”
“We employ people here who speak up and we give them the autonomy to act – Do Step 1 and if Step 2 doesn’t make sense why do it? Change Step 2. We take the medical regulation here very seriously and we adhere to that but we are extremely driven to innovate and think differently.”
“Another reason people feel fulfilled is that we manufacture onsite – possibly nowhere in the world does a Design Engineer walk over to the next building to see their concept come to life.”
They feel like Google for Healthcare.
When I asked about the more tangible benefits of working at ResMed, the response was a little offhand when she listed a few “Gym onsite, pool, exercise classes, financial advice, free breast screening, superannuation with fees paid by ResMed, employee share scheme…” I felt there was possibly more on the list and as incredibly generous as they are the feeling was that these things weren’t as important to staff as everything else we’d talked about and why they have the enviable retention rate.
Personally, I’ve seen people we’ve placed into ResMed over the years carve out their careers. If they have the right attitude they can go from division to division. An example of this is one of their current Presidents started as an Industrial Design Graduate 20 years ago. There are plenty more success stories.
So, there’s a few of the reasons staff attrition for ResMed is incredible. And it is incredible, 6.3 years is their average tenure. Unbelievable for such a dynamic business. On average, global tenure for business is 18 months.
The truth though is that not everyone is cut out to work there. That’s why, if there’s staff turnover it’s within the first 6 months. This is not a company you join to “maintain” or “coast”. Only “grafters” will survive. Despite there being 7,000 employees globally and 1,400 here in Bella Vista, the staff numbers are lean for the company’s expectations and if you aren’t a driver and can’t make things happen then you won’t achieve the outcomes expected.
So what does it take to work at ResMed? What they look for is: “resilience, GRIT, willingness to learn, someone who will provide insights and help us see difference. Someone with imagination.”
And the future of ResMed? Let me tell you it’s exciting. If it’s not a household name right now it will be – they are bringing sleep and respiratory health straight to the consumer – think pop up stores in shopping centres.
Stay tuned…I’m having a coffee (Ok, a G&T) with a Woolworths employee in the coming days and I’ll give you a glimpse of what it’s like to work there too.
Written by Erica Westbury Managing Director of Norwest Recruitment.
Erica Westbury is the Managing Director of Norwest Recruitment a premium recruitment agency servicing clients and job seekers throughout Greater Western Sydney since 2002. Erica is the Chair of Foster Care Angels and a judge for Telstra Business Awards.
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