Human Resources Director 11.11

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I always enjoy our annual ‘who’s who’ issue. It’s a chance to reflect on who is undertaking great work in the HR space. Many of the people I speak to in HR are low-key and prefer to do their good work behind the scenes. But sometimes it’s nice to take a bow and accept some praise for a job well done. Yes, any list such as this is arbitrary. There is no science behind it; there are no quantitative numbers. Many of the people on this year’s list have appeared in HR Director’s pages before, or else they have featured at events such as the Australian HR Awards or picked up other well-known industry plaudits. And because of that recognition from independent judges at such awards, there’s at least some guarantee that there is something to back up the public profile put forward. We all know that the HR department is being squeezed like never before. Times are tight, budgets are shrinking, and the expectation of what the HR function can deliver is getting higher by the month. All the people on our list are up to these challenges, developing innovative ways to deliver not just people-related strategy but business strategy in cost-effective and efficient ways. You may disagree with the inclusion of one or two people – after all, everyone knows someone who has something bad to say about a person or company! But if you are wondering where your name is, we want to hear from you, so you can be featured in HR Director and also, perhaps, considered for next year’s hot list.

COPY & FEATURES EDITOR Iain Hopkins JOURNALIST Cameron Edmond, Aidan Devine PRODUCTION EDITOR Roslyn Meredith


CONTRIBUTORS The Next Step, Kenexa, Frontier Software, 1300apprentice, Alere


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If you are wondering where your name is, we want to hear from you




Iain Hopkins, editor, HRD



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2013 Hot List Who’s a mover and shaker in the HR profession? HR Director showcases Australia’s HR high achievers from the past 12 months


Break the mould: Short-term incentives in 2013 Rather than persisting with inflexible formulas, high-performing companies are taking a more holistic approach to short-term incentives. Stephen Burke outlines how to achieve the best outcomes from your strategy.


That’s entertainment: HR at NBCUniversal Aidan Devine discovers how strategic HR has helped the iconic company adapt following one of the biggest restructures in entertainment history


EAPs: Low cost, big value EAPs are playing an ever-expanding role in the duty of care employers hold for employees. What is best practice in 2013?

REGULARS 04 | Insight: HR in tough times 46 | 5 minutes with...Geoffrey Court, Salmat

FRONTLINE INTELLIGENCE 08| In Step — HR career experts 10 | HR consulting 11 | Technology

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HR in tough times HR may never shake off its ‘cost centre’ reputation, but given the continued tight economic climate, are there further steps HR directors can take to add value? While Australia’s economy has fared reasonably well in global terms during the post-GFC period, caution is still the buzzword thrown around by economists and employers. One key indicator, hiring expectation rates, are skirting dangerously close to the GFC. The September Hudson Report: Employment Trends revealed the number of employers seeking to increase headcount dropped 1.6% to 20.9% – the lowest level since Q3 2009. “We’re seeing liquidity in the market – many employers are reshaping their teams, but are not increasing their overall headcount,” Mark Steyn, CEO of Hudson Asia Pacific, explains. Steyn remains pessimistic of the traditional ‘slash and burn’ approach to tough economic times, and adds that organisations “cannot shrink their way to success”. Instead, he urges employers to recruit the right individuals who can help transform businesses, lift productivity and open up revenue streams to compete more effectively. This, of course, is where HR can come into its own – but there is still some convincing to do that HR is up to the task.

ENTER HR A study from The Economist Intelligence Unit

METRICS THAT MATTER: 8 MUST-KNOW STATS Before considering steps such as retrenchments or cutbacks, the first step for HR professionals should be to take stock of the current situation:

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Net recruitment ratio. Derived by dividing the number of external recruits by the number of terminations, this figure shows whether a workforce is expanding or contracting. HR should monitor the ratio to determine whether this is occurring at the targeted rate. Additional analysis by demographic segments will help to identify if the changes are occurring in the right segments.

indicates that HR and CFOs aren’t on the best of terms. The global survey covered 235 C-suite executives and found that the majority (58%) of CFOs believe their head of HR is not of the same breed as other C-level executives, with 67% stating HR does not understand the business well enough. It’s a clear indication of where HR sits when times are tough. CFOs are more likely to cut down on expenditures they do not believe in. These cuts are the source of frustration for many HR professionals. “When the pressure is on I wish more people looked at growing revenue rather than cutting expenses,” Chris Lamb, HR director for Lend Lease Australia, said at a recent HRD forum. Joanne Allen, head of HR Australia & New Zealand at Citi, agreed, and added: “My boss often says that we don’t have an expense problem; we’ve got a revenue problem.” Beyond the obvious – using the blunt tools of headcount reductions to curtail costs – how else can HR turn an economic downturn into a period of profit and productivity? How can the perception of HR as a cost centre, not a revenue raiser, be turned on its head? New evidence suggests HR can positively impact the bottom line in several key ways.


The number of revenue-generating staff and non-generating staff. When tracked over time, these figures serve as a solid guide to efficiency in organisational design.


Return on human investment ratio. This is an important measure for determining that dollars are not being wasted. Calculated by taking expenses away from revenue and then dividing the figure by total remuneration, this ratio tracks proportional human capital costs.




STATE-BY-STATE INTENTIONS TO HIRE *% of employers intending to increase permanent hires

The International Monetary Fund has downgraded the Australian economy’s growth rate by 0.5% for both 2013 and 2014, placing 2013 at 2.5% growth, and 2014 at 2.8%



(down by 3.4%)

Western Australia


South Australia

(down by 1.6%)


(up by 1%)

New South Wales


(up by 1.3%)

The Swiss Institute of Management Development dropped Australia one ranking to 16th on a list of the world’s most competitive nations

Amid uncertainty among consumers about the economy’s ability to move beyond the resources boom, NAB chief economist Alan Oster predicted unemployment would climb above 6% by the end of 2013, which would be higher than at the peak of the GFC



(down by 4.1%)



(down by 5.3%) The Hudson Report: Employment Trends report released in June indicated the proportion of employers with intentions to decrease headcount increased 1.6% to 14.2%

In June, Goldman Sachs and National Australia Bank downgraded their economic forecasts, predicting a one-infive chance of Australia dipping into a recession.

The ratio of full-time Unscheduled absence The number of $ $ employees (FTEs) $ per employee. This is $ management compared to fixed-term measured by dividing the compared to staff. When a company seeks to make lay-offs, this ratio provides essential data about the cost implications and helps to ensure that the most appropriate ratio of managers to employees is maintained.


contractors. Contractors offer flexibility, particularly during peak demand but it comes at a price. This ratio provides benchmark data that should be compared against the industry median.

total unscheduled absence by the total employee full-time equivalent headcount. Absence affects business continuity, productivity and morale. Monitoring rates such as sick leave and addressing problem areas can have an immediate and noticeable effect on costs.

Employee-initiated (EI) separation rate by length of service. This is calculated by dividing the ‘total EI terminations by tenure’ by ‘total EI terminations’. It’s a figure that takes on particular meaning when examining tenures of less than 12 months. Permanent recruitment takes time and money, and you need to know that your new recruits are staying long enough to justify that cost.


The relative measure of employee engagement. Engaging employees’ hearts and minds takes on added importance in tough times. Financial uncertainty – at home or at work – can lead to loss of confidence and morale issues.

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Insync Survey’s Profitable Growth Cycle 2 Employee engagement & retention 1 Employee empowerment &support


3 Customer focus & engagement

Productivity & innovation

Owners/ shareholders investment & return

Profitable growth

5 Customer loyalty & advocacy

THE PROFIT GROWTH CYCLE It’s critical to note that HR doesn’t need to reinvent itself. HR should play to its strengths, as outlined in a five-driver ‘Profit Growth Cycle’ created by InSync Surveys: DRIVER 1: EMPLOYEE EMPOWERMENT & SUPPORT In the first instance, clear communication of organisational direction and the expectations of employees is needed from HR. This is the beginning of the cycle; it must start at the top echelon of the organisation, and include the vision of the company as much as it does the communication. “HR hopefully has a significant role in helping determine the organisation’s vision, mission, purpose and values,” Nicholas Barnett, CEO of InSync Surveys, tells HRD. HR must ensure that an organisation’s mission and purpose speaks to and inspires employees. DRIVER 2: EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT & RETENTION Employees will now be more motivated and focused, which will drive retention and engagement, which thereby reduces recruitment costs. Barnett believes this is proof HR must give up on the myth of financial reward being the only employee motivator. “It’s easier to say ‘People left because we didn’t pay them enough’; it’s harder to say ‘They left us because we didn’t empower them, we didn’t have an inspiring vision’,” he says. DRIVER 3: CUSTOMER FOCUS & ENGAGEMENT At this point, employees are more engaged and turnover has eased. These happy and long-serving employees will build stronger relationships with clients and customers.

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While this driver may seem fairly removed from HR function, Barnett says it comes down to culture. He indicates that HR must first ensure the ‘helicopter statements’ – the high-concept vision phrases and mottos – are sustained within the organisation, as this is what truly fosters and builds on culture. “HR can let culture just evolve and adapt and be an accident, or they can be very deliberate in forming and shaping and defining a culture that is going to be critical for success.” DRIVER 4: PRODUCTIVITY & INNOVATION When employees are retained for longer, recruitment and induction costs are reduced. While this lowers operational costs and enables more competitive pricing of products or services, it also opens the door for innovation. “If you’ve got highly engaged employees, they are far more likely to think creatively and are far more likely to engage their customers,” Barnett explains. The engagement with customers and strive to innovate creates a loop between customer and employee: the employee will be more attuned to what the customerbase wants, and will actively engage with them on where innovation is needed. DRIVER 5: CUSTOMER LOYALTY & ADVOCACY Keeping existing customers and clients will result in the spreading of the brand and new clients and customers, meaning the revenue base will grow. This will bolster profits, which can then be fed back into empowering employees and repeating the cycle.

GETTING REAL: THINKING OUTSIDE THE HR BOX While the Profit Growth Cycle provides an informed and holistic vision on how HR can help improve the bottomline, some experts state HR needs to start thinking outside its own box, and ‘get real’ with business prospects. “There’s an enormous need for HR leaders to speak the language that is understood in their business,” David Owens, managing director of HR Partners, says. “HR leaders can and do innovate, they can and very often do play a significant role in scoping new ventures and providing input on a wide number of issues.” Whether it is making money or saving money, HR professionals must demonstrate contemporary commercial abilities; when executive talent is combined with commercial opportunities value is created, Owens says.

Steve Johnson, managing director of Transfirmation, is less convinced. He feels that staying afloat during economic downturn relies on taking a competitive view of the organisation. And while HR can be involved, he



says this path “requires a level of abstract strategic thinking for which HR, in many organisations, does not have the reputation”.

“HR will continue to be seen as a cost centre for as long as they focus HR,” he says. Instead, HR must drive other business initiatives, and think outside its usual domain. Three examples are: • financial literacy • sales capability • company brand

functions aren’t value adding. “Traditionally HR directors have had a great deal to do with risk management and that has always been an area of activity which has yielded great results – heading off risk, limiting exposure, securing new labour agreements. WHS initiatives, as well as the outsourcing of functions which are perceived as non-value adding, actually produce great bottom line benefits,” he adds. Regardless, HR directors wanting to have a more tangible impact on the bottom-line should start thinking like a value investor. “Once the HR executive has arrived at a view, they need to test their position/s with experts inside and outside their own company,” Johnson explains.

“At the higher end HR can create strategic value by identifying global and regional industry and sector trends and getting to grips with strategy and how the firm needs to reshape, reinvent itself in order to compete in the future. Understanding business models and product/service lifecycles and profitability is really central to contributing effectively at this level of work,” Johnson explains. However, Owens doesn’t agree that traditional HR

And finally, HR needs to believe in its abilities. When asked what was missing from the arsenal of many HR professionals today, Emma Hogan, HR director of Foxtel, highlighted the issue of competence verses confidence. “I often find HR people do know the numbers and do know the business, but are almost so worried the credibility isn’t there that they start off on the back foot. If you’re in there apologising for the job you have you’re kind of missing the point.”

Johnson argues that HR must avoid thinking of itself strictly as HR, and understand that, inherently, executives must look towards more all-encompassing business imperatives if they wish to contribute.


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FRONTLINE INTELLIGENCE / HR CAREER MANAGEMENT Craig Mason is Managing Director of The Next Step, the leading HR talent specialist in Australia.;

HR and the need to innovate There are major challenges that the majority of businesses are facing as we get towards the end of 2013. Trading conditions are generally pretty tough. There has been a focus on cost-cutting combined with efficiency and productivity improvements to deal with soft markets. In addition to this challenging trading environment, the world is also changing in other ways….. and fast! Disruptive technologies, changes in consumer and company buying behaviour, globalisation, outsourcing, etc., are all playing their part in doubling the imperative for companies to look at the future and ask, “How are we going to develop our future competitive advantage? What are we going to do to innovate and be able to differentiate ourselves?” This month, we look at one of the central challenges that business is facing and ask the question: “Are HR professionals ready to drive business innovation?”

THE HR WORLD IS ALSO CHANGING Along with the seismic shifts in the business environment, the world of HR is changing. The latest edition of the Harvard Business Review (HBR) discusses this significant change. It describes the trend of traditional HR services, such as talent management, being devolved back to the business line – and being done more effectively because of this! Along with other trends such as outsourcing or automating HR, some of the core HR activities are disappearing and, according to the HBR, HR head count with them.

SO WHAT? AN OPPORTUNITY EXISTS FOR HR If HR activities are disappearing or being

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gradually devolved, what does that mean for HR careers? In two separate research pieces, there are some clear messages about new opportunities for HR professionals to deliver value to the business by developing a culture that innovates. The first of these was written by Robert Bolton, co-leader, global HR transformation, at KPMG. In his paper, Bolton makes the clear case that driving innovation is HR’s big opportunity. He makes the point that, for any business, “the ability to innovate is the single most important predictor of future growth”. He also says that studies have shown that the ability of a company to innovate is not related to the size of its R&D budget as most people in business believe. Bolton presents a clear case that the ability to innovate is related to culture. He notes that studies have shown “that the most successful corporate innovation strategies are the ones that predominantly focus on people and human capital”. He goes further and says that “one overriding theme emerges from studies of successful innovation strategies; winning companies first and foremost have developed cultures where innovation is seen as everyone’s responsibility”. “Culture, it seems, is key to sustainable innovation,” Bolton concludes. A second article, “The Radical Innovation PlayBook”, in the HBR, October 2013 edition, discusses the small and nimble centre of innovation for the US Department of Defense that has developed everything from the web to stealth fighters. The point of the article is that while it would be easy to imagine that huge budgets are spent on R&D, it’s actually the culture of a

relatively small unit within the massive defence organisation that has made all the difference.

SO WHAT… AGAIN Some in the HR profession have looked at these opportunities and started to join the dots. They have started the journey of driving the culture of their business. In his article, Bolton offers a schedule of distinct tactics as examples that HR professionals can use to embed innovation in their organisations. He makes the point that the levers of an organisation’s culture to promote innovation are well within the hands of skilled HR leaders. The question of course is, are they sufficiently skilled to manipulate them. Ultimately, the starting point is for HR professionals to take stock of their own capabilities; to evaluate whether they have the capacity to play the key role in delivering a culture that innovates and, if not, work out how to develop it. There are some great examples of Australian organisations that are innovating in their markets, and HR is playing its role. In Melbourne The Next Step hosted an Executive Panel discussion on “HR and Innovation”, featuring the HR leaders from Bunnings and the Bank of Melbourne, as well as a guest panellist from the famous entertainment innovator, Circus Oz. Their shared learnings will be reported in next month’s column.

THE FINAL WORD The opportunity exists for HR professionals to step in and play the centre role in delivering a culture that innovates. To not take this chance could see HR professionals marginalised in the future as spectators instead of being in the main game.



Recent HR Market Moves Sally Georgas has recently been appointed to Coffey International as HR Manager for the testing business nationally. Sally has held senior HR positions across a range of industries including Amcor Australasia and more recently Visionstream. Her strong commercial focus and experience driving change in complex environments will be advantageous in her new position. APA Group, Australia’s largest natural gas infrastructure business, has appointed Lucy Bettinson in a newly created role as National Manager, Resource and Workforce Planning. Lucy had been working with APA Group in recent months on a Talent Acquisition transformation project and has previously held senior talent acquisition roles with NRMA, Fairfax and Mission Australia. Malcolm Dore has recently joined Woolworths as Head of Talent and Resourcing. Malcolm has an extensive HR career including 13 years with AMP and the last nine years with Thomson Reuters in a range of senior HR roles. During his time with Thomson Reuters, Malcolm has been based in London, New York, Hong Kong and Australia and was, most recently, Head of HR for the company’s emerging markets globally. Aon Corporation has appointed Peter Gooding as Director of People and Culture for Aon Pacific. Peter joins Aon following 13 years at AMP in a variety of senior HR roles, most recently as Integration Director, People, Change and Release Management. Peter’s experience goes beyond HR to include Investment Operations, Board Membership, IT and Communications and he brings with him a strong background in transformational change. Sydney Trains has appointed Fiona Dempster as General Manager – SEQR (Customer Service). Fiona started her career in training and communications roles in the RAAF before moving into operations management at Australia Post and Salmat, where she attained her MBA. Most recently, she has been a Senior Consultant for DuPont, working with senior leaders in large, complex businesses to embed a safety culture within their organisations.


Margaret Salmon has joined Asciano, Australia’s largest national rail freight and ports operator, as GM, HR – Terminals and Logistics (Patrick Division). Margaret has held a number of senior HR leadership roles within heavy manufacturing. She has an extensive background in industrial/employee relations and was previously GM, HR APAC, at Commercial Metals Company. Veolia Water Solutions & Technologies has appointed Kate Gillespie as Compliance Manager for their ANZ business, having worked most recently as Manager of Safety Compliance at Ausgrid. Kate’s early career was spent in complex, high-risk environments at City Rail, ANSTO, Caltex and OTIS Elevators and she gained largescale change program experience with Woolworths to tie in with her graduate change management studies. Kim Cross will join Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV) Limited as the Manager Remuneration and HR Business Support in November. Kim has delivered a significant number of continuous improvement projects in her most recent career positions with Bristol Myers Squibb, ANZ and Frankston City Council. Cathy Green has joined Trilogy Services and Spectrum Fire as WHS Business Partner. Cathy has a nursing background and began her corporate career with QBE Insurance, where she ultimately led a team of eight in workers’ compensation. Cathy has held senior Health, Safety and Wellbeing roles with Pfizer and Westpac and was most recently at Norwest Private Hospital. HSBC has appointed a new Head of Performance and Reward, Nicolaas Roux. Nicolaas has 12 years’ industry experience traversing South Africa and Australia and this includes roles at Macquarie Group and Leighton Contractors. Most recently, Nicolaas was Vice President Remuneration and Benefits at Royal Bank of Scotland (Australia).

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

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BUSTING the modern myths of remote working Technology advances have helped drive the cause for teleworking in many organisations today. However, some companies are reviewing (or even reversing!) such policies, which has stirred up a lot of discussion around this topic. While some people agree that teleworking reduces collaboration and innovation, many others disagree, listing the multiple benefits of this practice. But what does research tell us about this? Does teleworking do more harm or good? WorkTrends™ research conducted by Kenexa, an IBM Company, provides some interesting insights into this.

management teleworkers think they have better job prospects than their office-based counterparts (58% compared to 48%). The research also found that employee engagement among those who telework (61%) is higher than among those who do not (55%). Literature has shown a positive relationship between employee engagement and individual as well as organisational performance. Therefore, the claim that teleworking negatively impacts on productivity is not supported here.


Not really. Teleworking is not suitable for the type of work that essentially requires physical presence or interaction, for example in healthcare or transportation. WorkTrends™ research shows that technical, sales, and professional staff are most likely to work remotely, while labourers, clerical and service staff are least likely to do so. Among industries, teleworking is most common in the high-tech and financial sectors and least common in manufacturing and retail.

Many proponents of teleworking argue that the practice improves employees’ work-life balance. WorkTrends™ data actually proves this. A larger proportion of teleworkers (64%) think they have work-life balance, compared to traditional workers (58%). The research also shows that fewer remote workers (28%) than office-based employees (32%) suffer from unreasonable stress than those working in an office.

Huong Hubbard is a consultant at Kenexa, an IBM Company, 60 City Road, Southgate, Melbourne. Phone 132 426 or email

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In contrast to some current organisational thinking, according to WorkTrends™ research, those who telework characterise their work environment as more innovative (62%) than those who do not (49%). Collaboration and teamwork do not prove to be a problem either. In fact, a slightly higher proportion of teleworkers (72%) think they cooperate well with their colleagues, compared to the office full-timers (68%). Moreover, teleworking does not appear to impede the sharing of information as some may worry. Fifty-five per cent of remote workers think they get enough information from their leadership, while only 49% of traditional workers do. Many have expressed fear that lack of feedback, recognition and advancement may be disadvantages for remote workers. On the contrary, teleworkers surveyed in WorkTrends™ research hold more favourable opinions than office-based employees (64% compared to 57%). When it comes to promotion, non-management teleworkers are equally satisfied, compared to their office-based colleagues, while

The Australian government has been implementing a number of initiatives to boost the rate of employees who telework, which echoes WorkTrends™ data: the percentage of employees who telework in Australia increased from 7% in 2011 to 9% in 2012. This is largely due to the many benefits of teleworking in improving productivity and workforce participation, and reducing carbon footprint. In coming years, ‘Smarter Workforce’ trends and technology advances will see more and more jobs done remotely. Teleworking is here to stay. If this has not been a practice in your organisation, consider starting it. To get the best out of it, organisations need to build a culture in which remote working is not perceived as ‘slacking-off’. It requires support from leadership. Managers should also be prepared and trained on how to lead remote employees. Apart from mobile technology, organisations should explore and invest in collaboration technologies to enable effective information sharing and maximise the benefits of teleworking.


A proactive approach to bullying


How do the changes to the Fair Work Act impact on bullying legislation, and what should my organisation do to stay compliant?

Commencing on January 1 next year, changes to the Fair Work Act will enable allegations of bullying in the workplace to be handled by Australia’s national industrial tribunal, the Fair Work Commission. As usual, the best method for staying compliant is to manage the risk of bullying proactively, with sound policy and training and prompt investigation of all incidents.

WHAT IS BULLYING? Workplace bullying is repeated, interpersonal abusive behaviour. It is generally the result of an actual or perceived power imbalance between a perpetrator and a victim. Bullying can include behaviours that intimidate, offend, degrade or humiliate a worker. Bullying is illegal and victims are protected under extensive regulations in the Fair Work Australia Act. A single incident of unreasonable behaviour may have the potential to escalate into bullying. No incident should be ignored. Employers have a duty to provide a working environment that is safe and without risks to the health of workers. Failing to take action when risks are identified can have devastating consequences for your employees and your business.

HOW CAN A BUSINESS PREVENT BULLYING? Bullying can happen in any workplace and is best dealt with by taking steps to prevent it before it becomes a risk. Company culture can have a big influence on the likelihood of bullying occurring in the workplace. Management style, level of trust and communication methods are qualities that will impact on the way tension is dealt with in the workplace. If communication is open and respectful, if management takes a proactive approach in mediating conflict, and if managers are trusted, the workplace will be less likely to generate bullying. Organisations must overcome the risks of

bullying in the workplace, using both preventative and responsive approaches. Preventative approaches include drafting clear company policy on bullying, training staff, and cultivating a culture of respect and communication. Responsive approaches refer to methods businesses use to deal with reported incidents of bullying. They include compliance with Fair Work Australia, investigating reported incidents in a confidential manner, allowing all parties to have the appropriate guidance support and representation, and proceeding with any disciplinary measures.

HRIS CAN HELP TO PREVENT BULLYING On-boarding is the key period that organisations have when they can instruct employees on company policy and assimilate them into company culture. There are so many elements of on-boarding, it’s no surprise that some aspects of company policy are either forgotten or not properly absorbed at this crucial time. Businesses need to ensure their position on bullying is made clear from day one. This means not only laying down the rules but also training employees on their rights, responsibilities and the process they should follow if they experience or observe bullying. Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS) are now helping organisations manage their Fair Work Australia responsibilities across a range of different regulations, including bullying. Automating many of the on-boarding processes ensures core policies like bullying never fall through the cracks. A HRIS helps organisations align employees with company policy from the outset and provides documented evidence that they have fulfilled their requirements. This is an ongoing task – the system tracks employees’ policy induction and training, and sends a prompt to managers when refresher training is needed. A HRIS can also help managers and HR to document and investigate incidents should they occur. A best-in-class HRIS includes health and safety modules that allow you to manage the recording of incidents and complaints, to ensure all incidents are investigated, acted on and documented for compliance.

Nick Southcombe General Manager, Frontier Software (03) 9639 0777

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Following one of the biggest restructures in entertainment history, HR at NBCUniversal was set a colossal task: transform a splintered group responsible for some of our most enduring popular culture icons. Aidan Devine discovers how strategic HR has helped the company adapt



Every day, above a man-made lake in Orlando, Florida, thousands of people gather to brave the ‘Zero-G Roll’. Sitting in a boxy, car-like vehicle, they ascend a steel structure that bends and loops into the air like a scribble, before it peaks at 150 feet – high enough to turn a falling potato into mash. It’s a ride known as the ‘Incredible Hulk’. It gets that label by following a Hulk theme, but also because once the car reaches the steel structure’s full height it bullets down a sheer drop of twists – the Zero G Roll – with enough force to do to its passengers’ nerves what its comic book namesake does. Hulk smash. Just as regularly as this happens, far away in New York City teams of writers and directors gather to produce some of the world’s most watched television content – everything from Saturday Night Live and The Office to breaking news. On the other side of the US, in Los Angeles, different teams work at the same time to create movies with eight-figure budgets. These seemingly random events do not happen by chance. They are connected by one uniting force. As different as the teams behind these operations may appear to be, they are all businesses under the umbrella of NBCUniversal. Created as a result of a 2004 merger between the then General Electric-owned NBC and Vivendi Universal Entertainment, the company remains one of the largest diversified media and entertainment conglomerates in the world. Its range of household-name businesses include Universal Pictures, NBC broadcast networks, cable channels like E! and Syfy, and Universal Studios amusement parks. It’s a corporate structure that on the surface appears intricate, complex even, with a status that


has been heightened by a succession of takeovers and restructuring. January 2011 saw cable TV operator Comcast acquire a majority stake in NBCUniversal, which set the company on a path of transformation and paved the way for Comcast’s 100% buyout of the company in March 2013.

LEADING THE CHANGE The woman charged with the monumental task of leading the transformation change is executive vice president human resources Pat Langer. After serving at NBC in the late 1980s and 1990s as an employment lawyer, Langer first entered the world of HR when a past NBC executive encouraged her to move to woman’s network Lifetime. Here she led the network’s human relations, until Comcast’s 2011 takeover of NBCUniversal brought her back into the NBC fold. “Comcast was looking for someone who could transform HR in NBCUniversal,” Langer says. “They needed someone who could effectively change HR, but who also understood a little about the kind of culture at the company. I was a combination of old, but new. I had been gone from NBC for a very long time so I came in with a fresh perspective, but I also had a lot of history.” Langer says that right from the Comcast takeover, the NBCUniversal HR approach has been for its businesses to create synergies with each other. The company acknowledges that it would be impossible for there to be one shared identity across the group, as the businesses are so different, but that they do need to be aligned when it comes to issues such as compensation, benefits and HR systems. For Langer, synergy means that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to HR. The nature of

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each NBCUniversal business determines the individual HR response, but each business is encouraged to support its NBC sister organisations. She compares it to a symphony. There is a centralised conductor, but each instrument plays a different yet complementary part. The music works, not because every player is the same but because they work together in accompaniment. “As we’ve had organisational announcements and reworks, changes in personnel, a centralised HR team has had to very quickly step in and ensure that the businesses continued to run and that employees were able to do what they need to do,” Langer says.

HR PARTNERSHIPS To be this stabilising force in a transitionary period, Langer says it has been vital for HR to collaborate with the company’s business leaders.

IN HER OWN WORDS As winner of the Cable and Telecommunications Human Resources Association’s Leadership Excellence Award 2013, Pat Langer’s advice to HR leaders is to know your industry. “It’s key to understand the business issues affecting your company. Having the business expertise is important. I also think it is vital to realise that you have to earn a seat at the leadership table. You have to prove yourself. It’s only by listening and collaborating with business leaders that you get that seat at the table. It’s about relationships and you’ve got to focus on developing them.”

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Leadership is where she sees HR making the biggest impact. “One of the things I always encourage my team to do is understand the business they work in, understand the particular challenges the industry faces, and partner with the leaders. HR has to see how it can help.” A concrete way HR can make a difference, Langer adds, is by recruiting the right people with the right skill sets to meet the multiple challenges of a changing company in a changing industry. The demands of the media and entertainment world mean NBCUniversal is a 24/7 company. All employees have to create and distribute content quickly and efficiently, so there is little room to make hiring mistakes. Partnering with the NBCUniversal leadership makes this HR function more efficient. It gets the right people on board and helps the company adapt and innovate. For Langer, leadership provides the tool for answering a vital HR question: “What are the business challenges looking forward and who do we need to hire to meet those challenges?”

FINDING TALENT In response to that question and to sure up its recruitment policies, NBCUniversal’s talent acquisition strategy was overhauled last year. The company now has its own executive search team and rarely uses outside parties to locate potential executives – far from a standard practice in its industry. Recruitment teams that work in each specific NBCUniversal business have also been strengthened, owing, in part, to a unique challenge the company faces. “We get a lot of résumés,” Langer laughs. Television and film being an appealing career field, there are a lot of people banging at the NBCUniversal door. And with so many people wanting to get into the industry, Langer says that picking the right candidate from thousands and thousands of job applications can be a harrowing experience. It has forced the group’s various recruitment teams to be highly rigorous in who they call back and interview.

NURTURING EMPLOYEES As much as bringing in the best talent remains a core component of HR, another just as critical function is to keep and develop it. For NBCUniversal, HR has had to step in to fill a void left by a once existing leadership university



in the days when it was owned by General Electric. This precipitated the development of a new way to help nurture and grow employees: the company’s ‘Talent Lab’. The Talent Lab focuses on retaining and developing the best executives through leadership programs, the most significant of which is geared towards new managers. Essentially, the facility is a corporate university dedicated to growing great people in the media industry. “When we decoupled from GE, we had to develop our own leadership programs. We had the chance to re-envision what learning could be for our workforce, and we’re really proud of the Talent Lab. It’s received a really enthusiastic reception,” Langer says.

HR HORIZONS In the end, Langer says that being in a position to aid the transformation of a giant corporation has been highly rewarding. “The exciting thing about being in this job is that back in January 2011, when the Comcast


“I was a combination of old, but new. I had been gone from NBC for a very long time so I came in with a fresh perspective, but I also had a lot of history” Pat Langer takeover happened, it was like a massive start-up. There was so much opportunity and the chance to almost start from scratch. It’s been a privilege to work here and to build an HR structure from the ground up. “Into the future, we want to keep serving the business as strategic partners, because even after three years we are still a company in transition. Change is still occurring.”

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Photo Credit: Deborah Abesser Photography

Who’s a mover and shaker in the HR profession? HR Director showcases Australia’s HR high achievers from the past 12 months In 2013, HR directors are an essential part of the executive leadership team; like all members of that executive team they contribute regularly to the development of strategic plans and they are involved in the business decision-making processes that impact on the commercial life of a business. Furthermore, they have a strong connection to the heartbeat of the organisation; they understand the commercials, the P&L, the share price, the M&As and divestments. In short, it’s a tough role to fill effectively. “Many of the best HR directors are immensely committed, work very long hours, travel frequently and get involved in regional as well as global management conversations,” says David Owens, managing director, HR Partners. “Often working with people operating in different time zones, they tend to have high energy levels, are very capable communicators and are very good at mobilising their


HR colleagues to deliver the required outcomes.” Yet it continues to be a challenge to deliver what’s expected of them. “I think there will always be a tension between workload and HR head count, and that most CEOs are a little bit like Charles Dickens’ Oliver in so much as they always ask for more,” Owens says. This list of ‘hot’ HR professionals showcases the movers and shakers of Australia’s HR industry who have come to our attention in the last 12 months, whether they’ve made it onto our pages or those of others. These corporate leaders have spearheaded innovative projects, achieved impressive bottomline results, embraced diversity, driven down costs while upping productivity, or navigated difficult changes. Some have been recognised with accolades; others have not. The HR professionals profiled in this year’s list are unquestionably delivering ‘more’.

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Bernadette McBarron HR director Australia Amgen WHY HOT? Despite having been with the biotechnology and pharmaceuticals company for just over a year, McBarron has a strong plan for the future. She priortises basics, such as effective onboarding, clear role definitions, goal setting, and constant reinforcement of the company’s EVP, which always emphasises the quality of life that Amgen’s products provide to patients. She also has plenty of experience to draw on, having held international HR/L&D roles across the Asia-Pacific and Africa for over a decade. These strong HR foundations, as well as the ever-popular employee perk of finishing at 2pm one Friday every month – and every Friday in January – has secured the company ‘best employer’ citations, including a number 16 spot on the 2013 Business Review Weekly (BRW) Top Employers list.

Alec Bashinsky Partner, People and Performance Deloitte WHY HOT? It wouldn’t be a ‘who’s who’ list without Bashinsky, who remains one of HR’s most eloquent spokesmen and is Deloitte’s undisputed HR guiding light. The 2011 HR Director of the Year has been at the forefront of technology in the HR space for many years, advocating internal communication channels such as Yammer and YamJam long before most knew what these platforms even were. He also advises that if automation and simplification of backend and frontend HR transactions is not happening now, HR teams “are being wasted”. Doing so, he says, allows HR to do more coaching, influencing and facilitating in the business. It also opens HR up to the merits of predictive talent data. “Anyone can look at data with a past perspective, but how do we understand what’s going to happen in the future?” he says.

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Bob Hogarth General manager, human resources Heritage Bank WHY HOT? Hogarth has been in his current role for the past 16 years – an impressive tenure by any reckoning. The 2012 Australian HR Awards team leader of the year is still excited and challenged by the role, which has changed as Heritage has become more successful in a competitive industry. He concedes that his role has likewise grown in complexity, sophistication and demands and bears little resemblance to the role he first started in. He’s worked hard to develop HR’s capability and credibility at Heritage; this is the only way to gain traction, he says. “You’ve got to work out what is it that the decision-maker values. As long as you can measure the initiative against what they value, then you’ll get a hearing. We often get tied up with something we love, so we pitch that, but we forget: what is it other areas of the business love?”



Christine Geary HR director, Nestle WHY HOT? Geary has been HRD at Nestle since 2007, so she can take a lot of the credit for promoting the company to 17th on Randstad’s annual list of the most attractive employer brands. Over the last few years she has grown the prize for employees who successfully refer potential employees to them. “We say ‘great people know great people’, and our own people also know what kind of people will be a good cultural fit with Nestle,” Geary told CEO Forum Group. She has also placed a strong emphasis on passive recruiting with the help of social media, such as Facebook and LinkedIn. “The intent is to create a dialogue with people who may be interested in being employed with us, even if they are not specifically looking for a position now but possibly sometime in the future,” she says.

Christine Parker Group executive, human resources and corporate affairs Westpac WHY HOT? Having spent the first four years of her employment with Westpac as GM HR in New Zealand, Christine Parker was personally appointed to head of HR by CEO Gail Kelly in 2011. It’s been all systems go since then. Westpac continues to be a leader in areas as varied as sustainability (the company has embarked on a five-year plan to become carbon-neutral and was recognised as the 10th most sustainable company in the world in early 2013), diversity (Westpac finished eighth in Pride in Diversity’s annual list of companies that support LGBTI people in the workplace), and workplace flexibility – Parker is a great advocate of the 300 Westpac employees who work from home, claiming teleworkers boast higher productivity, better service and engagement levels, and lower sick leave. “For the doubters, the stats are indisputable,” she says.


Emma Hogan Director of people and culture, Foxtel WHY HOT? Since joining Foxtel in 2007, Hogan has developed productive working relationships with her CEOs (first Kim Williams, now Richard Freudenstein). She’s worked on countless strategies to support company growth, including a 2011 submission to the ACCC to purchase Austar (750 people) and XYZ Networks (120 people). In April 2012 the ACCC approved the purchase. Hogan played a critical role in the integration, creating two streams of work: the ‘people stream’ and the ‘communications stream’. Employees were engaged and informed throughout the process as a ‘new Foxtel’ culture was formed. More recently, Hogan has worked with Freudenstein on the ‘Alignment Partnership’, a consulting partnership to drive an improved executive culture, in which all people initiatives are aligned to the 2017 goals of the company.

Eric Abetz Minister for Employment WHY HOT? Since the election, the new Minister for Employment (formerly Employment and Workplace Relations) has revealed only that the Coalition government is committed to ‘cutting red tape’ and making it easier for employers to create jobs and improve productivity – evidenced by a new requirement for Parliament to spend two days a year reviewing and removing legislation and regulations that place unnecessary burden on employers. One area in which the Coalition is seeking to take a direct approach is the paid parental leave scheme. Senator Abetz explained that payments will be made directly by the Commonwealth Government, reducing employer dealings with Centrelink and other agencies. Further refinements are expected around superannuation options for small businesses, and the axing of the Rudd Government’s controversial fringe benefits tax changes.

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Geraldine Chin Moody Group executive, people, culture and sustainability Virgin Australia Group WHY HOT? Chin Moody was appointed to the newly created role of group executive, people, culture and sustainability in February this year. With experience of senior management roles at law firm Baker & McKenzie (Australia) and the Australian Stock Exchange, she joined the team as the company transitioned from Virgin Blue to Virgin Australia. Early in her new role, Chin Moody was able to claim another accolade for the company when it collected a ‘most attractive employer’ gong at the Randstad Awards. On the night, she acknowledged the power of social media and word of mouth from existing staff as the keys to building a strong employer brand. Other key selling points for Virgin employees are its travel policy and discounts on services in the Virgin Group, such as hotels, hire cars and credit cards. Henriette Mancini HR director, Specsavers WHY HOT? Five years on from the retailer’s launch and some 300 stores and 3,000 jobs later, Specsavers is starting to reap the benefits of a finely tuned HR strategy. The company won two top awards for excellence at the Australian Retailers Association’s annual Australian Retail Awards, including ‘retailer of the year’ and ‘Australian retail employer of the year’. Mancini has been instrumental in building marketleading perks and benefits for staff, including a profit share program, quarterly bonuses, additional leave based on length of service, and the Specsavers Academy – a comprehensive training option for all employees with the aim of making them ‘the best they can be’. Customer service is also high on her agenda. To support this, Specsavers has a retail support team, mystery shoppers and a number of internal incentive programs.

Helen O’Reilly CHRO, Teachers Mutual Bank WHY HOT? Since commencing in the role of CHRO in 2005, O’Reilly has built the company’s HR strategy around three key HR initiatives: the Innovation and Leadership Committee; a talent management program (known as ‘talentSmart’); and women in leadership initiatives. These programs have been designed to identify the best and brightest, engage them in specific leadership programs, and encourage them to shine and innovate in their areas of expertise. O’Reilly lists her greatest achievement in the last 12 months as a mental health program to assist leaders in handling sensitive issues such as stress, anxiety, bipolar disorder and depression. Teachers Mutual Bank is one of the very few organisations in Australia using ‘Mental Health Plans’ to support staff who are undergoing challenges in life to be as productive as possible until they get back on their feet.

Jane Lewis Director of people and development, Allens WHY HOT? Law firm Allens recently undertook a global alliance with Linklaters, and Lewis’s remit, which already covered Australia and Asia, has extended to facilitate this change. It’s just one of many challenges the legal profession has faced in recent times; chief among these are issues around diversity and mental health. In her current role, Lewis has been instrumental in implementing unique preventative measures for employee burnout and depression. The latest initiative is a training program for leaders to help them respond to and recognise the indicators of stress and mental illness, and how to refer someone on to seek help. In relation to gender diversity, Lewis says a primary objective is to ensure it is seen as a business issue, and not just as something that is the right thing to do. “It’s not just about being compliant – it’s about best practice,” she says.

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Janine Stewart Group director, people and culture, News Limited WHY HOT? On her LinkedIn page, Stewart describes herself as “highly successful in building team cohesion and commitment during periods of intense organisation and market change”. Her current role, which she landed in June 2012, has tested those strengths. In June, parent company News Corporation split into two parts, 21st Century Fox and the ‘new’ News Corp, of which News Ltd is a component. Several rounds of redundancies have resulted, including 60 in February this year. Complicating matters was a motion of ‘no confidence’ in national management being passed by News Ltd staff in Brisbane, amidst concern over the impact of the redundancies. Regardless, chief executive Kim Williams deemed the restructure necessary to streamline state operations and integrate digital media across all operations.

Joanne Nugent Director of people, capability and communications, Asia Pacific Parsons Brinckerhoff

WHY HOT? Always a strong advocate of women in the workforce, engineering firm Parsons Brinckerhoff has had to tread some choppy water in recent times. Nugent’s team has recently guided PB through an uncharacteristic but still significant market downturn, resulting in retrenchment activity. The HR team ensured this was conducted with dignity and without damaging corporate values and culture. Conversely, Nugent says one of her greatest challenges at PB has been adjusting to expansion – from around 400 people in Australia when she started 12 years ago, to its peak of around 2,500 six years later. Nugent has also skilfully adapted her team towards project-focused work, reflective of the type of work her firm undertakes, while also keeping a traditional HR function running smoothly.

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Jo McConnell Vice president, human resources, BHP Billiton WHY HOT? Mining giant BHP Billiton is a force to be reckoned with. The unique challenges its 1,800 HR professionals face are as diverse as the business itself. They range from escalating production costs in countries like Canada and Australia to a tense labour environment in South Africa. Central to the company’s values is a strong emphasis on accountability and performance, but a particular focus is on simplicity. In an organisation as large as BHP, the need to keep the business unencumbered by red tape is paramount; McConnell, an almost 20-year veteran at the company, believes simplicity yet consistency across so many business functions is critical. She also believes in empowerment: providing employees with the tools and means to make a difference to the bottom line. HR achieves this by fine-tuning the skills of leaders, who in turn develop their people. Joanne Taylor Vice president, human resources and corporate communications McDonald’s Australia WHY HOT? It’s been a busy year for Taylor and her team. In July, McDonald’s had its enterprise agreement certified by the Fair Work Commission. Alongside typical inclusions, one distinctive feature is a domestic violence leave provision enabling employees affected by domestic violence to access leave and flexible working arrangements. Taylor, who has been with the company since 2004, said the certification of the agreement was a result of productive negotiations with the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association and will allow the fast-food giant to raise the bar in its commitment to career development. As a registered training organisation, McDonald’s will continue its $40m p.a. investment in L&D, including the provision of nationally recognised qualifications, transferable to roles in other industries. John Francois Human resources director for Asia Pacific, McAfee WHY HOT? For the third successive year, McAfee made BRW’s ‘best places to work’ list (this year at number seven), reflecting its sustained drive towards best practice in the HR space. Based on research conducted by the Great Place to Work Institute, the data is measured against a proprietary culture audit and trust index. McAfee challenges its staff through an Emerging Talent HIPO (highpotential) program, which gives them tools and strategies to reach their highest potential. It also offers leading-edge benefits such as a quarterly bonus scheme and stock allocations designed around company and individual performance metrics. A well-honed internal mobility program ensures high staff retention; one in five employees has been promoted within the Asia-Pacific region or relocated to other offices across the globe.



John McDonnell Executive general manager, HR Accor Australasia WHY HOT? ‘Peopleology’ is the brainchild of McDonnell and COO Simon McGrath. This overarching HR philosophy aims to provide employees with the ‘real deal’ in terms of tools and attitude towards colleague and customer interactions. New training initiatives and more effective communication channels are being used to build this customer-centricity. The introduction of Yammer has proved beneficial in helping Accor to communicate messages to a broader audience and has assisted in expediting key changes across the organisation. A new dynamic has also been added to the corporate HR team in the form of an ‘HR marketeer’ who manages social media and digital activities relating to employees, a role that McDonnell concedes would not have been considered five years ago. Kate Byrdy General manager, human resources Jeanswest WHY HOT? Research by Monash University’s Australian Centre for Retail Studies indicates retail is the Australian economy’s highest-employing industry, accounting for about 1.2 million employees or 11% of the workforce. It’s something Byrdy, who has held her current position at Jeanswest since 2004, is well aware of. She believes the industry needs to work with educational institutions to promote retail as a career path, beyond what is seen on the shop floor. At present, her company offers a store-level program for new staff and an e-learning program called Denim University. While some training is paid and compulsory, there’s also voluntary career development. Jeanswest employees also score some attractive benefits: clothing discounts, paid volunteer days and cash bonuses. And, of course, staff can wear jeans to work.


Joris Luijke Vice president of talent Atlassian WHY HOT? When Luijke announced he was moving on from Atlassian in October to take up a new challenge at Squarespace based in New York, there were audible sighs of relief from the IT firm’s competitors. And with good reason. Since he joined the company in 2008, Luijke has built an HR powerhouse, which prides itself on taking a fresh approach. Atlassian has made headlines over the past 18 months for its innovative approach to recruitment (a ‘recruitment roadshow’), and to performance management (the company revamped the process, making it lightweight and constructive) and employee benefits: any worker who refers somebody that gets hired receives $10,000 and a free return flight to any Atlassian office in the world. Atlassian also offers free breakfast, beer on Friday afternoons, nerf gun wars, a pool room and table tennis tables.

Kim Nixon Human resources manager, Australia & New Zealand, NetApp WHY HOT? Benefits afforded by NetApp to its staff include flexible work practices and NetApp’s Volunteer Time Off program, which allows an extra week of paid leave per year in order to take part in community service. Yet it’s the educational benefits that really get cut-through. L&D begins with comprehensive onboarding of new talent, including education around company products and services. Employees can attend the NetApp school in the US, or undertake studies in an almost unlimited online learning portal. Several NetApp employees are currently completing MBA programs; the company provides US$5,000 p.a. towards their studies. Nixon says the company invests in the professional and personal development of staff not only due to the technical nature of the sector but also because it keeps employees motivated and excited about their work.

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Melinda Tunbridge HR director, SBS WHY HOT? Tunbridge, an eloquent, passionate advocate of HR, admits she “does not look for maintenance roles” in HR; she relishes opportunities to “shake things up”. She’s had that opportunity in spades since joining SBS in December 2010. Tunbridge inherited a siloed workforce with practices such as automatic pay rises every year regardless of performance, and a well-embedded ‘entitlement’ culture. The introduction of a wave of changes, as well as a shift towards a collaborative working style, has produced some pleasing results in employee engagement scores. HR has changed, too. Payroll has been outsourced and a technology platform has been introduced inhouse to handle rostering and timesheets. A performance culture has also been introduced, with ‘mediocrity’ and underperformance no longer tolerated. Kimberly Elliot HR director, AstraZeneca WHY HOT? Leading the development of a global transition has been the primary responsibility of Elliot since becoming HRD in 2010. In that time, the pharma company’s HR function has gone from a decentralised model towards a ‘centres of excellence’ model. Enabling this change has been the introduction of a core global technology platform and a partnership with two global outsource partners to provide query, telephone and email support to employees. These outsource partners also “take the global and make it local”, to create core, common and consistent processes for all managers. Although Elliott admits the change has not been without hurdles, the company has maintained an appealing EVP. Quirky perks include ‘You Days’, which allow workers up to an additional 12 days of paid leave per year, which they can use in any way they please. Mick Fuller HR director (APAC), Quiksilver Why hot? Quiksilver has had its fair share of ups and downs in recent times. Sadly, the tough retail climate and chief executive Andy Mooney’s restructure of the company have meant that up to 20% of staff have been retrenched over the last two to three years. Despite hard decisions, Mick Fuller – who became Quiksilver’s HR director (Australasia) in 2006 and HR director (APAC) in 2010 – has facilitated the transition by ensuring transparent communication. The retail

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McGregor Dixon Oceania people leader, Ernst & Young WHY HOT? The EY careers website designed for high-school students and graduates has more than 27,000 ‘likes’ on Facebook. Impressive stats like this have led to EY being ranked the world’s most attractive professional services employer – and the second most attractive employer overall – in Universum’s annual World’s Most Attractive Employer ranking. Based on the preferences of almost 94,000 business students from the world’s top academic institutions in the largest 12 economies by GDP, EY also ranked in the top 15 employers overall in Australia. McGregor, who has over 15 years’ experience in HR with EY, has encouraged the push for all EY employees to use social media so the corporate voice is heard alongside those in the frontline – thus dispelling myths and presenting what the ‘real’ EY employee experience is like.

and clothing company effectively made it clear to employees that reduced performance against targets meant restructuring was inevitable. On the bright side, a job at Quiksilver has some excellent perks, including being able to surf at lunch, weekend ski trips, and a staff discount card – all of which combined to deliver the company a position on BRW’s Top 50 Best Places to Work 2013.




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Raj Verma HR director Sodexo WHY HOT? Unless you watched the 2012 series of Undercover Boss, you may not have heard of Sodexo, a company that offers broad services, from facilities management to personal and home services. The CEO’s appearance on the popular reality TV show resulted in greater brand recognition. Behind the scenes, Verma has played a critical role in a significant transformation, shifting the company to a shared services model. Underpinning it all is Sodexo’s EVP, which includes a promise to employees that they will grow with the company. Consequently, Verma and his team have established a partnership with Sunshine Coast TAFE, which delivers a 12-month management development program. The company has also invested in CSR, and was named ‘Global Sustainability Industry Leader’ for their industry in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index.

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Rhonda Brighton-Hall Executive general manager, organisation development Commonwealth Bank WHY HOT? When Brighton-Hall picked up the Hall of Fame award at the Australian HR Awards in September this year, she bought the house down with a stirring, emotional and deeply felt speech. Her HR career spans some 30 years, including impactful stints at fashion/eyewear group Luxottica, and Sara Lee, as well as her current role at CBA where she is responsible for talent, culture, diversity, recruitment, and L&D. Along the way, she has picked up countless accolades, including the Dave Ulrich HR Leader of the Year award from AHRI, and the NSW Business Woman of the Year award. She has also studied and lectured in leadership and strategic HR in Europe, the US and Australia. She is truly a worthy award recipient and is an inspirational role model for those following in her footsteps.

Nadine Hamilton People and performance manager, Altis Consulting WHY HOT? Compared to the other employers on this list, information management firm Altis Consulting is small in numbers (just over 80 staff in three countries); however, it’s big on HR innovation. Much of this is driven by the employees themselves: they are empowered to come up with great business initiatives. For example, the London office opened based on a suggestion and business plan of one employee whose partner was being transferred to the UK. It’s now operating in profit. The managed services division was the desire and creation of one employee. It is now contributing 10% to annual revenues. Generous return-to-work policies and a Primary Parent Policy – fathers and LGBTI primary carers are encouraged to use it – ensure staff tenure is well above industry standard: both the first employee and first graduate are still working at Altis. Neil Baker Director, people and culture Cooper Grace Ward

WHY HOT? When Baker joined the Cooper Grace Ward team in 2005, the law firm was performing well financially but there was a lack of alignment across practice teams and confusion regarding firm and individual expectations. There was a lack of understanding, and therefore engagement with the firm’s strategic direction, which was reflected in a 30% turnover rate. Fast-forward to 2013 and the turnover rate has halved and both revenue and profit have grown. The firm also picked up a citation on the 2013 AON Hewitt Best Employers list (the only law firm to do so this year). Diversity and inclusion is a key focus; nearly three quarters of the team are women and more than a quarter of employees have some form of flexible work arrangement. Perhaps the most critical element, Baker concedes, has been embedding meaningful values into the corporate culture.



Simone Carroll GM of people and brand REA Group WHY HOT? The winner of this year’s HR Director of the Year award continues to impress both within her company and in the broader HR profession. Earlier this year, in acknowledgement of the changing nature of the HR role, REA Group repositioned its HR team as ‘people and brand’. This is more than simply tying the employer brand to HR; it is blending brand strategy with HR functions to ensure HR survives in what Carroll describes as the “relationship era”. Carroll states that organisations now must have a consistency both inside and outside of the workplace to influence consumer opinion. In this way, the strength of the employees and their passion for the organisation becomes a marketing tool in itself, transforming every employee into a brand ambassador of sorts. She will also be looking to use some of the metrics and analytics commonly found in the marketing team in her own newly created department – a critical step in this Big Data world.

Shanelle Moloney Director of corporate services, Cover-More WHY HOT? Cover-More has enjoyed a busy 2013. In the last year or so, they have acquired businesses in China and India, opened offices in Malaysia, and welcomed new partnerships with Medibank and Australia Post. The secret, Moloney says, is having much more than a uniform ‘Asia strategy’ for HR; she’s an advocate of unique HR strategies for each and every country. Part of her job involves matching the talent with different geographies. As for Moloney herself, she has embraced taking on new opportunities, including assessing and managing cost-efficiencies across the business. She’s also worked with the same CEO in different companies for the past eight years. She concedes this loyalty and cohesion is rare in this day and age, but also says it’s been hugely beneficial to not just her own career but also the entire executive team at Cover-More.


Rose Clements HR director Microsoft Australia WHY HOT? Developing leaders is, for HR, “the air that we breathe”. So says Rose Clements, the Australian HR Awards 2012 HR Director of the Year. Clements should know: Microsoft is renowned for its innovative leadership programs, ranging from formal development programs to on-the-job experiences, mentoring, shadowing, and more. Clements has been instrumental in helping the tech giant develop HR strategies and development programs. To cite just one success story that may have appeared too daunting to most leaders, Microsoft Australia embraced activity-based workspaces several years ago. Clements reports no downsides to the transition, after unsuccessfully trialling hot-desking. Clements credits the ABW environment with Microsoft’s high employee engagement and ‘Best of the Best’ citation from Aon Hewitt two years running. Sonya Hughes Director of talent management and strategy Campbell Arnott’s WHY HOT? In recent years, Hughes’ HR team has overhauled the company’s graduate employment program, with a special focus on retaining these graduates beyond the two-year grad program. It fits well with a broader mandate to build talent from within to fill crucial roles. Hughes has focused specifically on attracting these grads in the first instance through effective use of social media. One example is leveraging their leaders’ LinkedIn networks to promote new roles. The company has also overhauled its employer branding. Feedback about their existing program, which utilised one of their products, Tiny Teddys, and the tagline ‘Un-bear-leivable Opportunities’, indicated it was missing the mark with its target demographic. A new initiative, titled the ‘Appetite’ program, targets three key areas: Life, Career and Development.

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Vijay Kashyap HR director Campari Australia WHY HOT? With experience in FMCG, retail, hospitality and logistics, Kashyap has spent 21 years linking people, culture and capability on the one hand, to customers and profit on the other. He was the third employee hired when the decision was made to create a separate Australian business unit out of AsiaPacific in 2009. Campari employees, known as ‘Camparistas’, are the main beneficiaries of Kashyap’s innovative approach to HR. For example, performance reviews are purely ‘potential focused’ and the theme is ‘What do you want to be famous for’. All employees build their own development plans by assessing a wiki that maps competencies for all jobs, including ways and means to improve on competencies. Rewards are equally ‘out of the box’. One example: following achievement of 2012 profit targets, the whole team flew to Las Vegas in September. Tony Martin Regional human resources director, Energizer WHY HOT? It’s been a tough environment for Tony Martin and his team, with the consumer goods sector trying to fend off rising cost pressures. On top of that, he has responsibility for 7,000 employees in commercial and manufacturing operations in both developed and emerging markets in the Asia-Pacific. By understanding the business drivers, Martin has assisted the company in a move from an account management mindset towards true business management and partnering with customers. It has required HR to have an intimate understanding of not just the numbers of the business but of core change management skills. HR at Energizer shifted internal capabilities away from reliance on traditional ‘soft’ HR metrics; instead they have embarked on a project involving 40 people from across the region to find the best growth and productivity opportunities. 28 | NOVEMBER 2013

Susan Henry Head of people and culture Starlight Children’s Foundation WHY HOT? Starlight was heavily impacted by the GFC, and Henry maintains that it has been their focus on the people and culture strategy over the last four years that has resulted in high levels of engagement (89%) and year-on-year revenue growth (currently $20m). In 2012, Starlight was accredited as an Aon Hewitt Best Employer – the only not-for-profit organisation ever to do so. The old mantra of happy employees equalling happy customers has never been truer. At the core of Starlight’s overall HR strategy is ‘Positive Starlight Experiences’, with the goal of 100% advocacy from three key stakeholder groups: the team (including volunteers), Starlight families, and donors and supporters. To that end, every team member’s Performance Management and Development Plan is directly aligned to their functional team’s business plan and the overall strategic plan.

Sue Davies HR director TNT Express WHY HOT? Many companies claim they have a commitment to lifelong learning, but few have the accolades to back up the claim. TNT Express picked up the title of ‘Best Learning Organisation’ from independent foundation LearnX earlier this year. TNT Express was acknowledged for its innovative ideas and technologies to share learning, and for linking learning to organisational goals and performance. Davies believes the commitment to L&D is reflected in TNT’s Road to Orange program, an overarching employee offering that focuses on the individual and how they interact with their peers and customers. The company is also keen to shatter gender stereotypes. An ambitious recruitment campaign, ‘Women in Transport’, was launched in 2012, which aims to attract more females to traditionally male-dominated roles.



OFF THE BOIL Jon Scriven Group executive, people and office of the CEO Qantas Qantas remains in a state of flux as it continues to rebuild after the 2011 shutdown and staff lock-out. The launch of a 10-year alliance with international rival Emirates may determine if Qantas can improve its battered image in the eyes of both employees and the public. Yet progress is being made. A dedicated focus on improving customer experience by building employee engagement has been put at the heart of the company’s restructure journey. And while a Roy Morgan Air Travel Survey ranked Virgin Australia (86%) ahead of Qantas (82%) in terms of business travel satisfaction, the longer-term view shows Qantas has been improving since February.


Tracey Gavegan Group managing director, human resources Telstra Despite recording annual profits of more than $3bn for the past five years, Telstra announced in August that it will slash 1,100 jobs – with possibly more to come. This amounts to 3% of Telstra’s 30,000-strong Australian workforce and comes off the back of a sweeping overhaul of its operations. CEO David Thodey is on record as saying Telstra needs to change shape and will likely get smaller every year as it streamlines unprofitable business operations and adapts to changing consumer demand for mobile technology. Whether or not Telstra can shrink its way back to success remains to be seen.

Julia Gillard Former minister for Employment and Workplace Relations With a tenure of two years, 207 days, Gillard was the longest-serving employment minister of the past six years – no mean feat given the turnover in that role (five ministers held the position during the Rudd/Gillard/ Rudd Government). Not only was Work Choices relegated to the history books, but the Fair Work Act (FWA) introduced a new wave of workplace legislation for employers to adjust to. The first national Paid Parental Leave scheme, introduced in 2011, is one lasting legacy. Debate has switched from whether a national scheme should exist, to what form it should take – a debate to be continued with the new government. In addition, the FWA was reviewed to provide updated equal-pay provisions and changes to the bullying and harassment legislation.

NOVEMBER 2013 | 29


32 | OCTOBER 2013




OCTOBER 2013 | 33



Putting recent turmoil behind it, the novated leasing industry is back on track, providing popular benefits to employees The July announcement by the then prime minister Kevin Rudd that the fringe benefits tax (FBT) regime on cars was being overhauled was met with claims that this would devastate not just local car manufacturing but also the companies that provide these novated leasing services. It was the latest attempt to close loopholes and improve the FBT regime, which, since its introduction in 1986, has been an attempt to capture non-cash benefits and some salary packaging arrangements under the income tax system. The election of a new federal government made the proposal null and void, with the Coalition vowing to not follow through with the changes. HR Director spoke to Chris Briggs, general manager operations, ORIX, for some insights into novated leasing, and an update on how the industry is currently faring.

HRD: Let’s start with some basics: firstly, what is a novated lease and, secondly, how does it work? Chris Briggs: The term ‘novation’ can be confusing; however, it simply means ‘substitution’. Novated leases differ from traditional company car operating leases in that the lease is first entered into by an individual or employee and, at the lease commencement date, their employer is substituted as the lessee. The substitution automatically reverses when the employee separates from their employer. Novated leases are normally salary packaged with a mixture of pre- and post-tax employee deductions. Leasing companies provide detailed salary package calculations to the employer at commencement of the lease, based on the vehicle lease cost, maintenance, insurance and fuel.

32 | NOVEMBER 2013

Employees benefit from virtually unlimited vehicle choice, access to corporate fleet pricing and benefits, and some tax advantages compared with purchasing and operating a vehicle privately. Because the novation ceases when an employee separates, employers also benefit from removing some of the risks associated with company-leased vehicles – for example, early termination fees.

HRD: Aren’t novated leases for people on high salaries, driving expensive cars or travelling long distances? CB: No, in fact the largest savings are typically found in middle price range vehicles for people on salaries in the $60k–$100k range. Up until May 2011, lower FBT bands were in place for vehicles travelling greater than 25,000km per annum; however, this distortion was removed and the change was widely supported by the leasing industry.

HRD: What are the typical savings achieved through a novated lease? CB: Typical after-tax or take-home pay savings are in the range of $2,000 to $5,000 per annum, of which approximately half of the benefit is derived from corporate fleet discounts and the other half from taxation advantages.

HRD: Does the New Zealand market operate in the same way? CB: ORIX has recently released novated leasing in New Zealand and has had a very strong response to the product, particularly from corporates with trans-Tasman operations. The product works in essentially the same way as in Australia, although New Zealand is fortunate enough to have much lower FBT rates than Australia.



HRD: The proposed changes to FBT have been rescinded. Is it business as usual for novated leasing? CB: It does mean business as usual; however, employers and employees do need to continue to keep their eyes open in the same way as they would for any financial product that has some dependency

on government and taxation legislation. One point worth noting is that any changes that have occurred to, for example, FBT legislation in the past, have not been applied retrospectively, meaning that the rules applicable at the time of entering the lease are preserved and the new rules are introduced with transitioning.

WHAT CAN BE SALARY PACKAGED? Item Additional superannuation contributions Laptops, including iPads, tablets (classified as ‘electronic devices’) Car – novated lease Education – work-related professional memberships, subscriptions to trade/professional journals, newspapers (for example Australian Financial Review), self-education In-house childcare facilities Car parking

FBT exempt

FBT payable (with concessional treatment)

  (Must be primarily for business use, ie 50% as a rule of thumb)

 (if primarily used for private purposes)   (taxable amount reduced by ‘otherwise deductible’ rule)

 

Airline-lounge membership

Purchase additional annual leave


FBT payable

NOVEMBER 2013 | 33



Rather than persisting with inflexible formulas, highperforming companies are taking a more holistic approach to short-term incentives. Stephen Burke outlines how to achieve the best outcomes from your strategy




After the GFC, shareholders, proxy advisers and the government called for closer alignment between pay and performance – with a special emphasis on reducing the risk in incentive practices to ensure they rewarded sustainable financial performance. This has resulted in a number of trends for shortterm incentives (STIs). We’re seeing increases in STI deferral, typically for one to two years, and a further emphasis on quantitative STI formulas, often tied to profitability (providing a clear link to financial performance for shareholders and executives). At the same time, there are decreases in discretionary overlay and volume-based performance metrics (such as revenue), primarily in financial services, where regulation has sought to prevent manipulation and shift attention to profit margins.

35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0





Financial Year

Many organisations believe they are taking a more holistic approach to performance management by using balanced scorecards. The objective is to align an individual’s pay with all aspects of their role – particularly those areas they can directly impact. Last year, Australian companies attached more metrics to STIs than others in the Asia-Pacific region. About a third of Australian companies use eight or more metrics, while another third use between five and seven. The remaining third use four or fewer (2012 Asian Incentive Plan Design Survey, Towers Watson). Across the region, organisations typically use three metrics. 34 | NOVEMBER 2013




performance (often financial). • Using discretion to adjust or abandon the formula to recognise all circumstances. But this ad hoc approach undermines the rationale behind the formula (which is to provide certainty) and damages the credibility of the plan. • A formal option for boards to apply discretion on STI payouts, which is important if directors are to effectively discharge their obligations to all stakeholders, but needs to be an acknowledged part of the STI process and within a well-considered framework. Our experience is that ad hoc bonus adjustments rarely reduce bonuses resulting from a windfall – after all, shareholders are happy too. We tend to see discretion more commonly exercised in favour of executives where “circumstances beyond their control” cause a loss of incentive. However, each use of discretion can be equally damaging where it occurs outside a proper framework. To the outsider it can appear that management always wins, and to the insider it can create a culture of special pleading that is equally damaging to a performance culture. Yet another weakness of STIs are scorecards with multiple measures that disperse executive focus. Balanced scorecards require executives to focus on several KPIs – we regularly see examples of 12 or more – some of which have relatively small dollar values attached due to weighting towards financial measures.

The most common fault of STIs is they don’t align with business strategy. Organisations often revise remuneration programs incrementally to address specific issues, rather than take a step back to consider how STIs (and other incentives) fit with overall remuneration and business strategies. Another weakness is that formulas applied to STIs can be inflexible and unpredictable. Yet searching for the perfect formula that simply and accurately reflects organisational, business unit and individual performance and allows for the effects of unexpected events is futile. STI formulas continue to result in unintended consequences because they can’t capture all the circumstances relevant to a complex business. Formulas are often introduced to provide certainty of outcome to the board, participants and shareholders but can become a straightjacket when unusual circumstances arise. When formulas backfire, boards must choose between: • Sticking with the formula and, as a result, disappointing shareholders, who may have suffered a significant fall in value, or participants, who may have created or saved significant shareholder value by responding effectively to an external shock beyond their control, but whose earnings are significantly reduced because the formula emphasises only one aspect of

The most common fault of STIs is they don’t align with business strategy




55% 50%

Safety Team/department objectives

45% 45%

Earnings before interest and taxes Strategic objectives Cost/expense control/reduction

40% 35% 30%

Cash flow Sales/revenues

25% 20% 15% 15%

Net income/earnings/profit Employee satisfaction Customer satisfaction Volume/production

15% 15%

Net operating profit after tax Return on investment/return on invested capital Operating measures Pre-tax income

10% 10% 10%

Earnings per share


Return on equity Economic profit/economic value added

5% 5%

Operating income/operating profit Gross margin


5% 0%


* Other measures include: Relative TSR Capital management Return on average funds employed Productivity volume related measures Risk and compliance









90% NOVEMBER 2013 | 35





R Metric-driven, quantitative goals/outcomes

R Metric-driven,

R Development-driven competency-based goals/outcomes

R Weighs ‘what’ much more heavily than ‘how’ (eg 70/30, 80/20)

R Weighs ‘what’ much

R Performance components weigh ‘how’ more heavily than ‘what’ (eg 40/60)

R Top-down goalsetting/cascade; calibration/reporting upward R Mathematical performance calculation; little manager discretion R Defines performance at multiple levels

quantitative goals/outcomes more heavily than ‘how’ (60/40)

R Top-down goal-

setting/cascade; calibration/reporting upward

R Less performance

differentiation tolerance

R Less formal top-down goal-setting/cascade; goals aligned with long-term vision

R Team-based goals;

R Wide performance differentiation tolerance

R Multi-rater feedback

R Flexibility/manager descretion

link to rewards system



R Performance components weigh ‘what’ and ‘how’ equally (ie 50/50)

R Performance components weigh ‘how’ greater than ‘what’ (eg 60/40)

R Local/unit-specific goalsetting/cascade; goals aligned with customer requirements

R Top-down goalsetting/cascade; goals aligned with company vision/image

R Wide performance differentiation tolerance

R Multi-rater feedback system, including peer reviews

R Team-based goals; link to rewards R Manager discretion; with calibration

R May have values component to performance definition

R Important to ID high performers Source: Towers Watson

Organisations would do well to question whether each KPI is truly indicative of performance, or whether some are simply included to emphasise the importance of certain job responsibilities. Does a weighting of 2–3% of total fixed remuneration communicate importance to an executive? And does it focus them on critical activities that enhance shareholder value? Balanced scorecards can also have an averaging effect on STI outcomes. For example, where an executive achieves a majority of non-financial targets, they may receive a substantial proportion of STI payment even when poor financial performance has occurred. This is the intention of the balanced scorecard (that financial performance not be the sole focus), but can be a difficult message to send to shareholders.


Stephen Burke is director, executive compensation, Towers Watson

36 | NOVEMBER 2013

High-performing companies are taking a more holistic approach to executive STIs. Business strategy and company culture dictate the basis for STI design, incorporating a limited number of quantitative and qualitative performance measures. As a result, executives in high-performing organisations focus on how performance is delivered (is it sustainable/meaningful?) as well as the level. The effect of organisational strategy and culture on effective STI design is shown in the table above, drawing on data from the Towers Watson Cultural Alignment benchmark. For example, if a company’s strategy is predominantly driven by efficiency, its pay/performance management systems will be very different to one with a quality-focused strategy. It’s a useful tool when considering how to design a remuneration

strategy and components to support the corporate strategy.

HOW TO ACHIEVE BEST-PRACTICE STI The business environment changes continuously. High-performing companies manage this complexity and unpredictability by building a certain level of flexibility into incentive programs and clearly communicating the objectives and ground rules to stakeholders. In designing STIs, high-performing companies ask: • Are we paying for the right things – that is, are we measuring meaningful performance or execution of basic job responsibilities? • Do we view performance holistically? Are we considering how performance is achieved alongside how much is achieved? • How do we deal with unexpected events? Does the board have formal discretion and do stakeholders understand how it will work? • Is our pay (including STI) consistent with our company culture and strategy? Designing effective executive incentives is complex. There are competing and inconsistent priorities. Shareholders demand alignment, typically with their financial returns, and executives want to know what is expected of them in any given year, and what they will receive if they deliver. Everyone recognises that financial performance cannot suffice as a sole performance measure. However, managing conflicting viewpoints is a challenge for boards. While there is no single bestpractice incentive, a company must understand its strategy and desired culture, and have a clear plan to get there. Only then can an incentive be designed to support those objectives.




NOVEMBER 2013 | 37


Your social network and your health Is your social network more influential on your health than genetics?

When it comes to the wellbeing of your employees, fostering healthy social networks in the workplace might be the key to a healthy, active workforce. Research shows that when a person in your social network leads an unhealthy lifestyle, your chances of doing the same are greatly increased. A study published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine found that, once someone in your social network becomes obese, the likelihood that another member of the group will follow suit increases by 57%. This is much higher than the 40% increase in obesity predisposition in siblings when one sibling becomes obese. The 2007 study, which followed 12,607 participants for 32 years, indicated that your social network impacts more on your waistline than your genes. Subsequent studies have validated this concept, not only for weight but also for inactivity, smoking and drinking. In line with this theory, Alere has developed a healthy lifestyle initiative that embraces social networking as a key motivator for successful workplace and public health campaigns. The innovative MyAlere™ program consists of a triaxial accelerometer (the ‘Pebble’, worn on the shoe), a wireless sync-point (micro USB in a PC or laptop), and the web-based MyAlere™ platform. When the ‘Pebble’ comes within 10 metres of a personal sync point – or 100 metres of a group sync point – activity automatically uploads so participants don’t need to record their data, which is generally unsustainable long term. Blood pressure monitors, scales and glucometers can also be wirelessly linked to the system for ‘home monitoring’ or ‘kiosk’-based tracking. This data may also be entered manually. Pilot studies have shown MyAlere™ to be successful both in achieving the short-term health outcomes of participants and in ensuring the behaviour (in this case exercise) is sustained in the longer term. One local Australian group trialled the MyAlere™ initiative and achieved an impressive average weight loss of more than 5% of their starting

38 | NOVEMBER 2013

When a person in your social network becomes obese, your chances of doing the same are greatly increased weight as well as a drop in blood pressure of around 15 points – enough to reduce stroke risk by 50%. A key feature of MyAlere™ is that users can create smaller self-sustaining groups and support each other. Six months after the pilot study was completed, dozens of active participants continue to use MyAlere™ to challenge and support each other in their exercise goals, which is testament to the sustainability of the model. This feature makes MyAlere™ particularly appealing to workplaces, as employees can improve their fitness and body shape, reduce their risk of disease, and enhance their overall wellbeing, while building healthy and sustainable social networks. Friends, family and interstate or international offices can also take part – employees can even challenge the boss! MyAlere™ allows users to create user-defined exercise challenges, so anybody initiating a challenge can specify the parameters, including: • what is measured in the challenge: steps, weight, energy expenditure, time exercising, etc. • length of challenge – start/finish dates, first to a given target, such as 100,000 steps or most in a day/week/month/year • who is invited and how teams are structured – in the corporate environment this may include interdivisional, interstate or even international challenges; or it may be family members and/or friends Following the success of studies conducted by Alere on thousands of people, both in Australia and internationally throughout 2013, Alere is supporting an Australia-wide activity and weight loss challenge. This will roll out to around 100,000 participants early in 2014. Using MyAlere™, it will monitor the impact on public health across a broader scale. The Alere methodology is consistent with leading health promotion practice, which aims to empower individuals to engage within all aspects of an initiative, rather than simply following rules or guidelines set by a third party. Alere believes the results from a national health, activity and weight loss perspective will change the way public health is managed in the future.




OCTOBER 2013 | 39


EAPs: Low cost, big value

EAPs are playing an ever-expanding role in the duty of care employers hold for employees. What is best practice in 2013?

Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) are not new; in fact, their origins can be traced to the 1940s when they were used to address alcoholism and substance abuse among white-collar workers. Today EAPs have expanded in scope to include psychological ailments, wellness and overall employee stress. When paired with other employee benefits, an EAP can be a vital tool in HR’s arsenal to assist employees who are going through tough times. Studies have also revealed the significant ROI such services can provide.

WHY DOES IT MATTER? Mental illness is a serious issue for Australian workplaces. Every year, one in five adults, or 3.2 million Australians, will have a mental health difficulty. Forty-five per cent of the Australian adult population will experience mental illness at some point in their lifetime.

40 | NOVEMBER 2013

Mental disorders account for 13.3% of Australia’s total burden of disease and injury and are estimated to cost the Australian economy $20bn annually in lost productivity and labour participation. The cost to businesses of depression alone is $12.3bn a year, including costs associated with absenteeism, presenteeism and staff turnover. Many employers are unsure about how to respond to mental illness in the workplace. In fact, research by SANE Australia highlights that the majority of people feel unsupported when mentally unwell, and less than half of all managers (43%) have an understanding of mental illness. “Many people are also worried about losing their jobs and can’t or won’t disclose their illness,” says Sam Mostyn, commissioner, National Health Commission. “They are fearful of being discriminated against, and not being offered the promotion they deserve. We also know that similar concerns HCAMAG.COM


affect the many carers of people with mental health difficulties.” Mostyn, herself an experienced senior HR practitioner, has been asked at community forums whether mental health was a priority for the companies where she’s previously worked. “As I reflect on my years in HR and cultural change areas in large companies I’m disappointed to say that while the physical health of employees had always been a priority, I could not recall many discussions on policies and practices designed to support people with mental health challenges, or their carers. This is a real challenge for our workplaces,” she says.

HOW CAN AN EAP ASSIST? An EAP is a valuable resource for employees, which can assist them with strategies and support in managing the challenges we all face in day-to-day life. “Early assistance and coaching with a small issue can prevent it turning into a major one, and a core focus of an EAP is to minimise risk for both employees and the organisation,” says Michele Grow, CEO of the DTC Group. A best-practice EAP will always include support for family members, as an issue that is impacting a family member is likely to have a flow-on effect on employees and vice versa.

PROACTIVE AND PREVENTATIVE RISK MANAGEMENT Organisations have provided EAP services for many years, but the focus has been more on providing psychological support when there has been a problem. More recently there has been a significant shift towards organisations using their EAP as a proactive and preventative risk management strategy to engage employees in taking ownership and accountability for their own health and wellbeing. “There has also been much greater attention placed on what I call the Big 5 workplace risks – stress, bullying, mental health, change and conflict,” says Grow. “As the rate of change increases in organisations, the presentation of stress, bullying, mental health and conflict issues is increasing at a dramatic rate and are symptoms of the failure to adapt successfully to change.” Employers are sometimes inadvertent contributors to the anxiety, fatigue, depression and burnout in their workforce. Rather than just using the EAP to assist when these issues have already occurred, leading organisations are investing in preventative programs such as HCAMAG.COM

“Rather than just using the EAP to assist when these issues have already occurred, leading organisations are investing in preventative programs such as resilience building and mental health awareness” Michele Grow

resilience building and mental health awareness. The most effective way of positioning an EAP as a resource for employees is to have communication, actions and activities that show it is a normal means of supporting employees. This may include providing: • information on the company intranet with direct links to the online health and wellbeing portal • a range of educational materials for employees and managers • tools such as short videos on the service, which can be played at induction sessions or team meetings • articles on relevant topics across the year in the company newsletters and other communication forums, for example tips on managing Christmas towards the end of the year, or a guide to giving and receiving feedback in advance of the annual performance planning cycle While establishing trust is an important aspect of positioning the EAP, more often it comes down to how well the organisation promotes and engages with the EAP rather than the corporate culture. Some organisations have an EAP to ‘tick the box’ but are not actively providing information to employees or ensuring managers understand the benefits, says Grow. As a result, the EAP is not considered a core part of the overall people management strategy. In some instances, organisations are concerned that by promoting the EAP their costs will increase. In reality, the benefit from the EAP far outweighs the cost of providing the service.

NOVEMBER 2013 | 41


The services provided by an EAP are always confidential. While reporting is provided to organisations on usage, this is trend and utilisation information and should not disclose the identity of an individual. An employee cannot be forced to access the EAP, nor can an organisation access information about who has attended or why without the written permission of the individual.

NEW ERA EAPS In keeping up with the times, the range of services provided by EAPs has also changed. Historically, an EAP was about providing face-to-face counselling services. Today an EAP provides a much broader range of support from health and wellbeing portals with self-help article libraries, learning modules and assessments, through to coaching for managers dealing with complex people management issues. EAP services are provided in a face-to-face setting as well as by telephone, video and online. One of the most important elements of an effective EAP is the qualifications of the professional staff ROI: PERSONAL FUNCTIONING DOMAIN



Mean difference

Percentage improvement

Emotional wellbeing





Physical health









Work-life management

N – 4707 / * Difference is statistically significant (p<.01) / Measurements were self-reported ratings on a scale from 1 to 100




Mean difference

Percentage improvement

Work productivity





Morale and motivation









Work relationships

N – 4707 / * Difference is statistically significant (p<.01) / Measurements were self-reported ratings on a scale from 1 to 100




Mean difference

Percentage improvement

Number of days absent in preceding eight weeks





involved in providing the service. The care and wellbeing of employees needs to be entrusted to an organisation with high-calibre professionals who have training and development in EAPs specifically, as well as a strong understanding of workplace issues and complexities. The provision of support for employees following a workplace incident such as a suicide, a crime such as a hold-up, or an industrial accident is an important part of the EAP service and ensures that employees are provided with the appropriate support to make an early and effective return to work. A number of leading organisations now also extend this service to their customers.

LOOKING AT THE RETURN Employers do have a duty of care for the wellbeing of their employees, but can they justify implementing an EAP? An EAP provides three financial benefits to an organisation: 1. A health care value component that includes workers’ compensation and salary continuance insurance savings 2. A human capital value component that includes savings from reduced absenteeism and turnover and increased productivity and engagement and morale 3. An organisational value component that includes savings in regard to issues such as health and safety risks, employee grievances and legal claims as well as the positive benefits of demonstrating employee concern and support In addition to the direct benefit to employees, there is a significant ROI for an EAP. DTC has been measuring the ROI of their EAP since 2007 and the results show an increasing benefit for organisations. The DTC ROI asks individuals to rate their work and personal functioning prior to attending the EAP and again after attending the EAP. In addition, DTC collects information on the change in absence from work as a direct result of the issue they are attending the EAP for. (See tables at left.) The DTC 2013 ROI (using data from 2012) has 4,707 matched sets of data from all industries. In addition to a significant improvement in absenteeism that can be directly monetised, DTC has calculated a presenteeism benefit. All levels of functioning show a measurable improvement.

N – 4689 / * Difference is statistically significant (p<.01) 42 | NOVEMBER 2013



RETURN ON PREVENTION Robyn McNeill is founder of Beating Burnout, a company that delivers neuroscience ‘brain-based’ stress and burnout prevention programs that teach people to rewire their brains so stress and burnout do not take over their lives. McNeill says that just one person on a $75,000 salary who is stressed or burnt out and eventually goes off on sick leave for three months will cost an organisation a minimum of $18,750 in lost wages, medical and rehabilitation costs, plus a potential claim payout and increased workers’ compensation premiums. “The ROI on prevention and early intervention, which would enable that person to recognise, acknowledge and manage his or her individual stressors, and stay in their role, would be 750:1. That is, for every dollar spent on training the organisation would save $750 in lost revenue,” McNeill says. “But there also is a direct Return on Prevention [ROP] benefit, with a sound stress and burnout prevention strategy actively making your organisation money.” ROP is a work health and safety lead indicator, which represents the potential economic success of delivering stress and burnout prevention strategies within an organisation. There are direct, indirect and long-term benefits in prevention and early intervention with a focus on ROP. The benefits of having a productive, engaged workforce with a creative and proactive approach to their work have been shown by the International Social Security Association (ISSA) to deliver a positive return of 1:2.2. “That is, for every $1 spent on stress and burnout prevention the organisation sees an economic boost of $2.20,” says McNeill. ISSA breaks this down to: Up 21% – Increased employee motivation and satisfaction Up 19% – Prevention of disruptions Up 15% – Sustained focus on quality, and better quality of products Up 14% – Prevention of wastage, reduction of time spent catching up Up 9% – Product innovations

best thing is, everybody wins. It’s essential in today’s competitive environment that we build our people, not burn them, and stress and burnout prevention is essential for any successful business.” EAP ESSENTIALS AN EAP PROVIDES SUPPORT AND GUIDANCE FOR A BROAD RANGE OF ISSUES INCLUDING:

✔ Dealing with specific workplace issues such as conflict, bullying and stress

✔ Enhancing communication to be more effective in different situations

✔ Improving sleep quality to enhance personal vitality

✔ Managing lifestyle behaviours such as smoking or alcohol

✔ Improving relationships in the workplace and at home

✔ Support for individuals in financial difficulty ✔ Assisting people to cope with grief after the loss of a loved one

✔ Enhanced working relationship

WARNING SIGNS Managers will often be the first to see indicators that an employee might need some assistance, and it is important to have the courage and confidence to ask if they are OK. The manager does not need to get involved in the issue, or become a confidant – they just need to show the employee they are concerned and offer information about what resources are available for the employee to seek assistance. A FEW EXAMPLES OF THE WARNING SIGNS A MANAGER MIGHT NOTICE ARE:

Slipping or irregular performance Irritability, unusual anger or quickness to anger Increased sick leave or pattern of lateness Difficulty paying attention Missed deadlines or decreased quality of work Signs of fatigue Reduced care in personal presentation Not caring about things that are usually important Change in behaviour and practices

“It’s all part of future-proofing against the global epidemic of stress and burnout, as flagged by the World Health Organisation,” says McNeill. “The HCAMAG.COM

NOVEMBER 2013 | 43



Why do people find it so hard to change, or resist change even when it might be good for them? The answers can be found in the brain itself, as Sonia McDonald reveals

As leaders, we are constantly driving and facilitating change, yet research in this area has demonstrated that 70% of change initiatives fail. Why? How can we make change easier and more successful? The neuroscience of change, and understanding how our brains function, is vital to managing and coping with change.

BRAINS ARE WIRED FOR SURVIVAL Our brain functions as a survival tool by helping us avoid danger. A part of the brain called the amygdala helps monitor our responses and tells us when to run from danger or towards safety. It also tells us when to step towards a benefit or away from a threat. When change is happening around us in our society, relationships and workplaces, we can feel threatened, and that activates our amygdala. We feel outside our comfort zones, triggering fear and anxiety. While this is good for our safety, it does come at a cost. When our brain is in safety mode, protecting

44 | NOVEMBER 2013

us from a perceived threat, it cannot function well as a problem solver or creativity generator. In the workplace, the fear of change causes people to rely on tried and true routines, rather than create new strategies to move forward. In effect, the brain shuts down the part that is really needed at that time. Basically, the amygdala of your brain has been hijacked and this is not the best time to make an important decision. Now you see why 70% of change initiatives fail. By understanding how the brain works we can manage change resistance and develop strategies to maximise change potential. Additionally, it gives us insights into how people learn, engage and remember, as well as manage emotions.

BRAINS ARE LAZY Considering that our brains weigh around 1.5kg and absorb around 20% of our body’s energy, our brains are not particularly energy efficient and are actually pretty lazy. Our brains prefer comfy habits, as these



require a lot less energy. They don’t really like to learn new habits or ways of doing things, as this takes effort. The design of the brain is not always helpful. The part of the brain that is responsible for thinking and high-order processing (the prefrontal cortex) requires a lot more energy to function than does the part of the brain that deals with emotion (the limbic system). That means it’s a lot harder for us to cope with change than to return to our tried and true habits. How can we break habits and form new ones? In his book The Brain That Changes Itself, Dr Norman Doidge tells us that the brain can be changed by our thoughts and actions. They physically alter the structure of the brain itself, which in turn changes the way it functions. This is the most important breakthrough in neuroscience in four centuries. This ability of our brain to change and make new connections, rewire itself and even grow new brain cells as a result of experience is called ‘neuroplasticity’. Change is about forming new wiring, habits and behaviours. Yes, we can teach an old dog new tricks! How can we harness neuroplasticity of change? By tapping into the emotions…

BRAINS ARE AFFECTED BY EMOTION We know that often our behaviour is controlled by emotion rather than common sense. What that tells us is that the limbic system in the brain has some control over the information that is passed onto the cortex, which controls our decision-making system. In other words, our thoughts and actions are coloured or skewed by the emotion that we are feeling. You’ve heard of rose-coloured glasses, the phenomenon that makes certain things look better than they really are. That’s an example of the limbic system influencing our beliefs and perceptions. When people are afraid, as they usually are at the thought of change, our limbic systems colour our perceptions with threat and fear. People only see the negative side of change because that is all their brain permits. If the change is brought about for positive reasons, then people will accept it and be ready to involve themselves in making change happen.

MAKING THE BRAIN WORK FOR YOU So, we know that our brains are wired for survival, that they are lazy and will take the easiest thought out of there, and that every thought is coloured by


The fear of change causes people to rely on tried and true routines, rather than create new strategies to move forward emotion. We also know that actions and thoughts can change the physical structure of the brain. How can we use that knowledge to make the brain lead us towards supporting change rather than running away from it? There are two key solutions. First, you can use neuroplasticity to your advantage and provide opportunities for people to develop new thoughts and practise new actions and behaviours, thereby rewiring the brain. Second, you can make the limbic system work for you by creating positives around change, especially to reinforce behaviour and thought changes. We need to build organisational change systems that capture the important role of emotions in determining behaviour, particularly in the contexts of engagement, resistance, cooperation, and commitment. What that means in the workplace is that every small step forward needs to be acknowledged. Change leaders are essentially helping people to develop new connections within their brains. Our role should involve creating opportunities and interventions that give people the chance to trial new behaviours in a safe environment. We should allow them to take the ‘risk’ of doing something uncomfortably new and succeeding at it. The more fun we can build into the experience, the more people will become involved in it. Positive reinforcement is essential to help embed the new thoughts and behaviours and to show the limbic system that this change is nothing to fear. The more often we can encourage people to repeat the new actions, the more comfortable their brains will allow them to feel. When people are comfortable, their high-order thought processes resume functioning and their creativity and decision-making skills start firing again. If you are leading change in your organisation you can create the right atmosphere for change by building a safe and positive environment for your team and identifying ways to acknowledge and reward new actions or behaviours.

Sonia McDonald is the director, LeadershipHQ. To contact Sonia, email

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“The key issue is creating an environment where you are not drawn into industrial arguments”


GEOFFREY COURT, SALMAT From lawyer to HR director, Salmat’s head of people and culture, Geoffrey Court, talks of his tumultuous time at Ansett and of the importance of keeping the focus on people. He spends five minutes with Cameron Edmond

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HRD: How did you get into the HR field? Geoffrey Court: My background is not HR; by training I’m a lawyer. But it was the growth of the role within Ansett which probably sent me in the direction of HR. One of the roles I ended up with in Ansett was the state manager in Western Australia. I found, as did all the state managers, that 50% of our time was spent on people matters, and you weren’t achieving the goals of your job unless you were concentrating and spending a lot of time on the people matters. It was a customer service organisation and the concentration on people was important.

HRD: You had a long tenure at Ansett. Were you there when it went out of business? GC: I wasn’t there at the end and I can be very thankful of that. I left two years before it fell over, which was very sad. As a company to work for, probably the biggest enjoyment was that it was open to new ideas and in so many areas was the leader. It never achieved what we were finally aiming for, which was excellent customer service. It did in some areas but not overall, but we were a long way down that journey.

HRD: Some of your work involved IR – what do you think of HR’s ability to handle today’s IR issues? GC: It’s part of the training for somebody who has chosen HR; they are trained in that area so the skills are there. I think the problem is the pendulum has moved away from employers. There is an imbalance when you come to a negotiating process. The key issue is creating an environment where you are not drawn into industrial arguments. If you are concentrating on bringing the best out in people, they wouldn’t even contemplate going to anyone other than their manager to have a matter resolved. If you create that environment, there is no need to get into the harsher area of industrial relations. The average Australian company will be a culture of blame, and that creates an environment where people think, “I’m not going to get an answer here so I have to go and get someone to act on my behalf”. We want to create an environment where people are comfortable talking to their manager because they’re used to having one-on-ones.

Ansett – that was a test of everybody who was involved in it. It was quite challenging to be working for a company that had actually stopped working; the whole thing was grounded and it went on for a long time. The things that arose and the way people treated each other and the like…I certainly saw some of the really bad sides of people’s characters and how badly some people can behave. You wouldn’t normally be tested like that in the workplace, and it showed me a lot about human nature.

HRD: How did you overcome that?

Qualifications University of WA – Bachelor of Laws

Early career

Parker & Parker, WA - Commercial lawyer

GC: Working as a team, it became a very supportive group of people and we were quite clear on our position. If you know what the goal is and you know where you are heading, just keep going for it, and that was applied in that case. Also being very clear that the company was in an ethically strong position – but there are not too many industrial disputes that get that large.


HRD: What professional skills do you wish you could improve?

Ansett: Product marketing manager Development of customer service strategies, bringing different disciplines together and working closely with staff to implement these strategies

GC: I always want to improve dealing with people – it is the biggest thing in the area I work with, and I’d always want to be better in that area. It is the most challenging area in any manager’s activities in dealing with people and I’m always looking for ways to improve in that area.

HRD: What is the best piece of advice you have ever received? GC: I had a manager once who said, “When I ask you to do something, I assume you’ve done it”, which is also a terrific bit of management advice: “I am trusting you; I shouldn’t need to follow up to check you’ve done it”.

HRD: What would your advice to upcoming HR practitioners be? GC: Keep the people focus. It is not about you; you are there for other people – if you just remember that, you’ll really enjoy yourself. Remember you are there for other people.

HRD: Finish this sentence. The thing I love about HR is... GC: People!

HRD: What’s been your biggest challenge in your career?

HRD: The thing I dislike about HR is...

GC: The pilot’s dispute when I was working at

GC: Paperwork!



Ansett: State manager, WA Heavily people-focused role, covering IR, training and building a constructive work environment with a focus on excellent customer service



Salmat: Corporate affairs manager and training development manager As team development manager, responsible for employee issues including IR. Training and people development roles led to a full HR role in Salmat’s call centre division


Salmat: Head of people and culture Ensuring company is compliant, as well as developing a constructive culture that enables people to excel

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WINNERS REVEALED Following an in-depth research process to verify nominations and identify the most deserving in the industry, a record crowd of over 800 HR practitioners attended the industry’s night of nights to celebrate best practice and innovation in the profession. The black-tie event, hosted by popular television personality Richard Wilkins, applauded the efforts of HR practitioners across the nation. See who won over the following pages Remesys HR Hall of Fame

Experis HR Director of the Year

Simone Carroll with Doug Spahn, Experis

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Simone Carroll, general manager of people and brand, REA Group

Rhonda Brighton-Hall, general manager of HR, CBA

Congratulations on winning this award – how do you feel?

What accomplishments do you feel helped you get this award?

“I’m really quite stunned. I’m so stunned! The directors in the category are just the most amazing bunch of people, Australia is so lucky to have them.”

“I’ve had 30 years of giving this job my all. There’s probably lists of people I’ve done my best to make a difference to and hopefully I have; having said that, they’ve made just as much difference to me.”

Rhonda Brighton-Hall with Natalie Feller, Remesys



InsuringYou HR Team of the Year

HR Partners HR Champion (CEO) Paul Landy, chief officer HR, QSuper What accomplishments do you feel helped QSuper win this award?

QSuper team with Paul Landy (back row, third from left) and Shane Jones, InsuringYou (back row, third from right)

“It would have to be our culture work in the past 12 months. That was critical in assisting the business with our change agenda and uniting our people in a way that focused us on a common goal.”

HR3 HR Manager of the Year

Chris Beer, CEO, Luxottica Why do you think you won this award? “I felt surprised and humbled to win the award. I‘m a true believer in the power of people and don’t give lip service to it. Frankly, I don’t understand why others don’t realise the power of people in creating transformation ... The HR function is the one that has the most amazing Chris Beer with David Owens, HR Partners opportunity to create the shape and performance of the organisation.”

HRD Magazine HR Rising Star of the Year Maree Morgan-Monk, HR manager, Peoplecare Health Insurance

Alexandra Vargas Reyes, HR advisor, DB Schenker What accomplishments do you feel helped you win this award?

How do you feel about the awards? “They’re great! I’ve been here a few times with different companies. Can’t believe I’m here at an individual level, but I’ve had a great time – they’ve been fantastic.”

“I entered a business group that saw HR as a purely admin function; today I’m part of the senior management team, I am consulted on a daily basis, and I’ve had an opportunity to have a big impact on the bottom-line results.”

Maree Morgan-Monk with Rick Verloop, HR3

Alexandra Vargas Reyes

Accumulate Employer of Choice (>1000)

Frontier Software Employer of Choice (<1000) Joris Luijke, VP HR/talent, Atlassian

Melissa Baldoni, talent acquisition manager, and Jonathan Miller, HR strategy manager, Coca-Cola Amatil

How does this award help with your recruitment efforts?

Will this award help with your employer branding going forward? (Melissa) “We’ll certainly be using it as part of our EVP – this award really highlights how we, (L–R) Jonathan Miller and Melissa Baldoni as HR, partner with the business. with Russell Flint, Accumulate This isn’t an HR award; this is a business award and a testimony to how we all partner to drive that through a business.”


Joris Luijke with Nick Southcombe, Frontier Software

“Ultimately, we want every Australian – especially every Australian developer – to know that we are hiring. This award will make our company more known in Australia, and hopefully we’ll get more talent eager to apply for us.”

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Best HR Strategic Plan

Employer of Choice (Public Sector and NFP)

Peter Gesling with Michelle Gilliver-Smith, HR manager, Port Stephens Council

Peter Gesling, CEO, Port Stephens Council

Sally Kincaid, chief HR officer, QBE

How important do you think these awards are for the HR profession?

How does it feel to win?

“It’s critical to recognise the work everyone is doing on maintaining the importance of employees; they are what make businesses work, and we need to keep that the focus of our business.”

Power2Motivate Best Employee Value Proposition

“It’s a huge achievement not only for QBE but for the industry as a whole to recognise how much strategic planning is influenced by HR. It’s a real privilege for us to win.” (L–R) Sally Kincaid with Victoria Doherty, head of programs, QBE, and Sue Howse, Manpower Solutions

Hemisphere HR Best Recruitment Strategy

Bob Hogarth, general manager of HR, Heritage Bank

Bob Hogarth with Ben Thompson, Power2Motivate

Will this award give you an edge over the competition?

How does it feel to win?

“I certainly hope so! Winning at the HR Awards is prestigious but it’s also something we can advertise and say, ‘Others from outside our organisation view us as being a credible, leading organisation’.”

“It feels fantastic – we are really delighted to win this award for Compass Group and especially with it being recruitment-related as it’s such an important part of the HR profession.”

Solterbeck Best Reward & Recognition Strategy

(L–R) Dawn Tsoubos with Janita Chapman, remuneration & benefits manager, CUA, and Sue Jackson, Solterbeck

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Philip Turner, general manager of talent acquisition, HR, Compass Group

Philip Turner with James McConochie, Hemisphere HR

Best Employer Branding

Dawn Tsoubos, general manager, HR, Credit Union Australia

Shannon Gillespie, employer brand manager, Aurecon

Why do you think you won this award?

Why do you think you won this award?

“Everything we do at CUA is about our people. What we’ve been trying to do over the last three years is develop a program that actually means something to them. I think that’s why we won the award today.”

“We’ve had a very steep journey. We only formed four years ago so we’ve come from almost nothing with employer branding to where we are now. We’ve achieved a lot and made a lot of strategic moves globally to make sure we get to where we are.”

Shannon Gillespie with Jim Grant of Dattner Grant and Jeanette Sanderson, talent development manager, Aurecon



Future Knowledge Best Change Management Strategy

Best Workplace Diversity Strategy

Belinda Webber, senior director HR, and Shiona Watson, HR director Australia & New Zealand, PepsiCo

Matt Dowie, diversity manager, Suncorp How does it feel to win?

Why do you think you won this award? (Shiona) “Change management is a really critical part of HR. I think for us managing change well is just really near and dear to (L–R) Belinda Webber, David Guazzarotto our hearts and a critical part of of Future Knowledge, and Shiona Watson who we are and how we operate.”

EmployeeConnect Best Use of Technology

Staging Connections team with Ari Kopoulos, EmployeeConnect (far right)

Matt Dowie with Patrick Medd, Ernst & Young

Best Learning & Development Strategy Vanessa Porter, general manager of HR, Staging Connections

Michael Corcoran, regional planner development coach and trainer, AMP

Why do you think you won this award?

How does it feel to win?

“We developed an app for safety which all of our employees can access to see what safety protocols they need to fill in or escalate. We also introduced a talent management system – so it’s probably one of those!”

Alere Best Health & Wellbeing Strategy

“We are very excited – a lot of hard work has gone into the development of AMP Horizons over the last four or five years and this just really caps off something that is exciting to us all.” Michael Corcoran with Joydeep Hor, People + Culture Strategies

Best CSR Strategy

Andrea Gannon, VP – head of HR, Aegis

Mark Hesse, wellness operations manager, and Diana Black, health and wellness operations specialist, Bupa

How does it feel to win? “I feel amazing winning the award and being able to represent all our employees in Melbourne – it is truly an amazing feeling!”

What do you think of the HR Awards?

(L–R) Diana Black, Brigitte Schnell of Alere, and Mark Hesse


“It’s an absolutely great honour and privilege. It’s a great affirmation that we are on the right path on our diversity journey. The whole HR team have mobilised Suncorp to think differently about diversity, and really positioned us as a compelling proposition for diverse talent.”

(Diana) “It’s a very exciting time to meet and network with our colleagues in HR, and also hear about some of the fantastic achievements they are all doing in their areas of expertise, so it’s a great night.”

Andrea Gannon

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As the end of the year approaches, it’s time to be thinking about the next generation of workers. Is your organisation ready to take on apprentices and trainees? As many businesses know, timing is everything! Here at 1300apprentice we know this only too well; we’ve been doing this for almost 30 years. Now is the time we experience strong demand from school leavers, HSC graduates and employers looking for the same thing: quality long-term employment outcomes.


Employers can often be cautious about employing new staff. Inconsistent workflow, head-count restraints, rising labour costs, time and cost considerations for the recruitment process all weigh in to the decision. 1300apprentice also specialise in dealing with young people from diverse backgrounds. We support business with productive and flexible employment solutions. “1300apprentice have been successfully providing diversity solutions for ANZ Bank since 2008” – David Brown, ANZ Traineeships Manager, Inclusion Program


As employers, it’s important to know what you’re looking for and that you have the ability and systems in place to support new staff. Where the new employee is going into structured training, the qualification and job role must be appropriate. This will always better align the expectations of all parties and underpin the beginnings of this new working relationship.


In NSW, there are 29,575 traineeships being undertaken with employers in business, finance and insurance vocations representing 30.88% of all traineeships” – Department of Education and Communities, State Training Services, 1 July 2013


Both employers and job seekers can bring preconceived ideas, opinions and experiences to the workplace (both good and bad). At a time when cultural diversity is being embraced, workplaces are becoming truly representative of their communities and clients. Communication styles are vastly different and there are other challenges to overcome, yet it’s an exciting time for business to be employing young people.


In general, new employees expect to have their skills, motivations and energy tapped into by their new employers. In return, they are looking for their employers to invest in them; they are looking for support and growth opportunities. Structured training is a great way to complement all the formal and informal training that occurs in workplaces. “For many years I have enjoyed working in partnership with 1300apprentice, whose trainee program consistently produces results, leading to long-term benefits for our organisation” – Richard Stone, Partner, Turnaround & Insolvency, RSM Bird Cameron Partners

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Marketing & sales salary and job trends Role

Robert Walters


Michael Page

HRD median

General account manager





Business development manager





Sales executive/manager





Marketing manager





Marketing executive





Marketing director





Marketing communications manager





Public relations manager





National sales manager





National account manager









Sales director Senior brand manager





Brand manager





Insights manager





Head of marketing





Communications manager





Senior marketing manager





Product manager





Inside sales rep





Channel manager





Business manager





Marketing assistant





Marketing coordinator





Event coordinator





Event manager





Campaign manager





Marketing analyst





Direct marketing manager





Sponsorship/fundraising manager





Online/website manager





Content/copy writer





Corporate relations manager





Hays: Salaries are based on Sydney roles, exclude superannuation and are based on a median of a lower and upper range Robert Walters: Salaries are for Sydney permanent roles, taken from the median of a lower and upper range, and are inclusive of superannuation but exclusive of benefits/bonuses; + refers to an undetermined amount above Michael Page: Salaries are a median of an upper and lower range and based on 5–7 years’ total experience in the stated role. Figures are for NSW and inclusive of superannuation but exclusive of bonus/incentive schemes

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All my employees will receive the same percentage increase

19% 12%

As confidence in the market has improved, the last 12 months have seen more hiring opportunities in NSW for marketing professionals. Overall, hiring activity has remained steady Constant hiring in the executive area of marketing is expected to remain constant over the next 12 months due to redeployment of senior executives overseas, as well as new roles opening up internally Marketing organisations are increasing their focus on proactive company cultures with clear career paths in order to retain top talent Only a small number of organisations will hire sales staff on 457 visas. They do so when searching for technical, analytical or customer skill sets that exist typically in supermarkets and liquor/food sectors Product-related sectors such as FMCG, industrial and technical have had the strongest hiring activity regarding sales over the last 12 months

All my employees will receive an increase, but it will vary according to performance

59% 62% Only my best-performing employees will receive an increase

12% 17% No one in my team will receive an increase

10% 9%


22% 18% 3–5%




4% 1%


3% 2%



1% 3% Company performance

14% 7%


68% Domestic economic conditions


Not sure

37% 35% 21% Competition with other companies

Global economic conditions


21% 7% Individual performance

25% 31%

10% Don’t expect any factors to impact salaries


Combination of all



37% 32% 6–10%

70% Domestic economic conditions



Not sure

35% 33% Competition with other companies

Global economic conditions


43% 39%

4% 11%


1% 10%





Don’t expect any factors to impact salaries


2% 6%

0% 2% Source: Michael Page Salary & Employment Forecast Australia 2013/14


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