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Mrs Mac’s recipe for retention Test

And why IML’s National Salary Survey is a key ingredient

Founded in the 1950s, Mrs Mac’s has grown from being a humble bakery to become a household name – now producing over 100 million pies, sausage rolls and other pastry products each year. While the quality of Mrs Mac’s product hasn’t changed over the years, the business itself definitely has. Today, Mrs Mac’s has a team of over 300 working across Australia and New Zealand – a far cry from the small family-run shop it once was. What’s impressive about this evolution is that so many of Mrs Mac’s people have stayed loyal throughout the process – a testament to the strength and consistency of the company’s culture.


Mrs Mac’s has been using and contributing to IML’s National Salary Survey for many years now, so we took the opportunity to chat to them about the survey – and the role it plays in their retention strategy. Here’s what Mrs Mac’s HR Manager, Toni Gray, had to say.


As Mrs Mac’s HR Manager, you’re responsible for all things HR – quite a broad job! What aspects do you find most challenging?

“At this point in time, I think staff engagement. We know that a number of factors feed into this – there’s pay, but then there’s also the general feel and culture of the business, and the way in which it evolves. As we seek to do things smarter, we make changes that we feel will add value or enhance the employee experience – but when you have a workforce with great retention and tenure, they’re sometimes not as used to change so we have to manage that effectively.”


Your average staff tenure is around seven years, and your pastry chef John Miller has been with the company for over 40 years. How do you explain this great retention?

“At Mrs Mac’s we’ve always worked hard to maintain an open culture with family values, and make it a great workplace for everyone – whether they’re working in the office or the factory. People are here for many hours each week, and we want those hours to be enjoyable. To achieve this, we run staff events once or twice a month that are accessible to everyone – from ‘bring your kids to work’ days, to talks from super or healthcare providers, to pizza lunches. Our products are freely available in our staff kitchens.


At Mrs Mac’s we promote a culture where people are allowed to learn from their mistakes, rather than getting in trouble for them. People are encouraged to ask questions, and have a bit of fun! We also like to give our people the chance to weigh in on decisions we make, so we run polls and surveys a few times a year. To keep people connected, we have a bi-monthly newsletter that includes things like a staff spotlight, recognising people and teams who are doing a great job. Our annual employee engagement survey also gives people a good opportunity to provide feedback – and we’re always conscious to report back to employees on how this has been actioned. There’s no point asking if people feel that their feedback has gone into a vacuum.”


What role has the National Salary Survey played in your retention strategy? What inspires you to keep using it?

“Mrs Mac’s was using the NSS even before I came on board – but I’ve always seen the value in these resources. I particularly like the NSS because we contributed to the survey, so I know our pay structure has been taken into account. We use the NSS as a key part of our annual review process to make adjustments to salaries, ensuring that we’re market competitive but also internally aligned. If there have been job changes we use it to see what a job is worth; if we’re recruiting for a new position, we use it to determine what someone will be paid. We’ve also used the NSS to make sure there are no discrepancies in salaries, giving our Management team and Board the peace of mind that we’re an equal opportunity employer.

I find that the survey also helps during conversations with employees who may be requesting a raise. Salary is someone’s livelihood and linked to their self-worth – so employees really need to feel like they’ve been listened to, and given an answer that has a credible basis. With the NSS, I feel confidence in the recommendations I make. Compared to other surveys, it’s also a cost-effective solution (plus it’s updated twice a year), so we can afford to access reliable salary information that’s always current. The fact the Staff Retention Report comes as part of the package is an added bonus; it’s always interesting to see how we stack up and whether there’s anything we can learn.


My job is really about getting the balance between what the company needs, and what our people need. At the end of the day, we can’t be a great brand without great people. From the Board to Senior Management down to everyone on the floor, we really do have a great culture and a great team – one I’m proud to support and be part of.”


Curious to see what else the NSS can tell you? Why not order your copy now, or download a free sample.

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