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Five things that should keep business owners awake at night

CEO at RedBalloon, Kristie Buchanan

Eighty-five per cent of employees are either actively looking for another job or are open to speaking with a recruiter[1]. A business’s most valuable asset, employees are the most difficult resource to replace. A leading corporate recognition provider says employee engagement – not remuneration – is key to retaining employees.


RED is the corporate recognition division of online experience retailer RedBalloon – included five consecutive years in BRW’s Best Place to Work list top 50 (2008-2013) – drawing on all the ingredients that propelled RedBalloon’s own success.


CEO Kristie Buchanan says, “People are the core of Australia’s two million small businesses, yet research shows that business owners failing to engage employees may risk up to $1 million in staff turnover[2] every year. “Many businesses might feel the pressure to increase salaries to retain employees, but wage rises will hold interest for a short while. Employee engagement is key to retention – and business success overall.


Kristie outlines five reasons why business owners should be rethinking how they engage employees. “While you can’t save everyone, there is a lot you can do to at least slow down unnecessary attrition in your organisation,” she says.


1. The (preventable) cost of employee erosion. It is estimated that staff turnover costs up to 150% of a person's annual salary. In an organisation with 100 employees, an average salary of $75,000 and staff turnover of 18%, that equates to around $1 million per annum[3]. This figure accounts for recruitment, induction and the loss of productivity during the on-boarding period. You will be alarmed when you take a look at this number as a percentage of your overall profit line.

2. Money is not enough to save them. Around 38.6% of people jump ship for better pay[4].  The good news is keeping your people is largely in your control and with the right mix of recognition, communication, shared values, motivating tasks and career advancement opportunities, your people are more likely to stick around and give back over and above what you have invested to secure them.

3. Your managers influence the destruction. Managers have the greatest opportunity to lead by example and drive a team of engaged employees.  Engaged employees are more productive, deliver higher profits and are less likely to be tempted to leave your organisation, so it makes sense to keep your managers in check and equip them with the training and resources they need to lead a highly engaged team.

4. Do unto others…Don’t expect loyalty from your people if you aren't offering them the same courtesy. Show your employees that you respect and have trust in them and they will reciprocate by sharing their skills and ideas, and will be more willing to commit to achieving your long term business goals.

5. Other companies are prepared to recognise your people. Almost 50% of employees would leave their current job if they had the opportunity to be better recognised for their contributions elsewhere[5]. A dedicated recognition program can lower voluntary turnover, drive productivity and lead to repeat positive behaviours. Recognition doesn’t need to be expensive, just make sure it is frequent, specific and most importantly, personal. “Thanks” goes a long way in showing someone they are valued.

Contributed by Suzanne Colville | 0406 050 381 | 02 9279 3330 | e:

About RedBalloon

RedBalloon is Australia’s most awarded online experience retailer. RedBalloon has sold more than 2 million experiences since it was established in 2001 with the mission of creating more good times. Today it offers more than 3000 unique experiences from more than 1000 providers across Australia and New Zealand. RedBalloon also distributes gift cards through selected major retailers nationally, including Coles, Woolworths, Big W, Australia Post, Target, Kmart and Officeworks. Visit

[5] Social Knows: Employee Engagement Report

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