#37 The 4 day work week champion – Nikki Beaumont, CEO, Beaumont People (s02ep13)
DISCUSSED IN THIS EPISODE
- A ‘people first’ philosophy to business
- the introduction of a gender neutral paid parental leave scheme in 2019
- how the the 4 day work week on 5 days pay philosophy works
- how winning 2nd Best Place to Work in 2021 is validation of an unwavering dedication and belief in placing people first.
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Transcript from the interview
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Graeme Cowan, Nikki Beaumont
Graeme Cowan 0:04
It’s my pleasure to welcome Nikki Beaumont to The Caring CEO podcast. Welcome, Nikki.
Nikki Beaumont 0:10
Thank you. Thank you.
Graeme Cowan 0:13
It’s nice to see you. I think we last caught up at the Q Station at the serenity conference, which was, we won’t even talk about that a bit later. But Nikki, what does care in the workplace mean to you?
Nikki Beaumont 0:26
Thanks, Graeme. Care in the workplace for me is really about, it’s placing people first, which is our tagline, which is what we work towards as a business. So, when I think of care in the workplace, I immediately go to the people. And I immediately go to how we provide the best environment for the people in our organization. From all types of perspective, you know, from a mental health perspective, from a supportive environment, from giving them the right tools and training from making sure that they’re heard, you know, I think, you know, things like that are some of the most vital things that are often overlooked is the time that you take to, to talk to hear your people in your team and your organization and really hear, you know, really listen to them and really hear what they have to say, you know, whether that be you know, what they’re loving about the role, what they’re struggling with, in the role, what they’re loving about the team, the organization, what ideas they have, you know, and I think about care in the workplace. Those are some of the most important things to me, but just caring about people genuinely, really, you know, you know, we’re in the service industry, so it’s around people, but, you know, I kind of think of any workplace doesn’t matter what, what it is, whether you’re selling widgets, or, or selling recruitment services, you know, the end of the day goes back to your people, it doesn’t matter how fantastic your service or your product is, you know, the end of the day is for people that are the most important. So, do you really need to care?
Graeme Cowan 2:05
I really love that tagline ‘Placing people first’ because it’s got a bit of a double meaning, hasn’t it? So it means also that you know, you, you care and respect and treat each person as an individual, but then it also has a business meaning as well, we play some fast first. It’s a nice, how long did it take you to come up with that?
Nikki Beaumont 2:25
Oh, 22 years. No, we aren’t sort of we’re celebrating 21 years this year, actually. And I think, to be fair, it initially the place when people first came as an internal thing, it was a way of describing who we are and what we do internally that we’ve been doing for years. And we really only found that wording about probably about six or seven years, maybe a little bit longer than that. And yes, it has lots of meanings. And although it was initially meant to describe as we were going through a branding process, it was meant to be, you know, who are we? What are we about? What makes us different? What makes us special? And placing people first in terms of the way we work as a business came out of that, in fact, it started as people before profit, and the profit thing never really sat well, you know, we didn’t really want that in there didn’t seem right. And even though that’s what we do, the placing people first, you know, very quickly came out of that. But of course, I didn’t actually ever think of it, as you’ve just said that as a recruitment business, we can get people there quickly and fast. Yes, we can. Not necessarily in this market, it’s a bit of a tougher market to get people, great people as quickly as maybe sometimes is, but it does mean that but it to me it also means placing people first in helping you find your next role. And putting you first in that or helping an organization find the best people, you know, putting that whole the people first is the most important thing. So, it does mean all of those things, which is great. It does suit as enormously.
Graeme Cowan 4:03
I saw early in your career; you were the General Manager of the Sydney Olympics recruitment center. So, notice going back a bit, it’s going back to 22 years, but that must have been an amazing experience, where you’re just recruiting volunteer people or permanent people. Full range. What were what was the focus of that role?
Nikki Beaumont 4:25
Thank you. Can I just point out I was a teenager at the time? Two years ago. As a teenager, I actually came to Australia to be part of the Olympic Games project. So, I was with Adecco at the time in the UK and when Adecco won the sponsorship of the Olympic Games, I was like okay, I really want to go and be part of that. I have Australia in my family anyway and had been to Australia previously. So, I was like I really want to be part of that ready for a challenge. And to be fair, Australia didn’t really need any extra palms coming over to help on The Olympic Games. So, plenty of people are really keen to be involved. But anyway, I managed to get my way over here. And on the promise that I would go back, because I did break that promise. But I didn’t come out to be the General Manager of the Olympic Games, I was given that role. And I do say I was given that role, I didn’t apply for it because true imposter syndrome, I didn’t think I was good enough to actually take on that role. It was the, it was actually recruiting all the paid staff that made the Olympics Game happen in a recruitment agency model. So, the Olympic Games organization used the Adecco of the Olympic recruitment center of Adecco, which was when I was the General Manager of to recruit hundreds and thousands of paid staff that together made the Olympic Games have. And if you think the Olympics is run by almost like a corporate entity, you have to have pretty much everything you have in any corporate organization that sits behind the Olympics, never mind all of the people in all of the different venues and sports that make it happen. It’s a massive thing to put it together. And I got to lead that.
Graeme Cowan 6:10
Yeah, that must have been extraordinary. I guess very, very cyclical, too, you don’t disagree some of the longer-term people, but then I’m sure there’s a whole lot that needed to be recruited close to the actual event.
Nikki Beaumont 6:23
Yes, there was, yeah. I only took the role on at the beginning of 2000. And I think the event was September of 2000. So I was in that period, the recruitment center have been working for years before that, and I kind of only arrived in Australia on February the 15th. And so, I took it from there. But yeah, the last few months, let’s say we’re pretty crazy in terms of the volume of what was required for the Olympic Games to happen at that time, the logistics was ridiculous. Looking back now, you know, it’s no wonder I started my business after that, because it was like, well, if I can do that, I can actually do anything.
Graeme Cowan 7:04
What were some of the main lessons you took away from that experience? As you said, you were quite young and taking on this huge responsibility? What did you take away?
Nikki Beaumont 7:14
Yeah, I will be honest, I wasn’t actually as young as I try and make out, I was a mom at 30. So, I’ve got a little bit of life experience behind me to be given that role in the first place, I guess. But I think, you know, there’s, there’s a few things that I’ve taken from that, that I’ve continued and still do today. And one of the things is absolutely your people your priority. And that’s always been a theme of myself in leadership roles anyway. But during those crazy months, weeks, where we were working seven days a week, let’s be honest, you know, the way that the team was supported and felt the fair word to say loved really was what actually kept them going. They felt loved, respected, listened to, cared for, you know, we did fun things together, we were often there late at night, you know, wine was a was a part of it. You know, if you still there at seven o’clock at night, there might be a bottle of wine, you can have a glass of beer or something like that. And we did this great thing on a Friday afternoon, which we called it the time Top Totti, and we still do this in Beaumont today. We don’t call it Top Totti anymore, it was there for the right reason. But it was literally our sort of Friday afternoon wrap up of recognizing the great stuff that we were all doing individually. And it was a people would nominate a colleague, and there was about 45 of us towards the end, who would nominate a colleague of the great things that that colleague had done that week, we do it monthly now in Beaumont, and still, you know, 21 years on, but it was just a really nice way to recognize what everybody was doing. And then to come from your colleague, not from your manager. And, you know, I, what I’ve learned over the years, I didn’t necessarily see it or think about it at the time was that really has formed our culture, and our way of working, you know, when you sit there as a newcomer and go, so these people are talking about their colleagues, and these are the things that they value. Well, that’s the things that is valued, to be successful, and to be a good person in this organization. So, it really has helped really support our culture moving forward, we connect it very much to our values. Now, I don’t think we even had values in the Olympic role at the time. But that’s one of the things that still do to this day, once a month. And it goes, goes back to that time that held us together through some stressful time.
Graeme Cowan 9:39
It is a wonderful thing to do, isn’t it because it’s a, it’s reflecting on the week on a Friday afternoon and it’s just said, you know, celebrating colleagues and having colleagues nominate colleagues, I think they’re just as a wonderful thing to building you know, a spirit and purpose with something which was like that. That’s a wonderful, wonderful idea. I saw that bet on people in 2031 won the second-best place to work in for organizations under 100. People. Congratulations on an amazing achievement. And how did you go about doing that? You know, how long have you been part of that accreditation process? And what, what did you think contributed to coming second?
Nikki Beaumont 10:25
Yeah, thanks, Graeme, we were really very proud of that, actually. And it maintains a goal of ours to continue to be nominated or nominate ourselves for those ones. And to keep up there is a great place to work. And we started it, I think it would be three years previously. And to give you some context, I had always read, you know, who were the winners each year and aspired to be one, you know, the Cisco’s, and Microsoft and Canva’s and all of those people, you know, and, you know, aspired to be a great place to work and was always like, well, if they’re great places to work as a recruitment business, they must look after their people really well. And those are the kinds of businesses that we want to be working with, you know, so it’s clearly looked at it from that perspective, but never ever thought that we were a contender for one of those. And when I, when I asked the team, three, four years ago, I’ve probably been asking for a number of years, like, come on, can we put ourselves hold for one of this? You know, I really like that. I think everybody was like, no, no, no. And I said, you know what, let’s just do it. Because, you know, surely, we’re going to learn from the process, you know, we’re going to learn what we don’t actually know, you don’t know what you don’t know what to do. So, we’re going to learn through the process. So, let’s try, you know, the probably won’t even get in the top 50. And though it costs quite a lot of money to actually go through the process, and a lot of time and energy, which it does. But we did, we went through it. And I remember, they did a huge in person awards evening with hundreds and hundreds of people there and took the whole management team, we had a whole table, and it was quite an investment to just even go to it. Not even expecting that we will be in the top 20. And then of course, they announced the top 20 and, and 19 and 18 and 17 and 16. And that first year, we became nine. And we were on cloud nine. I mean, that was for us couldn’t even believe that we were at ninth, which was fabulous. The following year, we went well, let’s see if we can get above nine. Can we get fourth? And then, of course last year, we came second. So, we still haven’t come first, Graeme, but what, what attributed to it? I think certainly to get to second lodging before day, we were one of them. The gender-neutral poll rate, a parental leave scheme that we launched the previous year, I think that certainly helps. But they actually survey all of the people within your business. So, there’s a huge survey that goes out with a whole heap of questions. And you don’t get to see who answers what, you know, it’s all confidential, it gets you an overall report. But so half of it is around what your people say about you. So that needs to be right. And it needs to be good to get up to the second, to the top two. The other thing is, is you actually do have to complete a report. And it asks you questions about the way that you do things that your policies and your vision and your values and all those things. So, so yeah, so that’s, that’s our journey to second best place to work in Australia. So, we did actually get joint first place with Commonwealth Bank for workplace flexibility, etc. And I think again, that was the four-day week that was part of us getting, you know, the accolades and many other things that too.
Graeme Cowan 13:48
The four-day work workweek is, you know, an intriguing concept, and you’re actually making it real. When did you first hear about it? And why did you decide to put it into action?
Nikki Beaumont 14:02
It is I first heard about it at the time and workplace conference would be three years ago, something like that. Now, probably the last one before COVID. Maybe there will before that. So, I first heard about Andrew Barnes, who is well known for the photo read from perpetual was the speaker. And he, I knew that he was speaking, and I’ve already read a bit about him. And when he spoke, I was just like and told us about his idea and how it came about and how it was working. They were still in the trial then I was just like, oh my gosh, this is for me. I just absolutely love this. I was so excited. I had a few of my team there and they were like, oh my gosh, Nikki is really excited. Are we going to get to this today? Really excited. But look, it took us a while to implement it because much because in theory it sounds like a great idea is paying for people five days working four days. How do you make that happen? You know, how, how is that possible? How can that be particularly in a busy recruitment business like ours, where obviously when we have clients and candidates that need us, and we’re all working full pelt long hours. So how do you go from that to four days? And how is that going to impact us? So, you know, it took us a while to, to actually launch it for a number of reasons. And, anyway, but we did, and that was over two years ago now. And here we are.
Graeme Cowan 15:32
Wonderful. And you made the decision to pay people five days and only we’re only work for four, in, I worked for about 15 years in the recruitment industry. So, I have a bit of an idea about, about that environment. And it’s a very, very measurable environment, isn’t it? You know, you know, at the end of each week, how much revenue you’ve brought in, that you’re responsible for? And I also know that in a number of recruitment agencies, there’s a lower base then there’s you know, performance bonus, which is often geared to the results to revenue you get. So, you know, what is the largest component for most people with a Beaumont? Is it the performance bonus or the base salary?
Nikki Beaumont 16:18
To be honest, it varies and has changed over the years. And it varies from one person to another. But yeah, there is an element for the recruitment consultants of bonus and base. That’s only one of the things that they’re measured on only one other small thing. So, in terms of the four-day week, I think one of the things that helped us to implement it is that when we looked at a cross section of our recruitment consultants, we’ve got some people in part time roles working three days a week, four days a week, we’re doing just as well as other people in and full-time roles. So therefore, if you’ve actually got that happening in your business, and we did, surely, it’s possible to be able to do with you during the four-day week. But going back to one of my drivers, one of my drivers for really wanting to implement this was one, after having a daughter Maddie, I came back to work part time, and certainly the value of being part time as a parent, I absolutely understood once I had my own child. I have lots of other keen interests outside of work besides being a parent. And that’s one of them, as you can see, in my background, perhaps some cows and a property that takes lots of time and energy. So again, a four-day week, I can see the value in that. But I think more importantly, you know, one of the reasons that I really wanted to implement the four-day week was really for choice and flexibility and seeing people in the business who, you know, what, we’re just working so hard and doing so well. But we’re at risk of burnout. So, you know, from the mental health perspective, you know, from that, from the family perspective, from the, from the choice perspective, from the overall flexibility was why we did it, and it’s evolved over the two years great, it really has it’s evolved for the better, it’s great, really is. I’m not saying it’s always everything works all the time, it doesn’t, there are various challenges with it. But you know, you just have to wait around like you do with any challenges. I’m a bit of a, you know, give me a challenge. And I’ll be like, I’ll be over it through it, round it under it. That’s my natural style. You know, there’s challenges that come along in everything that we do all the time. You know, the four-day week is just one of them.
Graeme Cowan 18:32
And when you launched it was, what was the response from the Beaumont team?
Nikki Beaumont 18:38
Mixed. Mixed. Surprisingly, most people were like, wow, this sounds great. Most people went by how’s it gonna work? Lots of people went, this is really scary. Some people went, this is never going to work as is the way you know, you do. If you’ve got a diverse workforce, you’re gonna get all of those responses. And that’s absolutely fine. And you need those responses. Because you need, you know, if you’ve got people like me, who got a great idea, let’s do we can start tomorrow. That, you know, you are actually those people who go now hang on, have you thought about this? And have you thought about that? And what about this? And what if this happens? What if this happens? So, you know, luckily, we do have a very diverse workforce that does think in all of those in all of those ways. So, the response was, generally isn’t this a fabulous thing to do? And I remember, we announced that we were going to do it as a surprise at our annual company conference. And all I did was play the video the TED Talk that Andrew had done, which is like a 10-minute TED talk on what he’d done on why he’d done it. All we did was just quietly play that to 35 people in the room, and people actually started crying. People actually had tears down their eyes go oh my gosh, you’re gonna do this for us. And other people were like, oh my gosh, you know, you can imagine, but genuinely the response from everybody has been well, it might be scary. And we don’t know how but if we can make it work, how fabulous would it be?
Graeme Cowan 20:17
And what happened to, you know, the organization’s performance in terms of revenue and profit? What changed?
Nikki Beaumont 20:26
Well, we did launch just pre COVID. So that was an interesting time to launch it. And actually, when COVID first hit us, and we all we all were sent home with our new laptops, and Zoom, which we’ve not really been using much before then you know, when that happened, and of course, in the recruitment business, all the companies that normally hiring from us went, oh, we bet stop hiring until this passes, and what are we going to do with temps we can, we can give laptops to our people, but we can’t have temporarily at home. So, but let’s just stop that for a little while. So, there was there was a few months where I’ll be honest, the revenue went down dramatically. But that actually wasn’t to do with the four-day week. And we did it to put the four-day week on hold, because the four-day week, one of the ways that we measure it or work it within the organization is productivity. And of course, our productivity measures pre COVID were changed quite considerably. But you know, two years on, and it is something that we measure closely, two years on, I’m really pleased to say that the impact of the photo week has only been positive that our productivity measures are that we are just as productive, if not more in many cases than we were pre four days a week. And we’ve had the best 6, 12 months now we’ve had the best 12 months that we’ve had ever in the history of Beaumont, and we’re 21 years old. So, we’ve had the best 12 months ever, where we still on a monthly basis are hitting many Beaumont Guinness Book of Records best ever, we measure them, and we celebrate them. We can’t like celebrating any excuse. And so yeah, I would say we’re more profitable than ever in this last year, you know, we’ve really hit some massive milestones, which is great.
Graeme Cowan 21:22
You mentioned that you’ve refined it over the two years since it launched. What do you remember that what did you change? What have you evolved?
Nikki Beaumont 22:24
I think the way that we implemented it initially was that. And I learned this from Andrew, from the early days, because once I heard about it, I was like picking his brains. Well, what about this? What about that with all the questions I had, and one of the things I learned early on was, don’t try and work it out from a leadership manager, executive perspective and tell the team how to do it, go to them and say, I’d love to do this. But I don’t know how you tell us, you know, at the end of the day, you’re the ones we’re going to make this work, you tell us how it’s going to work for you and what you can see that’s going to work not working, etc. And that’s exactly what we did. And you know that was the best advice by far, you know, so the team’s got chance to work together and go, well, how can we make it work? You know, he says, if if we’re going to make this work, you need to be the ones who actually make it work, all I can do is give you the decision that I’d like to. And so one of the things that they wanted to do at the time was a month in advance set the days that people have off, we don’t have a set day, it was all, you know, mixed days, set the days that people had off, you know, okay, I’ll take Monday, you take Tuesday, I’ll take Wednesday, you take Thursday. And you know, really great reasons for that. But I think over time, now we’ve, we’ve tried to generally just make sure that there’s not a lot of crossovers within the teams. But they don’t, they don’t necessarily set it that way. They work their own way within the teams. And some people actually don’t take a four-day week at all. Some people go, you know, what actually suits me better. If I’ve got my kids at school, and then pick the kids at school and I’m working from home anyway, I don’t want a whole day off. I just want an hour or two here and there that I can do kid stuff every day rather than just one day. So, you know, we’ve really evolved in the flexibility when we first launched, I think we were so trying to think of all the things that could go wrong to make it work. There was a lot of rules and rigidity around it. That was our comfort zone to make it work where it was now. And I think COVID has taught us a lot about this, you know, and we all went home with our laptops, and nobody knew what anyone was doing behind their laptops at home. You know, once they came off the Zoom call, it certainly taught us a lot about trust. You know, it really has so, yeah, yeah, that’s one of the things that we’ve changed. But what else at the beginning we measured it a lot. We measure that, you know, you kind of hit your productivity measures for the month. And then you get the full day week for the following month. If your productivity measures drop, then you kind of don’t get your four-day week until you get back up. You know, obviously, which is great. We do continue with that. Do we measure it as closely as we did in the beginning?
Graeme Cowan 25:05
Yeah, yep. What do you counter productivity measures for, for the team?
Nikki Beaumont 25:12
One of the things we’re mindful of, and, you know, sort of going to your comment earlier about the way that it works with revenue and bonus, and things like that, one of the things we were very conscious of is that productivity is not necessarily just about the revenue, it’s one element of what we do. Is it the most important element? No, actually, it’s not. Then what’s the most important thing for us is client and candidate satisfaction is actually placing people in work. That’s the revenue absolutely, you know, we’ve got to pay the bills. You know, we’re here to make a profit. We don’t want to be doing this at a loss. Absolutely not. But what are we actually here for, we’re not here to make revenue? That is not what we’re here for. We’re actually here to place great people, great jobs, etc., and all that goes along with that. So, so our measures are more around that our measures around customer satisfaction, because I think the biggest concerns for us was, well, how is this going to impact our clients and our candidates? You know, because we’re available five days a week, for the most part, what, what, how is it going to work if we’re not? How’s that gonna work? So, you know, those were the productivity measures for the recruitment consultant, but they’re different for everybody in every role, you know, marketing has got their own set of individual productivity measures as as the ops team, as has the finance team. But every single one of them as a business. We’re very, very mindful about what our feedback, and the quality of our feedback and the satisfaction of our clients and our candidates. Yeah.
Graeme Cowan 26:45
You also, were very innovative in exploring the meaning of work, meaningful work. And would you mind just giving people a bit of background about why that was so important to you? And then how you went about understanding how work was meaningful?
Nikki Beaumont 27:04
Yeah, sure. I mean, this goes back to, you know, going back a few years, we were, we were just digging deep into who we are? Why we do what we do? How we describe ourselves? You know, how we articulate ourselves, you know, what around the placing people first, etc. And, and we were sort of realigning ourselves to our vision and our values. And it was through that process. And we were working with a wonderful lady called Carolyn Butler Madden, we’ve been doing lots of great things in terms of social impact, working with the charity sector, etc. And I, similar to how the charity sector came about for us, but I have this feeling of, we’re doing great work, yes. We do lots of fabulous work. But I know that we can do more, there’s more that we can be doing, in what we do with our expertise, when there’s more of a difference we can be making. And I don’t know how it looks. And I don’t know what it is. And I really want us to work towards that. And so, as we were talking through that process, and we were reevaluating our why, that’s where meaningful work came up. That’s where you know, what we’re not about just placing people in jobs, we’re actually about placing people in jobs that actually have right and really meaningful for them. And an understanding that everybody is different in what meaningful work is. And so, through those conversations about really what we’re about, we, we were looking for well, how do we measure that? How do we measure what’s meaningful for people? So, if we’re really to really support candidates in finding them, meaningful work, but what’s meaningful for them, because what’s meaningful for me? And what’s meaningful for me is, people in my business, being successful enjoying what they do, making an impact, that’s meaningful work for me, that’s not necessarily meaning for work for some of the people in my business. What’s meaningful work for them is the support that they give to the clients that they’re working with in the charity sector that allows them to do the great work that they do. Or, you know, it might be bringing home a decent wage that allows me to feed my family and eventually my house and have security. It can be all in any of those things, because it’s really broad. So, there was no, we couldn’t find a way that we could measure it. So—So, we soon realized that well, if nobody else has got my envision, well, we better go out there and find a way of measuring it. So, we did. So, we set up. We set some– The word for it now but we spent a lot of investment and time and energy with some professors in the field to go away, do all the research and actually design a survey for us, which I think we’ve literally recently had trademarked. And so, we actually have that survey available on our website. And we decided it needed to be free. We needed it to be available for anybody and everybody to do at any time and just find an understanding of what is really meaningful for you individually as a person to help you, as your, you know, in your career. Yeah.
Graeme Cowan 30:21
So, for all our listeners out there, you might like to visit the website and do the profile. It sounds incredibly interesting to me, and I’m sure others out there as well. I, as I mentioned before her background in recruitment, I also did outplacement career coaching for over about a 15-year period. And I always, always knew that that work was incredibly important to our well-being. And it’s interesting that the Gallup Group wrote a book called, ‘Well-being’ and they identified five different areas of well-being so there was a physical well-being, and social well-being, and financial well-being, and community well-being, and, and career, well, there’s five there. And the thing that I find quite amazing, because it’s quite counterintuitive, is that they identify career well-being as the most important element. And if you think about it, it does make sense somewhat, because, you know, it’s where we spend most of our time, you know, doing with other people, with our clients or that sort of things. And if that’s not great, it’s very easy for that to flow over to the other part of our well-being. So, I really applaud your work in helping people to identify that because it’s something that is, you know, really close to my heart, but having a sense of purpose, knowing what your strengths are and how you can deliver those strengths. Knowing about the benefit that you can provide other people I think, is just critical. And one of the things I’ve– One of the terms I’ve always hated for this reason is the concept of work life balance, because it implies that life is good work is bad. And, you know, for some people work is a very, very important part of their well-being, it can’t be the only thing of course, but yeah, I’m gonna go and do that, that profile, I’m really intrigued by it. So well done for putting it together.
Nikki Beaumont 32:23
Thanks. And we’ve actually also recently, in fact, we’re still in some beta testing of a corporate version of it. So that we can also because it’s okay, working with the candidates on helping them articulate what it is that really is important to them, you know, in their career. But we also need the organizations on site, too, we need them to understand whether, well, they’re able to provide meaningful work for the people in their organization. And if they’re not, where’s the gap? So, we’re just in beta testing of that. And there’s information on that we’ve got have a website called meaningfulwork.com today. So, we’ve evolved that as well. So significant investment over the last three years on that one, but that’s actually still only the starting point of great. So, I can’t tell you too much at the moment. But this these crazy entrepreneurial ideas brain of mine has lots more other exciting stuff in the wings that is evolving and in progress as hasn’t actually hits the media at this moment in time, but there’s lots of other exciting things that we’re doing in the pursuit of more opportunities for meaningful work for more people in Australia.
Graeme Cowan 33:36
Stay tuned and it’s great to hear that you’re going deep into that area which I think is really sensational. You’ve also you know read have done some interesting holidays that you’ve you know, trek to the base camp of Mount Everest and being on a husky sleigh and Finland heading to the Russian border. How important is that to your life and how hard has it been for the last two and a half years now you leave Australia?
Nikki Beaumont 34:11
Yeah, look, I’m a born adventurer. So, I love anything like that, still do absolutely still do another one that it was took a year off to go around Australia a few years ago now as a family which is wonderful. Of course, move to the wonderful Northern Rivers here. Six years ago, left Sydney moved into the Byron hinterland and bought 120 acres and some cows. So, you know I am an average traveler and yet not been able to go abroad for the last couple of years. There’re a few big trips planned that had to be cancelled but make the most of it in Australia I can tell you and you know I’ve been all sorts is not perfect not held me back. You know if there’s an opportunity opened up, I’ve been there you know, and even, even when we were in the thick of lockdown, so our adventurous spirit is the family and we do live on 120 acres. We couldn’t go away because of lockdown. So what we did was done the one of the back paddocks, we, we took the tents down, and we set up camp down the back paddocks, and we did that through so many weekends through, we went camping and, and so that, you know, we, we had that opportunity, but you know, I’m a big believer in you have to take yourself away from the coalface, from work, you need to get out in nature, you need to have regular breaks. And, you know, it’s, it’s how you recuperate, it’s how you breathe, it’s it allows you to think it allows you to really evaluate what you’re doing, where you’re at, how you’re doing and at rest, and you know, all of those things. So, it’s vitally important to me and I’m highly encouraging of anybody else to just make sure that you’ve got plenty, plenty of nature in your life.
Graeme Cowan 36:04
Yeah, I’m also a very big fan of nature, have done some level of the walks, you know, beyond the Kokoda track and the neck is under way in Japan and the Camino, in Portuguese Camino and the Kepler track in New Zealand and the Overland Track in Tasmania. And it’s, it just is really, really lovely, isn’t it to leave our normal environment and to go to different places. And often those places are not just really beautiful, they often have people from a different culture that live differently. And it’s nice to be able to learn from them when I think about my kids that are a bit older now. But both of them have done a lot of traveling and often in third world countries. And I think that’s just as important as our formal education, you know, just in terms of being related to what happens in the world, how it’s all, how it’s, you know, what’s different, but also what’s the same, because there’s a lot the same as well. It’s, we’re very lucky as Australians to be able to afford to do that and, and then also come back to a pretty good place as well. When you fly back into Sydney after being away you think Holy mackerel, this is looks good. Looks really, really fantastic.
Nikki Beaumont 37:30
Very lucky. I, I have a quote that actually, somebody who worked for me 15 years ago said, do you still have that quote, Nick, I still think of whenever I hear that, quote, I think of you. It has always been on my computer, and it’s done one thing a day that scares you. I absolutely love that quote. And I think that’s what, that’s what took me to, you know, Everest base camp. That’s what took me to, you know, take a team of Huskies in minus 30 degrees at the time. And I do– I do come from a place of anything’s possible we can do whatever. So, when, when I decided I wanted to take my family back to Nepal, I’d been to Nepal they hadn’t adult was five at the time for four or five. And I wanted to do high altitude, very remote trekking in the foothills of Everest. And people would say you can’t do that. You cannot take four-year-old for a month to Nepal with those conditions trekking. I answered, I was like, yes, you can. And they did you know, and even taking a I think she would have been 11, 12 at the time going back to do the Huskies and taking the family back to do that up there in the Arctic Circle in the freezing cold. Our daughter took her own team of Huskies for a week. On a massive adventure. People would say you can’t do that. I love it when people say you can’t do something. You know, you can, you know, you can. You can’t take if you’re a business owner, you can’t take a year out and go around Australia? Yes, you can.
Graeme Cowan 39:07
It’s a great, it’s a great outlook. It really is. I really love that. Where have you learnt most about leadership? Is there been certain people or certain books or certain TED Talks? Where what have you? Where have you learned your key lessons?
Nikki Beaumont 39:26
Well, I have to be honest, I’ve had to haven’t read that many books and haven’t listened to that many TED talks. I have listened to a few podcasts now. So, I highly recommend the podcasts. It depends how fast you move. And if you move as fast as I do sometimes when I actually sit down still long enough to read that many books. I have a lot of books, so I read them. I think– Well, I think my leadership journey has been a long journey. I have been in a leadership role for gosh, we’re getting up to 30 years now. Where my best lessons come from? You know what, probably making mistakes to be fair Graeme, really, I’ve made a lot of mistakes over the time as you do. And I’ve learned from them. I don’t beat myself up over them all the time. Sometimes they don’t depend how big they are, or bad they are. But I have learned from a lot of mistakes, you know, from trial and error from my own. I think this is how is the right way to do things. And then sometimes it turns out great, fabulous, sometimes it just doesn’t. And it’s like, okay, we think that what happened there. So, there has been a lot of that have had some fantastic mentors, and really have had some fantastic mentors in my life. Starting, I think really started when I think about my first best mentor was the Director of Olympic Operations at the time die pass. Still an absolutely wonderful friend and mentor today. So, the value of mentorship, yeah, have been on many leadership things. No. I love a conference because I can absorb and listen to inspiring and interesting speakers. I do learn a lot from conferences, I get a lot of inspiration from that. And particularly if it’s fast paced, and there’s a lot to learn if you’re if it’s not fast paced, and good content, I’m out of there, I’m bored. So, I think that’s, that’s my way of learning. I love little blob snippets; I can read those three pages that are gone. But you know, quick things are for me, I don’t have much attention span really, unless I’m gonna spreadsheet and I do like spreadsheets. But yeah, I guess, mines involved. I’ve had some great mentors. And that’s one of the reasons why we launched the mentoring program that we did in Beaumont, which would be probably about five or six years now. Because of the value of giving leaders the support to be the best leader that they can possibly be, you know, when you connect that back to people in the workplace, and meaningful work and create the right environment, if you think about all of that, the leaders are critical in this. So how can we support the leaders and from the work that we’ve been doing in the charity sector, we kept hearing them going, you know, we don’t have the funds to support and provide, you know, training for our leaders as much as we’d like to. And we’re providing lots of free training, and we still do to charities and all types of organizations. But it was through that, that the idea came for the mentoring program that is massively successful today, you know, now in the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds, I think five years ago, when we launched it, there was 22 that went to the first program.
Graeme Cowan 42:33
And so, you provide the mentoring to those leaders, your clients, your clients, and you help mentor them to achieve goals? Is that how it works? How do you work with them?
Nikki Beaumont 42:44
Yeah, it’s all clients, not just our clients. So, it’s all types of leaders in all organizations, we actually connect mentees, and we find mentors and we connect them together, we use a program now called The Art of Mentoring, which helps us facilitate all of that and other tools in about half a team. It’s three that work across it now. It was free initially for the charity sector, but it is become so big, that it actually needs a team wrapping around it to pull it together. And we’ve developed it you know, they get strengths profiling, as part of being on our program, they get masterclasses they get a whole suite of tools, information and support available for people in their leadership journey. So, I’m really very proud of it actually. It’s one of those things that you know, before they worked great, proud of that, you know, the gender neutral paid parental leave scheme, great proud. But you know that the mentoring program, that’s all that’s making impact all over the place. I don’t have to be our clients, not expensive, we actually keep the cost as low as we possibly can for maximum impact. It’s not about making money; it’s not about returning investment for financially return on investment is impact and leadership capability and meaningful work for those people who work under those leaders.
Graeme Cowan 44:09
How do you– When someone that works to you let you down or disappoint you? How do you approach that?
Nikki Beaumont 44:17
I think I would like to say, with listening ears. I think you know; we have two ears and one mouth for a reason. You know, the two ears. I think with listening ears and understanding and trying to find out why and how we got there and what happened and what our part is in that. And it’s hard sometimes, you know, it’s hard not to blame pointing fingers sometimes it really is. I’ll be honest, you know, there are sometimes when you’re we’re all their fault. They were, you know anybody. We don’t we can all do that, you know in our own personal relationships to say but I think we very mindful to seek understanding to listen and to look for ways to do things differently and to look to that and to take responsibility, you know, in every situation to look for learning.
Graeme Cowan 45:17
Yeah. Very good insight. You know, I guess understanding your role in it happening as well is, is a very important element, isn’t it? It’s been absolutely wonderful. Catching up today. Nikki, just a couple more questions. Firstly, if you could share a simple message to the world, what would it be?
Nikki Beaumont 45:40
Oh, first people first.
Graeme Cowan 45:46
That’s good. That honestly, that is the beauty of a great vision, isn’t it? It’s quite all encompassing. And it’s, and it’s not just about work. It’s about life. I think the best personal missions do encompass both those things. It’s not separate. Its thing so I think that makes a lot of sense to use that as, as your tagline your personal tagline, as well as your corporate tag line.
Nikki Beaumont 46:12
The spot there, Graeme, like, oh.
Graeme Cowan 46:17
But that’s great. Yeah, that was that’s great. Absolutely fantastic. Looking back now, knowing what you know, now, and thinking about when you were just, you know, 20 years old? What advice would you give that 20-year-old yourself knowing what you know, now?
Nikki Beaumont 46:34
Gosh, where do I start? Not wanting to divulge too much about my 20s. But, you know, I think I always had a hunger for learning. I mean, when you look back now is that the importance and value of learning and listening, learning and listening? What else would I say to my young person, I definitely say probably don’t drink quite as much wine and beer is really not going to take you very far. It’s not that necessary. I think, live life to the full, you now have an absolutely live life to the fullest. Anybody who knows me well knows I’m a live life to the full in every aspect of work life, you know, I do go at 100 miles an hour. But try and balance that with a little bit of downtime, which I’m still not very good at. You know, I’m much better at going full speed. I’m not very good at slowing down. Hence, I don’t read any books hardly ever, you know, even a great novel can take me six months to read. I don’t stop still long enough. Why would one stop still and sit down when one can be moving? So, you know, absolutely live life to the full take every opportunity and every adventure, you know that that’s there. And I am a risk taker. I think I’ve always been a risk taker. I don’t know where that came from. Because my parents are not necessarily risk takers. I don’t know where that came from. But I am a risk taker. And that I think does work quite well for me. Don’t be afraid, you know, give it a go. And people in my business would go or whatever that I do, Nikki? It’s gonna work out I’ll go well, why don’t we just give it a go and see what happens. If we don’t like it, you’re always strong. So, I think, I think that’s just me. So, you know, don’t analyze stuff too much as well. You know, some people I say they want to spend months working through things before they make a decision. And I can think of few people, my partner he loves to analyze things. He’s still trying to work out which bike you would buy or take in six months, I’m choosing his bike, he really needs to think about it. I go into a shop and go–
Graeme Cowan 48:59
Oh, it’s been lovely catching up today, Nikki, thanks for sharing so much about yourself and your philosophy and also your business and the way that you bought purpose into business. I think it’s just sensational. Thanks for being part of The Caring CEO.
Nikki Beaumont 49:15
Thank you so much for inviting me, Graeme. And it’s just great to connect with you again. It really is. And I appreciate the opportunity. So, thank you.
Graeme Cowan 49:25
Excellent. Thanks, Nikki. That was great. Really great. I honestly, it’s a real privilege doing these interviews, just learning from people like yourself and just being able to delve into different areas. It’s yeah, it’s just fantastic. It really is.
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