The experiences of one of Australia’s biggest retailers has highlighted the business case for investing in permanent employment contracts, but in doing so has added to the ongoing permanent vs casual debate between employers, unions, and workers.
According to Coles HR director Jenny Bryant, the supermarket has halved staff turnover in the past three years by transitioning the bulk of its workforce from casual to permanent arrangements. The company understood it was hard to build a culture if most staff didn’t know if they would be going to work the next day.
The retailer now employs less than 30% of its staff on a casual basis, and according to Bryant engagement levels have also risen – by 80%. Likewise, absenteeism has fallen – from 12.5% to 3% each year.
So what then is HR to take away from Coles’ experience? On the one hand, we’re flooded with reports that employees need more flexibility or they’ll walk; and on the other, it seems that having a temporary or casual workforce is a recipe for high turnover and poor financial returns.
Stephen Smith, group director of national workplace relations at Australia Industry Group, said employers need flexibility to maintain productivity and competitiveness, and employees need flexibility to meet family responsibilities and lifestyle choices. “The community needs flexibility to achieve economic growth, high levels of employment and increased workforce participation,” he said. Read More…