We celebrated our 10th anniversary on 15 March 2020, after Covid-19 hit hard and not long before we went into the first lockdown in Victoria. What a way to start the party. It was stressful, filled with uncertainty and we were constantly on our toes. In short, it was a difficult time – not just for us but also for our clients, candidates and the community by and large.
Our resilience as a company was tested.
Nonetheless, we took the bull by the horns, made the most of the situation and emerged stronger than ever.
We’ve summarised 10 of our most valuable lessons learned from #10yearsofaptus:
1. Change is inevitable, embrace it
If there’s anything we’ve learned in the past year or so, it’s that change is inevitable and life is full of the unexpected. Having gone through three lockdowns in Victoria, with the longest spanning over 112 days, the Built Environment space in Melbourne was quiet. Interstate borders were closed and there were no international arrivals.
Instead of harping on the lack of opportunities in Victoria, we strategised and focused our efforts on interstate projects and continued to recruit throughout this period. We also shifted our focus towards recruiting contractors, which became increasingly popular in the age of Covid-19. The team embraced this change and did a great job adapting. We didn’t just want to ensure our survival, but also our success and that of our clients and candidates.
We made things work and we thrived as a team.
Considering everything, we still made as many placements as we did in the previous year.
2. Have empathy and compassion for everyone
Many people’s lives were upended this past year. Some lost their jobs, a sense of purpose or even dear ones.
Beyond that, we all shared something in common – facing a global health crisis. We realised that people are more willing to open up when going through a shared experience, and we made sure to handle this shared bond with compassion. We built genuine connections with our clients and candidates by being more human and breaking down barriers that might typically exist in professional relationships.
This has allowed us to connect on a more personal level which we have always strived to achieve but only experienced at such magnitude in this past year. We were rather surprised at how we could still make genuine connections with the lockdown restrictions in place and lack of means to meet in person. (Special shout out to the people over at the T of STEM!)
With all the uncertainties present in the market, we were firm on being honest and transparent throughout the recruitment process. This means taking full ownership of our client accounts as well as job seekers that come to us.
We’ve also taken any opportunity to uplift others through the Aptus brand. The silver lining amidst all the uncertainty and chaos is that being in recruitment, we were able to help those who struggled after losing their jobs.
3. Acknowledge and reward great work
Here at Aptus, we understand that our team is only as good as its members. There’s a strong sense of joy when we celebrate the success of our team members, and such excitement when we onboard new team members who share the same values and passion.
Aptus welcomed a new partner, Ian, Associate Director – Civil Manager in the Civil team.
Our top-performing consultant, Siobhan, was promoted to Principal Recruitment Consultant in October, on her 6th Aptusversary.
We also brought in fantastic new members to the team – Locky, Viv, Honey and Caio!
As a company, we were also awarded Top 3 Finalists in the TALiNT International Annual Recruitment Awards (TIARA) Australia 2020 for the Specialist Recruitment Company category. We’re the best Specialist Recruitment Company in Australia, or so we say! We love what we do and we’re proud to say we do it well.
The team continues to grow, and we’re still on a lookout for Consultants to join our dynamic team. If you’re keen to explore a fulfilling career with us, reach out to Lee.
4. Surround yourself with positivity
There’s been a lot of negativity and noise in the media given everything that’s happened lately. We understood how consuming negative news in the morning could affect our entire emotional trajectory for the day so we chose to focus on the good stuff.
That’s essentially how The Good News Headlines came about – we wanted to curate positive, shareworthy news, from both the industry and general Australian community, with our network. We have 22 articles to date, and counting.
Choosing to surround ourselves with optimistic individuals and creating an atmosphere of positive energy at the office has also improved our general mood and productivity as a team by a great deal. Read on and you’ll see what we mean!
5. Remember to have fun amidst everything
A healthy mind and healthy body translate to a happy life. As much as we work hard, we don’t forget to have fun and look after ourselves.
Despite the lockdowns we endured for a considerable portion of #10yearsofAptus, we made sure to put our mental and physical well being first. We each found what worked for us, what made us feel energised, at peace, centred.
Some of us tried our hands at a new hobby like baking, others made it a point to exercise or meditate consistently. We checked in with one another during our regular video meetings and sought comfort by staying in touch with loved ones. We also found opportunities to treat and reward ourselves for the short-term and long-term goals we met, and in general for good work done.
Don’t forget to treat yourself and give yourself a pat on the back too.
Also, if you’ve been with us over the years, you might have noticed that we went through a full rebranding and launched a brand new website to kickstart #10yearsofaptus. Don’t we look great!
Check out our logo transformation over the years:
6. There’s value in both work from home and work from office
If there was one thing that was made clear this past year, it is that there is no real substitute for the spontaneous interactions and learning by osmosis that happens in the office. After working from home for 9 months straight, we really missed the shared conversations and the indirect knowledge we gained from hearing conversations amongst colleagues.
As much as we met over video, it just wasn’t the same.
While more companies have been reducing office spaces and increasing the numbers of employees working from home permanently, we moved to a bigger office!
Now located in the Melbourne Central Tower, we’re smack in the middle of Melbourne CBD. Easily accessible by public transport and surrounded by a variety of restaurants and coffee shops, we’re absolutely loving it.
Of course, we recognise the perks of working from home too – such as being able to save time on commute and squeeze in an extra hour of sleep in the morning. At Aptus, we’ve adopted a great mix of both and it has proven popular and effective.
Ultimately, we believe flexible work wins and virtual meetings will continue to be a popular and relevant alternative, at least for the near future. Regardless, we’re here to embrace it.
7. Consistency is key
In a world where uncertainties are widespread and structure is challenged, consistency is key. Many of us find ourselves juggling an array of responsibilities with the line between work and life becoming increasingly blurred.
Having the right mindset to form habits that stick in order to build momentum is invaluable. It really is key to achieving greater things in life – whether its success in our work or personal happiness and a sense of fulfilment. With patience and consistency, soon enough you will start to see remarkable results.
When it comes to recruitment, we’ve learned to have zero expectations – just put in the work and the results will come. We will always achieve results when we simply do good work consistently. This has also reduced unnecessary stress and pressure we put on ourselves, yet we continue to see great results across the team.
8. Mental health in the property industry needs our attention
While mental health issues are becoming increasingly prevalent in Australian workforces, Aptus wanted to understand the extent of mental health illness in the property sector specifically. To get an idea of the level of awareness regarding the topic and the amount of support provided by employers, we conducted the Mental Health Awareness in Property Survey 2020 and the results were alarming:
71% are aware of a co-worker who experienced stress in the workplace resulting in mental health conditions.
30% experienced or witnessed employment-related decisions being made as a result of mental health issues.
“An average day is 11 to 12 hours, with every second Saturday. These hours are unsustainable and unnecessary. It is a high stress environment, unforgiving and shows a lack of empathy to the workers and their families. Questioning the long hours is not tolerated.”
We’re thankful for our respondents who came forward and shared their stories. You helped us achieve our first goal – to get people talking about this. With the repeated lockdowns, loss of loved ones and extended work from home arrangements, the welfare of individuals in the property sector needs our attention now more than ever.
We truly believe that we can make a bigger difference in the industry, together, if we were to check in with our colleagues and employees regularly, listen without judgement and be there for them. This is still a work-in-progress but we will continue to shine light on the issue and engage in these conversations on a daily basis.
9. The importance of children learning STEM hands-on
We recognise the importance of Education and Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM), but we prefer to have fun while at it. This was the year we initiated spreading the importance (and benefits!) of children learning STEM hands-on through play.
It’s never too early to introduce STEM to children. Instilling an attitude of exploration among toddlers and encouraging a systematic and logical approach to problem-solving among older children is key.
Also, the completion of tertiary STEM education among women in Australia is far lower than men – at only 20.8% despite women and men being equally capable of a successful career in STEM.
We wanted to inspire our next generation of innovators, both boys and girls, to explore engineering through fun and education. Before Christmas last year, we helped 10 professionals in the Built Environment industry pick out an interactive engineering gift for their young one in our #IWantToBeAnEngineer ChriSTEMas Giveaway.
The responses we received were fantastic:
10. Celebrate and support amazing women in STEM at any chance we get
In celebration of International Women’s Day 2021 and History month, we shared 9 wonderful female engineers who have made—and are making!—history. As these women from the past and present have shown, women played a big part in history and will continue to play major roles in our future.
We’re proud that our work enables both women and men to do what they do best – make a difference in the industry and community. We will continue to empower and encourage women in the industry, and remind them that they can achieve anything they want to.
We were also lucky enough to have the chance to interview the amazing Kimberley Whitehead, Senior Project Engineer. She shared her experience achieving success and making her mark in the Construction industry and advice for women today and of tomorrow. See what she has to say:
Wrapping up #10yearsofaptus & looking forward
We’re officially 11 – and this really is just the beginning for us. In this time there have been so many highlights, with our top favourite being:
- We still made as many placements as we did in the previous year. That means our work enables our clients and candidates to do what they do best – make a difference in the industry and community.
- We now have Ian join Tom and Lee as Partners, top-performing consultant Siobhan is now Principal Recruitment Consultant and we also brought in fantastic new members to the team – Locky, Viv, Honey and Caio!
- We’ve rebranded – orange is the new yellow.
- We moved to a bigger office in the Melbourne Central Tower, smack in the middle of Melbourne CBD.
- We got people talking about mental health issues in the industry, and will continue to do so.
- We initiated spreading the importance (and benefits!) of children learning STEM hands-on through play.
- We continue to empower and encourage women in the industry, and remind them that they can achieve anything they want to.
We’d like to thank our clients and candidates for taking us to a whole new height with all the successes achieved together in the past 10 years. Each and every client we have worked with, every single candidate placed and all the relationships formed over the years is what makes Aptus incredible. We look forward to continuing to be the place where talent and successful employers meet.
Thank you for being with us.