I think it was sometime around 2007/8 that I spent six figures on recruitment agency fees in a single year. Now you may not blink at that, but my business at that time was a small creative marketing agency with about twenty people. Dropping that kind of money was not insignificant.
The worst part of the story was that not a single recruit that we brought in stood the test of time. I think we may have got a partial refund on one person, but not the others.
The details may be sparse but the memory of the feeling the experience left for me is still very clear and present. Recruitment agency = high cost, low value = negative experience. However, when I met Nikki Beaumont, founder of Beaumont People, I immediately
sensed something was different about her approach and her agency. I was right.
Beaumont People was founded in 2001. Prior to that, Nikki had worked for a few recruitment agencies first in the UK where she hailed from and later in Sydney, including as General Manager for Olympic Recruitment Centre, for the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Nikki is very much a people person. She’s a firm believer in the idea that if you seek out the right people and you look after them, they will look after you. As a manager, she fought for her team and while some of the companies she worked for talked the talk about prioritising their people, more-often-than-not, when it came to crunch time – such as not making financial targets – it was their people who had to pay the price.
So, Nikki did what all good entrepreneurial people do who harbour a belief about a better way of doing things, she started her own business. Thus, recruitment agency, Beaumont People, was born.
Her first big test came with the Global Financial Crisis in 2008/9. The recruitment industry was hit hard and layoffs became common in the industry as businesses fought to survive. For Nikki, the idea of retrenching anyone in her team went against her core belief that had driven her to start her business. She made a commitment not to force redundancy on a single person and set a goal for the business to simply break-even as they rode out the GFC. This fuelled a different way of thinking about the business.
This led to a decision to target the Non-Profit sector as clients and to offer those clients Beaumont People’s services at cost. Nikki’s thinking combined her own philanthropic desire to support the sector along with wanting to keep her team motivated and engaged, in order to retain them, so that when business eventually picked up, Beaumont People would quickly be able to get back into the swing of things and respond to opportunities.
The strategy worked. Beaumont People survived the GFC where many of their competitors did not. While some of her team left the business through their own decisions, true to her word, not a single person was forced into redundancy. Today, the non-profit sector make-up one of Beaumont People’s key industry sectors.
Nikki had stayed the course, prioritising her people and coming out the other end as a result. The tag-line they have today reflects this. “Placing People First”.
Now before you think that’s the end of the story, it’s just the beginning.
In 2015, Nina Mapson Bone joined the business as Managing Director. Together, Nikki and Nina became a force to be reckoned with. Nikki, the entrepreneurial spirit looking at new opportunities; exploring the possibilities. Nina, using her experience to solidly ground the business, looking after the operations of the business and ensuring everything worked as it was supposed to and as was promised to their clients and of course, their people.
In 2018 I met Nikki and Nina. Nikki had read my first book “Path To Purpose” which had resonated deeply with her. She explained to me that she felt that Beaumont People was lacking something. Not that there was anything wrong with the business at all. After all, it was a successful and thriving recruitment business. Yet instinctively she felt there was an unfulfilled potential within Beaumont. She just couldn’t put her finger on what that was. My book had resonated with her and she was keen to clarify the higher purpose that Beaumont People could serve.
Through the Path To Purpose process, it became clear that even though placing people first – prioritising people - was ‘how’ Beaumont People operated, their ‘why’, their purpose, the thing that drove each of them ahead of anything else was a belief in the value of meaningful work.
Beaumont People’s reason for existence is to connect people with organisations that empower them to do meaningful work and to create more opportunities for meaningful work in Australia.
Defining and articulating this for the team was like a homecoming for them. They recognised the truth behind it instantly, but they had never grasped the clarity of it.
Clarity is a powerful enabler. The team at Beaumont started to think about ways they could champion meaningful work. How could they better build those connections between candidates and organisations that enabled meaningful work?
What is Meaningful Work?
So here’s an interesting insight we all learned on this journey. Whilst the idea of meaningful work is something that people talk about a lot, there was no clear or constant definition of meaningful work anywhere in the world and none that has been developed specifically for Australians.
When you think about it, what is considered meaningful work to one person is entirely different to what it is to another person. What it means to you today is probably very different to what it meant to you ten or fifteen years ago.
So how could Beaumont People deliver on their purpose while there were so many unknowns as to what meaningful work actually meant?
This simple question framed their first major initiative. To commission an academic study of what constitutes meaningful work. From there, in late 2019, the team at Beaumont People launched Australia’s first Meaningful Work Survey, asking over 1,000 Australians what makes work meaningful to them. These insights were made available publicly.
Most recently in 2021, Beaumont People launched the world’s first Meaningful Work Profiling Tool, providing individuals and organisations with an assessment profile, indicating how much value is placed on meaningful work factors.
This measurement aids both individuals and organisations in attaining and providing meaningful work, improving engagement levels, withdrawal intentions and employee commitment.
The four factors of Meaningful Work
The Meaningful Work Profile Tool is a world-first in combining both psychological and sociological perspectives, in that it looks at the individual, the job, the organisation and the society and culture in which the work sits.
The research and the profiling tool is the information that will help provide better engagement at work and therefore overall wellbeing as a nation.
Meaningful work benefits everyone. Think of the ripple effect of the benefits that come from it, starting with the individual and the impact on their self-worth, to their colleagues, their employer, families and loved ones, their friends, neighbours, communities. It truly creates a ripple effect of positivity and wellbeing.
True purpose starts with leadership. With a business that recognises it has a role to play in creating a better society.
Beaumont People are a purposeful organisation and leaders in their industry. They have been led by their purpose intuitively for many years, but once they gained clarity and were able to articulate what is now their purpose, they took on the mantle of being champions of meaningful work. They are now leading this vital movement in Australia, which will have far-reaching impact.
This is the change that Beaumont People are committed to achieving in Australia. Their purpose journey will be an exciting one to follow.
The above is an excerpt from Carolyn Butler-Madden’s book “For Love & Money”, coming out late 2021.
You can find out more about Beaumont People’s meaningful work survey, research and profiling tool at https://go.meaningfulwork.com.au/home