Organisational culture is the key to a sustainable forest industry.

Jillian Aylett Brown – MechLog CEO

MechLog CEO, Jillian Aylett Brown, recently addressed a forestry forum on the importance of organisational culture. Based on her experience of implementing a successful organisational culture at MechLog, the company’s programme could serve as a road-map for other forestry companies considering their own organisation’s culture. What follows is a precis of Ms Aylett Brown’s presentation.

The importance of organisational culture to any business cannot be overestimated. In the forestry industry organisational culture has fundamentally transformed the sector into one of the most vibrant, progressive, and wholly sustainable industries in Tasmania.

Industry-wide organisational culture is extremely important – as it is at a business level. At MechLog, we use organisational culture to build and improve our business and to motivate our employees.

Businesses must walk the talk when it comes to organisational culture. The term ‘our people are our greatest asset’ cannot become something they know their customers want to hear. It must be embedded in their organisational culture.

MechLog’s people are our greatest asset because they deliver our culture. Since 1994, MechLog’s organisational culture of valuing our employees and the important contribution they make to our business has never changed.

Organisational culture is intangible, but you know it when you see it. Great food at a great restaurant will lose its appeal if the service is poor. Organisational culture is not the food or the décor. Organisational culture is the staff who serve the meals.

It is easy to dismiss organisational culture as a business fad or unimportant. However, the actions of companies that don’t value organisational culture in our industry, unfairly reflects on us all.

Tasmania’s forestry industry has evolved over the past two decades. Before 2004, many in our industry were in lock-step with our out-of-step industry leaders; and it was an industry in turmoil. We were constantly fighting with environmental groups, defending outdated forestry practices and, as a result, public opinion was polarised.

Then came the intervention of the Federal Government and the Forestry Accord of 2004. An Accord that very few people thought would survive the year. We have come a long way in less than two decades.

Today, Tasmania’s forestry industries are vibrant, progressive, sustainable, environmentally responsible, and thriving. The Tasmanian forest industry makes a significant economic contribution to the State. In 2017-18, there were 3,076 direct jobs in the forest industry and 2,651 indirect jobs generated in associated industries. In 2015-16, the direct value of output by the Tasmanian forest industry at the point of sale was $712 million. This figure increases to over $1.2bn including flow-on-effects generated as a result of spending by the industry.

Tasmania’s forestry industries achieved this for one reason – we changed our culture. Today, forestry practices and the standing of the industry are light-years ahead of where they were before 2004. This is why organisational culture is so important.

Our industry is not judged on how much money we make; or how many tonnes of timber we grow, harvest, and sell to stimulate the Tasmanian economy. Our industry is judged on how we do these things.

If we are to continue to build our industry, we should live, breathe, and consider our culture every day. The whole sector has a critical role to play. It is a shared responsibility, which should be at the forefront of every decision.

At MechLog, we define organisational culture as the core values and behaviours that speak to who we are as a company, and how and why we do what we do. It defines how our employees interact with one another, and how they interact with external stakeholders.

We develop MechLog’s organisational culture through training and skills development, and ongoing coaching to drive continual growth in each employee.

When organisational culture involves change, we consult with employees as part of the process. They are involved in the planning stages of new initiatives. We keep employees informed and they contribute perspective, ideas, and solutions relevant to how we might improve our operations.

We also enable employees to have flexible work arrangements. We educate our employees about positive mental health, wellness, general health, and fitness. By making this part of MechLog’s organisational culture, employees also value it.

It is an accident waiting to happen when performance is prioritised to such a degree that employees consider their physical and mental health is being overlooked.

The industry is proactive in educating workers about mental health and wellness issues. However, we need to be diligent and prioritise our employees’ work-life balance as part of our business models. This will speak volumes about our industry’s organisational culture and the image of the forestry sector.

One of the advantages of building a resilient organisational culture is that it can turn employees into ambassadors for your business and forest industries. Employees who believe in a company’s organisational culture will promote it.

Without a doubt, organisational culture is hugely important to the success and overall health of the forestry industry. It will assist us to retain our current workforce and solicit interest from prospective employees and customers.

At MechLog, organisational culture is a professional term for our heart and soul. It is about living our values through actions not words. It is about being unified, cohesive, and working as a team. We have seen what strong organisational culture brings to the business. It has taken commitment to develop MechLog’s DNA, which is still evolving and maturing as our business grows.

The benefits of organisational culture are now embedded in the forestry sector, aligned with a renewed sense of pride, as we successfully promote the message of forestry being the most sustainable of all industries.

MEDIA NOTES: Mechanised Logging Pty Limited (MechLog) is an Australian forestry services company that commenced operations in 1994. Since that time, the company has established its brand and its ‘Forestry with Care’ approach to industry practices as a respected services provider to the sector. Over the years, MechLog has kept pace with the latest technology and forestry practices. By embracing the changes within the industry, adopting new technologies, and maintaining a fleet of modern equipment, MechLog has built a successful sustainable business, and created greater efficiencies and productivity to meet the requirements of their clients and the demands of the end-users.

Media contact: Mark Wells +61 414 015 966

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