Blog Archives

It’s on our lips and close to our hearts

This month the Interchange Bench is getting behind Liptember – an initiative that supports and raises awareness for women’s mental health – a cause very close to our team’s heart. While we can’t always kiss away the blues, educating the community on women’s mental health whilst raising funds to support specific women’s mental health research and support programs can help make a big difference.

Why are we targeting women’s mental health specifically? Experience has shown that placing a gender lens on mental health results in more accurate research and enables more effective support programs. Liptember says, “Currently, the majority of mental health research is focused on men’s mental health, with the findings applied to both men and women. This has resulted in a number of programs and prevention strategies that are unable to fully assist the mental health needs of the female population. The Liptember campaign hopes to change that.”

Funds raised by Liptember, which as the name suggests, has its prime campaign focus during the month of September, will be donated to the Centre for Women’s Mental Health, Lifeline, Batyr, RUOK?, Jean Hailes for Women’s Health and the Pretty Foundation. We think these are pretty worthwhile causes, and you can follow the links if you’d like to learn more about each organisation.

Mental health doesn’t discriminate, so whether you’re a girl or guy, join us for Liptember to support the women in your life (wearing lipstick is optional). To donate now, head to the Interchange Bench fundraising page or contact me for more information.

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There’s an Engineering skills shortage. Here’s one way to solve it.

It might not be news to some, but the current shortage in engineering skills is widening. While there have been many reports on this topic, I haven’t seen one that provides an adequate solution to the ever growing problem.

So what’s the answer, introduce more science and mathematics learning at an early stage? This might be easier said than done, as we are also facing a huge shortage of specialist maths and science teachers. Independent sources attribute a range of factors, including the failure to attract new teachers (particularly men) to the profession, imminent retirements and poor retention rates.

Whether it’s teachers or engineers, recruiting highly skilled migrants in Australia is costly.

One option that has worked for me is re-employing retired engineers into positions where they can add significant value.

Recently I organised a successful meeting for a candidate who had left the workforce with a company that had a short to medium-term contract opportunity.

The mutual benefits were clear: the company hired a highly qualified candidate (an engineer with over 40 years of experience in the Civil/Structural Engineering field) at short notice who could resolve their issues within the timeframe; the candidate enjoyed the flexibility of working on a stimulating project without a long-term commitment.

Employing professionals returning to the workforce has the following benefits for your organisation:

  • Fill short-term roles with an experienced candidate quickly
  • Retirees are more likely to consider a short-term opportunity than a candidate who is ultimately seeking permanent full-time work
  • Older employees can pass on valuable sector knowledge and transfer sought after skills to less experienced employees
  • 40 years + in the workforce brings with it well-established industry networks, and can provide introductions and mentoring opportunities for future leaders
  • Depending on skillsets and recent technical knowledge, minimal training or upskilling is typically required

Returning to the workforce also has benefits for retired and semi-retired candidates:

  • Feeling valued through their work by continuing to contribute to innovation, benefit society, and be involved in the business or the broader community Keeping your mind active, which could be beneficial to longevity[1]
  • Financial benefit

Overall, hiring older professionals in any field helps break down the stigma of ageism and reminds people that age should not be a barrier to work performance. In areas such as engineering, where chronic skills shortages have been identified, it makes perfect sense to reemploy when hiring for project-based roles and short to medium-term opportunities in particular. I’d like to see more employers jump on board and give it a go.

Have you employed a retired professional or do you know someone who has recently returned to the workforce after retirement? What was the experience like for both parties?

 

[1] There have been a number of studies to support this. In 2010 paper by economist Susann Rohwedder of RAND and Robert Willis of the University of Michigan (both were at Age Boom Academy). Looking at data from the U.S., England and 11 European countries, they concluded that retirement had a significant negative impact on the cognitive ability of people in their early 60s. They speculate that retirement can lead to a less stimulating daily environment. The researchers also wonder if people nearing retirement are less mentally engaged in their jobs (source Chris Farrell, Next Avenue Contributor).

 

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Invitation to the Future: We’re ready.

Last year enough was spoken about my 50 years in business to spur me on for another 50 years.  Thank you to longstanding colleagues, clients, candidates and industry stalwarts who were in touch and recalled our times together. (Eating carnations from the vases on the tables after a big boozy dinner  in the 1980s was one I’d forgotten, but the year we hired over 50 executives for the one organisation was one I still remember – long days and satisfying results.)

Other than to sit and watch some good footy on the weekends, I’m a restless soul; thinking, adapting and staying abreast of sector trends and new ways of working. Celebrating the first 50 years gave me time to reflect, but my mind is clearly focused on the future.

In this blog I thought I’d share the fact that in recent years we’ve restructured the broader business and set ourselves up for future success. In doing so my Advisory Board and I considered a number of points:

  • The future of recruitment and the balance between technology, people, systems and processes
  • National and global trends
  • Shifts in market expectations
  • Shifts in employee trends
  • Future proofing a professional services model for a new economy
  • Succession planning (as none of the four Slade children is likely to come into the business)

We now have four discrete businesses, and whereas I was once the sole proprietor across the group, the future for professional services firms lies in distributed ownership and partnerships. I first stepped carefully into a new way of thinking (for me) and now three of the four businesses have equity partners and we’re seeing the growth and stability that comes from this model.

Yellow Folder was the first partnership I entertained five years ago, with Julian Doherty, Slade Group’s previous Director of Research.  Now working with many in the ASX 200 and across education and also Government, it is a research-based management consultancy that delivers corporate knowledge advantage, providing clients greater agility in business planning and talent acquisition strategy.

The service offerings are:

  • Competitor Profiling & Business Intelligence Analysis
  • Talent Investigations & Capability Search
  • Remuneration Benchmarking
  • Talent Pools & Candidate Pipelining

TRANSEARCH.  Most of us now agree with Peter Drucker’s comment “culture eats strategy for breakfast”. For many years, what I saw missing from the Executive Search landscape was an assessment tool or process that could untangle the knotty issue of culture fit at a senior executive level.  Canadian Organisational Psychologist Dr John Burdett and Orxestra©, developed the tools that TRANSEARCH International uses to provide a unique perspective regarding culture, performance, leadership, and team ‘fit’.

As the result of a formal partnership agreement between TRANSEARCH International and Slade Partners, four years ago I brought two long standing executive search leaders Bill Sakellaris and Sandra Brown into the TRANSEARCH International Executive Search partnership.  Recently Di Gillett has become a Partner of this global alliance with Grant White leading our Finance Practice. TRANSEARCH International is one of the foremost international Executive Search firms; a Top 10 in the sector by reach and reputation. TRANSEARCH is pivotal in identifying and securing Board members, ‘C’ suite executives and senior functional experts who have led the growth of global organisations.

Slade Group. My name’s still on the door and I hope will be for many more years.  Securing high performing talent at the professional, specialist, middle management and senior levels has been the mainstay of Slade for years.  The development of technology, AI, Boolean searches, job boards and social media have for the most part been a blessing, but sometimes also a curse. There is so much happening in the HRIS space that it’s sometimes hard not to be distracted by the next ‘tech start up offering’.   We decided a few years ago that we would, until Artificial Intelligence finally eats our lunch in 40 years or so, wisely invest in systems, and even more wisely in our people.

This year, for the first time, I’ve also welcomed the first equity partner into the Slade Group business, Chris Cheesman.  Chris, in his mid-30’s, is the future of recruitment and new ways of working.  He has a very different leadership style to mine and his team of mainly Gen Y and Millennials work to a new work order – together with our clients who are also now mainly Gen Y and Millennials in that space.

We’re very focused on knowing particular industry sectors and talent really well. If I could sum up our strengths it would be in the following areas:

  • Consumer, Digital and Entertainment
  • Education
  • HR
  • Industrial
  • Professional and Business Support
  • Superannuation and Fin Services
  • Technical and Property/Construction

The Interchange Bench. The name says it all. For the last few decades the business, then known as Slade Temps, placed mainly short and long term temps in administrative support roles.  Two years ago that changed and a huge up lift in demand for digital, technical, marketing communications, events, accounting and payroll staff,  as well as payrolling teams of casuals, meant we no longer felt the name served the business.

The Interchange Bench not only attracts premium talent for short term assignments but works with the 121 Modern Awards that cover the 1000s of roles our temporary and contract talent are asked to do. The team runs all day ensuring clients can secure talent on and off the ‘bench’ and into their workplaces for short and long contract periods.  We’ve invested heavily in systems and processes and also reduced the risk for organisations who want to outsource their payroll as well as trusting us with their FairWork and the Modern Awards compliance.

When I recap where the business is right now, I feel we’re right sized, focused and structured for the immediate future. It will be interesting for me to re-visit this blog in five years and report back on how the business has continued to change and evolve.

What are you doing in your world @work to set yourself up for future success?

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Why you should listen to podcasts and why we’re a sponsor.

What is it about podcasts that have captured our collective earbuds? Have you noticed how at some point the watercooler chat moved from TV’s Better Call Saul to the LA Times’ Dirty John podcast? Perhaps it’s because podcasts are the better versions of the internet, screen, radio and TV that they’re experiencing the highest growth of all media. The latest figures (ABC 2017) show that 89% of us are aware of podcasts and 30% of us listened to at least one in the last month. And if we’re anything like the US, annual audiences are growing at a double digit rate.

We’re proud to make a shout out for our own sponsorship of the highly engaging Don’t Shoot the Messenger podcast.  The Interchange Bench, which specialises in temporary and contract talent for all reasons and seasons sees Don’t Shoot the Messenger as the perfect podcast partner.  Quite apart from the tremendous content, it has an AB demographic: an audience of professionals and hiring decision-makers, many of whom will consider professional contract roles at some stage in their careers.

Caroline Wilson and Corrie Perkin, the co-hosts of Don’t Shoot the Messenger, talk about everything from footy to politics, dubious characters, food, films and books, family and business are all covered in an hour, and seemingly, not much is off limits.

We could have pursued a partnership with a related HR, leadership and recruitment podcast but we’re firmly in the ‘Love Work, Love Life’ camp and believe life outside the office, the lecture theatre or operating theatre, the building site or science lab is just as important for a balanced life. (And this month, especially outside the chambers of Parliament House!)

Of course if you are interested in HR and Hiring podcasts, give these a shot: Engaging Leader, hosted by Jesse Lahey; The Go-Giver, hosted by Bob Burg; Leadership and Loyalty, hosted by Dov Baron; HR Happy Hour by Steve Boese and Trish McFarlane.  We think they’re great.

So back to the original question – why the shift to podcasts?

You may have your own reasons, here are five reasons why they’re a 21st Century thing:

We’re commuters: Walking, public transport or cars are all conducive to podcast listening.

We choose: 1000 topics, 1000 interests. Just like having the State Library on your iPhone.

Production quality:  Beautifully crafted stories, sophisticated discussions and documentaries.

Independent media: Consolidation and decimation of some media has been matched by the growth of the intelligent green shoot podcast.

Long form:  There’s been a shift from the 10 second sound grab, to a demand for deep dive discussions into topics of interest.

Listen to Don’t Shoot the Messenger now or subscribe through Apple Podcasts and let us know what you think!

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Compare the pair indeed!

Q. What’s in the news every day and the first topic of discussion whenever I sit down with clients or candidates?

A. The Hayne Royal Commission and, to a much lesser extent, the recent Productivity Commission report into Superannuation.

Where the draft Productivity Commission report identified areas for improvement within superannuation, namely multiple accounts and insurance premiums eroding those accounts, the Hayne Royal Commission has given us a sorry list of poor systems, poor compliance and behaviors that could be described anywhere from lazy, greedy or criminal.

I don’t need to be more specific, we all read the news and know what and who I’m referring to.

Sadly, in these client and candidate discussions, no-one is surprised. The constant stories from candidates from within these organisations clearly tells me that sales, profits and bonuses are  priorities number 1, 2 & 3, and anything else is a long way behind. As a result, the culture of these organisations are often toxic, and that’s why I’m seeing more candidates from those organisations than from anywhere else.

For political reasons the Industry Superannuation sector was added to the Royal Commission. I wonder if the Minister regrets that now. Not only did the Productivity Commission highlight the superior overall performance generally of the Industry Superannuation Funds as compared to the Retail Superannuation Funds, but so far the Royal Commission has further highlighted the difference in culture from the top down. The $67 million in fees begrudgingly refunded and fees to dead people versus a few million dollars on an advertising campaign (A fox in the henhouse? – I doubt they even knew just how right they were) or $240,000 in client entertainment expenses for a $35 billion fund.

Compare the pair indeed!

Why mention all this as a recruiter? Right now, employee sentiment is strongly in favour of ethical and moral corporate behaviour. Candidates want to work for organisations that genuinely make a difference, and demonstrate their strong cultures in their corporate behaviours. Good candidates want to work for strong organisations that are profitable and dynamic, but who also care about their staff and their customers, not just their profit or share price or bonuses.

Without doubt, one part of the financial services sector is winning ‘the war for talent’ based on values, ethics and behaviour.

What have you seen in your world @work that has shaken your values?

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How 100 smart women discovered six unexpected benefits from an unlikely escape.

Ella Stephenson grew up playing netball, but had always loved footy. So in 2016 when the Victorian Amateur Football Association (VAFA) announced they were launching a women’s competition, she was keen to get involved. “My older brothers had played footy with Monash Blues and I was studying at Monash University,” Stephenson says. “A friend from Uni was already involved, and she got me down to the club.”

After performing well in the grading games, Monash Blues Football Club (MBFC) were placed in the second tier of the women’s competition. Although they didn’t win many games in 2017, strong interest in the team generated registrations from 100 female University-based players, which has seen the club expand to two women’s teams in 2018. The Women’s Firsts team had a great season this year, which saw them finish in the preliminary finals last weekend.

As Captain of the Firsts, Ella has firsthand experience of the benefits that joining a football club like the Monash Blues offers, both on and off the field. It’s universally acknowledged that playing a team sport like football is so much more than running around an oval and kicking a ball.

Here are the top six reasons to join a football team or any other sporting team:

  1. Health and exercise – committing to train two times a week and play on the weekend means you’ve ticked off your weekly exercise schedule.
  2. Teamwork – nothing prepares you for working collaboratively like playing a team sport.
  3. Networks and mentors – when you’re a student you’ll meet all kinds of people and probably make new friends, but a network of likeminded people who you can connect with and who can mentor you as your enter your professional life is an unexpected benefit.
  4. Support – Ella says that over the last two years MBFC has helped the players overcome some tough physical and mental challenges, such as injuries and the loss of parents.
  5. Lasting friendships – we’re tested a lot through life, so the friendships established from playing together at a club are often an unexpected bonus.
  6. Stress Release – there’s nothing like running off steam, living totally in the moment and falling into bed exhausted after a tough game to make you feel on top of the world.

MBFC has a fantastic alumni network, with many current players and past players assisting younger players in entering the workforce. Whether it be through industry connections, helping with resumes and cover letters or applying for jobs, there are so many people willing to help. Ella says that’s one of the reasons that makes the Monash Blues such a great club. “I was in the final year of my course last year and had some great support from club personnel in helping me find a job,” she recalls. “I only knew one girl and a couple of the boys involved at the club before I joined and have since met lots of new people and made lasting friendships. I think sport also offers students a great opportunity to develop their teamwork, leadership and public speaking skills.”

The players juggle study commitments with training twice per week, games on Saturday, as well as casual or in some cases, full-time work. During the six week mid-semester break, a number of students from regional Victoria return home, which can severely impact the team. Over this period many players drive great distances to support the club and ensure they don’t miss a game.

Coach Ian Mills agrees: “Sport is an outstanding release from the pressures of study and work. The old saying ‘Healthy body, healthy mind’ holds true as far as I’m concerned. There are times after a long day at work when it’s hard to drag yourself off to training, but I always leave reinvigorated by the girls, as they are so keen to learn and improve.”

These young women have found a way to escape, exercise, learn the value of teamwork and develop a network to support each other through university, the workforce and beyond.

 

Slade Group and the Interchange Bench are proud sponsors of the Monash Blues, a football club that fields men’s and women’s teams of current and past students. If your organisation is looking for graduates or can support university students with work placements, please get in touch with us.

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Myriad differences, multiple benefits: Embracing multiculturalism in the workplace

What an eye opening experience moving from Albania – an Eastern European country where 97% of the population were native born Albanians, to Toronto – one of the most multicultural cities in the world, where over 180 languages are spoken…

It was a move that exposed me to people of myriad different cultural backgrounds, which is how I came to understand the importance of multiculturalism in school, work and the wider community.

Bringing together a diverse group of people who may have different values, beliefs, traditions and family backgrounds can be challenging. However, there are many, often reported, positive benefits to multiculturalism in the world @work. Respected advisor to the Australian Government Josef Assaf AO says, “Cultural diversity confers social and economic dividends; it creates jobs and generates profits and, equally importantly, it promotes artistic exchange and connects us with the rest of the world.”[1]

Here are five reasons why I think multiculturalism is important in the workplace:

  1. Multiculturalism expands your cultural awareness
    Working alongside people from a variety of cultural backgrounds can expand your cultural awareness. Once you expand your horizon, you will improve your knowledge about the world beyond your own borders. You’ll no longer think that all of Eastern Europe is the same, or that everyone there eats potatoes! Your desire to learn and expand your knowledge about different cultures will not be solely restricted to traveling with Lonely Planet; it can be satisfied with daily chats with your colleague from Slovenia or Singapore at lunch time.
  2. Multiculturalism builds respect and better understanding of cultural differences
    Diversity in the work environment can contribute to development and positive experiences as it can lead to increased conversations. Communications and conversations that emerge throughout the organisation lead to respect among employees who have a better understanding and appreciation of their co-workers, the viewpoints they bring to the team, and appropriate interactions.
  3. Multiculturalism improves customer service
    In recruitment, our clients and candidates come from all walks of life. I am a strong believer that having a multicultural workforce shows an inclusive face to the public. Clients and candidates have confidence in someone who ‘speaks their language’. Whether that is a native speaker or simply an understanding that specific holidays, customs or familial commitments impact us at work, even a small business can demonstrate its ability to engage with global talent in the market.
  4. Multiculturalism improves your problem solving skills
    Different cultures have different ways of approaching problems. In a workplace with a diverse cultural backgrounds, people approach situations with their own unique perspectives. A variety of viewpoints brings together a wide array of ideas that enhance the capability of the team.
  5. Did someone say food?
    Last but not least, when working in a multicultural workplace, you’re likely to see a variety of edible treats, which hopefully your colleagues are willing to share. Speaking from experience, I can say that I didn’t mind all the compliments I received about my Russian salad.

What are some of the benefits you have seen from embracing multiculturalism in your workplace?

 

[1] Diversity in the Workplace, Joseph Assaf, Department of Social Services, 16 May 2018

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Become a Dementia Friend like us and make a positive difference

Article image: Become a Dementia Friend like usWe all want to make a positive difference at work, home and in the community.

Being part of a supportive and compassionate workplace can make a positive difference and can influence our society. One way is to increase our awareness of other people’s lives and their challenges.

An estimated 425,000 Australians are living with dementia. People with dementia can find it challenging to participate actively in the community, often due, in part, to a lack of knowledge or understanding by the community about their condition.

In fact, a recent survey by Dementia Australia found people living with dementia and carers reported experiencing embarrassing situations, feel strongly disconnected, feel less competent and sometimes feel useless.

Thanks to our friends at Dementia Australia, they’ve created a program – the Dementia Friends program – that aims to transform the way we think, act and talk about dementia.

Registering to become a Dementia Friend means that you can increase your understanding of dementia. Every day, you can make a difference to someone living with dementia or make a difference to the carers and families of those people living with dementia.

When registering to become part of the Dementia Friends program, participants can utilise a free online learning tool, through which they can increase their understanding of dementia, and be empowered to do small, everyday things that can make a big difference to a person living with dementia.

What can your organisation do to be dementia-friendly?

  • Offer accessible services, including having staff who understand dementia and know how to communicate effectively with people who have dementia
  • For people with younger onset dementia, provide employees with the option of being supported to stay at work
  • Allow time away from the workplace to participate in volunteering opportunities to assist people with dementia
  • Sign up to become a dementia friendly organisation

Look for the signs. Allow extra time for inclusion in a conversation, or offer assistance if someone appears disoriented or confused. It will make all the difference. Empower someone living with dementia and make them feel safe, accepted and involved.

Become a Dementia Friend today. Visit dementiafriendly.org.au and start making a difference.

 

 

Photo left to right: Aged Care Minister The Hon. Ken Wyatt AM MP, Dementia Australia Ambassador Jessica Origliasso (The Veronicas), Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe, Dementia Australia Ambassador Lisa Origliasso (The Veronicas) and Dementia Australia Ambassador Ita Buttrose

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