When you think of Australia’s top five great places to work you probably don’t imagine a retail store, a warehouse and office in an abandoned supermarket in regional NSW but this is where you’ll find Birdsnest.
Online fashion retailer Birdsnest says it was surprised when it took fourth place in the 2017 BRW Great Places to Work, over 100 employees category.
This is the second time the family owned pureplay business has appeared in the list, featuring for the first time in 2015, taking 8th place in the under 100 employee category. Birdsnest have come up time and again as a retailer that provides an exciting and fulfilling career in the retail industry, and all of that is found in a rural setting.
As Jane Cay, the company’s founder puts it: “I wanted to create the opportunity for our team to work in the fast lane and live in the slow lane, which our nest in the beautiful Snowy Mountain region provides”.
It doesn’t get much faster than the internationally competitive fashion industry in which Birdsnest operates. “No matter what industry you are in, all businesses need to innovate to survive and your team are the ones that are going to make that happen. I realised very early on in our journey that being the champion of a great workplace culture was my most important job, I wanted people to jump out of bed wanting to come in each day,” says Jane.
Together, Jane and the Birdsnest team have created a set of shared cultural values they call BIRDSONG, where each letter represents a different virtue to be guided by, including: Believe, Inspire, Receptive, Dance Together, Surprise Her, One Flock, Nurture and Gratitude. These values underpin everything the company does, from recruitment practices, to training and development, open communication, flexible workplace arrangements and the way the team celebrates. Each month Birdsnest focuses on a value with a range of activities that encourage and support them to live and breathe the virtues.
This month is Nurture month at Birdsnest, which is all about looking after your own physical and mental health so you can be the best version of yourself in life and work. Employees will be treated to 15 minute massages, healthy food and snacks each day, and the whole team will dress up in pyjamas for suicide prevention initiative, R U OK DAY.
The focus on wellbeing at Birdsnest extends to a mindfulness program, which has been introduced and offers the team a chance to practice meditation in a dedicated space each day.
“We have made plenty of mistakes along the way, but ultimately if you have a team that trusts each other and care about their contribution, you can make the impossible, possible”.
And their story speaks to the volumes – once a little store in the New South Wales country town of Cooma, Birdsnest started out in rural merchandise with four staff on its books. The company to now employs over 140 locals within a town with a population of 6,500 people, posting parcels of locally designed fashion items all over the country.
There is a saying that a happy team equals happy customers, and with over 80% of Birdsnest sales coming from repeat loyal customers and a net promoter score after purchase of 91, that could certainly point to ringing true in this story.
Interestingly, Birdsnest was the first company listed in their category with a head office in Australia. “We try and learn from the bigger companies that have come before us, including overseas based companies with progressive ideas about engaging and developing their people,” Jane admits.
“Going into the great places to work and study was another way we could learn and find out what we could do better. It was therefore such a surprise to be named the 4th best place to work in Australia amongst such incredible multinational companies.”