The Big Quit: The ‘shameful’ way Australian employers are poaching staff


An Australian small business owner has lost half of her employees in the space of a few months, calling the situation “heartbreaking”.

Australian small business owner Coco Hou has lost almost half of her staff in just a few months and describes the situation as a “big struggle”.

Platinum Accounting’s chief executive said the way staff were being ‘poached’ from other companies was ‘shameful’ as the company went through one of its busiest times of the year – the season of taxes.

The exodus of employees means that his company, which was established 14 years ago, cannot take on new customers as it struggles to fill vacancies.

Seven of 15 staff have left the company in recent months, she told, with the longest serving employee having been there for six years.

Still, most weren’t looking for a new job, with five debauched after being approached on LinkedIn, some of whom had been at his company for as little as three months. It comes as Australian businesses nationwide face a huge labor shortage crisis.

“The accounting industry is under siege across the country. Small and medium-sized hard-working accountants are being attacked by big companies who are attacking their workforce,” Ms. Hou said.

“The biggest complaint in the industry is how big companies are rushing in and luring in staff with the promise of massive pay rises and lucrative career progression.

“The way poaching is practiced is also shameful. Staff are harassed on sites such as LinkedIn and approached through cold calls and messages.

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Ms. Hou said that although the first thing she asks for is salary when an employee quits, her small business cannot match the salaries of large companies, which are often more than $10,000 higher.

Meanwhile, even the smallest companies are offering an extra $5,000 and “unrealistic” promotional avenues, she said.

“With a big organization we can’t compete on salaries – they’re much more powerful financially where they can find someone and they have a great reputation and add a lot of weight to a CV so we’re not in able to compete with larger companies,” she said.

The 20-year-old accountant described staff theft on LinkedIn as ‘sneaky’ and said other companies don’t consider the time and money they’ve spent on staff just to get them ripped off.

“New hires for the first six months, we mainly invest in them and train them, and then after six months they start bringing value to the business,” she said.

“We have comprehensive training and development programs in place and continuously mentor our employees. It’s absolutely heartbreaking when big companies hire our staff.

Transfer fees like in sport

That’s why Ms Hou called on big companies to pay ‘transfer fees’ if they poach staff, such as when players are traded between sports teams.

She suggests that a large company pay between 15 and 20% of its annual salary to a small company like hers to compensate for the hiring of its staff.

“That kind of approach works in sports. Maybe we should consider this type of arrangement in the accounting industry,” she said.

“It would end some of the rampant poaching and also reward small and medium-sized accounting firms for investing so much time and resources in staff development – ​​only to have them poached from under their feet.

“The old adage that if you take care of your staff, they will stay, is no longer relevant in this tough and predatory market environment.”

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Currently, Plantinum Accounting has four positions open for junior accountants, but Ms. Hou is struggling to fill the positions due to a lack of applicants.

She was also forced to leave the job offer permanently, anticipating that there are more vacancies to come as the big resignation – a phenomenon that has seen millions of people in the United States quit their jobs. last year – hit Australian shores.

“It’s so that we have more candidates on standby in case the poaching situation gets worse,” she said.

The damage suffered by businesses like Ms Hou’s was laid bare in June when data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed that 31% of businesses surveyed in June were struggling to find staff.

Nearly eight in 10 companies said they did not have enough applicants on job postings, while 59% of companies said applicants did not have the right skills or qualifications.

The alarming statistics come as unemployment sits at 3.9%, the lowest in 48 years.

After her experience with poached staff, Ms. Hou said some applicants would be immediately screened out if they applied for a job at Platinum Accounting.

“If they have only been in a position for less than three months, we would not look at their CV and give them the opportunity to have an interview, based on our experience of a member of staff who has been poached by someone else after being with us for three months,” she said.

“It caused great inconvenience, so we prioritize staff loyalty and stability over other things.”

Even employers with happy staff or those who have had new hires who started recently won’t be immune to the big quit, research shows.

Dr Ben Hamer, head of future of work at PwC Australia, predicts a huge ‘domino effect’ as people hand in their resignations, creating ‘vacancy after vacancy’, adding that workers have never been in a stronger negotiating position than at the moment.

1.3 million have already changed jobs

Figures show that almost 10% of the Australian workforce left their jobs last year, or 1.3 million people, according to the ABS.

This is the highest number of Australians changing jobs since 2012.

But the lack of good staff could also have a ripple effect in other ways, Ms Hou warned.

“Without staff, well-trained staff, small and medium-sized accounting firms cannot do their job,” she said.

“If something is not done, the situation will impact the ability of businesses to meet their tax obligations and generate revenue for the government. The situation is very serious. »

Research has shown that 43% of Australian workers plan to look for a new job in 2022, a third will quit as soon as they get a new job, and almost a fifth will quit with no other job planned, according to Elmo Software.

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