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Putting people first and prioritising their mental health has helped fashion business Australian Brand Alliance Labels land a spot in the Australian Financial Review’s annual list of Best Places to Work in Australia and New Zealand.

The organisation was named in the top five of the list, alongside recruitment business Seek and software company SixPivot.

“We’ve always worked hard at making sure that ABA Labels is a place where people want to work. All of our decisions, whether to do with people and culture, resource allocation or teams management, have always had this as its main focus,” founder Paul Elsibai told Inside Retail.

“We always strive to understand and accommodate the needs of individual team members, without compromising on the goals of the collective.”

At the height of the pandemic last year, ABA Labels implemented a “No Questions Asked Day”. 

“This encourages employees experiencing mental ill-health or any other related concerns to take personal leave, and feel comfortable in doing so,” Elsibai said.

Given the uncertainty of the pandemic, many people have suffered from fear, worry and stress, which can all be contributing factors to a person’s mental wellbeing.

According to the World Health Organisation, “faced with the new realities of working from home, temporary unemployment, home-schooling of children, and lack of physical contact with other family members, friends and colleagues, it is important that we look after our mental, as well as our physical, health.”

Elsibai said that during the pandemic last year, he re-considered everything about the way the business operates.

“We took everything apart. Dissected the business and reassessed what was working, what wasn’t working and what we could do better. And in the process of this re-evaluation we have created an award-winning business and place to work,” he said.

Here are the leadership insights Elsibai has gathered since the pandemic:

1. Be open to change, and do not limit your view of the world. 

2. Accept that everything can change at a moment’s notice. Don’t sit there stunned – accept it and quickly adapt. 

The best businesses are those that can be nimble, adapt to unforeseen circumstances and find ways to grow despite any difficulties.

3. Don’t worry about the things that are outside of your control. Instead, focus only on things you can have control over.

4. You will respond better to change if you have the foundations of a strong team of happy employees, and already have a process of extracting deep data in real time that you use to inform decisions.

5. Be really open and transparent with your teams, and listen to feedback, always. 

6. Be in a position of constantly developing contingency plans with multiple outcomes, because you never know what might happen. 

7. Another big one for me is to relax! If you’ve surrounded yourself with an amazing team, then together you will find a way of thriving, despite the challenges. 

The Sydney-based fashion group, which was launched in 2016 with just five staff members, releasing Calli The Label later that year, now boasts an impressive portfolio of nine of Australia’s most recognisable womenswear brands, Willa, Reux, Savel, BWLDR, ST MRLO, The Fated, Chancery, and Tussah.

The post “We took everything apart”: What ABA Labels learnt from Covid appeared first on Inside Retail.