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At a recent Business Leaders’ Forum held by the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz, CEO and MD of Mirvac spoke about the importance of social responsibility and putting people before profit.
During your time at Mirvac, you’ve placed a lot of focus on employee engagement. Why do you think that’s important?
People engagement is without a shadow of a doubt the single most powerful predictor of business performance. It’s the one thing every investor should want to know about the companies they’re investing in and the most important thing any employee should understand before making a decision to join a company.
Companies with high employee engagement have on average 3 times higher profit margin; 6.5 fewer days per employee each year lost due to absenteeism and 41% lower staff turnover.
When I arrived in 2012, staff engagement was coming off a low of 37%. That’s a toxic environment. Now, our employee engagement score is 88 per cent.
That’s a significant turnaround in five years. How did you make it happen?
This shift was not an accident. We’ve had a sustained focus on leadership and professional development. People leaders set the tone for the company’s culture and impact the bulk of the workforce. As a leader, you are watched. Your words don’t carry nearly as much weight as what you do.
People leadership is a skill that needs to be learnt and practised from the earliest possible time in a career. So, when we heard from our people that our people leader skills were patchy at best through the organisation, we set about changing this.
Do you think leaders are more effective when they act with the intention to do good?
I passionately believe that being successful and doing good must go hand in glove. We have a responsibility to our society, to our cities, and to the planet to steadfastly and imaginatively do good things.
Over the past five years, while we’ve transformed Mirvac into an urban earnings powerhouse, we’ve done so while really innovating through our sustainability strategy, ‘This Changes Everything.’
We’ve set an ambitious energy and water target to be net positive by 2030, we’ve created a world first House with No Bills, to help us learn about the behaviours which drive utility costs, we’re making our office buildings smart, and good for the health and wellbeing of their occupants and we’re doing it because financial success without positive impact is short-term.
What advice would you have for other leaders that want to engage their teams to deliver a positive impact?
Your people are your highest priority.
Giving people just a little bit of control over how, when and where they deliver what is expected of them is hugely positive for engagement. Our work on flexibility has helped to increase discretionary effort, with 95% of people saying they were willing to go above and beyond their roles to help make us successful.
An engaged group of people with a passion for your purpose and a clear strategy will change the world for the better.
If you apply your energy to this, they’ll be watching.
For more information contact Ann Luff.