A committed, engaged workforce is crucial to supplying Link Group’s customers with the high-quality service and solutions they expect - and to meeting our business goals. We want our employees to thrive and innovate. We’ve created working environments that suit the varied work styles of today’s professionals so that they can focus on delivering value for our customers. This effect is enhanced by outstanding office design. We also recognise that there are both strategic and social benefits in actively addressing issues such as gender diversity and pay equality, and in making a significant contribution to the wider community.
Link Group has 4,300 employees spread across our operations in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, India, Dubai, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Germany and France. Most of the Company’s employees (84%) are located in Australia.
The thread that unites Link Group employees across the globe is a strong workplace culture combining our core values of Professionalism, Teamwork, Integrity, Respect and Commitment. In 2017, we identified what we call our cultural DNA and formalised it in a Culture Statement approved by the Board. There are six characteristics that exemplify Link Group’s culture.
The dynamism of our cultural DNA is a direct legacy of the great diversity of the people we employ. Link Group has combined with over 40 businesses in the last 15 years, and we will continue to make further acquisitions. What makes us so successful is our ability to learn from the organisations we acquire as well as to shape their work cultures to become compatible with our own. We undertake regular research to better understand how managers can boost employee engagement, ensure alignment of multiple working styles with our culture and maintain the customer focus for which Link Group is renowned.
Ongoing training is essential to ensure employees reach their full potential. It is also key to retaining and attracting employees in a competitive employment environment. In FY2017, Link Group provided an average of 22 hours per employee in training. Central to this was the Customer First training program, which teaches employees to learn from their own experiences and expectations, to deliver first-rate customer service. Over the past 12 months, more than 1,200 employees have taken part in the training program, with the scheme soon to be rolled out to the Corporate Markets division.
The past 12 months have also seen more than 33,000 training hours dedicated to the Group Compliance training program, an average of eight hours per employee. The program ensures that staff follow Link Group’s internal policies and that they fully comply with the local laws and regulations wherever the Company operates.
This approach, in turn, allows us to continue to foster a professional environment, aligned to our core values, in the way we treat our employees, clients and shareholders.
Meanwhile, more than 1,800 Link Group Fund Administration employees have been supported in attaining nationally recognised qualifications in areas including financial services (superannuation), insurance and retirement income streams.
We are also supporting the growth and development of our employees at an international level through professional development programs. These are aimed at enhancing the skills and capabilities of our employees so that we can continue to deliver high-quality service that meets the expectation of our clients. To date, 606 employees have enrolled in professional development training programs across five countries.
Link Group’s experience confirms that diverse and inclusive teams are more productive and innovative than homogeneous ones. We also believe that a diverse workforce helps us to reflect the diversity of our stakeholders and serve them better.
We made several gains in the field of gender diversity over the past year. Changes to the composition of the Link Group Board, including the appointment of Independent Non-Executive Director, Anne McDonald in July 2016, mean that the Board is now 43% female. This achievement puts Link Group well ahead of the 30% target set for female directors in S&P/ASX 200 companies by the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Meanwhile, gains have also been made at the executive level, where one-third of the senior leadership team is now female. Link Group’s targets for 2019 are for 42% of senior leaders, 33% of senior technical specialists and 45% of line managers to be women.
We are striving to achieve equal pay for women, with female employees, currently up to plus or minus 4% of the pay of their male colleagues in similar positions. Our parental leave scheme supports both mothers and fathers who wish to take time off after the birth of a child.
We also have programs that ensure people from Indigenous communities, from lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) communities, as well as people living with disabilities, are all encouraged to work at Link Group and feel safe and included. We also support employees undergoing major workplace transitions – including employees from newly acquired businesses – through programs that help them to manage the change and thrive.
A state-of-the-art, healthy workplace makes a significant contribution to the satisfaction and productivity of employees as well as to their ability to engage with the needs of our clients. We adhere to the principles of good office design and our Business Combination strategy aims to ensure that different divisions work in the same location – a strategy that maximises collaboration and growth.
Link Group’s new office in Melbourne is a good example of the exceptional working environment we are striving to create across all our operations around the world. In 2016, employees from three existing offices in Melbourne were brought together in the new Tower 4 building in Melbourne’s Collins Square, a Walker Corporation development designed and built specifically for Link Group requirements, and almost directly opposite bustling Southern Cross railway station on Collins Street. The new office encompasses 20,000 square metres over levels 6-15 of the tower. In addition to the sense of space, the natural light and the collaborative working zones provided, the building also features a spectacular 59-metre plant-filled wall – the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere, and much loved by our employees. State of the art, eco-friendly and highly energy efficient, the building’s advanced design was awarded a five-star National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) energy rating. Meanwhile, staff in Western Australia have moved to offices in the Harry Seidler-designed QV1 office tower in Perth, resulting in a substantial increase in amenity, convenience and opportunities for collaboration. Similar upgrades have been undertaken in the United Kingdom, India and New Zealand, and construction is underway to improve the amenity of the George Street, Sydney office.
Link Group supports employee wellbeing in many other ways, including through initiatives such as health insurance and gym discounts, weekly fruit deliveries, annual flu shots and counselling services.