No village manager turnover in 18 months: RetireAustralia CEO Dr Brett Robinson on why ‘team culture’ is critical to staff retention – hear Brett speak at the VILLAGE SUMMIT

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With vacancies for village managers at a high, the private operators has seen only internal transfers across its 28 villages in the past 18 months. Why? Its Chief Executive Officer Dr Brett Robinson (pictured centre) credits the group’s strong culture for its low turnover – and he will be addressing the VILLAGE SUMMIT on how to build team culture.

Brett is well-equipped to speak on the subject with a long career as a ‘team player’.

An ex-international rugby player for the Wallabies, and the first captain of the ACT Brumbies, off the field Brett ran the Australian Rugby Union’s High Performance Unit.

Trained as a doctor, Brett has since spent much of his career working in the private sector, including for insurance company Mondial Assistance, cancer treatment centre Icon Cancer Care and Bank of Queensland.

“Recognising and rewarding”

RetireAustralia has both a human resources team that connects its village managers as well as a learning and development function which has built its program of training. This includes a Diploma in leadership and membership to DCM’s own DCM Institute of professional development training.

While these teams were set up three years ago before Brett joined the group, he says they also invest heavily in the importance of culture and “recognising and rewarding”.

“Like any organisation, we want to be somewhere where we feel connected to, and we feel that it’s a place that we and our values are aligned to,” he said.

“The challenge in my role and the team’s role is to create an environment where people feel supported and safe. They can be stretched and grow, and they can do what ultimately join organisations like ours to do which is to look after people well.”

People are your greatest asset

Brett notes that when he worked in cancer care, the cancer nurses were the organisation’s greatest asset, because they genuinely cared about the people and their families.

“It’s very similar to what we do in our world where there are people that join and work in our industries and get so much reward out of caring and supporting people. You have to try and enable that as best as you can,” he said, adding: “We don’t probably pay as much as some other industries or roles but we try to be as competitive as we can be relative to the market. But I think while money is an important factor, ultimately it’s personal purpose that drives people’s why.”

Brett says the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity to demonstrate this sincerity to their VMs.

COVID-19 a real test of culture

“Culture is tested through action and observation,” he stated.

“That’s as simple as having the technology to allow the teams to meet with every village manager and resident chair, every fortnight or for the fourth week of the crisis to connect in personally with everybody.”

Buddy programs were also set up where the VMs in South Australia were calling their teammates to check in on them after a suggestion from one of their SA VMs.

“If you get out of the way and you allow people to just be human beings and do the right thing, we saw the wonderful stories of compassion and support,” Brett said.

“It’s those simple things that have been really powerful connectors around their culture.”

You can hear more about building team culture from Brett at the VILLAGE SUMMIT, coming to your state in November/December. Find out more here.

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