Human Capital magazine issue 11.06

Page 1


Super compliance P42 ISSUE 11.06


Workplace design P46 PROFILE







editor’s letter

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Wake-up call


Super compliance P42 ISSUE 11.06


Workplace design P46 PROFILE







Recruiters, in general, get a bad rap. While this may be a case of one bad apple, it’s apparent that changes need to be made in order to lift the standing of the profession, and for the profession to remain relevant in a rapidly changing world. As one of the features in our special report in this issue points out, recruitment, as we know it in modern terms, has changed little since the late 1990s. Its processes and functions came about in an opportunistic manner when skills shortages started to occur across the labour market. Recruitment agencies sprang up quickly to find talent for companies in need of people, without an awful lot of thought going into an intelligent process. Twenty-odd years later, the time is ripe for a rethink. This issue of HC is a nice counterpart to our March issue (11.03), which covered retention. Of course, any HR practitioner would be aware of the link between effective recruitment and retention. Indeed, with job defections costing the average Australian company (with 100 employees) an estimated $337,000 per year, it’s never been more crucial to get both elements right. A study by technology and software recruitment business Expr3ss! found that, based on a typical model of 100 employees who are paid $50,000 a year, in a company with an annual staff turnover of 10%, the costs associated with 10 resignations and the recruitment of replacements average $33,700 per employee. This amount includes the management, separation, training, productivity and morale costs involved in hiring 10 new employees, totalling up to $337,000, while recruitment agencies may add an additional $75,000 to the replacement spend (up to 15% per employee). Yet, as one of our interviewees in this issue told us, good recruiters are worth all they charge. They commit to placements who must stay for a period of time or the recruiter will lose their placement fee. Their reputation is the key factor (as well as their understanding of the role and the business), and it must be protected. While the use of social media means external recruiters are less essential to the process, the time it takes to recruit either scarce or critical roles is considerable, so there will likely always be a role or a need for recruiters; but, as in most areas of life, only the best will survive. Iain Hopkins, editor, HC Magazine


30/05/2013 4:03:11 PM

COPY & FEATURES EDITOR Iain Hopkins JOURNALIST Stephanie Zillman PRODUCTION EDITORS Roslyn Meredith, Moira Daniels EDITORIAL INTERN Cameron Edmond


CONTRIBUTORS People + Culture Strategies, The Next Step, Kenexa


CORPORATE CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER Mike Shipley CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER George Walmsley MANAGING DIRECTOR – BUSINESS MEDIA Justin Kennedy CHIEF INFORMATION OFFICER Colin Chan HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGER Julia Bookallil Editorial enquiries Iain Hopkins tel: +61 2 8437 4703 Advertising enquiries National commercial manager, HR products Sophie Knight tel: +61 2 8437 4733

There will likely always be a role or a need for recruiters; but, as in most areas of life, only the best will survive

Subscriptions tel: +61 2 8437 4731 • fax: +61 2 8437 4753 Key Media Key Media Pty Ltd, regional head office, Level 10, 1–9 Chandos St, St Leonards, NSW 2065, Australia tel: +61 2 8437 4700 fax: +61 2 9439 4599 Offices in Singapore, Auckland, Toronto, Denver Copyright is reserved throughout. No part of this publication can be reproduced in whole or part without the express permission of the editor. Contributions are invited, but copies of work should be kept as HC can accept no responsibility for loss.

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Cover story: Special Report – Recruitment Your guide to finding and securing the best talent, and avoiding the pitfalls along the way

46 | All about empowerment: activity-based workspaces Organisations are beginning to realise the value-adding potential of the workspace, but which flexible workspace would best suit your business? Rose Sneyd outlines the benefits, and detriments, of hot-desking and activity-based workspaces

44 | Do the sums match? With changes to superannuation looming, Alisdair Barr looks at why financial wellbeing has a significant impact on employee productivity and retention, and what employers should be offering in this space

42 | Super in the spotlight Is your business ready for changes to super rolling out from 1 July 2013? 50 | Profile: Something to prove When you enter an industry in its infancy, you are bound to witness changes. Yet while others may have struggled to adapt, this month’s profiled HR professional has never stopped developing her skills


04 | In brief: news 06 | In brief: hr insight


08 | In Step – HR career experts 10 | Legal 12 | HR consulting









n Business leaders are reporting a sharp increase in competitors trying to steal their talent in a recent international survey conducted by Right Management. Close to two thirds of employers agreed or strongly agreed with the premise that other companies are headhunting their own leaders. The survey attracted 202 CEOs and senior HR professionals from organisations of diverse sizes, revenues and sectors, spanning six continents. Ron Sims, of Right Management, pointed to the transparency that technology lends to organisations as one of the key drivers of this trend. “Social media and internet job boards expose the human resources of every company to outside parties,” he said. “The negative implication for an organisation’s bench strength and management succession are plain to see.” IR


n The opposition has released its industrial relations policy, pledging it will not repeal the Fair Work Act. According to the Coalition’s Policy to Improve the Fair Work Laws, there will not be any further changes to unfair dismissal laws or measures to set penalty rates in the first term of a Coalition government. Key points of the Coalition’s policy yy There would be changes to the Paid Parental Leave Scheme – namely, mothers’ six months leave based on their actual wage yy Increased penalties for unions and officials to equal company penalties yy The Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) would be restored to act as watchdog to commercial building sites and construction projects yy Unions’ workplace access would be restricted yy Removal of the ability to restrict the use of Labor’s Individual Flexibility Arrangements in enterprise agreements yy Tightened negotiation timeframes for Greenfield agreements yy Strikes would only be admissible following talks between parties yy Individual flexibility arrangements would be available to all workers yy Recommendations from the Fair Work Review would still be considered 4


The month in numbers


Number of General Protection Claims made in Q1 2013. Q4 2012 saw 687 claims. The reason given for the rise is increased willingness of employees to make claims based on asserted rights^


The damages awarded ($) to the complainant in a long-running racial discrimination dispute – the highest ever for racial discrimination in Queensland


Percentage of jobseekers who prefer using agencies or job boards. 24% claimed they would apply for jobs appearing on Facebook or Twitter* ^ Source(s): Fair Work Commission; reason from Alistair Salmon of Holding Redlich *Robert Walters

n An expert has called for action on the annual $6.5bn which is lost due to employers not recognising the signs of mental illness amongst employees. According to Simone Allan of Mondo Search Group, their research shows over 20 million work days are lost in Australia, each year, through avoidable stress-related illness alone. “It’s clear that the cost of ignoring mental illness in the workplace is far greater than the cost of developing strategies to create a safe and healthy work environment,” Allan added. Allan said businesses can: yy Recognise the problem yy Make time for mental health days and include these in entitlements yy Make mental health and grief counselling available yy Promote the fact that mental health is safe to discuss yy Support staff with compassion and refer them to Beyond Blue etc PERFORMANCE

ANZ ABANDONS BELL CURVE RANKINGS n ANZ has announced it will axe the ranking of staff on a bell curve when it comes to performance reviews. An ANZ spokesman told The Australian Financial Review the focus was shifting “away from measuring individual performance against peers, to measuring how well an individual delivers against agreed objectives”. Forced ranking will still be retained for bonus allocation. The Finance Sector Union is calling for the bell curve to be done away with altogether, but national assistant secretary Geoff Derrick said the move was a step in the right direction. As it stands, ANZ rewards the top 5% of performers with the largest bonuses, while the rest of the bonus pool is shared among the middle 65%. The bottom 30% do not receive a bonus.




HR insight / social recruitment Did you know the Australian Defence Force is beating Google at their own game on YouTube? Or that Fortune’s third most desirable company to work for has less than 1,000 fans on Facebook? The war for talent on social media is wide open. How does your company stack up?


1.06 billion


monthly active users






500 million


total users

200 million total users


90 million monthly active users EXAMPLE Starbucks jobs



66% 54%




26% 20%




10 million users




100 million active users




RECRUITERS & COMPANY CAREER CHANNELS Biggest recruiters on Facebook: Number of likes

EXAMPLE Life at Google

378,735 have them in circles

Marriott Hotels


Royal Marines




British Army




MOST DESIRABLE COMPANIES 1. Life at Google 46,000 209,000

2. SAS

6. NetApp 800 1,100

7. Hilcorp Energy Company – not available

11,000 7,800

Biggest recruiters on Twitter: Number of followers

Park Place

68,000 Twitter


Life at Google


Disney Animation




3. CHG Healthcare Services 8. Edward Jones 940 300

16,400 2,700

4. BCG

9. Ultimate Software

55,000 6,600

YOUTUBE – Most viewed company career channels: Number of views

2,700 7,900

5. Wegmans

10. Camden Property Trust 1,100 600

33,000 54,000 Facebook likes

Twitter followers

Defence Jobs Australia


Life at Google


Royal Navy



222,000 Geico


Source: 6






Lisa Robson is the Practice Manager of the Sydney Next Gen division, a specialist consulting practice in the human resources market. For more information, call (02) 8256 2500 or email Website:

Current HR role off-track? HR roles, like any, can sometimes veer off course. Even with the best of intentions, circumstances can start to derail an HR role before anyone realises it. Unfortunately, in today’s market there is no room for complacency in not acting on the warning signs earlier rather than later. In this month’s In Step, we look at just some of the possible warnings that HR professionals can look out for to assess whether a role is off-track. We also offer some suggested strategies that have been distilled from market feedback for taking control of these situations to turn them around.


#1 LIMITED DECISION-MAKING You’ve lost the opportunity to contribute to broader business decision-making. The main client group decision-makers are setting objectives and direction without your voice being heard. Suggested strategy: Seek out information and ask questions of key players to understand the broader business priorities. Get feedback on your thoughts, and start to offer proactive input into how to work towards these. #2 NO LONGER A CONFIDANT Your key stakeholders revert to others for advice and guidance. You’re finding out second hand that they are seeking counsel and have sought this from your peers instead. Suggested strategy: Organise regular 1:1s; really listen to understand their pain points, and go over and above in terms of follow-up to rebuild credibility. Get to know them personally – rapport goes along way! #3 OUT OF THE LOOP You’re left out of meetings, calls and email chains. You learn that your team or client group are making decisions or progressing projects without you. Suggested strategy: Relentlessly show genuine interest in what your peers, manager and business stakeholders are working on. 8


Demonstrate your keenness to collaborate and assist them in achieving their objectives. #4 LACK OF INSIGHT You’re not measuring the metrics required to identify key trends and issues and demonstrate your value. If you are gathering them, you’re not clearly and meaningfully articulating them. Suggested strategy: Think about what data will provide real insight to your stakeholders and the means you have of collating this. Start measuring, analysing and presenting this data in a way that allows them to make decisions.

Being aware of the telltale signs that your role may not be tracking as it should means you can call it early and act on it Don’t be afraid to make recommendations – remember you were employed to give your opinion and counsel. #5 LOST MOJO IN RELATION TO THE COMPANY’S OBJECTIVES You feel like you’ve lost sight of the commercial objectives of the organisation and/or don’t relate to them. You may also lack clarity about the role you are playing in meeting business imperatives. Suggested strategy: Proactively seek out your organisation’s business plan and go to your

manager to seek clarity on the part you play. Befriend the finance function and ask questions to understand how the business generates profit. #6 LACK OF ‘THINKING TIME’ Your day is consumed with operational tasks, and you’ve realised your role is purely transactional. You’re spending little or no time thinking about longer-term initiatives. Suggested strategy: Aggressively set aside an hour every day to think about the future requirements of your business. Work on what you can do to meet these. Balance your business-as-usual responsibilities with driving programs or initiatives based on stakeholder needs. Put your hand up for cross-functional projects, and show initiative in learning the role each business unit is playing in working towards the overall project objective. #7 UNDER THE MICROSCOPE Your manager is scheduling more regular catch-ups with you to track your progress. They’re taking a more active involvement in your day-to-day work. Suggested strategy: Proactively manage upwards. Pre-empt the information your manager seeks and provide a detailed update before being asked. Reinstall trust by showing you understand the importance of your work, and clearly articulate your workload priorities and plans. Update your manager when key milestones are met and on the positive business impact of this work.


Even the highest performers can experience role derailment. Whilst it’s difficult to come to terms with, being aware of the telltale signs that your role may not be tracking as it should means you can call it early and act on it. Ask searching questions, even if you are afraid to hear the answers – this allows you to tackle issues head-on and focus on what you can do to turn it around.



Recent HR Market Moves Senior HR Director Ronan Carolan has joined Optus as the Head of HR, Consumer Australia. In this role, Ronan will lead the HR Generalist community for Australia and Optus’ cultural transformation. He brings extensive experience leading business and cultural change. Ronan was formerly HR Director ANZ & HR Lead Japan & Pacific Region for Sanofi-Aventis for over 6 years where the company was recognised by Human Synergistics for its cultural transformation and sustainability. Prior to this role, Ronan held lead HR roles in the Finance sector for Australian Wealth Management, TAL and AMP. St. Vincent’s Health Australia has welcomed David Bryant as Group General Manager, People & Culture. In this role, David will lead the HR function for an organisation of 16,000 people in public and private healthcare as well as aged care. Prior to this appointment, David has held senior HR roles as HR Director in both finance with IAG and aviation with Qantas. More recently, David has held the role of Partner in a leading Executive Search firm and also sits on the Board of The Hunger Project as its Chairman. Rentokil Initial has appointed John Davis as the new Head of HR for the Pacific Region. John will also represent HR on the company’s Board. John is comfortable managing a geographically dispersed team of practitioners as he makes the move from Unilever, where his most recent roles have included Senior HR Director for Unilever ANZ, HR/IR Director for ANZ and HR Business Partner for SEAA. Georgia Charles has joined SBS as People & Culture Business Partner. Georgia brings 15 years’ experience in human resources in the UK, Africa, Eastern Europe, China and Australia. Georgia’s most recent assignment

was with Rio Tinto in Shanghai, where she reported directly to the CEO and was responsible for the transformation of a number of key infrastructure and HR best practice processes. Georgia will bring significant experience in cross-cultural leadership to her new role. Hoyts has appointed Jodi Paton as their new GM People, Performance & Culture. Jodi is an HR generalist and talent development expert having spent nearly 14 years with International Hotels Group, ultimately holding the role of Director of Talent Development for NSW/ACT. Her most recent role was National Learning & Development Manager for real estate specialist Jones Lang Lasalle. Direct marketing solutions provider ADAMS Australia has appointed a new HR Director in Helen Biggins. Helen brings her significant experience managing the human resources aspects of both inbound and outbound call centre operations at M2 and Commander. Helen was instrumental in developing and implementing programs to ensure employee engagement and to provide a great workplace experience. Liz Griffin is moving into a new role as Executive Manager, Leadership Development for the Commonwealth Bank. She will be responsible for evolving and driving the leadership development strategy for the General Manager level across the Group. Liz is an OD specialist; her most

recent role was Global Director, Diversity & Inclusiveness with Ernst & Young. Anthony Higton, a Charted Professional Member of the SIA, has joined Blue Care to head up the WHS function. Previously at Endeavour Foundation and RSPCA, Tony brings to the position his 13 years of international experience in WHS in sectors such as FMCG, logistics, manufacturing and print media. Steven Lamb has recently joined the high profile Brisbane Racing Club as WHS & Environment Manager. Steven brings to this role a broad range of experience gained in consultancy with AIG, QR, NFP, manufacturing and government. Steven is looking forward to establishing an HSE legacy in a business that has a risk profile including agriculture and construction, as well as hospitality and public access.

By supplying Market Moves, The Next Step is not implying placement involvement in any way.





Joydeep Hor, Managing Principal P: +61 2 8094 3101 E: Dimi Baramili, Associate P: +61 2 8094 3106 E: People + Culture Strategies

Coalition’s policy to ‘improve’ Fair Work laws The Coalition recently released its Industrial Relations ‘Policy to Improve the Fair Work Laws’ (the ‘Policy’), which introduces a number of reforms to the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth)(the ‘FW Act’) aimed at providing a fair, productive and efficient workplace leading to higher living standards, better pay and more jobs. The Policy does not see a return to the previous WorkChoices regime but rather seeks to improve upon the FW Act in accordance with these aims. The reforms concern Registered Organisations, small business, parental leave, and individual flexibility arrangements. Feedback on the Policy has been mixed, with some employer groups supporting the reforms while others argue that they do not go far enough. SUBSTANCE OF THE POLICY The Policy initiatives cover the following areas: • an independent review of the FW Act by the Productivity Commission, focusing on improving the Fair Work Commission (‘FWC’); • 26 weeks of paid parental leave at the higher of the full replacement wage or the national minimum wage plus superannuation; • ensuring right of entry provisions are ‘sensible and fair’; • re-establishing the Australian Building and Construction Commission to govern the construction industry according to national guidelines; • better regulation of ‘Registered Organisations’ (unions and employer associations) to ensure they remain accountable and transparent in their operations. This will be achieved through the creation of a Registered Organisations watchdog, and by tightening their 10


The main crux of the Coalition’s policy is to target Registered Organisations, in light of recent events concerning misuse of funds, and to support small business

governing rules to ensure they are held to the same standards of conduct as companies and their directors; • assistance to small business through additional functions of the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO), including a dedicated hotline for small business as well as relief from penalties if the act occurred in reliance upon FWO advice; • facilitating increased use of Individual Flexibility Arrangements (IFAs), including where an enterprise agreement is in place; • supporting the proposed bullying reforms by allowing relief to be sought from the FWC once independent, impartial advice

has been sought. Further, the Coalition will extend the definition of bullying conduct to capture the conduct of union officials against employers/employees; • reducing the length of time involved in implementing a greenfields agreement; and • allowing protected industrial action to be taken only once the FWC is satisfied that there have been genuine and meaningful talks between parties.


While the Coalition has indicated that this is their final policy, it remains to be seen whether any substantial changes will be made. The Coalition has also indicated that it will not oppose the pending reforms to the FW Act that were initiated by the Government. However, it will enact the Fair Work Act Review’s recommendations that the current Government has not implemented, including harmonisation of long-service-leave laws, clarifying the approach to payment of annual leave loading on termination, and unpaid parental leave meetings. The Coalition has also indicated that no changes will be made to unfair dismissal laws, rest breaks, or penalty rates, and has ruled out the reintroduction of Australian Workplace Agreements. Overall, it appears that the main crux of the Coalition’s policy is to target Registered Organisations, in light of recent events concerning misuse of funds, and to support small business. For the majority of employers it will be business as usual if the Coalition’s policy comes into effect in its current form. Notwithstanding this, it appears that, regardless of which party is elected at the September election, there will be reform in the area of workplace bullying to allow claims in the FWC, which will have the most immediate impact on employers.



HR consulting

Andrew Brock, Client Services Director, Kenexa, an IBM Company Level 2, 451 Little Bourke St, Melbourne Phone (03) 9602 3899 or email

INNOVATION – DRIVING ORGANISATIONAL PERFORMANCE As competitors evolve and customer needs change overnight, innovation has become a basic requirement for organisations to survive. Beyond mere survival, it is also one of the biggest factors in unlocking exponential organisational success, such as increased revenue growth or larger market share. Clearly innovation is vital, but how do we really accelerate it in order to generate a leap in economic growth and social wellbeing in Australia? There are a variety of factors that affect innovation, including education, government policy and funding or organisational innovation initiatives. Arguably, innovation is the easiest and quickest of these to directly influence the pace of innovation and from an organisational perspective, it starts with leadership. Results from the WorkTrends™ survey, carried out by the High Performance Institute by Kenexa, an IBM Company, show that Australia is well placed globally on innovation, comparing favourably to the international average. The survey analysed insights from over 33,000 workers across 28 countries, including Australia, on issues such as leadership effectiveness, turnover intentions, job satisfaction, organisational performance and innovation. On the Innovation Index itself, 51 per cent of Australian employees believed their organisations were innovative compared to only 48 per cent of international employees.


There is mounting evidence that innovation is a significant factor in creating positive organisational performance. In Australian organisations, we have set the stage for innovation, but there is plenty of room for improvement when it comes to taking action. For leaders who really want to 12


increase organisational performance through innovation, here are a few simple steps to get started: ENCOURAGE NEW IDEAS – Create a culture where the status quo is openly and constructively challenged, and new ideas are welcomed and collectively evaluated. This starts with leading by example from the top, with executives opening the boardroom to different ideas from all corners of the organisation. Support the initiative with a tradition of rewarding other leaders and managers across the organisation for modelling behaviours that encourage creativity. REDUCE RED TAPE – Most great ideas die in the bottom few layers of the company hierarchy. Employees on the front line have the clearest view of the opportunities to increase customer service or adapt products, and it is from here that the smartest ideas often originate. Encouraging teams to collaborate earlier and work together to build a business case can help to bypass delays due to unnecessary process. This type of

environment ensures ideas that are sparked by passion and not dropped into the “too-hard basket” and also has the added benefit of fostering a collaborative team environment. MAKE IT SAFE TO FAIL – This is perhaps the biggest cultural barrier to acting on new innovations. Managers and leaders gallop blinkered down the path to achieving their specific goals, and anything that risks jeopardising that is quickly shunned. In contrast, in top performing teams alternative ideas are always tried out. Where they do fail, the team owns the outcome, learns from it and re-doubles efforts in the pursuit of a better way of doing things. By perpetuating a culture where this behaviour is the norm, far more of the great ideas will be trialled and either disproved or succeed, with the associated big impact. Innovation is key for organisational success in today’s fast paced world. Creativity is largely born out of our employees being in the right environment and supported by leadership who not only cultivate their ideas but drive innovation and action.



my brilliant career

A rewarding ascent

to the TOP In a competitive HR market, it’s rare these days to come across an HR professional who has really fought the hard yards and stayed loyal to a business through thick and thin. Stephanie Zillman sits down with Joanne Nugent of engineering firm Parsons Brinkerhoff Human Capital: How long have you been in your role as director of people, capability and communications Australia-Pacific and global mining, and how is your specific role structured? JN: I’ve been at Parsons Brinkerhoff for 12 years, and in that time I’ve played a number of roles both inside and outside the ‘people’ function. I’ve been the director of people for part of the business which is global mining for about two years now, and then in June of last year a decision was made to integrate the HR functions of mining and the Australian business into one, so one team then provided support to both functions, or to both business groups. So I’ve been in the director role of part of the business for about two years and in the director role for the full region here for about 12 months. HC: Given that tenure, you must really like the company. What are some reasons you’ve stayed so long? JN: Good question, and funny I actually never intended to stay with any organisation this long after spending nine years with a bank prior to this. What has kept me at PB is probably its strategy and the expansion it’s achieved. When I started at PB there were about 400 people in Australia, and its peak was about 2,500 people in about six years, so for an HR manager that is an



extraordinary challenge to solve. For HR it was a question of how do you keep pace with something that is small and ambitious to grow, and how do you bring that to life through appropriate governance, appropriate energy? Building the culture becomes an extraordinarily difficult thing when it grows that quickly, because it just changes and becomes weakened unless you really hold it tight – given the influx of new people into a business very quickly. Initially, it was the business growth that kept me here, then it was the leadership of the business and having to diversify even outside our HR people in Australia to then support the HR function in places like South Africa, Mozambique and the UK. So for me, it’s that continual challenge, and I know most people would say that about their job – ‘My job keeps me challenged’ – but it really has kept me challenged! HC: How has PB attracted talent? JN: I think we’ve matured a lot in that space over the last 10 years. In the earlier part of my career, you went to market, hired whoever was available, and you inducted them as best you could into the business, and then put them into projects as you needed to. But the recruitment function of the business over the last couple of years has matured to become more a hunter of talent, not just that


JOANNE NUGENT ROLL OF HONOUR Australian Institute of Company Directors: Diploma, Company Directorship 2009 Australian Graduate School of Management: Grad Cert, Change Management 2005–2007 Queensland University of Technology: Bachelor, Business – extended major in HR 1992–1996


my brilliant career I’m a firm believer that HR is not IR; they are two different elements that handshake a hell of a lot, but it does take a very specific skill set to be a really potent IR professional – JOANNE NUGENT sort of passive ‘let’s go to market and see what we can attract’ but how do we mine what’s out there? How do we understand the richness of the market? How do we attract the right people, or the people we want to attract? So the recruitment function has become much more adept at being able to attract those people in the market who aren’t actually looking, people who don’t necessarily have the resume all brushed up but they are the right people for us to talk to. I think our brand is part of what attracts people to us, the skill of the recruitment team to be able to attract them to PB, and at its core – as a project business – ensuring we get the projects which attract people, because if we didn’t win the right projects or the interesting projects we can’t be as compelling a business as we would like, and we wouldn’t be able to find the people that we do. HC: What are some of your strategies that have worked well in terms of keeping staff engaged? JN: The feedback we get back from a lot of people who join PB is that it feels quite refreshing. That is not something we actively sell in our employment value proposition, but there is a ‘humanness’ about PB that people respect and that people enjoy. For that reason our length of service is actually very strong, and we are quite proud of that fact. How we do that? I’d have to be honest and say there isn’t a five-point action plan or specific plan of attack as to how we make that possible. We invest in a lot of things, formally and informally, to create that environment. That environment can also be a little ‘too nice’ as opposed to respectful. Sometimes that niceness can be in the way of having honest, real discussion. Where we are taking the business now is we can have open, frank and respectful discussions, which people actually respect more, anyway. 16


HC: Looking to the future, what are the biggest HR challenges your team is facing? JN: We’re really proud of the team at present; we’ve just had to see the business through our biggest retrenchment activity that we’ve done in a long time, so with the utmost professionalism and in a way that has managed what could have been a huge risk in the business, I think they’ve done an extraordinary job. So for us the challenge has been immediately how do we help the business through what has been a very uncharacteristic activity based on downturn in the market, without compromising those very values and culture which define us as well? But also, going back to my point about being a project-based business, we have this huge opportunity in front of us to become this project-oriented HR function, as well as the traditional HR function. So how do we keep both of those needs in check, without ignoring the other? HC: What’s the relationship between HR and the CEO like? JN: It’s very good. I would speak to our chief exec probably daily, on matters that are HR; but what he expects of his direct reports, with HR included, is to sit around that table with him to help him to run the business. It’s not as if we are just empowered to go and implement part of the strategy. His view is if you are around his table you’re actually helping to define what we do with the business. Any decision that’s made around that table we all own, and we all implement. So his relationship with HR is a very strong one, and I see HR well positioned with him about the management and direction of the business, not just relying on the HR function to help with HR matters. HC: What sorts of skills or qualifications would you like to see HR enhance? JN: I think commercial acumen is the key. Looking back on my old career, the one piece of my skill set I think is my weakest is my background in IR, but I’m also a firm believer that HR is not IR; they are two different elements that handshake a hell of a lot, but it does take a very specific skill set to be a really potent IR professional. I think HR can certainly get a much better understanding of the challenges that an IR environment has to solve, and work with IR around how to be part of the answers. So, commercial acumen, understanding how to relate to IR without overstepping the boundaries, and effective leadership and being able to be the strong leader when you need to be, not just the nice people person, which is what HR is often perceived as. More industry profiles at:




recruitment rebirth

End of the

COWBOY ERA Calls for more regulation in the recruitment industry and degree-level education spell the end of the so-called ‘cowboy’ era in recruitment. In this introduction to HC’s annual recruitment special report, Stephanie Zillman talks to respected names in the industry to answer your questions



Does the Australian recruitment industry need tighter regulation to stop ‘cowboy’ recruiters? In February this year, HC Online posed that question and hit a chord with readers when the spotlight was shone on the unregulated nature of the recruitment industry. Readers were vocal in expressing a range of opinions. From indignation at the very notion of more regulation, to agreement that more needs to be done, the one thing that emerged as certain was that this is a burning question for the industry and one requiring thoughtful debate. Stellar Recruitment managing director Shaun McCambridge is scathing of the sheer lack of regulation, and says unskilled and unethical recruiters are an ongoing issue and ultimately tarnishing the reputation of the sector. “There are no qualifications needed to become a recruiter, often little to no training available, and no regulations to manage conduct. Anyone with a phone and a computer can call themselves a recruitment business,” he says. He adds that it’s time to introduce better regulations and enforce penalties for poor and unethical conduct. Doing so would raise the standard of professionalism and ultimately reduce the negative impacts on job seekers. “There are good recruiters who know the market they recruit for well, foster good relationships with their candidates and clients, and listen to their needs,” he says. “Bad recruiters on the other hand are money focused, fail to forge and maintain relationships with clients or candidates, don’t understand the industries they work in, and often push candidates into unsuitable roles,” he adds. That view is not uncommon and is one supported by Peter Murphy, partner at Davidson Recruitment, who has recently been named ‘Australia’s Best Recruiter 2013’*. He says that, because the industry is unregulated and doesn’t have any requirements around professionalism, recruiters get judged by the lowest common denominator. “And you know the lowest common denominator could be the fish and chip shop salesman who sells up his shop and decides he’s going to go into recruitment. He can literally go and do that,” Murphy says. The sheer ease of entering the industry is perhaps one of the few points that those in the industry agree upon.


The Recruitment and Consulting Services Association (RCSA) is widely regarded as the peak body for the industry. A not-for-profit industry association, the RCSA is seen by many stakeholders as the gateway to increased professional standing. RCSA national vice-president and director of the board Robert van Stokrom agrees that the ease with which someone can start a recruitment agency is a problem. “It’s very easy to start a recruitment company with a small business because you don’t really need to do much besides know who to send your staff to,

There are no qualifications needed to become a recruiter, often little to no training available, and no regulations to manage conduct. Anyone with a phone and a computer can call themselves a recruitment business – SHAUN MCCAMBRIDGE,


and that’s a fact! Some states do have some requirement to be registered, but it is just an administrative exercise – there are no real teeth in the tiger there. But as far as the push for people needing to join the RCSA, we’d love for all industry players to be part of the RCSA, because then we could give the right guidance and direction as to what should and shouldn’t happen,” he says. For Murphy, a fundamental problem lies in the RCSA being hamstrung by the fact that people can physically act as recruiters without having to be a member of the association. “To be a lawyer, you’ve got to be a member of the bar association. To be an accountant of standing, you’ve got to be a CPA or CA. So I ask: why don’t we as an industry value it enough to do that?” Yet Murphy adds that the onus shouldn’t rest entirely on the shoulders of the recruitment industry. “While I think there’s a requirement for recruiters to do that, I also think there’s a requirement for HR practitioners to say, ‘Well, we are only going to deal with people who are members of the peak body’, because that would help increase its standing,” he says. McCambridge is less emphatic about the RCSA holding the keys to higher industry standards but says that more qualifications for operators is a must. “I think it would be fantastic if there was a degree or a diploma – some sort of formal qualification to churn out better recruiters and educate them better and steer the experience of other high-calibre people into the recruitment industry. To have something formal would be ideal.” McCambridge views more qualifications in the recruitment space as the way forward but adds that mandatory industry association membership may be the better place to start. “Look, if that is the way forward, then that is the way forward. But maybe over and above that, whether it is the equivalent of a CPA-type qualification for higher-level people, it would be good to HCAMAG.COM 19


recruitment rebirth From the frontline Here’s what HC Online’s readers have to say on the topic of what needs to change in recruitment “Same problem the IT industry has had forever. It requires the quality providers to educate the market on what makes a quality recruiter. It is, of course, also a huge opportunity to differentiate” – Scott Linden Jones on 7/02/2013 10:02:34 PM “I agree with Shaun that the industry needs regulation (isn’t that the RCSA’s role?) however surely the candidate and the Hiring or HR Manager are the one’s making final decisions? All too often it is easy to blame the third party when things don’t work out and, as a result, some of the good recruiters wear the blame” – David on 6/02/2013 10:17:44 AM “Without structural changes, it’s caveat emptor in the recruitment market. Think of any industry where you encounter cowboys (or substitute the epithet of your choice), and you’ll see low barrier to entry” – Greg Evans on 5/02/2013 1:11:25 PM “With all due respect to those who say that it’s only the cowboys, the fly by nighters, the bad ones give us a break – even the bigger companies are full of people who conduct themselves in an unethical manner. Every one of them lies, to get you on their books, whether employer or candidate and several in particular from the larger firms have tried this stunt – they call you and send you several candidates that they have, even though you haven’t asked them to, and if you ever employ that person in another capacity thru a different source they then come after you for money. It’s a disgraceful industry full of shonky sharks and its rife in all the big firms – ALL of them” – James on 5/02/2013 10:13:37AM “Since I’ve become a Human Resources consultant – that is, the whole breadth of HR not just recruitment and not just selling people – it seems that, unfortunately, cowboy recruiters also tarnish HR’s reputation. This is because many recruitment firms call themselves HR companies. Obviously the cowboys do the most damage to everyone but as an experienced HR professional, I’d like the recruitment industry as a whole to stop claiming to be HR professionals, not just the cowboys...” – Yvonne Walker on 4/02/2013 6:29:09 PM “Shaun is dead right however, many of the comments are blaming recruiters for behaviour which should be picked up by the HR professionals – or professional managers in the client organisation. They are the ones who should be making the final decision and communicating with the successful candidate. If HR Managers only dealt with reputable and professional recruiters the others would soon lift their game or disappear” – Paul on 4/02/2013 5:16:55 PM



have something that has some form of authority to govern the industry and practise within it,” he says. In terms of whether the industry is likely to experience a turnaround, and for an enforceable code to be introduced, the future is not looking bright. Van Stokrom says the RCSA has discussed the possibility of finding a way to introduce some sort of mandatory national code, but it is difficult. “I [think] it comes down to clients recognising that they should deal with RCSA members, and some government panels actually do suggest to be successful you need to be an RCSA member. So, if more clients did that, that would of course encourage further membership to the RCSA,” he says. When it comes to unethical operators or the notion that the industry is being tarnished by rogue operators, the RCSA simply does not agree that it’s happening to any real extent. “As far as unethical or cowboy-like behaviour, I don’t talk about it a lot because I don’t think there is a lot of it!” van Stokrom says. “The industry, as a collection of professional companies, is in very good shape with respectable behaviour. That is because of a few things. The first is that we’ve got a very significant and ACCC-approved code of conduct, which we instruct all members’ representatives to participate in. It is an online course, and it has a lot of information as well as a lot of questions to be able to pass the actual requirements,” he says. When it comes to complaints, van Stockram says these days they are few and far between. When they do happen, though, it is usually in-fighting. “Most complaints we get would be company-to-company, which would be around the transitioning of a particular workforce. Those complaints have decreased significantly because more people understand the need to behave well in doing that for the clients’ sake, because otherwise the clients may

To be a lawyer, you’ve got to be a member of the bar association. To be an accountant of standing, you’ve got to be a CPA or CA. So I ask: why don’t we as an industry value it enough to do that? – PETER MURPHY, DAVIDSON RECRUITMENT

suffer some interruption to their business, which is obviously not in the interest of the industry,” he says. “The other one would be when candidates feel aggrieved because they weren’t represented as well as they’d like to be by a recruitment company, and in a lot of the cases those complaints are because of the misconception that the candidate may have of the industry.”


Ciaran Foley, manager at Frazer Jones HR recruitment, says the industry needs to invest in building long relationships that create trust and gain respect from clients. “And that medium- to long-term benefit is going to be much, much more beneficial than any quick fee,” he says. For Foley, an ‘us and them’ mentality, even within the recruitment industry, is damaging, and that type of thinking is a backwards step. “With many internal recruitment functions or RPO solutions and external recruiters, it’s an ‘us’ and ‘them’. So it can be perceived as internal recruitment versus an external recruiter or an RPO solution versus an external recruiter. I’m a firm believer that we should turn that thinking on its head and should work together. If both parties engage early and there’s a more practical approach, you’re looking at more channels in the marketplace and you can have more confidence that you’ve hired the best candidate,” Foley says. Murphy agrees that the time for recruiters to act in a silo are over – at least for those looking to truly add value and be a strategic partner with HR. “I think the best recruiters engage with HR and become a true advisor – you know the attraction is only one part of it now. If you’re going to really partner, you’re going to help onboard candidates, you may assist in the retention of them, the total employee engagement – it’s incumbent upon the recruiter to have a greater knowledge and understanding of HR disciplines right across the board,” Murphy says. While it’s essential for recruiters to be specialists in their area of the market – whether it’s recruiting in the finance industry through to niche oil and gas engineers – Murphy says the test of a great recruiter is to look at the actual value-add. “Because if you’re just a recruiter and all you do is put up an ad on SEEK – well, you’re going to go out of business. If you can’t do more than what the client can do, why they should pay you?” he questions. For Murphy, the way forward entails managing a recruitment firm that aims to shift the focus away from ‘sales’ and into building strategic partnerships. The way to do this, he says, is through better-quality training aimed at gaining HR insight. “If you look at training within the recruitment sector,

often it really is sales – it’s business development, it’s about sales, it’s about how to push the candidate, and it’s about how to get the client to buy. We’ve actually employed an L&D training manager here, to build an in-house training program which is all about having our consultants understand workforce planning, having them understand psych testing, and the cost of the poor hire. That’s so they can engage with HR and provide greater insight and greater commercial acumen. And those seminars which we hold formally are actually often conducted externally by leading HR operators, who are commercially pragmatic. This gives our consultants (and we’re not the only ones doing it) a greater toolkit, and a greater understanding of what going on in HR,” Murphy says. And what’s the payoff? Murphy doesn’t pull punches. “I think if you raise the level of professionalism, number one, clients get a better service; and number two, you get a better level of engagement across the board; and three, selfishly, you can charge a bit more.” *Source: The award is sponsored by De Bella Coffee and organised by Stellar Recruitment – it draws entrants from Australia and New Zealand, and the winner is selected by an independent panel of four business and recruitment industry leaders.

A code worth following The RCSA Code for Professional Conduct and its Disciplinary and Dispute Resolution Procedures are authorised by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and recognised by the Commerce Commission in New Zealand. RCSA members and their staff must abide by the following Code for Professional Conduct principles: • CONFIDENTIALITY AND PRIVACY Observe a high standard of ethics, probity and professional conduct • HONEST DEALINGS Must act honestly in all dealings with candidates, clients, consultants and members • RESPECT FOR WORK RELATIONSHIPS Must not undertake to unlawfully jeopardise a candidate’s engagements or interfere in work relationships established by others • RESPECT FOR LAWS Must comply with all legal, statutory and government requirements • RESPECT FOR SAFETY Must act diligently in assessing OH&S safety risks • RESPECT FOR CERTAINTY OF ENGAGEMENT Must ensure that candidates are given details of their work conditions • PROFESSIONAL KNOWLEDGE Must work to develop a satisfactory and up-to-date level of relevant professional knowledge • GOOD ORDER Are encouraged to use a process of negotiation, mediation and arbitration to resolve disputes


hiring mistakes


for black holes Top 10 hiring mistakes

All too often HR and recruiters are faced with the fallout from bad hires. Whether it’s poor cultural fit, or simply broken promises, there are sure-fire ways to avoid disappointment. Human Capital presents its list of 10 missteps to avoid during recruitment OF CLARITY ABOUT THE u LACK JOB BEING RECRUITED FOR

Major companies still fall into the most basic trap of recruiting: a failure to define exactly what they’re looking for. Peter Acheson, CEO of Peoplebank, says it’s an issue that they see all too regularly. “We had an example recently where a large multinational client hired a person into a role, and they weren’t even sure who the person would report to. If you then think about it: if they weren’t even sure who the person was reporting to, were they even clear about what they wanted in the role, what skills they were looking for? I think a lack of clarity around the role being hired is actually quite a common one,” Acheson says. He adds that, in examples such as this, a new recruit may turn up for their first day and the employer is totally underprepared for the commencement of their tenure. Ultimately, a lack of clarity around the role can leave new recruits dissatisfied with their new employer before the ink is even dry on the contract.


A key trap many employers fall into is asking the recruiter to provide candidates for a particular position, 22


such as a sales manager, without providing a nuanced role description. “You would be amazed at how often we see it. A client rings us and says, ‘I need to hire an XYZ person. Could you find me one?’ And that’s it. As an organisation now, we always say to a client we will need to go through a process of talking a lot deeper about the job specification you are looking for, and I might say, ‘Let me send you a draft job specification for that type of role, and we can work from that’,” Acheson says. In addition to this, the burden of compiling an accurate role description needn’t fall squarely on the shoulders of HR. Given that an organisation could literally have dozens upon dozens of job titles, it is highly important for close consultation to occur between line managers and HR. This should be integral to the process for the technical aspects of the role (the real ‘nitty-gritty’ details) to be properly fleshed out and included in the description.


While preselection screening can be useful in narrowing down the field, it can also be very limiting. A good analogy to keep in mind is this: if the role HR is recruiting for is a ‘kidney bean sorter’, and your

description includes ‘must have kidney bean sorting experience’, this theoretically excludes all applicants with chickpea and lentil sorting experience. This is a hiring mistake Acheson sees frequently, and he adds that in many cases of hiring for technical roles there is too much focus on the technical skill set and not enough focus on interpersonal skills, personal attitude, and ability to play in a team. “There are very few roles that exist in the workforce today where an organisation can tolerate a lone wolf – a person who is just very good on their own, and they’re technically very strong, but they have no ability to work in a team or to communicate what is required,” Acheson says. Yet he also positively adds that a tangible shift has occurred in the last four or five years towards a preference for candidates with developed people skills, ability to play as part of a team, and a big shift in focus around the importance of attitude.


US-based HR thought leader Susan Heathfield laments the regularity with which organisations fail to plan their interview process. “You wouldn’t choose a school for your child or launch a project without a plan. Why, then, do organisations put so little planning into interviewing candidates for positions?” Heathfield asks. She adds that interviewers need to meet in advance and create a plan, asking questions such as ‘Who is responsible for which types of questions?’ and ‘What aspect of the candidate’s credentials is each person assessing?’ Acheson adds that time and time again, even right now, organisations and recruiters alike fail to forward-plan what type of hiring process the candidate is going to be put through. “Is it going to be one interview, two interviews, four interviews? Even down to when we get to the day of the interview – What’s the nature of the interview? How are we going to run it? What’s the structure of the interview?” Acheson questions.


Poorly constructed interview questions and a lack of behavioural-based interviewing is an ongoing issue in recruitment. Particularly prevalent with junior or middle management, Acheson says they will often walk the person through the structure, asking a series of closed questions – “Oh, so you worked at ANZ bank between December 2010 and December 2011?” “Yes I did.” “What did you do at the bank?” etc. – rather than getting into deep behavioural questions that access the ability of the candidate to do the role. What’s more, according to author and HR expert Peter Gilbert, there have been surprising academic studies that have shown that job interviews fail to accurately predict how well suited a person may be for a job. “In a University of Michigan study, John and Rhonda Hunter analysed how well job interviews accurately predict success on

A lack of clarity around the role being hired is actually quite a common mistake – PETER ACHESON the job. The surprising finding: the typical interview increases your chances of choosing the best candidate by less than 2%. In other words, flipping a coin to choose between two candidates would only be 2% less reliable than basing your decision on the interview.”


A failure to secure the candidate by not adequately selling the role is a key recruitment misstep. This problem can be avoided firstly by being clear about the job role the candidate is going to have and who they are going to report to; and secondly by ensuring that the line manager the new recruit will work with is directly involved in the hiring process. “The benefits of the organisation they are going to be working for, the team they are going to be working in, [need to be really sold],” Acheson says, and this is best done by the line manager.


At the end of the interview process, has it been ascertained whether the candidate is still interested in the role by asking, for example, ‘If we were to offer you this role at this sort of salary level, is it a role you would accept?’ Acheson says it’s essential that any issues an employee may have in terms of what has been presented to them by the recruiter should be addressed before an offer is made. “Because what we often see happen is clients will go through an exhaustive interview process, but they have failed or forgotten to confirm that the candidate is still interested in the role; they’ve not asked the candidate questions about the environment they are going to be working in, the people they are working with, and so on. Invariably what happens is we get through the interview process, an offer is made, and the candidate says, ‘Thanks for the offer. I’ve got to decline because I didn’t really like the company I was going to be working for’, or those sorts of issues, because there’s been a lack of what I like to call candidate control,” Acheson says. HCAMAG.COM 23



A subset of reference checking that is now overly prevalent is an over-reliance on social media. For example, the LinkedIn resume or career summary are not necessarily an accurate representation of a person’s career. “There is a very fundamental issue with that, and that is that the LinkedIn career history or the LinkedIn career summary has been put up by the candidate and it may be biased, if I can put it that way. So generally a lack of rigorous reference checking – these days you want to get a 360-degree view of the candidate, so you want to be getting a person that has worked with them, a person they have worked for, and possibly even a peer as well, so a minimum of three referees to give you that 360-degree view of a candidate,” Acheson says.


All too often there is an excessive delay in the offer process, and this can mean the difference between getting your first and second choice. “I see this all the time: the interview process finishes with a candidate, and it’ll be another three weeks before they get their offer. You’re really tempting fate if you allow that to happen,”



Acheson says. “There are a lot of reasons for that, one being you are leaving the door open for that candidate to be approached by someone else.” Acheson also notes that it reflects badly on an employer if the process moves too slowly during the initial stage. The candidate will be thinking: “What’s the organisation going to be like to work for if it takes them two or three weeks to get a letter of offer to me? They don’t value me; they are too bureaucratic”. “Those are the feelings you create in a candidate if you take too long to make an offer,” Acheson says.


The other aspect of ensuring that the offer process is handled effectively is to manage it in a professional manner. It is best practice to make sure the offer reflects previous discussions, not something wildly different. Nothing creates doubt in a candidate’s mind more than thinking, “We had a conversation; it was confirmed to me on three occasions that the role would be paying $100,000 a year, but I’ve got this offer and its only $80,000”. “Nothing creates more doubt, frustration, and negativity than poorly managing the offer process,” Acheson confirms.



workforce planning


THE GULF Is there a chasm between your company’s business objectives and what’s being delivered through the recruitment process? It may be time for a rethink… So, your company has a 12-month plan for an aggressive growth campaign involving the launch of new product lines and a double-digit boost to the top and bottom line. But has that strategy filtered through to your recruitment plans? And do those plans factor in changes to the way in which people now want to work? In short, is your recruitment function ‘in the loop’ with your business plans? Tim Nelson, president Asia-Pacific, Futurestep, notes that despite growing recognition of the importance of workforce planning, it’s not a strong skill set among HR and other business leaders. He notes a key difference between a hiring plan and a workforce plan, and this is often where the gulf lies. “The distinction is: the recruiting team gets a hiring plan, which is often driven by a factor of turnover or growth. Yet they’re not 26


necessarily involved in tying the hiring plan to a workforce strategy. They have no context,” he says. Nelson adds that the two terms are often used interchangeably, yet they are different. A workforce plan is all about strategy: it’s a strategy around mobility; it’s a strategy around contingent or part-time workers versus permanent; it’s a strategy around the capabilities that need to be brought into the organisation to align with business strategy; it’s a view around build or buy. The hiring plan and those involved in talent acquisition (essentially the ‘nuts and bolts’ of sourcing, hiring and onboarding) are typically relegated to the end of the supply chain.


Paul Slezak, co-founder of, believes one of the primary reasons there is such a ‘gulf’ between what the company needs and the calibre of talent they’re getting in through the recruitment process is that far too often the recruitment process is reactive. In other words, there is no sign at all of any workforce planning. “Companies need to be careful that they don’t go hell for leather into recruitment mode only when a need arises – for example in response to a resignation or a large client win,” he says. “By its very nature, workforce

planning implies a far more proactive and structured recruitment process.” This is backed up by research. Over half the organisations surveyed in Randstad’s World of Work Report currently spend 10% or less of their total strategic planning time on future workforce planning. Considering the long-term nature of today’s key human capital challenges, the workforce planning horizon is also alarmingly short. Almost half of employers don’t plan their workforce a year in advance, and just 13% plan for a two-year period. This suggests the positive work that many organisations are doing around talent management needs to be integrated with workforce planning that looks further ahead. For example, with 45% of employers looking to boost middle-management capabilities to improve productivity over the next five years, now is the time to start thinking about the pipeline for executive recruitment, training and development. It’s also important to think about the work options, systems, processes and performance measures that will support these managers, to ensure their success – and their loyalty – in the future. When navigating through the workforce planning process, many businesses will ask what the future business looks like: X number of sites/locations,

The important thing is that jobs are designed to allow outcomes to be delivered – KERRYN FEWSTER X amount of revenue, X number of people, X number of brands… Yet Employment Office managing director Tudor Marsden-Huggins suggests the critical question that needs to be asked is ‘what do our people look like?’ “The workforce planning cycle is, universally: plan, analyse, plan some more, implement, evaluate, plan. Typically, the analysis covers ‘what are we missing?’ when really it serves a company better to ask ‘what have we got?’ If there is rich data to sift through in relation to your employees – usually sourced from the start of the recruitment process onwards – then it’s possible to HCAMAG.COM HCAMAG.COM 27 27


workforce planning develop a strategy to work with the depth of talent you have, which you’ve already invested time and energy into, rather than having to seek out new talent, particularly for leadership or specialist roles,” he says. Kerryn Fewster, the co-director of change management firm Change2020, agrees, and says simply that talent needs to be linked to strategy: appropriate advance planning should identify the talent needed to deliver on the strategy and plans. “Organisations get impatient and may take ‘who they get’ if the need to fill a role is urgent, but ideally urgency should be taken care of due to internal succession planning, and therefore if there is an unexpected departure an internal candidate can assume the role,” she says. Fewster suggests looking internally in the first instance, and growing and grooming that talent, as they are normally a good fit with the culture and know how the business works. She also suggests identifying businesses that have a similar culture or who invest heavily in their team members. “Be prepared to approach departing – or still employed – team members if required. Also, build a solid and genuine relationship with a limited number of recruitment agencies; ensure they are wedded to your business, know how it works, what the needs are, what is the ‘fit’ required, so only genuine candidates are submitted for consideration, which saves time and effort.”


It’s not unusual for a hiring plan to look retrospectively at what’s occurred in the past, ie to look at what was done last year and repeat it. Yet this too is changing, with a shift in focus towards measurement, data, analytics and insight. Nelson explains: “There’s a trend in recruiting to be much more metric driven. And those metrics can tell you historically what’s happened, but you can use those as predictive tools as well. However, it doesn’t necessarily say ‘Let’s put a stop here – we can see what’s going to happen in the next 12 months if we don’t change anything’. That’s where the strategic and structured intervention around the workforce strategy comes into play: ‘This is not working. We have to change things; we have to get the balance of our skill sets aligned to the business’.” The more successful organisations, Nelson adds, are those that have a mix of tactical recruiting data and business strategy; that involve the business stakeholders



and the talent acquisition function, and then carry out a dedicated workforce planning exercise. Marsden-Huggins says investing in systems and software is essential. With integrated systems, he notes, you’re well positioned to plug into what your future business needs will be and then capture the relevant data for workforce planning. “By having intuitive systems in place it’s possible to mine your candidate potential from the second a candidate shows interest in your company. Invest in systems to tell you what you’ve got to work with, then use that data to plan your future workforce,” he says.


Any workforce plan should also acknowledge that the workforce and how it works is changing. According to research by Adecco, around 30% of Australian workers now work in part-time roles. Flexibility has become the name of the game, and that flexibility can take many forms. Are employers moving with the times? Have they been slow to drop the notion that 9–5 work is the only way? Nelson says progress has been slower than anticipated, but the more receptive employers realise that knowledge workers in particular can now conduct their work from different locations, working different hours. It’s all about the outputs rather than inputs. It’s evident that organisations have different philosophies about work. Some are tied to traditional notions (witness Yahoo’s surprising proclamation of an end to working from home), while others have radically gone the other way, embracing campus-style structures in which even managers don’t have set desks. Then there’s a big bucket in the middle where flexibility is being driven by the value of the employee to the employer, to the point where the employee dictates how and where they will work. Slezak adds that if an employer wants to find the best candidate to excel in the role (as opposed to just ‘get’ the job), they have to be open to the fact that the ideal candidate may not want to work a standard 9–5 Monday to Friday work week. “Employers need to seriously consider tapping into the part-time workforce, or perhaps be more open to the idea of two A-grade part-timers job sharing,” he says. Unfortunately, he adds, where too many employers fall down in relation to having part-timers on staff is that they expect the part-timers to deliver the same results as their full-time colleagues, or that they will at least be

Time for a rethink? available/on call at any time of the day, even if they’re not at work. “Those wanting part-time roles do so for many reasons. Whether they want to spend time with their kids, whether they’re studying, or whether they’re recording an album, employers need to plan, set goals, KPIs, targets, etc., in line with their part-time employees’ hours; otherwise each party will only end up letting the other down,” he says. Slezak concedes that on many occasions he’s had to “educate” clients that letting the most suitable candidate leave the office at 3pm twice a week isn’t going to bring the business to a grinding halt; or that having two awesome staff members each working a three-day week (they were both in the office on a Wednesday) could actually result in more sales and better customer service. “The best talent don’t need to be supervised at all times,” he says. “And often the best talent may in fact be part-timers, telecommuters, job sharers or flexi-staff.” There are several benefits to being open to a contingent/part-time workforce. Slezak lists some of these: • Access to top-tier talent who can work in roles or parts of the business that may not actually require an FTE is an advantage. • In many businesses there are staff who are stretched simply because the business doesn’t want to employ additional staff (usually a reference to full-time staff ). “It’s amazing how by bringing in a part-timer to alleviate some of the workload of the full-time staff who are ‘at capacity’ can in fact increase/improve morale all round,” Slezak says. • Having a broad spectrum of talent can also spread the IP across a business. It can bring a fresh set of eyes and ideas into a business that may have stopped thinking innovatively. While Fewster is an advocate of flexible work modes and is fully cognizant that there are different work and learning styles and this can be a basis for job redesign, she warns that the culture and workflow of a business should be considered in advance of ‘developing jobs for individuals’. “The important thing is that jobs are designed to allow outcomes to be delivered,” she says. Nelson also issues a warning: don’t just use short-term workers to plug gaps; instead use these workers as part of a strategic plan. “Successful organisations have defined, through a workforce plan,

According to data from The Interview Group collated from 2008 to the present, online recruitment sites and word of mouth from people we know are the two most frequent job sourcing methods. Interestingly, more than twice as many people get their jobs through direct approaches from the employer, compared to direct approaches from recruiters. Given the high cost of traditional print advertising, the data suggests this may be a waste of money, with only 2% finding their jobs this way. Only 6% of people getting new jobs have done so by approaching recruiters.

TOP 10 SOURCES OF NEW OPPORTUNITY N/A (starting own business, leaving workforce or no new role yet)

35% 17%

Saw it advertised on a recruitment site online


Word of mouth from an acquaintance


Unsolicited approach directly from the new organisation Approached a recruitment agency


Approached the organisation yourself


Unsolicited approach by a recruitment agency


Saw it advertisied in a newspaper or magazine


Unsolicited approach by a former employee of your current organisation



1% Source:

what group or category of people the organisation can benefit from in terms of a contingent strategy; they have it defined in a plan. It’s not a question of ‘we have to backfill here and we have no choice’; it’s a conscious decision as part of a workforce plan,” he says.


Customer service delivery, new business acquisition, team collaboration tools, staff retention incentives – all of these business processes and more are constantly being reviewed, renewed and revamped. Should recruitment be any different? The experts HC talked to agreed there are benefits to be had from rethinking a function that has changed little since the late 1990s. As Marsden-Huggins explains, recruitment in the modern sense is a recent invention, one that came about in an opportunistic manner when skills shortages started to occur across the labour market. Recruitment agencies popped up quickly to find talent for companies in need of people, without an awful lot of thought



workforce planning



going into an intelligent process. This is reflected in how recruitment grew and took shape, and is why we are in desperate need of a rethink to improve service delivery across the industry. “Recruitment these days is a sales process and needs to be regarded as its own core function in an organisation,” Marsden-Huggins says. “Just as sales and marketing are now distinct areas of business, recruitment and HR should be separated in the same way. HR is a compliance and risk mitigation function, whereas recruitment is a sales process, and recruitment marketing is probably different again. Each discipline needs the right skills, the right tools, the right measurement and the right support.” It’s also worth noting that, typically, recruitment has peaks and troughs. For example, sometimes 20 new staff are needed and at other times of the year none are required. It begs the question whether a department of five full-time recruiters is viable year-round, and if not, what the alternative might be. Outsourcing is effective from a resourcing point of view as well as in accessing the right skills, yet this too needs to be carefully considered. If people really are important to the success of a business, is it prudent to outsource the function that brings those people into the business? Marsden-Huggins is sceptical: “If you recruit through an agency, you’ll never actually ‘own’ your people. They will! They will own your most important asset. They will call them every six months to ‘see if they are still happy in their role’. Recruitment through traditional agencies will always have higher turnover,” he says.


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Nelson concedes there is no right or wrong way when it comes to recruiting models or recruiting processes, strategies and philosophies. For some organisations it’s in-house, in others it’s outsourced, in others it’s hybrid. “I think this variety reflects changes in both philosophy and economic conditions,” he says. “Having a fluid approach where you continually align and rethink recruitment is a good thing. You should be continuously refining, rethinking, aligning your business and talent strategy and therefore your workforce plan.” As an example, he cites one organisation, which knows it’s not great at recruitment, and does not have it as a core function, yet it’s valued highly. They may want to bring in a specialist firm to support them. “And if that’s called RPO today, that’s what they’ll do,” Nelson says. Other organisations may identify a cluster of roles, which through a workforce plan are recognised as being highly valued, and therefore the recruitment for these roles may be handled in-house. However, for other roles in that same organisation – those that aren’t as strategic – they may want to outsource the function. “This is where confusion comes in: there’s a view that the nonstrategic always gets outsourced, but we’ve got customers where they’ve outsourced everything; we’ve got customers where the strategic is outsourced and some of the operational/admin stuff they believe they can handle and manage themselves. So I say it’s important to have a view, a philosophy, a strategy, with a rationale behind it that is logical and sensible for your business.” Slezak adds that organisations choosing to hold on to the recruitment function themselves no longer necessarily need full-time teams to coordinate and run the entire process. There are plenty of examples of technology helping to speed up the hiring process: from social recruiting tools to job ad copywriting software; from CV-matching technology to online recorded video interviews – all of which help to automate recruitment exponentially. “I’m certainly not saying that technology will replace the human element when it comes to hiring staff, but it can – and has already been seen to – speed up parts of the attraction and selection processes that may have caused bottlenecks in the past,” he says. Meanwhile, for companies choosing to engage an external recruitment partner, it’s time to take a close look at what they are getting in return for what is often an exorbitant investment. “What are they really receiving in return for 15–20% of a candidate’s salary that they can’t find themselves, or that they couldn’t engage an expert independent recruiter charging an hourly rate to help them with? In this instance businesses are paying purely for time and expertise, much like they would for other professional services,” Slezak concludes.

case study

Recruitment the Westpac way Human Capital talks to Charlie Milne, head of recruitment and sourcing, Westpac Group, about the challenges and opportunities her company is facing in recruitment Human Capital: What are your major recruitment issues in 2013 and how are you addressing these? Charlie Milne: I think that a lot of organisations like us have good, thorough internal communication strategies and have a lot to offer, but we aren’t necessarily great at externalising and sharing that message with the market so people can understand what we as the employer have to offer for someone who isn’t currently part of our organisation. So part of our opportunity is in externalising that message and encouraging people to become more familiar with what it’s like to work for Westpac. HC: Almost like an employer branding exercise? CM: Yes. We’ve looked at reconstructing our careers landing page to share some of the great work we are doing around diversity, community – a lot of the messages which we are very proud of internally, but like many in HR we are not necessarily marketing externally; and that is our big opportunity, sharing where we are today to attract people to help get us to where we want to be tomorrow. HC: Being a large organisation, how does Westpac handle the majority of its recruitment? CM: The majority of our work is managed in-house. We do have some close partnerships with agency recruiters as well, and we see them as an extension of our team; we work hard to educate them around our employment value proposition and our benefits offering. We’ve hosted events to help share with them, communicate with them, so they can act as a mouthpiece to the community as well. HC: What do you look for in those recruitment partners? CM: We go through an extensive process and a lot of our partners have been with us for a long time, so they have a thorough understanding of us as an organisation. I think you look for synergies in values and also the opportunity to connect and build a professional partnership where you are truly engaged. We also look to them for additional market knowledge to add to our own. HC: How has technology changed your role? CM: We use LinkedIn extensively, but one of our biggest opportunities is to leverage our employees as talent

brand ambassadors, and to have them reflect our values through their presence and connection through their networks. HC: How closely does your team work towards broader business objectives? CM: I fundamentally believe that you need to rely on your recruiting organisation to achieve the outcomes that your business is aiming towards. The first step is identifying what success looks like, and the next step is aligning your team and arming them with the tools they need to help the business to grow. HC: In your experience, what’s the number one hiring mistake made by employers? CM: I think people tend to hire in their own image too much sometimes. It is diversity and hiring into your weaknesses that actually strengthens the team as a whole. There is a natural human reaction to be attracted to people that you feel you assimilate with, or who are similar to you, but actually sometimes the benefit is in not following that trend and in identifying new and different skills and individuals. I also think people rely too much on hiring based on previous historic experience and whether they tick all the buzzwords in the current box. You are much better off hiring for attitude and potential than relying too heavily on skills. People rely too heavily on prior experience and not enough on whether someone has the capability and capacity to actually deliver in the role.




How do you get the right staff in the right place at the right time? Mark Oliver provides his tips for building ‘talent pools’ and reveals that the benefits extend far beyond just recruitment success



How do you get the right people in the right place at the right time? A major factor affecting the answer to this question is the stability of your organisation. The higher the rate of change in your organisation or industry, the more complex it usually is to get the right staff in the right place at the right time. This often means getting the most capable people now! But motivation is just as important. If someone has the capability but not the motivation to do something, then the necessary behaviour is very unlikely to arise and they will not perform; similarly, if someone has the motivation but not the capability, it won’t work either. You need both motivation and capability for performance. How stable the organisation is will likely have an effect on staff motivation, although this effect may be two-sided, with some staff being motivated by a fast-changing environment while others are demotivated by it. So it can be hard to predict what motivates individuals and simple analyses are often wrong. For example, a lot of research indicates that there is a ‘myth’ around bonuses; that is, the idea that external rewards in the form of bonuses improve productivity or results. In fact, research shows that it can lead to team members making poorer decisions and focusing on getting their bonuses even when it is at odds with what is best for the organisation. A good model on human motivation is useful because it helps you to understand people’s motivations, which in turn underlie their behaviours and resulting performance. The Universal Hierarchy of Motivation (UHM) provides the basis for a comprehensive understanding so that you can accurately judge likely motivations for each team member, and subsequent behaviours. The table below shows the UHM levels that correlate with each motivation and resulting behaviour.









Imaginative guidance



Determination to save others














talent pools

The UHM has recently been validated by neuro-scientific research and, as you can see, is very different to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Once you understand motivation better, you then need to integrate all the ‘people’ systems in the organisation to maximise staff performance; systems such as: 1. Organisational branding and recruitment 2. Selection and assessment 3. Induction 4. Performance management 5. Training and development 6. Promotion 7. Exit and redundancy Some people systems tend to have a greater effect on the calibre of employees than others, and the selection and assessment system is a critical one. As the saying goes, ‘you can train a turkey to climb a tree, but it is much easier to hire a squirrel’. One way to get the capability right in the organisation is to use a ‘talent pool’. If a talent pool is set up correctly, it can help ensure three important systems are all addressed that get you the right staff in the right place at the right time: performance management, training and development, and promotion.



Clear purpose: Be clear about the reason for and benefit you want to get from the talent pool. For instance, is it to help retain good people or to help ensure a succession plan?


Commitment of senior team: Get the buy-in of senior managers to develop a ‘leadership culture’ in the business (as opposed to a management one) and a strong leadership pipeline at all levels of the organisation.


Real leadership and development needs: Understand the essence of ‘authentic leadership’ through formal ongoing leadership development learning, and then identify key leadership development needs and priorities versus the ‘wants’. Make sure the program focuses on increasing ‘self-awareness’ as this is a prerequisite for leading others.

You need both motivation and capability for performance


Map out the whole process: Develop a practical, broad-ranging experiential learning program, including significant cross-functional business-oriented projects and unique business challenges, together with experience ‘leading’ a functional team at a senior level.


Delegate key responsibilities to participants: Ensure they know they must take control of their career development as if it is their own ‘strategic plan’. Help them develop their brand and a ‘what’s possible’ five- to 20-year career plan that incorporates business, career, family, and personal aspirations and goals.


Measure progress: Evaluate both performance (what is being achieved) and competencies (how it is being achieved). In the spirit of ‘what is not measured is not managed’, the ‘hows’ are the keys to long-term success of the program.


Support with the right people: Involve organisational executives so they interact periodically with the talent pool face-to-face and share leadership experiences, war stories and lessons on the leadership journey, as well as an executive leadership development coach to provide a critical objective perspective. Setting up and implementing talent pools offers many more benefits than just the obvious ones, if this is done well. The key is to tailor the talent pool to the needs of the specific organisation, resource it appropriately (not too much or too little), and avoid a cookie-cutter approach.

About the author Mark Oliver is managing director and CEO of MarkTwo Consulting; BA (Hons), M.Eng MA (Cantab) FAHRI ILPF.



recruitment process outsourcing


Order from chaos

If the aim is to reduce cost per hire and time to hire, while attracting the best talent available, it’s worth considering Recruitment Process Outsourcing. Human Capital looks at what’s involved



Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) is the increasingly common practice in which an organisation outsources some or all of its recruitment function to a third party that has the resources and expertise to source candidates for some or all of the company’s vacant roles. This typically involves RPO providers embedding dedicated resources either on the client’s premises or offsite to focus on direct sourcing of roles across all or part of their business. “RPO solutions are custom-designed for clients, addressing specific areas of focus that the client has identified,” says Deanne Barbary, global head of operations, Hudson RPO. Examples of RPO objectives include: • to reduce excessive recruitment costs • to source for specific roles • to improve retention rates. Tim Nelson, president Asia-Pacific, Futurestep, says many RPO decisions are typically being made around volume, cost, and strategic value. “I think probably the first two tend to sit higher in the priority list today. The argument is: it’s costly to run a recruiting function; we’re growing – should we outsource? Yet it might be wiser to consider if you can get some transformational benefit or drive a different strategy around talent acquisition by using a third-party provider,” Nelson says. While RPO popularity does fluctuate depending on hiring volumes, Nelson warns against rushing into an RPO arrangement. “Always look at the business case, the rationale of why outsource or why insource,” he says. Indeed, sometimes the answer can be that the internal function just needs to be transformed or tweaked, says Doug Edmonds, director, Asia Pacific, of Randstad Sourceright. “An RPO provider will take a holistic approach to provide the right solution and quite often will be able to introduce simple yet effective processes that haven’t been possible for an overstretched HR team, such as competency-based interview tools for hiring managers, or candidate management contact schedules to retain candidates through the difficult counter-offer/notice period,” he says.


Recruitment outsourcing firms take on the responsibility of efficiently adjusting resource levels when hiring fluctuations occur, so the client does not bear the burden of carrying unnecessary staff or, conversely, being short when greater resources are required. From sourcing resumes to conducting interviews and negotiating offers, acquiring a new employee taxes a company’s internal resources. Plus, each day a job requisition remains unfilled the business loses the benefit of that employee’s contribution and wastes

recruiting and budgetary resources that could be dedicated to other initiatives. Another popular option is the hybrid model in which parts of the recruitment function are outsourced, particularly sourcing and screening. Outsourcing all or part of the internal recruitment function can reduce time-to-hire dramatically by leveraging a global database of thousands of screened, specially skilled professionals and sourcing channels that significantly increase the talent pipeline. “Also, RPO solutions allow access to a greater amount of recruiting and screening professionals than a company can carry on its own staff,” says Barbary. “They can scale their volume of work with the requisition load.” One of the most common problems seen with the recruitment lifecycle is that it’s a disjointed and uncoordinated multitude of practices – good and bad – across organisational functions, departments, divisions and regions. “Often, this causes overlap in advertising purchases, training and onboarding procedures, as well as poorer hiring decisions and ultimately higher operational costs,” says Barbary. Procuring an RPO project gives companies the opportunity to rethink these processes. “The RPO vendor will help examine your recruitment process workflow(s) to determine where overlap, excessive cost, and inefficient practices may exist,” she explains. “Then, an outsourced model can be created for you, providing you with service levels and success metrics that exceed the status quo.” These practices have been shown repeatedly to yield increased efficiency and satisfaction with the recruitment lifecycle, resulting in overall cost reduction for companies. Reliance on a contingent workforce has become paramount for organisations over the past few years. The flexibility of contingent labour provides organisations with a workable solution for resourcing talent in this unpredictable market. Yet legislation and compliance for workers, particularly around managing a contingent workforce, can prove to be an administrative burden for HR departments that are already feeling the strain due to streamlined teams. “An RPO solution provides the additional resources and processes required to gather all the relevant data for existing temporary staff within a business, and also provides a framework for managing the information going forward to ensure a company is compliant,” suggests Edmonds. “All of these factors contribute to achieving lower cost per hire – your ultimate goal.”


The benefits for organisations which move to an RPO model include bringing in dedicated resources and expertise to devise an effective recruitment solution, says Barbary. “RPO solutions are typically underpinned HCAMAG.COM 35


recruitment process outsourcing The further away the talent acquisition function has been from the business, the bigger the amount of change required – TIM NELSON by some clear service-level agreements which hold the provider accountable for delivering outcomes around service, quality, cost and efficiency,” she adds. Indeed, Nelson adds that RPO providers can be held accountable for both quantitative and qualitative measurements. The base-level quantitative data would include time to hire, cost per hire, and traditional ratios like how many candidates have presented and how many are actually hired. However, RPO providers are getting savvier at driving down costs, improving processes, shortening the time to hire, and bringing in quality candidates, meaning the qualitative measurements have come to the fore. “This is about customer satisfaction; the hiring manager satisfaction,” says Nelson. “Is the customer getting a better experience since a move to an RPO provider? Is the information and insight greater? You would expect there would be some transfer of knowledge to the recruiting manager.” Then top of the list is rigour around the quality of the hire. How well has that candidate performed? If it’s lower-impact positions being hired for, there’s probably less emphasis on these measurements, but for a sales organisation, when 50 sales people are being hired RPO providers should be held accountable for measures of the candidate’s performance based on retention, sales KPIs, potential career growth, and so on. As inferred in HC’s workforce planning feature on page 26, any recruitment plan needs to work hand in glove with a workforce plan. Nelson believes there can be an advantage for an RPO provider because, if these quantitative and qualitative metrics are being tracked via service-level agreements, there’s a higher likelihood of a push back to senior management to ask for clarity and context. “You’re more likely to say, ‘For us to achieve these targets we want to understand your workforce strategy, to understand your workforce plan. Which of these 50 sales roles are of highest importance?’ In an interesting way, the measurement helps you tie it back; to say, well, we need to be embedded in your strategy,” Nelson says. “A good provider, if they want to make an impact on 36


the qualitative side, will have to go back and have that conversation: let’s look at the workforce plan; let’s see how we can make a difference to you,” he adds.


While RPO can yield great returns for companies, poor control of the process or improper service-level agreements will result in poor RPO accountability, says Annie Yap, group managing director, AYP Asia Group. “Also, if the solutions provider does not understand client requirements, there might be a potential mismatch of candidates,” she adds. The challenge of getting the right people who not only possess the right skills and experience but are also culturally aligned to both organisations can be a barrier to effective RPO solutions. “The way that we mitigate this is by involving our clients in ‘culture fit’ interviews so that they participate in the decision around the appointment of the individuals to ensure that these people will work effectively within their business,” says Barbary. Another challenge can be gaining the buy-in of hiring managers who have been working with other agencies and formed strong relationships with them. “They [hiring managers] can be reluctant to utilise the new model as a result of this,” says Barbary. “We mitigate this through extensive business consultation in the implementation phase, to ensure that impacted stakeholders participate in the design of the solution, processes, and selection of Preferred Supplier List agencies.” Nelson adds that, depending on the models the organisation is moving from and to, a six- to eight-week program of change management and communication is fundamental to success. “The further away the talent acquisition function has been from the business, the bigger the amount of change required,” he says. For example, the RPO provider can only understand the qualitative elements if they’re aware of the workforce plan. “All of a sudden recruitment can come from the end of the supply chain to be making a lot of noise inside the organisation. Unless it’s been communicated as to why you’re moving to this model, the pressure would then be on the RPO provider because they’re not then getting the data they want. They’re not getting the response they need. The metrics start to suffer, and you get to first quarterly review and there’s a problem,” Nelson explains. Companies also need to ensure there is effective executive sponsorship for the solution, as recruitment outsourcing firms typically embed in the way they go about their hiring. “We need senior-level support to ensure that managers understand why the change is being made and what is required of them,” says Barbary. “To be successful you need to have both parties carrying out their side of the bargain,” Nelson adds.


managed vendor services

Many hands make light work The rise in contract workers presents both opportunities and challenges for business. Matthew Franceschini, CEO of Entity Solutions, outlines how a holistic approach to managing these workers can reap dividends Driven by the need to become more agile in the face of shifting market conditions, organisations are becoming increasingly reliant on white-collar contractors (referred to as Independent Professionals or IPros by Entity Solutions) to form an easily scaleable workforce that can support sustainability and profitability. For HR and recruitment professionals, these fundamental changes in the make-up of the workforce bring challenges. Departments within organisations often directly hire IPros to fill specific gaps, bypassing traditional HR processes. This leads to a lack of uniformity in contracts and can result in increased risk and exposure for an organisation. Methods and processes that worked in the past are no longer sufficient.


One factor at play is the sheer number of IPros now being required by businesses. Where, traditionally, staff numbers tended to remain relatively stable over time, now they can vary significantly, depending on projects being undertaken. Increasingly, some departmental managers also undertake ad hoc hires using unapproved or specialist talent providers. While their reasons for doing so may be valid, the result can be a complex web of supplier relationships, contracts, and payment trails that can adversely impact on HR, recruitment, accounts, legal and other departments. This complexity can make it difficult to track the true cost of contractors to the business.


To overcome these challenges, organisations must adopt a more holistic approach to the management of their IPros. Rather than trying to deal with multiple suppliers and

directly hired workers, HR departments need a single provider that can engage, manage and maintain IPro relationships across the organisation. Such a provider can deliver a best-practice solution to assist in achieving visibility and ensure vendors and the IPro workforce are properly managed. Dubbed Managed Vendor Services (MVS), this approach reduces the HR administrative burden, provides better cost control, and ensures transparency of the entire IPro recruitment process. As well as streamlining management, an MVS approach can ensure critical elements such as occupational health and safety training and legal requirements are met. The challenge is exacerbated by the increasing amount of legislation that governs IPros. When you add this to existing laws covering permanent workers, it has the potential to become a nightmare for HR. An MVS partner can also ensure an organisation is complying with legal requirements in areas such as workers’ compensation, income and payroll tax, and superannuation.


HR professionals should consider adopting an MVS approach as soon as the size of their organisation’s IPro workforce begins to grow or if they are planning a headcount increase. Putting an MVS partner in place early also ensures ongoing visibility of the true cost of staffing across the organisation. This allows for accurate budget predictions and avoids costing overruns. MVS puts the HR team back in charge of the recruitment process. When selecting an MVS provider, vendor neutrality is important. It is wise to seek out a provider that does not also perform recruitment activities, thus eliminating any conflict of interest or risk of redeployment of your valued talent. Vendor neutrality also means your existing recruitment vendors can see the MVS provider as a trusted partner. The result of a structured approach is significant. It can benefit from the advantages of an IPro workforce without having to deal with the complexity that such a workforce has traditionally created. For further information, visit



employer branding

P ULLINGTHE STRINGS Your employer brand in the social age Social media continues to be a dominant, ever-changing force in the business world. Cameron Edmond explores what that means for your employer brand, and what you can do when you’re no longer in control



Like it or not, social media has become a force in business and it is only going to grow. A 2012 global study by Employer Brand International found the use of social media in employer branding communications had increased 209% from 2009 to 2011. Social media has quickly become a dominant force for companies to find and hire quality talent. Because it allows employers to tap extended networks for candidates that would not be found otherwise, social recruiting offers tremendous value to companies of all sizes. The opportunities presented through social media for a company when crafting their employer brand are

endless, but it’s impossible – and indeed probably not advisable – to take full control of. When it comes to reputational issues, grappling with probing journalists and other media outlets is no longer the only thing employers need to worry about. “They must also look to social media conversations to capture what is being said by the people who interact with their brands,” says Tiffany Quinlan, HR director at Randstad. A staple of social media is the ease in which all users can create content – Facebook and Twitter accounts might be free for your business, but that goes for your customers and employees, too. Absolute control of your image is no longer in your hands. “Social media allows everyone to apply input into what they are feeling,” confirms Steve Barham, senior director of LinkedIn talent solutions. “You can’t really apply varnish to something that ultimately candidates will see through.”


So, is social media worth it? With the instant, uncensored nature of the internet at large, are employers just putting themselves on the chopping block by engaging it? Forgoing it all might be the easy way out, but it can disconnect you from the talent that is out there. “The candidate of today communicates via social media,” says Quinlan. “To not have a presence would suggest that the organisation is not progressive.” Neil Griffiths, global practice leader of talent communications and employer brands at Futurestep, suggests that if there is no presence at all and your main competitor has one, it’s a no brainer. Who would the candidate choose? The one who is educating and raising awareness, or the one who remains silent? “The most obvious benefit is to share content,” says Griffiths. Won an award? Published a paper about leadership within your business? Social media platforms can easily be used to get the word out about positive happenings within your company, and are far quicker than traditional channels. Another great advantage of social media stressed by Quinlan is the highly traceable nature of marketing. Not only is it easy to see how many followers, likes or subscribers you may have, deeper details such as views – as well as the locations and age-groups of those interested – are all readily accessible. Moreover, setting goals and using them to help keep track is easier than ever. “The best way for employers to measure the effectiveness of social media is to outline specific goals” says Quinlan. “For example, we want x number of Facebook followers by this time in 2013.” These goals are easily set and monitored. Yet while there is a lot of hype about social media and employer branding there are no easy wins. A 2012 study by Employer Brand International found the average engagement across 100 employer brands is

The candidate of today communicates via social media. To not have a presence would suggest that the organisation is not progressive – TIFFANY QUINLAN 0.85%. On a weekly basis, over a six-week period, EBI collected both the PTAT* and overall fan numbers for 100 employer brands (by career pages) on Facebook. The survey was conducted over six weeks using a sample of 100 careers pages on Facebook and allowed for fan growth to ensure accurate measurement of engagement levels (see table below).

Employer brand engagement on Facebook career pages EMPLOYER BRAND














futuretalents (adidas)







1.95 Source: Employer Brand International 2012

“Companies should take a long-term view on social recruiting and avoid a short-term campaign approach. Value is created over time and requires a clearly defined strategy with resources to match to derive value from a social media strategy,” comments Brett Minchington, chairman/CEO of Employer Brand International.


The reality is, almost all organisations will be met with negative responses through social media at some point. “It’s difficult to keep every employee, every supplier and every shareholder positive all of the time,” affirms HCAMAG.COM 39


employer branding Griffiths. The primary way social media has changed the game of employer branding is by introducing more voices to the conversation. “Where brand owners once controlled the message, consumers now connected via social media are able to freely share opinions and experiences,” says Michael Larsen, founder of InsideTrak. This feedback can come from anywhere, and be seen by anyone. Whilst some criticism may be constructive and deserved, this isn’t always the case. Comparing social media to “the new water cooler”, Quinlan believes the problem doesn’t rest on people voicing their opinions, but upon ill-informed views spreading online, to the point where they seemingly represent the organisation.

FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH... Whilst a lot of businesses might be getting social media wrong, some are doing it right: Ernst & Young Careers: Includes programs designed for high school students as well as graduates, having more than 27,000 ‘likes’ on Facebook. Microsoft Careers: Links off to both a job search page as well as a YouTube channel, with around 78,000 ‘likes’. Boeing Careers: With regular posts about their developments and opportunities, Boeing boasts over 89,000 ‘likes’. Unilever Careers: Leveraging the high profile of a vast array of global brands with upwards of 106,000 ‘likes’.




Before signing up to every platform available, it is important to think about how each will impact your brand, and exactly what benefits can be gained. “Getting the balance right is the challenge,” says Quinlan. Think about not only how the page looks, but its relevancy to the organisation – otherwise you run the risk of looking like you try too hard. Once you’ve settled on which platforms are best suited for you, Griffiths stresses the importance of developing strategies that pertain to each one. Every platform is unique; what may work on one might not on another. “The key is to find a specific theme for your networks,” he states. LinkedIn profiles thrive on professionalism, whilst your Twitter account should focus on developing a recognisable, trending hashtag. When receiving negative responses, the worst thing to do is to do nothing. “Posting a reply back to a Twitter user that states ‘Thank you for your feedback, we’ll send you a direct message within 24 hours to address the issue’ is a better response than none at all,” says Griffiths.


Controlling your employment brand on social media is impossible, but you can join the conversation. Organisations can still have influence, and Larsen says this is key. “In this new era, employers will influence rather than control their brand and should actively participate in social media where they’re being discussed,” he says. Larsen’s website follows the model developed in 2008 by the site Glassdoor. The website allows current and former employees to provide anonymous reviews to a company’s profile. The company can’t delete these comments, but they can join the conversation. He feels these websites are useful to organisations, as readers can be confident the reviews haven’t been tampered with. As such, the view of the organisation that is portrayed is weighted with credibility – bad reviews might make this a negative, but a few good ones, plus adequate responses,

Insights IN 2013 I BELIEVE OUR MOST EFFECTIVE RECRUITING CHANNEL WILL BE: (CHOOSE ONE) Internal Referral (e.g. by an employee)


Social media


Career website


Job boards


External referral (e.g. by a member of a social media group)


Career fairs


Print Advertising


Our customers


Mobile (e.g. iPhone, iPad, etc)


Outdoor advertising




Employer brand external communications


Employer brand strategy


Employer brand internal communications


Developing talent pipelines


Social media


Digital strategy


Workforce planning


Innovation to support growth demands


Matching talent supply to growth demands


Employer branding training for managers


Employer brand measurement


Mobile technology


Source: Employer Brand International: 2013 Employer branding global insights research study

can quickly turn this around. (see Q&A boxout for further information) One crucial tip provided by Barham is the use of your employees to get the message out. “Use your employees as your talent brand ambassadors, that is the most important thing,” he affirms. “It’s not about spending money on an advertising campaign, or putting up billboards.” The use of employees as a tool for employer branding stems from their ability to influence their peers, and by taking charge of the many platforms LinkedIn has to offer, you can ensure your organisation’s presence on the employee’s page – so not only is the individual’s CV being viewed, so too is the branding of their employer. “When I’m viewing your profile, the advertising on that page is

Use your employees as your talent brand ambassadors -STEVE BARHAM

going to be about your company,” explains Barham. Quinlan has no doubt the explosion of social media has permanently impacted employer branding. “Used well, it’s a highly effective platform for communicating messages and connecting with prospective employees,” says Quinlan.


Early adopter companies in social media are now moving from a focus on social media to understanding how social media can be leveraged to build closer relationships with candidates, employees and customers to drive innovation and growth in what is being described as social business. Social business represents a significant transformational opportunity for organisations. Many companies, after initial forays into external social media, are now realising the value of applying social approaches, internally as well as externally. “Social business can create valued customer experiences, increase workforce productivity and effectiveness and accelerate innovation,” says Minchington. Companies at the forefront of social communication are doing more than developing a presence on major platforms. They are taking their external social tools and technologies and embedding them into core business processes and capabilities. They are using social approaches not only to communicate better with their customers, but also to share knowledge with their suppliers, business partners and, perhaps most important, their employees. In short, they are rapidly progressing to a larger, more substantive transformation in how they work called social business. *PTAT refers to the People Talking About This number. Introduced by Facebook in October 2011, the metric is said to measure fan engagement by counting ‘stories’ which are considered to be any type of direct interaction with a fan page such as: initial liking; liking specific content on a page, posting to a wall; commenting; sharing a post or other content from the page; answering a question; photo tagging; check-ins or RSVPing to an event. The PTAT number is publicly available on any brand page, sitting below the numbers of brand fans; fans who are likened to an army of brand advocates ready to engage on a moment’s notice (Ed Keller, 2012).

By anon... InsideTrak allows uncensored, anonymous commentary about a business, that they can then become a part of. Founder Michael Larsen explains how his website can help you and your employer brand HC: Can you outline how employers interact with your website? Michael Larson: We’ve precreated over 15,000 Australian organisations on InsideTrak so employers need only claim their public page and update the details to establish their profile. Basic job ads are free, with links pointing back to the advertisers own career page and it’s very easy to set up a basic job feed which we then update every 24 hours. Once established this runs automatically and users can also access a reporting module that provides information about ad performance and page visits on demand. HC: In your experience, what type of person is interacting with your site? ML: Visitors to InsideTrak are an equal mix of both active job seekers and passive but curious candidates. Both groups are attracted to the authentic nature of the employee reviews and gleaning insights about what it’s really like to work at a particular organisation. These insights come primarily from the review commentary as well as the ratings for compensation, culture and advancement opportunities which help candidates align their own priorities with those of the prospective employer. HC: What’s the danger for employers if they get nothing but negative reviews? Is there action they should take? ML: Only a very small number of employers are in this category, but

my first suggestion would be to objectively assess if the reviews are typical of the employee population. If so, a real opportunity exists to enhance the employee experience and reduce turnover and hiring costs. I’d also suggest a thoughtful response to each of these reviews on our website to share that the company is committed to creating a positive workplace for staff and will seek to make improvements. HC: You have strict guidelines regarding the type of content that can be posted by reviewers – can you outline these? • Be honest. Don’t talk it up or down, just tell it like it is or was from your perspective. • Be fair. No workplace is perfect and none is terrible all of the time either. Be fair and constructive in the way you review and evenly point out the pros and cons. • Be cool. We know it’s easy to get upset when things haven’t worked out as you’d expected, but venting or aggressive language aren’t particularly helpful to the community and just won’t be tolerated. • Be discreet. It’s NOT OK to share confidential or sensitive information or to include the name of your manager or colleagues in posts. You wouldn’t want this done to you, right? • Be involved. This is your community so please be active in reporting as inappropriate any reviews or comments that you think don’t adhere to these guidelines, or otherwise breach our policies.



compliance changes

Buckle up: Changes ahead Is your business ready for changes to super rolling out from 1 July 2013? They say that nothing is certain in life except for death and taxes, so when the ATO issues a warning, employers may find it in their best interest to take note. In April the ATO warned that medium and large businesses should start preparing for changes to their super obligations now to ensure they are ready for upcoming changes. And just what are those changes? Firstly, from 1 July 2013 the Superannuation Guarantee (SG) of 9% of wages payable for employees will increase by 0.25% for two years and then by 0.5% per year until it reaches 12% in 2019/20. Secondly, the existing age limit for employee SG eligibility will be removed. This means employers must start making SG payments for eligible employees aged 70 years and over. In addition, and looking a little further ahead (but requiring action now), employers with 20 or more employees must use the data and e-commerce standard (the Standard) by 1 July 2014 as part of the Government’s SuperStream measures to ensure all data and money are transferred electronically. Damian Hill, CEO, REST Industry Super, says this reform will enforce mandatory data and payment standards, including the use of a standardised electronic format for sending contribution payments and employee information. It will therefore phase out the use of cheques and paper remittance advices. “Under Stronger Super, employers will also be required to provide information about super contributions on employees’ payslips; however, details for this are still to be confirmed by the Government,” he says. Alison Lendon, the ATO’s deputy commissioner, superannuation, says businesses shouldn’t wait until next year to make any required changes. “If you think your business will need to update software or systems, you should start planning now to ensure you’re ready on time,” Lendon says. “If you prefer to process your super contributions for staff yourself, you can work with your default super fund or payroll supplier to meet the new data and e-commerce 42


standard. Other partners, including accountants and clearing houses, will be able to help as well.”^


As if to prove that when it rains it pours, another looming change must be noted: the introduction of MySuper. This raft of changes falls under the Government’s Stronger Super reforms and will require employers to make critical changes to their businesses that they must comply with by law. MySuper is a new, simple and cost-effective superannuation product that will replace existing default super fund products. Lendon says employers must make SG payments for employees who have not selected a preferred fund, to a fund that offers a MySuper product, by 1 January 2014. “For most employers, it is expected that their existing default fund will offer a MySuper product,” Lendon says. “These employers will not have to make any change to the payment of superannuation guarantee contributions. Your fund should contact you to advise that they will offer MySuper product and any changes to the entitlements of your employees.” Funds are allowed to start offering MySuper products from 1 July 2013.


On one level, Lendon says changes to the SG coming into effect on 1 July this year will be relatively seamless for businesses. “The administrative changes you need to make are relatively straightforward,” she notes. “Employers will need to ensure their payroll and accounting systems are able to cater for the gradual increase in the super guarantee rate and removal of the upper age limit. Software and payroll providers already have scheduled system changes to ensure employers will be ready for the 1 July 2013 SG changes.” Yet superannuation is an expensive and highly regulated part of employees’ benefits packages. When changes are


compliance changes made to the way it is regulated, employers usually have to make complex decisions. Hill notes that the employers supported by REST are preparing for the increase to SG and are reviewing how this will affect their employees, particularly those who have salary sacrifice arrangements. Disturbingly, many Australian employers have not yet fully assessed the impact that the looming Stronger Super reforms will have on their businesses. REST commissioned research to find out whether Australian employers and members of superannuation funds were aware of the Stronger Super reforms and what they will mean for them. The results showed that many employers didn’t ‘really’ understand or only had ‘a little’ understanding of how Stronger Super would affect their businesses. Some also confessed they did not ‘have a clue’, or said they did not feel prepared for the upcoming changes. “It’s clear then that more needs to be done by the industry and regulators to educate, support and prepare employers for these changes,” Hill says. These reforms may be daunting for employers, but coming up with a plan is important as failing to do so could lead to bigger problems, including financial penalties.


Top of mind for most employers and employees will be how these changes will impact on the bottom line. Andrew Graham, national head of business solutions, RSM Bird Cameron, says that while the increase in SG will obviously increase the labour cost for businesses, it is expected that, where applicable, the increase will be absorbed into future salary increases. This will effectively reduce the salary component received by employees. “Most employees are aware of the current volatile economic conditions and may not be expecting any

significant salary increases in the near future, but it is important for business owners to communicate with employees on how the SG will work, and, importantly, how it will affect them.” The table below shows the impact of the increasing SG on an employee earning $100,000 with a standard salary increase of 3% per annum and the SG increase being absorbed in the salary increase. RSM Bird Cameron offers the following advice for businesses on managing employee expectations: • Be on the front foot and manage expectations early – explain the difficulty in passing on costs to customers in the current market. • Evaluate the financial viability of any salary increases. This includes whether nominal salary increases should be frozen or current spending levels on staff development and training decreased to fund these. • Make sure employees can justify why they should receive a salary increase. How have they contributed to the business in the last 12 months? How have they increased productivity and efficiency? • Consider salary increases on a case-by-case basis. Is the employee’s performance on par or exceptional? • Consider offering cash bonuses as an incentive if certain KPIs are met, rather than agreeing to an overall salary increase. This way the bonus will be covered by the additional value created by the employee in exceeding KPIs rather than being an ongoing cost to the business. • Keep in mind that existing industrial relations legislation and instruments, such as awards or agreements, will govern the specific circumstances relating to employee salary conditions. ^Further information can be obtained from



Base wage

Standard wage increase %

Increased wage

Current SG %

SG $

Total salary package

New SG %

New SG %

Reduced wage

Total salary package

Impact on salary % increase

Reduced wage $ component

Increased SG $ component


























































































































financial literacy

Do the sums match? With changes to superannuation looming, Alisdair Barr looks at why financial wellbeing has a significant impact on employee productivity and retention, and what employers should be offering in this space Financially stressed employees spend 20 hours a month of work time trying to solve their financial problems, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development/Benefex Reward Management Survey 2012. Further, Ernst & Young estimates workers with low-to-moderate wellbeing scores – including physical, emotional and financial health – cost employers $12bn every year in lost productivity. And with more than a third of Australian workers in that low-to-moderate wellbeing category, that’s a 12–27% loss in potential productivity. It’s simple. People perform better when they’re happier. Whether looking at entrepreneurial start-ups or large, established enterprises, the same holds true: people are more productive and creative when they have more positive emotions. In fact, Professor Teresa Amabile of Harvard Business School found that, if happier on a given day, people are not only more likely to come up with a new idea or solve a complex problem that same day but will also do so the next day.


For Australian employers looking to address financial wellbeing, superannuation represents a logical first port of call. While super has long been a fundamental component of the employee benefits stable, both the increases to mandatory Super Guarantee (SG) contributions and potential changes to the taxation of super benefits have 44


brought super to the fore and presented both an opportunity, and a threat, for employers. The question is, how can you turn a mandatory benefit such as superannuation into a retention tool? With the mandatory SG increases beginning to roll out, starting with an increase from 9% to 9.25% on 1 July 2013 (to become 12% by 2019), organisations have been considering various approaches in regard to funding. In our first-hand experience of running financial wellbeing programs, we’ve seen a trend that, regardless of whether the company plans to absorb future increases, the majority of employees, specifically the sub-40-year-old demographic, prefer to focus this additional take-home pay on reducing debt, such as the home mortgage. In fact, having enough money to pay the bills during a sudden drop in income is the top financial worry for Australians today, according to the latest MetLife Employee Benefits Trends Study.1 For employers willing to absorb the increases, there is an opportunity to link the extra contribution to a tangible benefit such as covering some of the employee’s insurance premiums held within their super. In our experience, if there is no link to a personal tangible benefit, then these additional payments, although appreciated closer to retirement, are not seen as a benefit now. In fact, they could be used to retain and inspire top talent. In this scenario there is also a positive opportunity to start the insurance conversation and discuss how the additional contributions can help protect the employee’s family and income.


financial literacy The key is to first ensure there is personal value for employees in the benefits you are offering them; and importantly, these benefits must be articulated in a clear and engaging way. It’s not about holding a ‘lunch and learn’ session every month, to which four staff members turn up. It’s about providing bespoke financial literacy that directly addresses the real needs and issues impacting your people.

Global view: Top benefits on offer #1


Quite often there is a certain amount of comfort among employers and employees that the corporate super fund has income protection and life insurance covered. However, while some insurance is always better than none, the amount provided in a super fund is often not sufficient to meet the needs of every individual situation, and this has a major impact on the issue of underinsurance. In the case of term life insurance, Rice Warner Actuaries2 found that Australia is underinsured to the tune of $669bn at a purely subsistence level (83% of needs) and $3,073bn at an income replacement level (51% of needs). Critically, this is only half the amount of cover required to ensure family members and dependants can maintain their standard of living after the death of a parent or partner. And with the current median level of death cover estimated at $190,000 at age 35, it seems that default life insurance within their super fund is the only insurance many people have. Looking at total and permanent disablement insurance, Rice Warner identified the level of underinsurance as $7,182bn, meaning Australians only have about 22% of the cover required. For income protection, the average level is only 24% of needs, with the median at just 13% of needs. Some companies we have worked with have identified this issue and provide a group discount for additional insurances in a bid to close this gap. However, this is again only an acknowledged benefit if the employee is engaged and regards this as relevant to their personal needs. As with superannuation, the first step to insurance benefit planning is education. Many employees are either unaware of options available or lack the knowledge and confidence to research their insurance and savings needs. MetLife’s Employee Benefits Study found that just 36% of male employees and 24% of female employees said they were confident in making financial decisions. This is where an employer can add real value by educating employees on workplace benefits, such as the cost advantages, safety,

As with superannuation, the first step to insurance benefit planning is education




Income protection

Travel accident

Total permanent disability


Term life insurance

Health insurance

Dental insurance


Health insurance

Critical illness



Life insurance

Savings fund

Health insurance

United Kingdom


Private medical

Life insurance

Source: 9th Annual Employee Benefits Trends Study, MetLife, 2011

Top three financial concerns and work-life goals of employees #1




Enough money to pay bills during sudden income loss

Job security

Enough money to make ends meet


Enough money for children’s education

Enough money to pay bills during sudden income loss

More time to spend with family


Enough money to make ends meet

Appropriate health insurance

Resources and time to care for aging parents and relatives


Enough money to pay bills during sudden income loss

Job security

Enough money for children’s education

United Kingdom

Job security

Enough money to make ends meet

Enough money to pay bills during sudden income loss

Source: 9th Annual Employee Benefits Trends Study, MetLife, 2011

simplicity and convenience of voluntary benefits. Despite the general optimism of Australians and relative resilience of the economy, our workshops highlight that many Australians suffer a variety of economic troubles. But perhaps because of the dichotomy between optimism and concern, most have not taken steps to address their financial security. Uptake of financial benefits and the financial wellbeing of employees should be a genuine concern for businesses. And while becoming an employer of choice in this regard is a long-term strategy, with some short-term cost pressures and managing shareholder expectations involved, positive employee engagement can bring about motivation, retention and loyalty. Loss of good talent, on the other hand, can have a major impact on productivity and performance. Importantly, building the internal brand of employee engagement must be a focus through all markets, the good and the bad. 1 2

9th Annual Employee Benefits Trends Study, MetLife, 2011 Rice Warner Underinsurance Report, November 2011

About the author Alisdair Barr is the managing director of Future Map, a fun and dynamic workplace program assisting organisations in better engaging their talent through providing practical and fun financial and life planning skills. futuremap.



workplace design




Organisations are beginning to realise the value-adding potential of the workspace, but which flexible workspace would best suit your business? Rose Sneyd outlines the benefits, and detriments, of hot-desking and activity-based workspaces



Organisations today are beginning to focus more on the spaces in which their employees operate in order to add value to their work, acknowledging that people form emotional attachments to the office. “There’s definitely a consideration around creating a workplace that isn’t just a traditional passive backdrop to the work and the employee but is actually an active tool for work,” Keti Malkoski, workplace research psychologist with Schiavello, says. For many employers, this may mean a decision to shift to a different work environment, such as ‘hot-desking’ or ‘activity-based working’ (ABW). The former is focused on the desk: employees are no longer allocated their own, but several employees will share the same workstation, using it at different times. ABW, on the other hand, is a system of dividing the office space into different work environments – quiet and collaborative spaces alike. As in hot-desking, employees are no longer assigned their own desks, but they have more choice about where and how to work. Neither approach, of course, would be possible if it weren’t for advances in technology. “As cloud computing and wireless internet become ubiquitous, workers have become truly mobile and the concept of a fixed workspace has been redefined,” says Ari Kopoulos, national sales and marketing manager at EmployeeConnect. These advancements mean that more and more organisations can explore flexible working environments.


In Malkoski’s opinion, ABW is the more advanced approach. “[ABW] is an extension of hot-desking, in my mind, and it’s probably a more relevant extension in that it’s starting to think about how people are working, and they’re working in different work modes,” Malkoski argues. Nonetheless, for the HR manager confronted with a choice between the two, it is important to consider that hot-desking and ABW share some merits. In the first place, both are cost savers, shrinking the floor space that an organisation requires and thereby reducing real estate costs. This has flow-on benefits, including lower energy bills and a reduction in costs related to the workstations. In turn, these economic benefits may translate into environmental ones, and a positive environmental position can be a commercial advantage. “The strategic organisations are really seeing the value of the workplace and what it can communicate to clients and potential employees; a positive environment position can help with the attraction and retention of employees,” Malkoski says. Perhaps most importantly, however, these deconstructed offices lend autonomy to an individual and demonstrate that an employer trusts them. “It’s no longer about

It’s hugely empowering and people value that; they feel respected, they feel valued, they feel trusted, and they give us more than what we invest in return – ROSE CLEMENTS visibility, and that notion of presenteeism; it’s giving autonomy back to the individual and creating a model that’s work-output, as opposed to work-process, focused,” Malkoski argues. This symbolic representation of trust, as well as its tangible benefits, can be enormously empowering for staff.


However, these new work environments do have some deleterious effects. For instance, the vast majority of employees tend to personalise their working space. “Personalisation is about marking a boundary and communicating something to someone … we do it for a reason and it’s because we’re human and we like to mark our territory,” Malkoski explains. But in a flexible work environment, employees are not able to personalise their station as they would do in a traditional setting. There is, as a consequence, a danger that workers may feel disconnected from their work environment. This can be mitigated, however, by encouraging a change of mindset in employees. While no member of staff will continue to own an individual work point, their team will collectively own a home zone – a collection of diverse stations – that they can communally personalise. “It’s about being part of this broader community; we hope that will help with the individual transition of an individual to a more collective form of ownership and personalisation,” Malkoski suggests. Kopoulos also makes the point that people are already moving away from the traditional notion of placing a photograph on their desks. “In today’s world, your device is an extension of you. It holds your photos, your music and your inspirational quotes. The device defines you and maintains that familiarity regardless of where you sit,” he notes. HCAMAG.COM 47


workplace design and how to work. For Malkoski, the design is tangible proof that the employer has sincerely considered the work their staff does, and how they can best be supported in achieving their work goals.


The open aspect of activity-based workspaces encourages employees to mingle and share ideas


To catalyse this change of mindset, it’s vital to have an effective change management programme, according to Malkoski. “People actually need to feel like, yes, they’ve lost something, but they’ve gained something in return – and that’s basic change management,” she says. Someone who has had first-hand experience of the shift to activity-based working is Rose Clements, HR director of Microsoft Australia. While Clements acknowledges it was necessary for her organisation to adapt to the new environment, she asserts that there were no downsides to the transition. “It’s required us to be adaptable and agile. We’ve had to think differently how we’re onboarding people; we’ve had to think differently about the strengths that our managers need to be comfortable in managing in this kind of environment,” Clements says. The empowerment of the individual employee was an important part of the experience at Microsoft: “That required very much a culture of trust, accountability and empowerment, because you’ve got to genuinely believe that your employees get up every day with the intention of having a great day, that they’re going to want to be successful,” Clements says. It strikes Clements as “ironic” that organisations, whether by default or design, often express a lack of trust in their employees by emphasising presenteeism and a heavy-handed style of management. For Clements, it is simple to determine whether someone is working hard, because you can see the outcomes. “Our people know that they have outcomes and achievements and deliverables that are part of their commitment to Microsoft, and that’s what we look for, that’s what we evaluate performance on,” she says. As suggested above, ABW offers more choice than hot-desking in terms of facilitating all different ways of working. “[ABW] considers the four different work modes: learning, socialising, collaborating, and focusing – and that’s where activity-based working does well,” Malkoski explains. With hot-desking the employee had a desk, and now they have to share that desk; with ABW the desk is replaced with genuine choice about where 48


Clements, who also emphasises the luxury of choice that ABW affords, links this to a shift in philosophy around the meaning of work. Instead of considering ‘work’ a noun – the place where you spend eight hours of your day – Microsoft employees are encouraged to think of work as a ‘verb’, as what you do during that time. “So that when people say and think and visualise to themselves going to work, they think about the deliverables, the tasks, the activities, the outcome of the jobs that they’re employed to do,” Clements elaborates. The ABW environment embodies that vision of work by allowing employees to focus on the work they need to do and choose an environment that will best help them to do it. But the choice isn’t strictly linked to work activity; people can also decide where to work, depending on how they feel. This is something Malkoski is especially interested in. “[The choice] doesn’t necessarily correspond with the work that I’m doing, but it’s about an emotion that I’m feeling, and it also relates to my personality,” she says. Kopoulos makes another point – that flexible work environments can facilitate creativity. “[Dynamic environments] offer you a neutral space to challenge, explore and play with ideas that perhaps fixed, controlled environments don’t,” he says. But it’s also about the interaction with people: “The open aspect is especially beneficial when you mingle and melt ideas with individuals that perhaps you might not have had the opportunity in traditional workspaces.” And in the end, hot-desking simply doesn’t match these benefits, according to Clements. Microsoft had experimented with it several years previously and found it unsatisfactory. Unlike ABW, it did not create the sense of detachment from a particular workstation in employees, and it created an additional complication: staff would simply come in earlier to try to obtain their desk. “It didn’t have any tangible benefits,” Clements states bluntly.


This isn’t to say that hot-desking couldn’t work for organisations in which employees only require desks that are not connected to the broader team. In these cases, hot-desking may, potentially, deliver a measurable ROI, although this is mainly related to hard metrics. “There are some obvious ‘return on investment’ metrics … so those cost savings: energy savings, workstation cost savings, improvements in occupancy rates,” Malkoski says. With ABW, however, it’s also about the soft metrics – those that are revealed in employee engagement surveys. “Someone’s perception is their reality, and asking

employees about how they feel with regard to the effectiveness of the workplace pre- and post-occupancy is really important,” Malkoski says. This isn’t to say that ABW workspaces don’t deliver cost savings. In Clements’ experience, Microsoft reduced its physical workspace by 25%, thus reducing energy costs and telephone line charges, for instance. In terms of the softer metrics, Clements doesn’t have the full data story – the benchmarking analysis on ‘before’ and ‘after’ impacts, which she wishes she had done (with hindsight). However, Clements does know that employee engagement is very high at Microsoft, and credits this, in part, to the ABW environment. “In fact, I believe that has been a strong contributor to us being named the ‘Best of the Best’ employer in Australia in the Aon Hewitt employee survey for two successive times,” she says. So which should you choose for your organisation? Malkoski says it’s a matter of organisational fit. “It’s about understanding what the workforce actually needs, because, at the end of the day, the workplace needs to support the work and the people.” Factors to consider include your human resources and the work they do, your technological capability, your existing team structures, and your knowledge-sharing and management systems. While Clements agrees there is no ‘one size fits all approach’, she expresses a clear preference for ABW and the way it empowers her people. “It creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. Our people are given the freedom to be able to take their kids to school or go for a run at lunchtime or in the middle of the afternoon, to dodge the traffic and to work from home, or to not feel guilty if they’ve got a plumber coming in the afternoon and they have to work from home,” she recounts. “It’s hugely empowering and people value that; they feel respected, they feel valued, they feel trusted, and they give us more than what we invest in return.”

Case study: MSD

The idea to move to an activity-based working (ABW) environment at MSD came originally from John Dennett, the company’s director of IT and global services. “This actually speaks to the organisation that we are, and that we are continuously trying to enhance,” Lisa Onsley, HR director at MSD, says, referring to an openness to good ideas, no matter where they come from in the organisation. The objective was to promote four fundamental tenets of the organisation: collaboration; mobility, or the idea that work is no longer about going to a particular office; operational excellence; and talent retention. “The last point, which is by no means of any lesser importance, is that we recognise that we need to provide an environment that brings out the best in people,” Onsley explains. Another essential element of the transition was to have a positive environmental impact by reducing their carbon footprint and use of resources. This included having a smaller office floor plate, and therefore a reduced use of energy and other resources, as well as encouraging a sustainable commute. “We are reducing the number of provided car spaces to employees, and providing incentives for employees to undertake more sustainable commuting options, including carpooling, public transport, cycling and walking”, Onsley says. “So, in short, we believe the new office will adopt a more sustainable way of operating, both organisationally as well as environmentally, which makes good business sense, and makes efficient use of environmental resources.” The move to ABW will involve shifting to an environment with spaces for quiet individual work and spaces for more energetic collaboration, as well as meeting rooms. “We’ve deliberately designed it so people have choice, given the outcomes that they want to achieve,” Onsley says. MSD did consider hot-desking but found the concept uninspiring. “Hot-desking is simply about no assigned seating and is predicated on cost and space saving… It was considered, but we preferred to do something strikingly different, to be a bit revolutionary,” Onsley explains. In discussing the process, Onsley emphasises that the idea came from and was developed by

staff within the organisation; those who would, ultimately, use the new workspace. “This was not something that was conceived in the boardroom, but it really comes from the people,” she says. “We really had deep and broad consultation with employees: there were focus groups; team meetings; and change champions, who met regularly in order to enable the change.” Onsley is confident the new set-up will facilitate improved employee engagement and productivity. “That’s certainly our aspiration and our hope, and all of the early signs are there,” she says. “There is already a high level of engagement and a number of employees have already adopted the principles of activity-based workspaces. People have abandoned workspaces and offices already, in the hope of what’s to come.” She talks about the move in terms of a genuine revolution. “It’s not just a move to a new office and activity-based workspaces, but it’s revolutionising how we operate and who we are.”

We are reducing the number of provided car spaces to employees, and providing incentives for employees to undertake more sustainable commuting options


However, Onsley isn’t naive about the potential detrimental effects of the shift. “One of the things that we acknowledged from the outset is that some people become territorial about their space and, as we move to ABW, there is a potential for a loss of identity,” she acknowledges. But, in order to mitigate this, MSD has created alternative spaces and ways for people to connect with each other and with the organisation. “On the one hand we’ve taken personalised, individual settings, and we’ve replaced them with social ones, creative organic spaces instead,” she explains.



HR at Cover-More

Something to


When you enter an industry in its infancy, you are bound to witness changes. Yet while others may have struggled to adapt, this month’s profiled HR professional has never stopped developing her skills

When Shanelle Moloney began her journey into the world of business, HR was still in its infancy. So much so, that the road ahead was shrouded in uncertainty. Commencing her business degree in 1990, she explains that, at the time, everything was still geared heavily towards personnel departments. HR was a long way from being considered a strategic corporate player. “It was really an administration and recruitment function,” she adds. Moloney’s interest in HR stemmed from the fact it was an emerging industry, and she wasn’t going to let the sceptics slow her down. “I had quite an arrogant HR lecturer,” she recalls. “He started his first lecture with ‘if you people think you’re going to get a job and career in HR, you’re kidding yourself. Businesses don’t believe in this yet’.” The ominous warnings didn’t shake Moloney; if anything, they inspired her. “It was an interesting landscape for me to look at and say ‘I choose to prove you wrong’.” Fuelled by the challenge, Moloney has held a range of positions across industries and in different geographical regions (including a regional HR role in Asia). Her other roles include time as HR director at Mondial Assistance and prior to this HR manager at Hutchinson’s Child Care Services. Earlier she held senior HR positions at Collins Foods Group, incorporating KFC and Sizzler, fashion retailer JeansWest and the Royal Pines Resort in Queensland. A return to study and attainment of an MBA



has further broadened her expertise and has led to her current position as director of corporate services at Cover-More. Cover-More is a travel insurance company on the rise. With over a million clients last year, and new branches opening up globally, the 27-year-old company is diversifying in not only location, but also business practices – which is why Moloney is their ace-in-the-hole. “My portfolio is quite diverse,” she explains. “I look after HR, L&D and operational excellence.” She’s also charged with driving best practice and process and assessing and managing cost efficiencies throughout the business.


Surprisingly, in a world where loyalty is usually not top of mind, Moloney’s ventures have not been taken on her own. She has worked with the same CEO for eight years, in different companies, and alongside him and a number of other key leadership team members, they have taken up positions at Cover-More – in Moloney’s case just over a year ago. She concedes that this is a rare occurrence in this day and age, but the reason why is no secret. She says her CEO continues to “invest in and stretch his people. He gives back more than he takes”, she explains. “I think a lot of CEOs could find themselves having a much smoother ride if they were able to build those sorts of teams.”

In any profession, you become a technical specialist over a long career. Sometimes we forget what we may be capable of doing outside of that – SHANELLE MOLONEY

Personal file: Shanelle Moloney TALENT MANAGEMENT IN FOCUS

Family: I’m incredibly fortunate to have an amazing husband who I’m certain I don’t deserve, and I have two daughters aged under two. Favourite sports: I’m a runner; I love the feeling and freedom of running, and I love having that time every day to process my thoughts and clear my head without having someone asking questions!

Favourite movie or TV: Burn After Reading. I haven’t laughed so much watching a movie in a long time – it was the definition of overcomplicating life. I saw it on a plane and everyone else was asleep so I had to laugh into a pillow. Best advice ever received: A girlfriend once gave me a quote on a piece of paper, which is ‘don’t compromise yourself, it’s all you’ve got’. It’s by Janis Joplin – I like that it’s from someone moody and broody. It’s served me well over the years as I’ve navigated through challenging situations, times and people, for business, personal and other. It reminds me to stay true to ethics and values that you hold dear. Self-described: I’m an incredibly determined person who despite better judgment can’t resist the temptation of a challenge. But I’d also say I’m determined to find humour in most situations. Life’s too short to take yourself too seriously. First job and/or worst job: First job was delivering pamphlets in my neighborhood with my brother when I was 10. It used to be a 5.30am start, and my dad used to come and supervise. It was all because we wanted some spending money – it was appallingly paid and I’m sure it would’ve been easier for dad to hand us the money. But he was determined to instill the value of the dollar. It’s served all of us well. If not in HR: I’ve always said I’d love to be a naturopath. There’s something very calming about the wellness industry. I’m fascinated by the human body’s ability to heal itself.




Part of the drive that keeps Moloney going seems to stem from her passion for Cover-More’s potential. She stresses that it isn’t a “stagnant business”, due to the continual desire to keep travelling down its path of already rapid and constant growth. The last 12 months have seen Cover-More acquire businesses in China and India, open offices in Malaysia, and forge new partnerships with the likes of Medibank and Australia Post. The growth is a massive and rapid one, and Moloney proudly points out the diversity of it all, relaying her predictions for continual acquisitive, organic and entrepreneurial growth. “We’re a multifaceted business and that will only continue to expand and broaden.” Of course, as the business continues to grow, the demand for a strong HR team intensifies, but Moloney isn’t worried. Whilst many organisations will proudly talk about their ‘Asian HR strategy’, her experience and knowledge – she was once part of an Asian focused HR management team – has given Moloney the foresight to know this just isn’t enough. “You need to have an HR strategy for every single country,” she says. “They are very distinct from each other, so when it comes to ensuring we leverage our talent through different geographies we need to ensure we match them appropriately as well.”

Central to this growth will be effective talent management – and this is something Moloney and her team have carefully put in place. The talent management program required at Cover-More is a robust one: key roles within the business need to be identified, and both the succession planning and risk mitigation processes must be clear. The relocation of staff internationally is an important area, as Moloney states: “It needs to be formalised; we need to make sure we’ve got the right people,” she states, stressing the importance of aiming resources and talents at the right parts of the business so it remains strong. To achieve this, Cover-More’s talent management program takes a look at their leaders from a different angle. Whilst many organisations feel comfortable going through the motions of performance reviews, sticking to KPIs and assessing technical capabilities, Moloney believes the two simple questions should be asked: “What are the leadership traits that we hold dear? And how do we assess our leaders against those competencies?” This isn’t where the program begins and ends; it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Moloney continues to compare and contrast Cover-More’s program with the way other businesses handle these strategies. “Quite often senior managers sit in a room and talk about talent management programs together without actually stopping and engaging the leader,” she states. Instead, Cover-More wants to engage their leaders – to gain an understanding of the hidden skills and abilities which they may have developed during their time in the organisation, and find out how they tick. From here, the plan links directly into the executive development plan. Simply “plugging them into a succession plan” isn’t on the agenda. A real passion to understand the talent


HR at Cover-More within the organisation runs through Cover-More. Even though this development plan may step outside the box, it doesn’t lose sight of the necessity to have parameters. Within the program, a set scale which clearly defines the leadership competencies exists – nine competencies, with five fleshed-out markers on the scale. Moloney sees this method as a great way to remove most of the subjectivity in the assessment – allowing managers to identify their target, and see how well the individual matches up to it; from there, it’s all about closing “the gaps”.


Further HR initiatives at Cover-More will aim to broaden the possible talent pools the company draws from. “We have a very young workforce,” says Moloney, acknowledging the ongoing importance of attracting “all generations of workers” to the business. Cover-More is going further than “looking in different places” says Moloney, believing the way forward is to break down the barriers that may stop potential employees from understanding just how Cover-More operates. Moloney acknowledges that Cover-More is mainly a b2b operation, which can close the company off from potential candidate pools. A job-seeker will likely feel more comfortable with a business they have

some form of attachment to, so getting the message out to a wide audience is a necessity. Moloney and her team are approaching this challenge through the development of employer brand strategies and dedicated websites. She relays the story of a client whose bungee cord snapped over the Zambezi River, and the steps which Cover-More took to get her back home and into a hospital that could treat her effectively. Through the publishing of the video testimony from the grateful client and others like it online, Moloney feels confident she can help candidates understand what makes the company different to other insurers, which may settle for “a vanilla feel”. What drives Moloney to continue to push herself and her team? The same thirst for a challenge that started it all. “In any profession, you become a technical specialist over a long career,” she explains. “Sometimes we forget what we may be capable of doing outside of that.” Moloney feels stepping outside her comfort zone has served her well. “I think I’m a better contributor and a better advocate of the HR function, being that I’ve had responsibilities for a broader range of portfolios,” she says. “That’s a challenge every HR manager should give themselves at some point in time.” More industry profiles at:



the lighter side Boss ever asked you to carry her child?


If you think making a beeline for the back of a lift is meaningless, think again. New research has uncovered secret power plays going up and down around the country. Research by visiting academic Rebekah Rousi from the University of Jyväskylä, Finland, hypothesises that where people stand in lifts indicates where they see their social standing. The research indicated: yy older men stand at the back yy younger men stand in front yy women of all ages keep to the front yy men stare at the floor, the floor monitor or the mirrors yy women only stare at the floor monitor yy all eye contact is avoided After observational research was conducted by Rousi at two of Adelaide’s tallest buildings, she identified the existence of ‘micro social hierarchies’ established within seconds of entering the lift. It was also found that lift users seemed somewhat aware of these dynamics. “One woman in particular would enter the elevator and stand facing the back, rather than the doors, which other users found disconcerting,” Rousi said.


To reach the C-Suite, try shortening your name. According to a study by online job-matching site TheLadders, every extra letter in a person’s first name may reduce his or her annual salary by up to US$3,600. If the report is to be believed, the Jonathans of the world would do well to call themselves John if they want to raise their net worths, said Amanda Augustine from TheLadders. TheLadders tested 24 pairs of names – Steve and Stephen, Sarah and Sara, etc – and in all but one case those with shorter names earned more. The sole exception was Larry and Lawrence, where the longer name had a higher pay. According to John L. Cotton, professor of management at Marquette University, leaders with a nickname may seem less intimidating and “more human”. He has studied the perception of names in hiring but says, in a report by Quartz, that he is wary of TheLadders’ findings since it is not a “typical sample”.

One quarter of employees receive requests from their bosses to do non-work-related tasks, according to a CareerBuilder survey. When asked to provide real-life examples of some of the things their bosses asked them to do, the responses ranged from the dodgy to the downright uncomfortable. Here are our picks of the oddest assignments: 1. Prepare to delete all emails and computer files at a moment’s notice 2. Act as a surrogate mother for the boss (the employee in question was asked more than once, which begs the question – did she agree in the first instance?!) 3. Spy on senior management 4. Purchase a rifle for the boss (who would then reimburse the employee)


Remember how loudly you would groan at the thought of maths class back in school? Well, all those hours of poring over equations may not have been worth it as a study has found that less than a quarter of workers use complex maths skills in their day-to-day work. According to the study by Northeastern University sociologist Michael Handel, most workers in the US don’t actually do very much complicated maths at all. What’s more, high-end blue-collar workers are the biggest maths users by far, even more so than bankers and finance workers. Handel surveyed 2,300 workers across two separate periods – from 2004 to 2006, and again between 2007 and 2009. He found that high-skilled blue-collar workers were actually the highest daily users of maths. Those workers in lower-paid white-collar roles, such as clerks and sales workers, used it the least. High-level white-collar employees were the next biggest users of maths. The findings also suggested that high-skilled blue-collar workers were using more advanced maths skills than white-collar workers.

5. Think of a science fair project for the boss’s daughter 6. Fire the boss’s brother 7. Scour an abandoned office building for furniture and supplies they could use 8. Bail another co-worker out of jail 9. Trim the boss’s dog’s nails 10. Plan the boss’s wedding