7 Nov, 2019
What 3 activities should HR focus on to maximise customer & shareholder value?
Inside HR
Inside HR

HR departments which focus on three HR activities will have a more significant impact on customer and shareholder value than HR departments that focus primarily on HR metrics themselves, writes Wayne Brockbank

A number of leadership and management thinkers and institutional economists have posited that the “enemy of the great is the good”. This has been eloquently stated by Vilfredo Pareto, popularised by the 80/20 rule and formalised through Pareto Analysis. I suggest that an additional dimension might aid us in HR to focus our efforts to create greater value through three particular HR activities. The additional dimension is ease versus difficulty.

Might I suggest both logically and empirically that it is frequently the case that the 20 per cent of value is relatively easy to achieve; whereas the 80 per cent of the value is difficult to achieve albeit through 20 per cent of our efforts. Thus, the easy/good is the enemy of the difficult/best.

Before giving three examples, let me first state that the 20 per cent activities create good value but they are frequently justified because they do create some value. However, I suggest that we may focus on the 20 per cent activities not because they create greatest value but because they are easy to do.

On the other hand, the 80 per cent activities that create greatest value may be overlooked because they are more difficult the achieve. They frequently lie outside the HR comfort zone. The following is an initial checklist of three easy/good activities that may deter our focus from the difficulty/best activities.

First: internal customer focus versus external customer focus
HR has traditionally conceptualised internal leaders and employees as its “customer”. This focus strongly contradicts our other mantra which is to be business partners or partners in the business. Since the customer of the business is the external (i.e. buying customer) then if we are to be a partner in the business then the buying customer should dominate our line of sight as we design and develop our HR practices.

“In the past few years, the HR field has been swept along by the tsunami of the talent agenda”

Our ultimate goal is to create and sustain human and organisational capabilities that enable our firms to meet customer requirements better than the competition. We can only achieve this goal if we have a clear and complete understanding of and focus on the requirements of the eternal, money-paying customer.

Second: talent focus versus organisational focus
In the past few years, the HR field has been swept along by the tsunami of the talent agenda. Ensuring the availability of talent is clearly a good thing.

However, if we overemphasise the talent agenda, we may forget that focusing on individual talent may sub-optimise our contributions. A focus on individual talent will result in the human whole being equal to the sum of the parts. But competitive advantage is found in making the organisational whole greater than the sum of the talent parts. In addition, over time the leading competitors in the same industry will have approximately the same level of raw talent.

Therefore, you must have raw talent, or you lose. But competitive advantage is not found in the raw talent that you have but rather what you do with it after you have it. And that is primarily an organisation challenge. Plus, research at the University of Michigan strongly indicates that individual HR talent will have one-quarter the impact on business value when compared with the impact of the integrated HR organisation.

“A key organisational capability is the orchestration of the total flow of external information about customers, competitors and technology throughout the firm for competitive advantage”

Third: focus on HR information versus business information
Another hot HR topic is HR analytics, that is, the application of information logic to measure and drive HR-related issues. This is clearly a good thing to do. However, in the information age, a key organisational capability is the orchestration of the total flow of external information about customers, competitors and technology throughout the firm for competitive advantage. When the information agenda is appropriately framed as an organisational capability, HR shoulders heavy responsibility for this agenda.

However, conceptualising and implementing a comprehensive information strategy may be extraordinarily difficult. It is a difficult/best activity. Our research at the University of Michigan is clear. HR departments that focus on designing and implementing a comprehensive business information strategy will have twice the impact on customer and shareholder value than HR departments that focus primarily on HR metrics themselves.

What this means for HR
HR professionals should be vigilant in focusing thoughts and actions on the difficult/best activities while maintaining the easy/good activities. We should not allow the easy/good to displace the difficult/best.

3 action steps for HR

  • Identify what constitutes the difficult/best HR activities.
  • Develop the capabilities to design and deliver the difficult/best HR activities including emphasising line-of-sight to external customers, building organisation capabilities and orchestrating the flow of business information.
  • Continually rebalance HR’s focus from easy/good activities to difficult/best.
1 Nov, 2019
Mental illness costs $180bn, study reveals
The Australian

One million Australians with mental health conditions ranging from anxiety and depression to psychosis and borderline personality disorders are going untreated each year, while the economic cost of mental illness has hit $180bn. 

The Productivity Commission, in a forensic examination of mental illness, finds it is costing the ­nation about $500m a day and recommends sweeping policy changes in the health system, workplaces, housing and the ­justice system.

Calling for "generational changes" to address a problem that is getting worse despite increasing expenditure in the area, the report, to be released on Thursday, estimates there are 3.9 million people with mental illness, but only 2.9 million are accessing support and services.

One in eight visits to the GP is related to mental health issues, and mental health presentations at emergency departments have risen by about 70 per cent over the past 15 years.

The system is not adequately helping many people seeking treatment, the report finds, with one million having symptoms too complex to be adequately treated by a GP and limited government-funded sessions available with mental health providers.

But their condition does not reach the threshold to access state-­funded specialised services, private psychiatrists or private hospitals because of long waiting lists or high out-of-pocket costs.

The report finds many people still avoid treatment because of stigma and, with 75 per cent of people with a mental health issue first experiencing symptoms before the age of 25, calls for a greater focus on early ­intervention.

Social and emotional development checks of Australia’s 1.25 million children aged up to three years are among 25 detailed recommendations.

Productivity Commission chairman Michael Brennan said dealing with mental illness was “one of the biggest policy challenges confronting Australia”.

“Mental ill health has huge impacts on people, communities and our economy, but mental health is treated as an add-on to the physical health system — this has to change,” Mr Brennan said.

He highlighted the need for a greater emphasis on early intervention. “Seventy-five per cent of those who develop mental illness first experience symptoms before they turn 25,” he said.

“Mental ill health in critical schooling and employment years has long-lasting effects for not only your job prospects but many aspects of your life.”

Workplace, housing and education reforms to support people with mental illness are also proposed. “Mental illness is the second largest contributor to years lived in ill health,” the report finds.

“Compared to other developed countries, the prevalence of mental illness in Australia is above the OECD average.’’

The report marks the first time mental health has been examined beyond its clinical context into policy areas such as education, housing, justice and the workplace.

The report, a draft inviting public submissions, notes that one in two Australians will be affected by issues such as anxiety and ­depression during their lifetime.

“The cost to the Australian economy of mental ill health and suicide is, conservatively, in the order of $43bn-$51bn a year. ­Additional to this is an approximately $130bn a year cost associated with diminished health and reduced life expectancy for those living with mental ill health.”

The direct costs are broken down into healthcare support and services ($18bn a year), lower economic participation and lost productivity ($10bn-$18bn) and informal care provided by friends and family ($15bn).

Broader social effects such as the cost of stigma or lower social participation aren’t quantified.

The report notes that while costs have risen, “there has been no clear indication that the ­mental health of the population has improved”.

“Community awareness about mental illness has come a long way, but the mental health system has not kept pace with needs and expectations of how the wellbeing and productive capacity of people should be supported,” the commission says.

“The treatment of, and support for, people with mental illness has been tacked on to a system that has been largely ­designed around the characteristics of physical illness.

“And while service levels have increased in some areas, progress has been patchy. The right services are not available when ­needed, leading to wasted health resources and missed opportunities to improve lives.”

The report says Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders are twice as likely as non-indigenous people to be hospitalised because of mental illness, and twice as likely to die by suicide. 

For those up to 24 years of age, the suicide rate is 14 times higher for Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders. 

And services are far from uniform across the nation, with ­people in capital cities nearly twice as likely to access mental health services as those in ­remote areas.

The commission also calls out: thin services in the regions; too clinical an approach to mental health concerns; stigma and discrimination leading to a reluctance to seek support; and a lack of clarity between the tiers of government about roles, responsibilities and funding of services.

Among its recommended reforms, it calls for greater specialist mental health services to be delivered outside acute, expensive, hospital settings.

It also calls for greater investment in “long-term housing solutions for those with severe mental illness who lack stable housing”. “Stable housing for this group would not only improve their mental health and inclusion within the community, but reduce their future need for higher cost mental health in­patient services,” it says.

Workplace reform is also ­proposed.

The commission invites written submissions by January 23 in response to its draft report, and a final report will be provided to the government in May.

28 Oct, 2019
11 Quotes on Kindness That Every Entrepreneur Needs to Read

The business world is often portrayed as a highly competitive ecosystem in which you need to fight to get ahead.To a good extent, that’s very true. Entrepreneurs need thick skin, drive and intense focus to succeed. But it’s also important for entrepreneurs to remember the value of kindness. 

With World Kindness Day coming up on November 13, take a few minutes to read these 11 quotes. They can all teach us important lessons about business, entrepreneurship and being good human beings. 

1. “Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” -- Scott Adams, Dilbert Creator and Author

Businesses give you the chance to change the world and influence others. Kindness does the same thing, and with a single act you can influence countless others. Pairing kindness with your business can make for a powerful opportunity. 

2. “Kindness can become its own motive. We are made kind by being kind.” -- Eric Hoffer, Philosopher and Author

Sometimes in life, you have to fake it until you make it. Many of us don’t get up in the morning feeling generous. However, if you concentrate on thinking positively and bringing kindness to each interaction during the day, you might just start to feel the momentum spread to more of your interactions. The truth is, kindness can become a driving force in your business that you can encompass into your mission, story and even branding. 

3. “If you want to be a rebel, be kind.” -- Pancho Ramos Stierle, Activist

In an often jaded world, kindness may be the ultimate act of rebellion. Volunteering for a nonprofit, donating a percentage of your business profits or serving as a mentor to young entrepreneurs can all help you stand out for the right reasons. 

4. “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” -- Mahatma Gandhi

Kindness can be transformative. A volunteer experience might give you new ideas for a business or project. Helping another business owner or pairing up in a partnership may help you to better identify your own future business opportunities. Maybe it won't teach you any of that and you'll simply feel energized by being kind. Regardless, by helping others, you can grow as an individual. 

5. “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the figure of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” -- Franklin D. Roosevelt

A nation doesn’t have to be cruel to be tough, and neither does your business. In designing your company with kindness in mind, customers and clients will recognize and respect both you and your business. 

6. “Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again.” -- Og Mandino, Author

In business and in life, it’s all too easy to put off those things that we really should prioritize. Find a way to make changes in your business, today. Be kind, start that new project and establish a personal connection with your clients. 

7. “You can be rich in spirit, kindness, love and all those things that you can’t put a dollar sign on.” - Dolly Parton

You may have started a business with the goal of becoming rich, but money is only one way to measure a fortune. Be sure to balance your business life with your personal life so that you can enjoy love, kindness and those other elements that can also build your fortune. 

8. “You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.” -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Emerson speaks here to the temporary nature of everything in life. Keeping this in mind might make you want to stop and evaluate how you treat people, whether they're competitors or co-workers. How can you make a difference in someone’s life today? 

9. “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” -- Sir Winston Churchill

Just think of how good you feel when you give a little to others. Consider donating a percentage of your business’s profits. It won’t just change your life; it will change others’s lives, too. 

10. “A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.” -- Amelia Earhart

Your journey as an entrepreneur isn’t just about you, but what you do for others and how you affect their lives. Starting with kindness means you can leave a legacy that’s larger than you. 

11. “Life is an echo. What you send out, comes back. What you sow, you reap. What you give, you get. What you see in others, exists in you.” -- Zig Ziglar, Author and Motivational Speaker

When you’re kind to others, that kindness comes back to you, too. You can make the journey easier for everyone simply by being kind. 

When you’re building a business, it’s easy to become so focused on your own goals and progress that you forget about how you’re treating others. But in a world full of entrepreneurs and new businesses, kindness is one quality that can quickly help you to stand out from everyone else. Work on incorporating kindness into your daily routine, and that routine may soon become a joyful experience.

23 Oct, 2019
Political and economic uncertainty takes toll on UK wage packets.
The Global Recruiter

Data from global job search engine Jobrapido has found the majority of UK salaries (53 per cent) have suffered pay freezes or decreases over the past 12 months. Nearly a quarter of salaries (24 per cent) have frozen whilst nearly three in ten (29 per cent) have decreased. The research examined the salaries of more than 1.2 million jobs across more than 20 different industry sectors across the UK between the period of July 2018 to July 2019.  Those falling victim to stagnant salaries included employees working in sales/personal care and a wide range of management occupations.

Those working in education, training, business and financial operations as well as computing and mathematical occupations have suffered and taken less in their salary over the last year. With an 8 per cent drop (about £4,500 less year over year), ‘computer and mathematical occupations’ is by far the category that suffered the most significant salary reduction, also representing almost 11 per cent of the workers.

Industry sectors which have bucked the trend (47 per cent) and shown salary increases include legal occupations, life and social science occupations, construction, architecture, design and farming and fishing industries.

For more than one in four of these sectors (26 per cent), the increase has been lower than three per cent, while just a few categories had a growth over five per cent. Legal Occupations, representing just 1.5 per cent of salaries, registered the most significant increase, more than 7.5 per cent (about £3,200 more year over year).

“Undoubtedly the climate of political and economic uncertainty in the UK has taken a toll on people’s salaries over the past twelve months,” says Rob Brouwer, CEO of Jobrapido, “and the latest forecasts from the OECD predict no-deal Brexit will slice almost three per cent from the UK economic growth over the next three years compared with just 0.6 per cent from the rest of the EU. But, of course, it remains to still be seen what happens at the final Brexit hurdle.

“That said, nearly half of UK salaries have shown modest increases and there is a growth of new jobs, for example in most of the technological and fast-growing AI related fields, where demand far outweighs supply and those who have the skills are being rewarded with princely salaries,” he added.

“Whilst UK workers may have to brace themselves for a time of salary-stagnancy, current climate presents a good time to re-evaluate career paths and look at acquiring new skills or even re-training in a new occupation. Perhaps it is time for make this happen and seize available opportunities despite adversity,” concludes Brouwer.

23 Oct, 2019
People will do anything to avoid a tough conversation, even quit
HRM Online
HRM Online

Some employees will go to extraordinary lengths to avoid addressing an uncomfortable issue at work, says new research.

Need to tell the new intern that their work isn’t up to scratch? Are you too afraid to tell your work friend Susan that her inability to meet deadlines is hampering your productivity? Struggling to conjure up the courage to tell your colleague Alan about his perpetually bad breath?

Time to quit then.

This is not really a joke, because you wouldn’t be alone if you felt that way. Many of us have to have an awkward conversation that we don’t know how to broach with a colleague and some people are willing to go to extreme lengths to avoid it.

Cat got your tongue

New research from leadership training company VitalSmarts found that one in four people have been putting off an uncomfortable conversation for at least six months, one in 10 have been doing so for a year and another one in 10 have been staying mum on an awkward issue for more than two years.

The findings, which were collected from over 500 US-based respondents, also showed one in five admitted they wouldn’t feel confident that the conversation would go in their favour even if they found the courage to have it. Others felt it could have negative repercussions for others in the business or that the workplace culture doesn’t support people who speak up.

Of course, the definition of an uncomfortable conversation is a chat you’d rather avoid, but the methods people are willing to take in order to avoid being uncomfortable were staggering. The research found that people would:

  • Avoid the other person at all costs (50 per cent). This is obviously a hard task if you share a workspace with them.
  • Dance around the awkward topic whenever they speak to the person in question (37 per cent)
  • Consider quitting their job or taking a different job (37 per cent)
  • Quit their job (11 per cent)

VitalSmarts identified three main topics that people were avoiding: 

  1. Obnoxious behaviours 
  2. Poor performance
  3. Broken promises (such as an agreement for a promotion or pay-rise that’s fallen through)

“In these moments, most people run the other way because experience tells them the other person will be angry or defensive. And yet, our research shows the select few who know how to speak up candidly and respectfully – no matter the scary topic – can solve problems while also preserving relationships. As a result, they are considered among the top performers in their organisation,” says Joseph Grenny, one of the researchers.

Addressing the elephant in the room

HRM has previously written about why these difficult conversations matter and has offered some tips from a psychologist about how to get the ball rolling. But it’s also important to create an environment where these conversations are the norm.

In an article for the Harvard Business Review (HBR), Jim Whitehurst, the president and CEO of Red Hat, a multinational software company, shares an anecdote about an organisation he worked for as a consultant. Apparently at this company each staff member could write a long list about all the things they saw the company wasn’t doing well, but when they came together as a company, no one would raise the issues on their list.

As an outsider, Whitehurst said staff were comfortable airing their grievances with him but weren’t willing to point the finger at the causes of their problems – which were often their colleagues. 

You’ve likely heard your own version of this story before. Staff are often too scared to pipe up and therefore HR and leaders are blindsided when the issue finally comes to light. There’s a psychological component to this. When everyone else seems okay with the problems, individuals feel compelled to stay quiet. As the saying goes, the first one through the wall gets bloody.

To create a culture where these conversations aren’t relationship or career ending, Whitehurst suggests creating what he calls “a vibrant feedback loop”.

“Once you establish the practice of sharing regular feedback across the company, it begins to function like a flywheel. It’s hard at first to get it moving. You’ll need to do some substantial pushing and monitoring to get the wheel spinning. But before you know it, you’ll find that the wheel begins to turn all on its own using its own momentum,” he says.

It’s important that this feedback loop is modelled from the top, he says, and there are three main things for leaders to keep in mind:

    1. Practice what you preach. As a leader, if you’re open to taking on the feedback, you set the tone for the rest of the organisation and also increase that person’s engagement levels in their own work, says Whitehurst.
    2. Start with recognition. Workplaces need to work on taking the negative connotations out of feedback, he says. One way to do this is to start by offering recognition and appreciation for the person’s work – he suggests a 3:1 ratio of positive to negative comments. 
    3. Include everyone in the feedback. Organisations that are overly siloed can breed mistrust or encourage an “us versus them” mentality, he says. Seek feedback from a variety of departments on smaller issues in order to cultivate an inclusive workplace community that’s built on trust. It also normalises feedback if you’re not only dishing it out when the stakes are high.

Conversation after care

The issue isn’t always done and dusted after the conversation is over. In a different HBR article, talent development leader and former head of global manager development at Google Dolores Bernado suggests returning to the conversation shortly after its ended to acknowledge that it happened.

“There is huge value in appreciating that you were able to come together, identify and discuss a big issue, and even have the conversation in the first place. Thank your colleague for taking the time to engage in the conversation,” she says.

Bernado also suggests practicing the ‘designed alliance conversation’, whereby two colleagues ‘put the past on hold’ and take a long term outlook on how they can use this to benefit their relationship in the future.

“It includes questions like: What does success look like in this partnership? What outcomes are important to both of us? What constraints do we both have that we need to be aware of? What is important to each of us that the other might not be aware of? This gives each party a chance to be honest about how you each prefer to collaborate going forward,” she says.

So if you’ve got something on your mind that you’d like to share with a colleague, don’t put it off. As long as you approach the situation with empathy and keep the long term working relationship in mind, it’s likely to go much smoother than you think. Probably much smoother than trying to quit and find a new job anyway.

23 Oct, 2019
How Dr Catriona Wallace became the second woman ever to run an ASX-listed company
CEO Magazine

There’s something about Dr Catriona Wallace that makes her seem like more like a superhero than a businesswoman. Her brilliant red hair makes her stand out in a crowd and her impeccable clothing and make-up leaves you wondering if she’s just stepped off a catwalk.

Meanwhile, her inviting smile radiates warmth and confidence, immediately putting you at ease. But, what is most engaging about the charismatic entrepreneur is her sheer determination, drive and passion. There’s no doubt that when she sets her mind to something, she makes it happen.

The Australian businesswoman is not only the Founder of artificial intelligence fintech start-up Flamingo Ai, but is also one of the very few female CEOs running ASX-listed companies.

In fact, Flamingo Ai is the second female-led (CEO and Chair) business ever to list on the ASX. “I don’t deal with many women,” Wallace laments.

“There are very few women who are leading ASX companies, and there are very few who are in the investment community that invest in companies.”

Wallace believes the shortage of women in leadership is something that needs to be addressed by the business world. She points out that women working their way up through the ranks often leave large companies between the ages of 30 and 40.

“Perhaps in those years, they choose to start a family or have a career change,” she says. “We see a significant number of women drop off who could potentially make it into leadership roles in ASX-listed companies.”

“We see a significant number of women drop off who potentially could make it into leadership roles in ASX-listed companies,” – Dr Catriona Wallace

While there’s no easy solution to the problem, Wallace believes that with the right mentoring, coaching and guidance, many could be encouraged to stay in the corporate world and eventually break through the so- called glass ceiling.

“I also think there needs to be more profiling of women who have made it into leadership roles and are role models,” she adds.

“Women need to see, read about, meet and experience other women who are in those leadership roles. I believe that women attract women. Women like to go and work with women, so just having that visual presence would certainly help.”

Understandably, many women choose to put their careers on hold while they turn their attention to raising a family.

Those who return to the workforce after having children often seek part-time work, which results in them taking lower positions and stepping aside to let their male counterparts ascend the corporate ladder.

However, Wallace is adamant women shouldn’t have to choose between career and family. “I believe we can have it all,” she declares.

As a mum-of-five, Wallace certainly knows a thing or two about juggling parental responsibilities with a high-flying career. Describing herself as an “un-mother”, she reveals she’s made it work by taking an unconventional approach to parenting.

“My youngest son once said to me, ‘Oh, Mum, you’re an un-mother.’ I said, ‘What is that?’ he said, ‘An un-mother is just super-loving like a mother, but you don’t actually do anything that mothers are supposed to do. You don’t make my lunch, you don’t come to the school, you don’t go on excursions, you don’t know who my teachers are.’ I said, ‘Yeah, actually, all of that is true!’” Wallace laughs.

“He said, ‘But you do show me how to work and how to be an entrepreneur, and you’ve taken me overseas, you’ve taken me into your business and I’ve learned a lot of things that mothers do when they’re working.’ I went, ‘Okay, great, as long as there is some other benefit there.’ I think this unconventional approach to parenting is necessary, and I think if you have that, indeed, you can have it all. You can be a mother and a worker in senior leadership.”

Wallace, who has a PhD in Organisational Behaviour: Human Technology Interaction, is also passionate about encouraging more women to pursue careers in technology.

In 2013, the entrepreneur founded Flamingo Ai, a machine-learning company with headquarters in Sydney and the US that provides cognitive virtual assistance for employees and customers.

She’s since become a world-renowned authority on artificial intelligence (AI), insisting it needs to be a core part of every company’s business strategy.

“It’s the fastest-growing tech sector in the world,” she says.

Concerned about the bias that will arise without diversity, Wallace is urging more women to join her in the field.

“Currently 90% of all AI-type coding is done by males, and with that comes the risk of bias, probably unconsciously, being coded into the way the algorithms work. We’ve already seen that play out in some pretty disastrous situations, where we’ve had machines and technology choosing males above females for recruitment,” she explains.

“We must get more women, and also minorities, into STEM simply so that we can avoid hard-coding society’s existing biases straight into the machines that are going to be running our lives going forward.”

Currently, AI software promises to improve efficiency and facilitate better and faster decision-making. However, in just a few years, the technology will begin taking over many of the tasks traditionally performed by humans.

“Within the next six years, 40% of the jobs in sectors such as finance, retail, hospitality and tourism will be automated by machines,” – Wallace

“Gartner predicts that, within the next two years, 1.8 million jobs will be lost as a result of AI, but 2.3 million jobs will be created. The issue is that the 1.8 million who lose their jobs will not be the 2.3 million who are taking the new jobs. It’s predicted that 90% of the jobs that are going to be automated will be those mainly done by women and minority groups.”

When you listen to Wallace speak about AI, it quickly becomes apparent that she is not only passionate about the topic, but is also extremely knowledgeable.

However, not everyone realises this when they first meet her. “I’m one of the very few females in the AI sector who’s leading a company so, often, when I’m around my counterparts, or even venture capitalists and investors, they assume that I don’t really know about AI and high tech, so I get a lot of mansplaining,” she smiles.

“Many people, for whatever reason, assume that I don’t know about technology, so they’ll start to tell me and teach me about it, and then I say to them, ‘Oh, look, I actually run a company, and we’ve built this from scratch. It’s our own proprietary technology. I have a PhD in the field,’ and then they correct themselves. Initially, they assume that I’m a lady running a company without the significant experience and substantial knowledge that I have.”

Despite having to prove herself along the way, Wallace is proud of everything she’s achieved. “Conceiving an idea of a new technology and successfully bringing that to the market, not only here in Australia but also in the US, and providing great value for our clients – that’s been amazing,” she grins.

“Competitors in our field are all the big technology giants, such as Google, Amazon, IBM and Microsoft and, so far, we’ve been able to hold our own in a highly competitive space. So I’m proud that we, as a young Australian company, have made a mark in the AI field.”

21 Oct, 2019
10 Powerful Women Leaders of HR Share Their Most Effective Strategies to Retain Great Employees

Does your company have a high turnover rate? Employee turnover can be extremely pricey. So how can your company increase its employee retention rate and keep its turnover rate low? What's the best way to create a culture that helps to retain and engage its talent?

A recent series in Authority Magazine profiled nearly one hundred HR directors from successful companies, asking each one to share their three most effective strategies to retain employees. Here are some of the highlights. 

These interviews have been edited for length and clarity. 

Jo Deal (LogMeIn Chief Human Resources Officer)

My focus tends to be on engaging our employees. If we do that well, then retention should follow, though it is not an easy thing to do. Engagement happens in that sweet spot where an individual’s personal goals, whatever they may be, are being met, and that moment intersects with the company’s goals being achieved. The challenge comes from us all being individuals with very different sets of personal goals. What someone wants from work varies during stages of our careers and personal lives, so it is hard to find the perfect answer for all. However, there are some common themes that help drive engagement for the majority.

  1. I believe we each want to know what is expected of us at work, to know how that work fits into the overall company goals and strategy and to receive ongoing feedback on how we are doing. It seems relatively simple to say yet it doesn’t always happen. Leaders need to communicate and share direction, managers need to give feedback (which is hard) and employees need to work with their managers to set sensible and realistic goals, hopefully aligning them to the high-level corporate initiatives. Investing in first-line management development and a robust, companywide mechanism for communications are both critical to this effort.
  2. Perks are great, but they won’t substitute for creating a strong culture with good open communication channels and a focus on a positive environment. There is no right set of values or particular winning culture. Authenticity is what matters. Don’t say you value a certain behavior if the reality doesn’t match. Don’t ask people to behave one way and then recognize a different behavior or ignore a leader’s behavior that contradicts the values. Employees are smart. Most will recognize and accept when your culture is a little aspirational and when there is room for improvement; however, all of them will see right through something that is inauthentic or geared towards, "Do as I say, not as I do.” We spend too much time at work to have to fit in somewhere where our values don’t align or where leaders consider themselves apart from the behaviors that matter. That kind of mismatch is likely to lead to low engagement and retention issues.
  3. Lastly and most simply, I would suggest actively listening to what your people want. Understand what you are investing time or money in that isn’t working for them, what is missing and what they want more of, whether as an individual or a team. The key, of course, is actively listening, which is another skill many of us have to work on every day. Engagement and retention can be tied back to simple acts if they are meaningful and well-intentioned. With a global workforce representing multiple different demographics, it's hard to keep abreast of what everyone wants, but asking them is a good start. I love the concept of reverse-mentoring, where both parties give and get, and I'm looking to find someone from Gen Z to mentor me so I can be better at social media and understanding a generation that (apparently) would rather have working Wi-Fi than a working bathroom.

Rachel Book (Fidelity Investments Director of Diversity Recruiting Strategies)

A cynic might say, "Throw more money at them.” But that’s rarely the top factor in employee retention metrics. At Fidelity, we’ve found that these three are vitally important factors in employee engagement and satisfaction:

  1. Be realistic and transparent throughout the recruiting process. Open, honest dialogue will reduce the likelihood of disappointment or surprise when a new employee joins the company.
  2. Welcome them aboard! A robust and welcoming first day — and entire onboarding experience — will ease the transition for any new employee. Don’t throw them into the pool and hope they figure out your firm’s cultural quirks. Connect them with employee resource groups and encourage them to participate right away.
  3. Maintain the momentum. Don’t leave the newbie hanging after they show up. Check in often, and ensure they can bring their real self to the office. If they don’t feel comfortable doing so, their stay with you may be short — and you may have larger workplace/culture problems to deal with.


Michelle Murphy (Ingersoll Rand Director of Progressive, Diverse, and Inclusive (PDI) Work Environment)

  1. One thing I’m proud of is that we live out our values daily. We respect and value the worth of all people, cultures, viewpoints, and backgrounds and leverage our diverse workforce to drive innovative and imaginative solutions. Retention is important because our success directly correlates to the commitment and dedication of our employees around the world. To retain employees, leaders should know the "why" of their employees. What drives them? What matters most personally and professionally? Leaders should know and try to honor that.
  2. In addition, in this constantly connected universe, work should better fit into overall life. It's important to value and celebrate that your employees live and enjoy full lives.
  3. Today’s workforce wants to feel valued and invested in. Providing ongoing development and growth opportunities is one way we do that, whether it be formal classroom training, informal peer-to-peer conversation or creating opportunities that bring people together to share, learn and connect. Companies who recognize and act on these things go a lot further in attracting, retaining and cultivating top-tier talent in the long run.


Rose M. Velez-Smith (Pitney Bowes Global Vice President of Human Resources)

I wish it were as simple as just three. Three I have found important are:

  1. Stretch assignments.
  2. Great career plans that provide a roadmap on how to help an individual grow.
  3. Continuous inclusiveness.

These all help keep employees on their toes as well as learning and getting better at what they do. Everyone wants to feel like they are adding value, so including employees in important decisions and initiatives is key. Helping them feel confident in their skills and keeping them current is essential.

Another way to increase the value provided to employees is to provide wellness perks. We have a history of providing and encouraging a healthy work environment and are widely regarded as an innovator in employee health. To help our workforce stay proactive with their health, free programs are available throughout the year focused on preventive care and cancer screenings, nutrition and weight management, fitness, stress management and behavioral health, smoking cessation, back pain prevention and flu vaccinations. Providing a healthy work environment has been central to our culture for nearly 100 years.

Kelly Williams (Blue Cross Blue Shield Association Vice President)

My most effective strategies to retain employees are as follows:

  1. Inspired leadership. Position your best people managers — those who love to support others in being brilliant, into positions that play on their strengths. There is a lot of research out there that highlights the immense value of hiring/promoting leaders who amplify others. From a personal standpoint, it has always been more important to me who I work with than what I work on.
  2. Context and connection. In my experience, most of us thrive when we have context and can see/feel/understand a connection or possibility. Engagement comes from within and is tethered to connectivity. Every day we are working to connect dots and model what’s possible — one conversation at a time.
  3. Human-centric design. We are focusing on human centric design, and while we are in the early stages of the conversations, I love that we are focusing together on what truly matters — from the employee lens — the human in human resources.

Faye Tylee (Avaya Global Head of Human Resources)

There is a lot of noise and competition out there to attract, hire and engage the best talent across all industries. I believe the best ways to accomplish this goal are to:

  1. Understand from a qualitative and quantitative standpoint what fundamentally drives, motivates, inspires and engages your employees. You have to truly know what makes your workplace work well and make the right investments to find this information out.
  2. Put employees first — even before customers. That feels like a bold statement to many at first glance but the reality is that when you put your employees first, you are essentially putting the customer first in the long run. Employees are the face to your customers. They’re your brand. Treat them poorly and they, in turn, will treat your customers poorly but treat them well and they become the biggest asset to your business.
  3. I think about successful employee engagement as having five core pillars that work in unison. If you’re not addressing the whole, you will not solve your engagement problem. Leaders from the top down must commit to making each pillar part of the employee experience, and that commitment must be evident in every action, interaction, transaction and reaction across the organization.

In a people-first company, employees experience the following:

  • Purpose: "My company and the work I do have meaning and impact."
  • Connection: "My leaders listen, understand, and care about my needs and challenges."
  • Trust: "I feel trusted, empowered and supported to make the right decisions."
  • Learning: "My company is invested in my personal and professional development."
  • Gratitude: "I feel recognized and appreciated for my contributions."

By evolving to this people-first model, leaders will create a culture that combines customer experience and employee engagement in a way that helps strengthen the brand, attract top talent and inspire innovation, continuous learning, collaboration, creativity and inclusion across the company.


Jen Warne (Lincoln Financial Group SVP and Chief Talent Officer)


The most effective way to retain talent is to really listen to your employees and target what they want from the workplace. No, I don’t necessarily mean free sushi or bean bag chairs (although those can be fun and exciting). I mean what employees truly value: career, community and cause. There is an excellent Harvard Business Reviewarticle that explores this concept.

Our people are our most valuable asset, so we target these three values and continuously listen to our people to make sure we are hitting the mark.

  1. Career. We offer resources to help our people discover, assess, plan and invest in their careers. Whether it’s formal training programs, on-the-job learning, mentoring, continued education benefits, a job transfer, a stretch assignment or simply building a professional network, Lincoln invests in the success of our employees.
  2. Community. This is about feeling connected to the people and culture of an organization. We believe diversity of thought, background, experience and people drive innovation. An inclusive culture helps attract the best employees, empower cutomers and allow communities to achieve great things. We aim to offer our employees opportunities to connect and collaborate through business working groups, employee action committees and more.
  3. Cause. Purpose is the motivation that drives your employees toward a satisfying future. It is important to help your employees understand and connect what they do every day to a driving force for good. For example, at Lincoln, we empower Americans to take charge of their financial futures and our employees can see how their work helps the lives of so many Americans. We also encourage connectedness within your community through the Lincoln Financial Foundation and other volunteerism opportunities.

Lastly, but most importantly, if you want to retain your employees you have to ensure you have the best managers. Managers have a day-to-day impact on employees and their environment. For example, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found 58 percent of employees say that their relationship with their manager is very important.

Amelia Ransom (Avalara Senior Director of Engagement and Diversity)

I think we underestimate our employees when we think all of their needs and expectations cost millions of dollars. You know what employees want more than ping pong tables and fully catered meals? Leadership transparency and to know that they have the ability to do their best work for an ethical company that knows they matter. Those things don’t cost a dime.

My three employees retention strategies are to:

  1. Solicit and encourage honest feedback.
  2. Don’t shoot the messenger when you receive the feedback.
  3. Determine whether or not you’re going to change, communicate that decision and do the work.


Marcy Hamrick (Publix Talent Acquisition Manager)

Our founder, George W. Jenkins, encouraged a spirit of openness, dignity, and respect across all of our associates — regardless of job class — and that philosophy stays firmly intact today. It is a large part of what continues to make Publix a great place to work. Organizations can put this in play by striving to:

  1. Define clear career paths at all job levels. Mr. George sought to create a place where anyone could be successful and build a long-term career for themselves. He showed his associates the opportunities they had for a future at the company and rewarded the talent that instilled his cultural values. Today, approximately more than 12,000 of our associates have been with the company for more than 20 years. Our very own CEO at Publix, Todd Jones, started his career with the company in the 1980s as a front service clerk. 
  2. Create a culture of service. Employees crave an employer that builds connection between people and communities. When teams are able to engage in activities that do good for a greater cause they feel a sense of purpose and belonging. Publix hosts an annual Publix Serves Day where associates across our company, all on the same day, take time from their day to serve their communities. 
  3. Constantly show the employee their impact. We aim to make sure that every Publix associate clearly understands our culture and knows the role they play in delivering it to our customers. We have a recognition program called My Publix, My Part where managers award an associate they observe reinforcing one of our core values with a card. The card describes the action observed and the outcome achieved, and it entitles the associate to a free Publix product.


Kelli Dragovich (Looker Chief People Officer)

We need to change our mindset on “retention.” It’s changing as fast as the high-tech industry. Here are the three strategies I’ll share:

  1. Create a culture of transparency — it’s the new retention tool.
  2. Develop a mission-oriented company that is dedicated to doing meaningful things, and makes decisions based on when the rubber hits the road.
  3. Help your talent evolve. It’s hard, but as much as a company can hire talent for a journey versus a job, the longer they will stay with you.

Regarding increasing the value you add to your employees, it's simple — be real and connect with everyone. At the end of the day, we as people want to feel valued, connected and included in any community we're part of. To truly connect with talent and make their career, experience or even their day better, as well as to help them succeed (whatever that means in their minds), adds a ton of value. I’ve seen more value added in an intimate roundtable where a leader unpacks their career, failures and fears than at a $200,000 event. 


18 Oct, 2019
7 keys to Talent’s award-winning employee engagement strategy
Inside HR
Inside HR

There are seven areas leaders and managers need to focus on to increase employee engagement and enhance workplace performance, according to the head of HR for global recruitment firm Talent International.

The firm, which was recently recognised in Gallup's global 2019 Great Workplace Awards (the only recruitment company in the world and one of only two Australian-based companies to be recognised in the group of winners), has achieved consistently high levels of employee engagement through investing in its people to create a positive, supportive employee experience.

This has had a direct impact on business performance, with Talent jumping from position 96 last year to 87 this year in Australia's 500 Top Private Companies list, with a reported group turnover of $640 million for FY19 and a year-on-year growth of 16 per cent.

Talent was recognised by Gallup for a number of key initiatives, including increased communication at all levels of the business, a new online training program, a real-time recognition tool, and a reinvention of the company’s values (with input from all employees in every region).

April Marcot, head of people & culture at Talent, explained that the firm has focused on creating a culture that thrives on high performance, embraces difference, and embodies its values.

“Our teams feel connected to, and deeply passionate about our vision and purpose,” she said.

“Our management team understands the intrinsic relationship between performance and engagement.”

Marcot explained that there have been seven areas that leaders and managers across the business focus on to drive employee engagement and performance.

1. Establish your baseline
Marcot explained that it is important to start with understanding the current level of employee engagement within your organisation.

“It’s not where you start but where you go from there that matters,” she said.

An engagement survey can help establish a baseline to work from, and this can provide facts, figures and anecdotes to assist in measuring the different areas of engagement.

“Our management team understands the intrinsic relationship between performance and engagement”

“If your company measures well in areas relating to social engagement but low in relation to training and development – you will know which areas to focus on and plan around for improvement,” said Marcot, who added that this will also help make qualitative work more measurable later in the process.

“Listen to your people, they will give you the answers you need, and, at the same time, they will appreciate being asked,” she said.

“They might even offer much simpler and more intuitive solutions than grand corporate schemes.”

2. Impact of managers
While initiatives, incentives and programs from head office are important to increase employee engagement, Marcot said it’s the relationship between team members and the manager that is responsible for 70 per cent of employee engagement and, therefore, productivity.

“This has been quantified in an enormous amount workplace research including Gallup studies, and from my own experience, I have found it to be the most important factor in creating an engaged team,” she said.

“Start with giving your managers the tools and support they need to get it right. Give them the autonomy to lead, encourage them to communicate and listen, set clear goals, and give feedback regularly.”

3. Play to their strengths
It is also important to help connect people with the right positions within the company, as Marcot said this helps them progress in their career by allowing and encouraging them to do what they are good at.

“Develop people in their roles individually, and help them become leaders in their field, within their strengths and interests,” she said.

“You don’t need to be a manager to be a leader, as career progression means different things to different people.”

Marcot explained that not everyone wants to be (or can be a manager of people) but everyone can be a leader, given the right opportunity.

4. Connect culture and performance
Clearly communicated values that resonate with employees will go a long way in shaping behaviour and identifying behavioural expectations, Marcot added.

These values need to be communicated and reinforced constantly, in various ways to reach everyone.

“Showing support and caring for your team members does not come at the expense of performance, it actually improves it”

“If you don’t already have clearly defined values, or they need a refresh, get everyone involved in helping to define them,” she said.

“Give them a sense of ownership and accountability in creating and living them.”

Leaders and managers need to be prepared to make some hard calls to show they not only support but also live by these values.

5. Communicate and have meaningful conversations
The importance of communication in employee engagement should not be underestimated, according to Marcot, who said to “overcommunicate with everyone all the time”.

“Make communications global, local, in writing, in person and in teams,” she said.

“Share the vision, the plans and the progress, celebrate the wins, and share learnings for improvement.”

This helps people feel involved and connected to the purpose of the company.

“Taking the time to genuinely listen is one of the most effective ways to understand the people in your organisation; it’s also a great way to learn from them in order to be a better leader.”

6. Celebrate success
Within Talent, teams are motivated by helping them understand what success looks like, and by helping them understand how it was achieved.

“Start with recognising good behaviour, catch people doing a great job and acknowledge it,” said Marcot.

“By sharing the highs and lows of their own journey, leaders and managers can help their team members to see that success comes from sustained hard work, not by having the magic touch.”

7. Kindness is not a weakness
Treating people with respect and kindness does not mean there cannot be a strong focus on performance, added Marcot, who said this can strongly influence employee engagement.

“Celebrating people’s differences and opinions, respecting social and emotional needs, will result in an engaged team wanting to push harder and go the extra mile,” she said.

“Showing support and caring for your team members does not come at the expense of performance, it actually improves it.

“Allowing people to bring their whole selves to work will ensure they continue to come to work, and love being there.”

16 Oct, 2019
Why SEEK changed its grad selection criteria
Australian Financial Review

Jobs platform SEEK has boosted the percentage of women in its technology graduate recruitment program from zero, five years ago, to 83 per cent by pushing coding down its selection criteria  and not making it a barrier in the recruitment progression.

The company is preparing to take on its next batch of recruits for its 2020 program, but to improve the diversity of graduates SEEK Group HR director Kathleen McCudden said the company had to change up its testing.

"For other skills like team building, problem solving and translating user requirements into technical requirements, our previous selection criteria was not letting us find the best people to choose," Ms McCudden said.

The company also runs programs like Camp SEEK, which is targeted at school-aged girls and teaches them about what a career in tech could look like, in the hopes of building up the talent pipeline by encouraging more women to study STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) skills.

Across the company, 48 per cent of SEEK's employees are women, but this percentage drops to 28 per cent of executives and senior managers and again to 17 per cent of group executives.

While Camp SEEK and changing up its selection criteria were deemed successful initiatives by Ms McCudden, she said not all of its attempts to attract more women to tech roles were successful.

"One thing we did with the talent acquisition team was advertise all tech roles as part-time and we were explicitly accommodating for workplace flexibility ... we thought that would be a great way to attract more women but it didn't work," she said.

16 Oct, 2019
Fair Work Commission approves Officeworks’ new staff agreement
Inside Retail Australia

An agreement introducing higher pay, penalty rates and new leave entitlements for more than 6000 Officeworks employees has been approved by the Fair Work Commission.

More than 80 per cent of Officeworks staff voted on the agreement in July, with more than 97 per cent voting in favour.

“Being able to provide our team members certainty about their pay and conditions so that they can plan their work and life more effectively is so important to us,” Officeworks managing director Sarah Hunter said. 

“They supported the new agreement wholeheartedly with their vote back in July, so we are rapt with today’s result. It’s such an exciting time at Officeworks and creating more sustainability for our team will help us make bigger things happen together moving forward.”

The new agreement will award eligible team members with a two per cent wage increase for the first two years, and a three per cent increase for the last two years; higher penalty rates on weekends and evenings; two days of paid domestic and family violence leave, should they ever need it; and their choice of superannuation fund.

The agreement will remain in operation until 2023.

The initial vote came on the heels of Officeworks’ implementation of its 'growing families' policy in March, which offers 12 weeks of primary carers leave – double what was previously offered – and two weeks of secondary carers leave, where none was offered before. 

It also entitles primary carers to 52 weeks of superannuation contributions and long-service-leave accrual, and secondary carers to two weeks of superannuation contributions.

4 Sep, 2019
Domino’s facing class action over underpayment claims
Dominos shopfront

Domino’s Pizza Enterprises is facing a class action from in-store staff and delivery drivers who say they were underpaid over a nearly five-year period. 

The class action, which was filed in Federal Court on Monday, is being brought by specialist law firm Phi Finney McDonald and is being funded by Therium Litigation Finance. 

According to the claim, over the period from at least June 24, 2013 to January 2018, Domino’s told franchisees to pay delivery drivers and in-store workers under a series of incorrect employment agreements, even though they should have been paid under the Fast Food Industry Award 2010. 

The agreements did not include certain entitlements – such as 25 per cent loading for casual workers; additional penalty rates for working after-hours, on weekends and on public holidays; and a laundry allowance to assist with uniform cleaning – and most in-store workers and delivery drivers were underpaid as a result.

“It’s nothing short of a disgrace,” said Josh Cullinan, secretary of the
Retail Fast Food Workers’ Union (RAFFWU), which spearheaded an investigation that uncovered the misconduct detailed in the class action.

“The scale of the Domino’s misconduct is unprecedented, and we believe that tens of thousands of workers were never paid for casual loading, penalty rates, travel costs and laundry allowances,” Cullinan said in a statement released on Tuesday.

The class action alleges that workers are owed the difference between what they received and the amount they should have been paid.

“Delivery drivers and fast-food workers are some of the most vulnerable in Australia,” Cullinan said.

“Domino’s CEO Don Meij took home a multi-million dollar pay packet every year, while drivers and store employees never saw a lot of the money they earned. Some workers are owed tens of thousands of dollars.”

Former Domino’s delivery driver Riley Gall is leading the action on behalf of all other affected employees. Having worked for Domino’s franchisees for two years, he said “it’s only fair” the pizza giant pay workers what they are owed.

Domino’s confirmed on Tuesday that it has been served with a statement of claim and said it plans to defend the proceeding. 

According to Phi Finney McDonald’s principal lawyer Brett Spiegel, the court will set a case management hearing, after which Domino’s will be ordered to file its defense, which could include a discovery stage.

The firm is urging every person who worked at a Domino’s franchise during the nearly five-year period to register with the class action. 

Editor’s note: This story was updated on June 25th at 18:25 AEST to include Domino’s most recent statement on the issue.

Heather McIlvaine

4 Sep, 2019
One touch payroll, are you ready?
Austrlian Taxation Office

The ATO is strongly encouraging all employers with 19 employees or less to get on board and start reporting through Single Touch Payroll (STP) from 1 July 2019.

Most employers with 20 or more employees should have already started reporting their employees’ salaries and wages, pay as you go withholding and superannuation information to the ATO each payday.

More than 120,000 employers have already started reporting through STP. More than half of these are small employers who have voluntarily transitioned ahead of 1 July.

The ATO understands the move to digital reporting may be a big change for some small employers.

They can start reporting any time from 1 July to 30 September 2019 and still be reporting on time. There’s also help and support for employers that might need more time beyond that.

ATO Assistant Commissioner, Jason Lucchese said “Single Touch Payroll is an important change that will deliver benefits for both employers and employees by streamlining payroll processes and providing greater visibility for the ATO in regards to unpaid super or late payments.”

Tim Hoopmann, Founder of Spinn Business Solutions, recently transitioned to STP and said employers shouldn’t put it off.

“My advice to other businesses out there is that they should look at STP as an opportunity, it makes life easier by automating as much of the payroll process as possible and helps you keep on top of your cash flow,” Mr Hoopmann said.

Single Touch Payroll is part of the ATO’s plan to digitise and streamline tax and super reporting and make it part of doing business, while providing greater visibility of your employee’s super.

“There will be no penalties for mistakes or late reports for the first year, and if you are experiencing hardship or operate in an area with limited internet capabilities, there will be exemptions available,” Jason Lucchese said.

For micro employers with one-to-four employees, there are low-cost and no-cost solutions available. You can view the list of registered products at Employers with 1-4 employees will also have the option for their registered tax or BAS agent to report their STP information quarterly, rather than each time they run payroll. This option will be available until 30 June 2021.

Small employers who haven’t yet transitioned to STP can follow these steps: 

Visit for information.

If you have payroll software, speak to your provider to find out if your product is ready or when it will be.

If you don’t have software, choose a product that offers STP. You can ask your registered tax or BAS agent for advice on choosing a product that suits your business needs.

Update your payroll software when it’s ready.

Start reporting to the ATO through STP.

Visit for information, resources, news and detailed guidelines.

4 Sep, 2019
Award Rates @ 1 July
Fair Work Ombudsman

Browse the full list of pay guides to access the one that applies to you.

The pay guides have the current minimum pay rates for full-time, part-time and casual employees in an award. They apply from 1 July 2019. They also include all the monetary allowances and the most frequently used penalty rates for each classification.

Pay guides don’t apply when a business has a registered agreement and the employee is covered by it. 

You can also find current pay rates, and pay rates from past years, by using our Pay Calculator.

Every award has information about who is covered by it. You can visit the Awards page if you’re not sure which one applies to you.

A – Z list of awards

Go to:  A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z


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