Blog Archives

How HR won in the West

Why head out west to talk about HR?

Slade Group recently facilitated our first Western Hub HR Discussion Group, hosted by Kubota at their Australian office in Truganina in Melbourne’s west. Presenting at the event were Christina Tsakiris, Senior Associate and Annabelle Uebergang, Employment Lawyer from Macpherson Kelley’s Employment, Safety and Migration team.

This forum was planned and brought to life by Slade Group’s Practice Manager – Business Support & Shared Services, Shaunagh McEvoy, who recognised the number of sizable organisations that operate in the West and who are often unable to travel into the CBD for events.

Macpherson Kelley shared important updates about recent developments in employment law, and senior HR Managers shared battle scars and victories and other professional insights based on their workplace experiences. A flurry of business card swapping was a sure sign of value at the end of the luncheon.

Significant debate focused on Casual Conversion – particularly as these changes have been applied to 85 different Modern Awards. It was also interesting to hear how different participants have managed this with their organisations, and the legal viewpoint from our experts on myriad grey areas. For example, did you know that Casual Conversions are now enforceable by law? Employers are obliged to offer it as an option to casuals who have been on regular and systematic rosters for 12 months or longer. You wouldn’t be alone if you weren’t aware of these changes, which is why it’s so important to conduct regular HR Health Checks to make sure nothing has slipped through the gaps.

Our HR Discussion Groups provide an ideal forum for like-minded HR professionals to speak freely and swap stories in a safe and confidential environment. We are proud and excited by the success of our newly established Western Hub Group and would like to extend our thanks to all who attended for sharing their experiences. Thank you to our presenters Christina and Annabelle from Macpherson Kelley, as well as Liz Cameron, Human Resources Manager Kubota Australia and NZ for opening up the Kubota boardroom to accommodate our group. A special shout out to Candice Lewis, our Temporary & Contract Talent team Manager at the Interchange Bench, for helping us out on the day.

We hope you saw the value in our vision to create an extended network for HR professionals. If you would you like to join our group and receive more information about future events, please contact me via the details below.

How do professionals in your industry network?

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Posted in Business Support, The world @work

Dipping my toes in the ocean: A celebration of my first 10 years in Australia

In November I celebrated my 10 year anniversary as a proud Melbourne resident. My arrival here from South Africa coincided with the GFC, which has given me pause for thought around the 10 year economic cycle, and what I’ve seen in the local recruitment market during this time.

In my first year here, my beloved Tigers (yes, I have an AFL team) came second last to the Demons (substantial improvement since then). In my other passion, the Springboks had just won the World Cup (not so much improvement). I was also working from a small office in Mount Waverley recruiting Accountants in the South East (nothing wrong with that, but most would agree Collins Street is a substantial improvement).

The recruitment landscape has changed drastically in the last ten years, with some substantial players downsizing and others disappearing, while a number of newcomers quickly established themselves and continue to go from strength to strength. The market for talent continues to become ever more competitive, with the top-drawer operators demonstrating the value in building strong relationships, providing exceptional service and reducing hiring risk with a robust methodology.

Recruitment trends

Other trends have been the evolution of internal recruitment capability within medium to large organisations and conversely, the rise of the RPO (recruitment process outsourcing) model, with an increasing number of organisations ramping up this function. Whereas talent acquisition was previously limited to larger corporate organisations, increasingly SMEs and smaller businesses have added recruitment to their HR functions. This has delivered mixed levels of success. With no clear winner between the internal team and an outsourced or RPO model, a number of businesses have sought to return the function in-house. In the mix, professional recruiters like me have enjoyed the opportunity to partner with internal recruitment teams, especially on senior assignments and hard to source specialist roles where exploring the passive talent market is essential.

Sector trends

The industry landscape has seen some other big shifts, with sectors like Manufacturing and Print taking a massive hit. Technological change, including AI, robotics, automation and digitalisation is one of the factors at play, but the impact of globalisation and government policy on a whole range of issues, from tariffs and trade to employment regulations, has suited some more than others: Ecommerce, Education, Advanced Manufacturing, Engineering, and Food & Agribusiness are all growing well.

In the recruitment sector, a trend towards higher volume/lower level recruitment activity was obvious over the last decade. What is becoming increasingly clear, however, is that there will always be tremendous value for organisations in developing meaningful relationships with talent and the consultants who have access to diverse professionals across broad as well as niche industry networks.

I have been extremely fortunate to have met some outstanding people in the last ten years – clients, candidates and colleagues – and have thoroughly enjoyed watching their careers develop. In many instances they have become valued connections who continue to inspire me and others with their achievements. It has been an exciting ride!  Now working with Geoff Slade and the team at Slade Group (Geoff recently celebrated 50 years in business), I realise that the last ten years is just a drop in the ocean. Here’s looking forward to the next ten years in the world @work. Thanks to all of you for your valued support and friendship over the last decade.

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Posted in Accounting & Finance, The world @work

Take a break… and focus on your own learning and future career

…as the fourth revolution of work builds, teachers are well placed to lead learning.”

All employers, by virtue of offering work opportunities and the potential to build careers, deal in the futures of their employees. For teachers and others working in the education sector, it takes great skill, time and energy to help students navigate their learning and life. It is by its very nature a generous act, to continually focus on others to build their capacity, efficacy and future.

For teachers, the term breaks are ideal to recharge and relax, to practice a little self-preservation and to prioritise personal needs.

Article image: Have fun

If you are a teacher or another professional who constantly ‘gives to others’, putting a plan in place for your own future can be overlooked; a break can be more than relaxing – it can be a time to think about where your career is going, to set goals, speak to others and to think about what else you may need to learn to progress within schools or beyond.

In various articles on the Future of Work, ‘learning’ per se is at the centre of the skills and aptitude required to navigate the fourth revolution, and to enjoy a thriving career. This places teachers at the centre of the revolution. Teachers have highly transferable skills in planning, curating, managing and assessing learning. The industry of learning has always spread well beyond the school gates, but the industry globally is growing at an unprecedented rate. More than just formal institutions for learning, ‘the industry of learning’ increasingly includes significant roles such as learning designers in work settings.

Swinburne’s Centre for the New Workforce recently published a National Survey Report, Peak Human Potential: Preparing Australia’s workforce for the digital future. The report highlighted 38% of workers prefer to learn in the work setting. Heather McGowan, future of work strategist, suggests that we now work to learn.

As the fourth revolution of work builds, teachers are well placed to lead learning, from early learning centres to corporate boardrooms.

Before you lead others in their learning or work, you need to be strategic, and clear about your own learning and career plan. Our world @work represents so much of our time and energy, and yet career progression is often left to happenstance.

So, while you’re relaxing or setting off on an adventure, remember to put aside a little time to think about your own future of work.

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Posted in Education, The world @work

The rewards of a good hire are amplified for SMEs

I have a hypothesis: mid-sized and smaller companies (remember, SMEs comprise the majority of Australian businesses) can benefit most from professional recruitment services. While smaller companies have less experience and fewer available internal resources to identify and attract top flight talent, a great senior level hire will generally have a measurable impact on the growth and success of a smaller company. And rather than relying on informal networks, job boards, and other indirect methods, I would argue a senior appointment in an SME is best served by an experienced Executive Search and Selection provider.  

Of course, senior level hires are made less frequently than more junior roles so naturally many companies are ill-prepared when they arise. Internal HR departments (or individuals) may be very good at handling the company’s ongoing recruitment needs, but these internal resources are usually not experienced in managing the recruitment of senior level or one-of-a-kind positions.

Unfortunately, there is a perception in the business community that the executive search process is only relevant for large companies. Most related articles involve the appointments or searches for executives for well-known ASX 200 companies, or of key government departments and authorities, where the emphasis is on the remuneration attached to the role, rather than the level of difficulty involved in placing a suitable candidate.

We know the cost of hiring the wrong person goes well beyond the time and effort involved in recruitment. Negative results, including loss in profit, reduced income, the impact on customer goodwill and company morale, can be a significant blow.

Deciding to engage a consulting firm, then finding the appropriate consultant to partner with, can be similarly overwhelming, so make sure you choose a professional who understands your needs. As an executive specialist in engineering, I am always interested in getting to know as much about the company’s culture, workflow, plans for growth and vision for the future. It’s part of my due diligence before commencing any assignment, and knowing your business before you set out to attract others to work for you is something everyone can afford — whatever your size.

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Posted in Technical & Operations, The world @work

Why good service is good business

How often do you get frustrated as a customer? Working part-time in hospitality to put herself through university, Catherine DeVrye had a customer centric work ethic drilled into her. Later in her professional life working at IBM in Japan, she became totally ingrained in a culture where she lived and breathed service quality every day. Over the last 25 years in her career as a best selling author and motivational speaker, Catherine has helped organisations on five continents to become more globally competitive by embracing continual improvement.

In today’s competitive talent market, a job isn’t enough for most employees; they want to make a living and make a difference. These days Catherine says she seldom speaks just about customer service. Taking a holistic approach, providing a good service also means the service you provide to your team, your community and to yourself. In this video, she explains how to develop relationships for long-term repeat business and why you can’t take care of your customers, if you don’t take care of yourself.

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Posted in The world @work

Why critical thinking, is critical.

What do you think is the most watched Ted Talk of all time? It’s Sir Ken Robinson’s Do Schools Kill Creativity? It challenges us to rethink our school systems, to acknowledge there are multiple ways to learn successfully.

In my career as a teacher I made the very deliberate decision to transition from teaching the VCE (Victorian Certificate of Education, formerly the High School Certificate – simply known as the HSC in Australia) to VCAL – the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning.  For those who aren’t au fait with the nuances of VCAL, essentially the curriculum is geared towards a more hands on (applied) approach to learning, and assessment is focused on outcomesrather than traditional grades or results.

What I loved about VCAL assessment was that it was based on life skills and employability. Nowadays those same skills are referred to as 21st century skills, which includes skills such as verbal communication, problem solving, time management, leadership and teamwork. While the traditional ways of learning are still addressed through assessment, more emphasis is placed on creative and critical thinking in order to solve a problem.

Sir Ken’s fundamental message was that children (and adults too) should be encouraged to use their imagination!

In Australia, education is changing. Task-based learning, working in teams, appointing students to leadership roles amongst peer groups… these are all things that we can benefit from later in life, both personally and professionally. Not all lessons are learned in books – a cliché, but true.  As educators we need to encourage all learners to read widely, to search out subject matter that isn’t enforced by a standard curriculum and to be guided by their intrinsic motivators. Put simply, allow students to go away and learn something they want to learn.

While we’re here, let’s update our definition of text to include digital publishing and non-traditional modes of reading and learning. In the electronic age, it’s also timely to remind ourselves that education is not only about how you remember facts, because anyone with a smartphone has a virtual encyclopedia of reliable information at their fingertips. However, the power of information and how we choose to use it continues to be a defining question for our societies in the future. In an environment where fake news has become a real thing, knowing the facts has become less important than being able to deconstruct the message – an important skill broadly taught across many university degrees.

When I look back at that decision I made nearly 10 years ago, it’s interesting to see what the motivators were that have brought me on a journey into the professional services industry. Working in recruitment, our brief often identifies the hard (technical) skills sought in candidates. Recognising those soft 21st century skills that, along with appropriate knowledge and experience, ultimately determine whether a candidate is a good fit for a particular role, is something I’m proud to say I now specialise in.

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Posted in Education, The world @work

Young people entering the workforce

The Boardroom Podcast in conversation with Anita Ziemer, Managing Director of Slade Group, about young people entering the workforce and the future of industries with the presence of automation.

The Boardroom Podcast is a series of engaging podcasts discussing the journey of and lessons learnt from many insightful industry leaders guests with a focus on having real and authentic conversations.

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Posted in Business Support, Interchange Bench, The world @work

Outdated office routines: How to manage the top 5 workplace traditions we love to hate!

While the world @work has evolved significantly over the last 30 or so years, some of the quirks of the office remain pervasive. Here is my take on some of the Most Hated Office Traditions as surveyed by CV Library and reported by HRD Editor Australia. You can read the full list here.

Survey says…

9-5 working hours (53%)

I once worked in hospitality and despite the unsociable hours, early mornings, late nights and ever-changing shifts that included weekend work, it was never boring or predictable. Many organisations now offer flexibility, with core hours that allow employees to manage their own start and finish times whilst working the same number of hours over a week.   

Long meetings (34.6%)

When you work on projects, meetings can be useful for sharing ideas, setting strategy, technical problem solving and quick decision-making. However, they can also be disruptive to workflow, unproductive and eat into the time available for the tasks required for delivery. Schedule meetings on the same day(s) where possible and allocate blocks of time in your schedule for focused work on specific projects. 

Professional dress codes (30.6%)

I’m split on corporate attire. As a guy, I find it’s like wearing a school uniform: An easy decision process when getting ready for work, but it can be pretty uninspiring wearing suits every day. On the other hand, the call centre workers in our building take relaxed to the extreme. You never know what they’ll be wearing when you see them in the lift, but you certainly know where they work! Our workplace has casual Fridays once per month, some professional services firms do them weekly, while other businesses have redefined the dress code altogether. For men, this could mean chinos, polo shirts or jeans and a smart jacket.

Having to work in the office every day (29.7%)

If you’re regular reader of this blog you’ll know we’ve written plenty about flexible work – currently the top response on a candidate’s wish list. If you have the option to work from home or another office, use it as I do to focus on those steps in a project where you need to work without distraction, then come back to the office during the collaborative phases.

Set lunch hours (17.8%)

While many workers don’t take lunch breaks (you should) or eat properly (ditto) during the day, others are constrained by set hours that don’t suit them. If the operational needs of the business don’t allow you to set your own schedule, try mixing it up by arranging swaps with colleagues. Personally I’m not a big coffee drinker (only one per day), but I don’t mind doing a tea round (7.7%). It’s an opportunity to take a short break, walk away from my desk and get some fresh air.

I will be taking this question to my colleagues Family Feud style at our next team meeting, survey responses to be provided on notice.

What aspects of your workplace work well for you? Which ones do you love to hate?

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Posted in The world @work