Employer of choice from Down Under

Employer branding is one of the hottest topics right now. Many companies are striving to become an ’employer of choice’ in the hopes of attracting the best-of-the-best talent and reducing their turnover rates. With such a competitive market for good candidates, and given the power of social media, company review websites such as Glassdoor, and industry word-of-mouth, it is essential that an organization develops a positive reputation.

RedBalloon, an Australian based company, is an excellent example of an ’employer of choice’. Prior to moving to Canada, I was incredibly fortunate to spend five amazing years there. RedBalloon has received countless HR awards, become one of the most desirable places to work and achieved incredible success. So, how did they build this culture and earn this status? By making their employees’ happiness a priority. Here’s my inside scoop on some of the amazing things that RedBalloon did in my time there to bring this vision to life:

1. Leadership empowered HR to deliver employee engagement initiatives – They were provided with the resources they needed to do it and the HR team was aptly named the ‘Employee Experience Team’.

2. They created a culture of celebration – The team celebrated everything from the arrival of the new branded company car, to reaching one million experience vouchers sold. It could be a simple celebration such as popping champagne or a large scale event like a company ski trip.

3. People were fueled up to do their best work Every Monday a big bowl of fresh fruit would arrive in the office and every second Friday the company would provide breakfast. Plus, monthly team meetings and ‘lunch n learns’ would be catered.

4. Communication was frequent and leadership was transparent – From top to bottom, everyone was aware of the part they played in RedBalloon achieving it’s BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal). All strategies and metrics, for every business unit, were derived from this target. It kept everyone focused and fostered a sense of ownership.

5. The Employee Experience Team was always looking for ways to surprise and delight the team – Company events were planned in secret, at Easter time you would receive chocolate eggs and at Christmas everyone received an advent calendar. It would not be uncommon to arrive at work with spontaneous presents on your desk.

6. Ownership shared their financial success – If the team exceeded targets, individual rewards grew and celebrations became even more elaborate. For example, for surpassing a sales goal the whole team was not only flown to Fraser Island (as originally promised), everyone was also given an IPAD in recognition of their over-achievement.

7. Everyone got their birthday off – Because let’s face it, nobody wants to work on their birthday!

8. On your first day you were teamed up with an ‘onboarding buddy’ – Someone to help show you the ropes and guide you through your first couple of months. Buddies tended to develop long standing friendships due to their shared experience.

9. Living the company values was rewarded – Each month the team gathered for the company meeting. Lunch was provided followed by various updates, and the much anticipated ‘Oscar’ was awarded. Throughout the month team members could nominate each other for living the company values and at the gathering the submissions would be read out. The lucky recipient would not only receive the public acknowledgment; they would also receive a voucher for an experience off their personal ‘bucket list’.

10. Learning and development was encouraged – Managers worked with employees to identify skills gaps and the company provided resources for training.

11. You were provided with days off to volunteer at organizations close to your heart – Generosity is one of RedBalloon’s core values, and as an expression of this individuals were provided with time to give back in the community.


Developing a team of extremely engaged and satisfied employees does not have to be complicated, and there are many cost-effective strategies you can implement. Moreover, the benefits are plentiful; you develop a strong employer brand, entice impressive candidates, reduce turnover and ultimately drive revenue. RedBalloon is a strong believer in ‘Happy People = Happy Profits’, and this ethos is proven to be true in their exponential growth.