Baden U'Ren

2017 / 27 November

Employees Drive Business Location Decisions


On Friday The Australian newspaper published a series of articles in The Deal examining the commercial appeal of the Gold Coast. The managing editor, Helen Trinca, asked me to comment on what makes the Gold Coast unique: what distinguishes our region from others in terms of industry and commerce.

Our discussion was written up in an article titled Hot Spot for Innovation and I focused on two points of difference:

  1. Gold Coasters are entrepreneurial; and
  2. We have an environment to die for.

I put forward a point of view that progressive businesses are choosing to locate themselves on the Gold Coast for a range of reasons, including as a strategy to attract and retain the best employees. With the war for talent entering overdrive, factors such as organisational culture and location are becoming front of mind for valuable employees and organisations are searching for ways in which they can deliver an enriching work life with the balance of an awesome place to live.

Gold Coasters are Entrepreneurial

When it comes to a decision on how to earn an income, Gold Coasters choose setting up a business at rates 18% greater than the national average, and 25% greater than the rest of Queensland. The region has a “can do” attitude and a workforce used to engaging with entrepreneurial organisations.

We Have an Environment to Die For

With 52 kilometers of world class beaches flanked by world heritage rainforest and a burgeoning culinary and entertainment scene, the Gold Coast offers lifestyle options for a wide range of individuals and families. Danny Maher, CEO of multi award winning Gold Coast-based network software company Opmantekis emphatic in his view that his decision to locate Opmantek on the Gold Coast pays dividends when attracting talented employees and business interests from interstate and abroad.  “It’s a stressful industry, with long hours and hard work. The Gold Coast is a great environment to switch off and enjoy the lifestyle.”

A Personal Reflection

My wife-to-be Cath and I are living this phenomenon: we have started our own business on the Gold Coast. Cath especially is a classical example of the attraction of the region. Formerly a highly successful corporate business woman who built a business from scratch to over 1,000 staff and $100m in revenue, she gave up a Regional GM role with a Fortune 500 company to found Pet Wellness Centres on the Gold Coast. We opened our doors October 4 2016 and have been running hard ever since. Fourteen months in and it’s our morning routine of exercise and walks on the beach with our dog Harry that are keeping us sane. We live across the road from Burleigh Beach, count ourselves lucky that Commune is our local cafe, and we can walk to the likes of IkuJustin LaneRick ShoresRabbath, and Harry’s. Sunday sessions at Burleigh Brewing cap off our weeks and ready us for another six days of running hard.

The decision for us was easy, and it proved particularly helpful in convincing our senior vet Dr Gustav to travel across the world to join our startup veterinary business (founded by two owners with no operational veterinary experience!).

The point for me is very clear, and it is not new. Charles Handy wrote about it more than twenty years ago and society is only just awakening to his prophecy. The balance of power between organisations and employees has shifted, and not in the direction of organisations! Increasingly, employees are dictating terms of employment with employers. From hours of work, to method of work, to work itself: the people are deciding what, how, and where it will be done. To borrow from Charles Handy, the role of the organisation has switched into becoming a place where talented individuals choose to work on their own terms, and it is up to the organisation to provide the environment to enable and support that work. Culture is critical, as is location.

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