Human Resources Director 16.06

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AI-POWERED HIRING Who to trust: the human or the machine? CREATING CONVIVIALITY A refreshing approach to HR HCAMAG.COM ISSUE 16.06

RECRUITING’S NEW TARGET Seeking diversity of thought

TALENT FLYING HIGH Lucinda Gemmell on how Virgin Australia is opening pathways to leadership


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UPFRONT 02 Editorial

Open-mindedness is key to success

04 Head to head Are workplace romances a no-no?

06 Statistics

Global engagement on the rise again

08 News analysis

Can AI-powered hiring be trusted?

10 Employment law update

Championing gender equality in law

12 Technology update


SEEKING DIVERSITY OF THOUGHT Forward-thinking employers with a more targeted approach to recruitment are on the hunt for talent with ‘cognitive diversity’

The reality of automation’s impact

14 Expert insight

Prioritising work health and safety

FEATURES 42 Feedback that works

How to give feedback eff ectively




HRD celebrates the best of the best of HR’s most valued business partners

46 Drivers of innovation


48 Building better teams

Pernod Ricard’s Christian Campanella explains how being ‘creators of conviviality’ sets the company apart from others




Creating a workplace culture that allows innovation to thrive Putting an end to team dysfunction

50 Constructive leadership


How to overcome ego with teamwork

52 Going virtual

Four steps to an eff ective virtual workforce

PEOPLE 55 Career path

A master of negotiation

56 Other life


Singing to a diff erent tune




Lucinda Gemmell talks about Virgin Australia’s people plan – a strategy that opens the way for diverse talent and potential new leaders

Connections to an inspiring purpose and the achievements of individuals and teams are core ingredients of a strong workplace culture

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Evolutionary HR is coming


tephen Hawking once said: “Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” This is truer today than when the famous physicist first coined the phrase all those years ago. Great thinkers like Hawking and Darwin know that humanity’s survival and advancement are dependent upon its ability to evolve, shift and transform. So where does this leave HR? The future of work is a term that’s already instilling both dread and suspicion among practitioners. What it entails, how to prepare for it, and where exactly it will lead are all uncertain and, at this point, subject to speculation. A recent report from Pandexio found that 78% of employees believe smart technology will revolutionise the workforce by 2020. What’s more, workers claim that they’re most excited about the new possibilities that the future of work will bring to their organisations. Angèle Mullins, director of HR at NAL Resources and speaker at the HR

EDITORIAL Senior writer Emily Douglas Writers Tom Goodwin, John Hilton, Libby Macdonald Contributors Rose Bryant-Smith, Amantha Imber, Ruth MacKay, Karen Morley, Georgia Murch, Aytekin Tank Production Editor Roslyn Meredith

ART & PRODUCTION Designer Marla Morelos Traffic Coordinator Freya Demegilio

SALES & MARKETING Marketing & Communications Managers Michelle Lam, Danica Mendoza Business Development Manager Matthew Nutt

CORPORATE Chief Executive Officer Mike Shipley Chief Operating Officer George Walmsley Managing Director Justin Kennedy Chief Information Officer Colin Chan Human Resources Manager Julia Bookallil



Employees who evolve are the ones who will be successful in newly made roles. Those who dig their heels in may find they’re not required Leaders Summit in Calgary, Canada, told HRD that only “open-minded” employees who were willing to “evolve” would even stand a chance of career progression in the coming years. Essentially, it all comes down to being flexible and open to new ideas – something humanity is not very good at. As Darwin said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” The only real way of preparing yourself for the future of work is to keep your eyes open. Don’t shut yourself off from new opportunities or ideas; and, most importantly, do involve your employees in the decision-making process. Sure, some will push back. Some may even leave – but let them. Employees who are prepared to evolve are the ones who will be successful in newly made roles. Those who choose to dig their heels in may find they’re not required in the future world of work. The team at Human Resources Director


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Should HR prohibit romantic office relationships? It’s an area fraught with hazards, but so many employees find romance blooming in the workplace

Rose Clements

Erin Cramlet

Executive GM, people and performance Empired

Senior director, HR Stryker

General manager, people and culture Sanitarium

“In a word, no. Employees are people, not automatons. Employees do not check their common sense at the door, neither do they check their hormones, and HR has to be realistic as well as pragmatic in anticipating that office relationships can and do occur. What HR should do is enable a mature culture of openness and transparency in order to proactively manage any real or perceived conflicts of interest. Good values-based judgment and decisionmaking by all parties, plus the ability to take steps to quarantine information, decisions and reporting lines are prerequisites for minimising risk.”

“As someone who met their husband at work, I don’t think HR should prohibit workplace romantic relationships. We all spend a lot of time at work, and our social circle will naturally expand to those who we work with. That said, workplace relationships can present complexities, so my advice: • Be transparent with your manager and discuss expectations. Setting some ground rules early on can help navigate through those complexities as they arise. • Make sure there are no conflicts of interest or perceptions of favouritism. • When in doubt, keep it professional. After all, you are at work to perform your job.”

“Workplaces are social places, which makes the possibility of personal relationships a real one. If people choose to do that we have no issue with it; in fact we have numerous husband-and-wife or partner combinations within our workplace. “The focus for us isn’t on the relationship but on the behaviours – by focusing on the right behaviours the relationship issue is taken off the table. The other safeguard is that people are expected to disclose if there is a relationship that may result in a conflict of interest, such as a reporting line; then we can manage it appropriately.”

J H a

Peter Hartnett



GETTING YOUR HONEY WHERE YOU MAKE YOUR MONEY More than one in every two people has been involved in a relationship that started at work, according to a survey on the subject by Vault conducted on behalf of XpertHR. Of the 57% who owned up to having had a workplace romance, 21% described it as a “minor fling”, 14% said it had led to a continuing casual relationship, while for 16% it grew into a long-term relationship and for 10% it ended in marriage. “Office romances are often inevitable but they can cause complications for employers, who need to ensure proper workplace conduct and make sure all employees are treated fairly,” said Beth Zoller, legal editor at XpertHR. “Employers should evaluate the risks related to romantic relationships in the workplace, adopt proper policies to protect the employer’s interests, and set parameters for dating and close personal relationships at work.”


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National HR Summit A






26-27 March • Luna Park Sydney

Join over 1000 HR leaders for one award-winning event

TURIA PITT Athlete, Humanitarian, Motivational Speaker

SARAH PROUDFORD Director of National Recruitment Australian Bureau of Statistics

LUCINDA GEMMELL Group Executive, People Virgin Australia

STEVEN WORRALL Managing Director Microsoft Australia


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Engagement at all-time high

GLOBAL TREND LED BY ASIA-PACIFIC The largest positive increases in engagement are concentrated in the area of talent and staffing – a trend that’s visible across territories but especially pronounced in Europe, Africa and the Asia-Pacific region. The 2% global uptick can be traced in large part to an overall improvement in APAC.

Employee engagement, which is defined as a worker’s ‘psychological investment in their organisation’, is back on a high worldwide THE MAIN drivers of a recent rebound in employee engagement globally are the rise seen in the gargantuan markets of the Asian region and the surge apparent in Africa. This was reflected in the results of Aon’s 2018 Trends in Global Employee Engagement survey, which showed an increase in engagement after a year in which it dipped from the previous high of 2015. However, the report also showed that the level of employee engagement in North America stayed flat at 64%,


global employee advocacy (‘say’) up two points

while in Canada it actually dropped, shedding one point to 69%. The report uses what it describes as the ‘say, stay, strive’ model to measure employee engagement. The survey asked employees to self-identify whether they say positive things about their organisation; are thinking about remaining with their employer for a long time; and feel motivated to expend extra efforts in the quest to help their organisation reach its goals.


likelihood of remaining at company (‘stay’) up one point



willingness to expend extra effort (‘strive’) up two points

uptick in overall engagement globally Source: Aon: 2018 Trends in Global Employee Engagement

ONE THIRD REMAIN PASSIVE OR DISENGAGED Globally, more than one in four employees are considered to be highly engaged; however, those considered to be either passive or actively disengaged account for one in every three workers.

GLOBAL RESURGE IN ENGAGEMENT Employee engagement spiked to an all-time high in 2015 before dropping briefly the following year and then resurging in 2017 to its previous peak. 70%


27% Highly engaged 38% Moderately engaged 21% Passive 14% Actively disengaged



58% 59%






50% 2011 Source: Aon: 2018 Trends in Global Employee Engagement








Source: Aon: 2018 Trends in Global Employee Engagement

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Influencers of engagement


North America

Latin America
















Talent and staffing







Employee value proposition







Rewards and recognition







Enabling infrastructure







Career and development










Customer focus


Diversity and inclusion

+2 +1

+5 -1


Work tasks Senior leadership




Source: PwC/OutNEXT: Out to Succeed: Realising the Full Potential of LGBT+ Talent, 2018

APAC MOTIVATED BY SENIOR LEADERS In the Asia-Pacific region, the greatest driver of engagement was exposure to senior leadership. The rewards and recognition factor also ranked highly, a trend consistent with the global picture. 5


Perhaps the most notable difference between 2016 and 2017 is the increase in highly engaged employees. However, there’s been a slight decline in engagement among all others.


Highly engaged

+4 pts

24% 27%


+3 pts +3 pts

+3 pts

+3 pts +3 pts

+3 pts

Moderately engaged

39% 38%


+2 pts

+2 pts

+2 pts


22% 21%

1 0

Actively disengaged Rewards and recognition

Senior leadership


Career and development

Employee value proposition

15% 14%

Enabling infrastructure 0





2016 Source: Aon: 2018 Trends in Global Employee Engagement






2017 Source: Aon: 2018 Trends in Global Employee Engagement

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AI and the human touch The challenge of relying wholly on artificial intelligence in making hiring decisions is that the results can be skewed by the humans behind the machine. So what can we learn from AI slip-ups?

“PAY NO attention to that man behind the curtain!” In the iconic scene in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy discovers a less-thanimpressive wizard sitting in a booth, the unmasked man is keen for the heroine and her companions to focus purely on the machine he is operating and forget about the human pulling the levers. The message is clear – understanding the mechanisms of

around the ability to remove bias – anything that infers age or gender or even location,” explains John Dawson, director of sales at Ideal. “For instance, we sometimes hire people who come from more affluent neighbourhoods without thinking anything of it. By removing these data sets you can normalise the application. It also increases the chance for all candidates to have an equal opportunity in the firm.

“Recruiters need help with reviewing talent in an unbiased way to make their own decisions” John Dawson, director of sales, a tool only ruins the illusion. Today, robotics rules supreme – and nowhere is this truer than in recruitment. We’ve stepped through the looking glass and into a world where algorithms predict future successes, candidates converse with chatbots, and ethics have been reimagined for the digital age. But how are these new creations shaking up our HR processes? “The benefits of AI in recruitment fall


“If I think about my time as a recruiter, I would tend to hire people from the same university as myself. Soon enough we started to notice a trend in the same types of people coming through the door. AI allows us to hire with an unbiased mindset, looking at what they’ve achieved rather than what we infer.” And the research out there suggests Dawson is correct. One in three businesses today is deploying artificial intelligence to

bolster its recruiting efforts, according to a 2017 survey by Deloitte. In fact, 96% of HR leaders believe AI has the potential to revolutionise talent acquisition. But while these emerging technologies are transforming the world of hiring, we have to be cautious not to relinquish all control to our robotic colleagues. Just recently, Amazon faced a backlash after it emerged that an AI algorithm built to review CVs seemingly discriminated against women. According to reports, the engineers built the machine using résumés submitted in the previous 10 years – the majority having come from male candidates. While the machine was never used on actual applicant CVs, the result did pose questions around the biased nature of AI. “Some of the challenges lie around how you’re adopting AI and ensuring the models you’re using have been built off genuine data sets,” Dawson says. “These data sets shouldn’t be biased in themselves.”

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of HR managers already see evidence of AI becoming a regular part of HR


claim that not fully automating manual processes has led to lower productivity


of HRDs aren’t nervous about using AI in their processes


There’s been an explosion of interest in AI ethics in the last few months. Companies are trying to do a lot of work in this space, while employers debate it at conferences

trust or not trust – it’s the person behind the machine. This notion of an evolving output distribution, whereby the algorithm goes forth interacting with real-world data and

“Ultimately, it’s the human who we should trust or not trust – the person behind the machine” Abhishek Gupta, founder, Montreal AI Ethics Institute all over the world. But how much of this has been dedicated to breaching the gap between the algorithm and the human pressing the buttons? “We shouldn’t give too much power to any AI system,” says Abhishek Gupta, founder of the Montreal AI Ethics Institute. “These machines are not autonomous, in the sense that we’re the ones architecting the system. Ultimately, it’s the human who we should

learning from that, makes you question whether you should trust the human or trust the system itself. The data itself is the source of bias. We’re capturing the stereotypes that exist within society, hence they’re reflected in the outputs of the machine learning systems. For every AI slip-up that’s played out on a public stage, I’m confident there’s a few going undetected internally.” It’s clear that the meaning behind

of HR managers think a robot could do their job AI-powered hiring is steeped in morals, the goal being to increase the diversity of talent within organisations and eradicate any discrimination. However, the danger arises when we relinquish all control to our robotic colleagues and forget that they’re essentially a reflection of our own ideals. “Recruitment needs to have a human touch – after all it’s called human resources for a reason,” Dawson says. “Recruiters need help with reviewing talent in an unbiased way to make their own decisions, whilst still taking into account the algorithm’s suggestions. So long as we’re not reliant on AI to make the hiring decisions entirely, it can have an amazing impact across the industry. The final decision needs to be left to a human.” After all, a recruitment technology stack is only as good as the human behind it.

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EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE NEWS BRIEFS Visa rules amended to fill labour gap Visitors to Australia who hold the 417 or 462 visa – otherwise known as the working holiday visas – will be permitted to extend their stay in the country under new rules. The changes will require foreign workers to serve communities in regional and rural Australia currently experiencing labour shortages. By mid-2019, working holiday visa holders will be allowed to remain in Australia for a maximum of three years instead of two if they perform regional work, particularly agricultural work, for six months of their second year. Foreign workers who hold working holiday visas will no longer be required to switch jobs every six months.

Degani Bakery and Café breached workplace laws The Degani Bakery and Café compliance activity audit has been released, finding non-compliance at 15 outlets, including underpayment and record-keeping breaches. The Fair Work Ombudsman’s activity involved auditing 14 Degani outlets in Melbourne and two in Rockhampton following a high number of requests for assistance. The results found that just one outlet was compliant with workplace laws. Ombudsman Sandra Parker said underpayment or non-payment of penalty rates was the most common issue identified by inspectors, as well as underpayment of base rates of pay.

Paid domestic violence leave for public sector Teachers, police, nurses and other public sector workers in NSW are set to get 10 days’ paid domestic violence leave each year. NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Pru Goward made the


announcement, which follows the lead of other states such as South Australia and Western Australia. The new entitlement will be in place from 1 January 2019 and will ensure survivors of domestic violence have more resources and more time to rebuild. The announcement will impact more than 300,000 public sector workers.

Long service leave changes in effect The new Long Service Leave Act 2018 came into effect on 1 November 2018 in Victoria, and businesses that operate there will be facing significant changes. The updated legislation will impact the long service leave entitlements of all Victorian employees who were previously covered by the Long Service Leave Act 1992, according to the senior employment adviser at Employsure, Natalie Clark. Moreover, it also applies to companies who may be based outside Victoria but still have staff employed in the state. Employees will be able to request long service leave after seven years of continuous service with an employer – it was formerly 10 years.

Employee underpaid $11k over just nine months A Bundaberg-based transport company has been fined $80,000 for underpaying an employee more than $11,000 over just nine months. Bundaberg Refrigerated Transport has received the penalty in the Federal Circuit Court. The company transports refrigerated farm produce to destinations across Australia, including Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. It paid the employee a flat hourly rate of $23 between October 2014 and July 2015. Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the Court’s penalty should serve as a warning to businesses to comply with their legal obligation to workers.

Law firm announces innovative D&I initiatives G+T is attempting to address barriers to women’s full participation in the workforce Law firm Gilbert + Tobin (G+T) has announced a suite of new initiatives to accelerate its progress towards building a diverse and inclusive workforce. The goal is to address barriers to women’s full participation in the workforce and play a role in improving the representation of women in senior leadership across the legal profession. The initiatives announced include: • a new target to increase the representation of women in the partnership to 40% by 2023, as a critical step towards becoming a gender-balanced partnership • extending superannuation contributions to cover unpaid portions of parental leave for primary carers • providing employees with a ‘work from home IT kit’, including a full-sized screen and keyboard to enable greater flexibility in how people manage their personal commitments with the needs of clients • continuing to support new parents through best practice parental leave entitlements, flexible working options and return-to-work support G+T currently has 59% female lawyers, and women also make up 68% of senior management roles within the firm (excluding partners). Managing partner Danny Gilbert says leaders need to attract the best talent in the

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market and assemble diverse teams who can bring unique perspectives, experiences and skill sets to the table. “While we have always had more than 30% of our partners being women, we recognise we need to take decisive action towards creating a fully gender-balanced partnership, redressing the financial disadvantages and impact of caring responsibilities that fall disproportionately on women, and making flexible work practices a reality for all our people,” says Gilbert.

“We want to ensure G+T continues to be a place that champions equality for all. Importantly, we hope our efforts will help catalyse wider action” “This is critical to enable both men and women to better balance their work and personal commitments.” Gilbert adds that the initiatives are not “quick fixes” but are instead designed to drive a “structural shift” to ensure they are providing staff with the right opportunities, tools, policies and environment in which to thrive. “We want to ensure G+T continues to be a place that champions equality for all. Importantly, we hope our efforts will help catalyse wider action and change across the profession.” Recent data released by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) found that over the last five years employer action has been improving workplace gender equality. In particular, the 2017/18 WGEA data showed a steady increase in the number of women in management roles, as well as strong growth in employer action in areas such as overall gender equality policies and strategies, pay equity and flexible work. However, the data confirms we still have a long way to go. There are pay gaps favouring men in every industry and occupation, and women earn on average just 79% of men’s full-time total remuneration.


Independent medical examinations Shannon Chapman Counsel ASHURST

Fast fact For seven in 10 companies in Australia, the cut-off age for candidates is 50, even though setting an age limit for job applicants is against the law in this country, according to a survey by the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Managing ill and injured employees – and, in particular, obtaining enough information so they can be properly managed – can be one of the most complex circumstances to deal with in the workplace. Each case is unique in terms of its facts (including the particular circumstances of the employee) and there are many competing considerations that need to be considered – and navigated! An employer should review any and all relevant policies, procedures and employment contracts, plus any applicable enterprise agreements and modern awards, to determine what parameters, if any, there are around managing ill and injured employees. When can you require an employee to attend an independent medical examination? There are four ways an employer can do so: • Where there is an express right to require an employee to do so, either in the employee’s employment contract, in an applicable enterprise agreement, or in a policy or procedure. • If such a right exists, this is generally the most straightforward approach for an employer. • Where there is an express right in specific legislation that applies to the industry or sector (eg the coal mining industry and public sector). • When the employer requests the employee to do so, and the employee agrees; and • By issuing a lawful and reasonable direction to the employee. What is a lawful and reasonable direction? An employer has a common law right to give a lawful and reasonable direction to an employee. However, disciplinary action, including termination of employment, for failing to comply with a direction, such as to attend a medical examination, will only be enforceable if the direction is found to be lawful and reasonable in the circumstances. When might a direction to attend a medical examination be lawful and reasonable? A direction to an employee requiring them to attend a medical examination might be lawful and reasonable where: • Medical certificates provided by the employee are vague or lacking in detail. • There has been a lengthy unexplained absence from work. • The employee has not offered any information about prognosis; and • There is conflicting medical evidence. An employer should remember that a direction to attend a medical examination must relate to an employee’s fitness for work, usually in the context of a current medical condition. This means that, for example, a direction requiring an employee to attend a psychiatric assessment is likely to be found to be unreasonable and unlawful if the employee is suffering from a physical, not a psychiatric, injury.

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How can HR survive disruption and thrive? HRD talks to Natalie Thomson, HR director, ANZ, at Merlin Entertainment, about tech’s impact on HR

As technology progresses, HR professionals are facing an increasing number of challenges, according to Natalie Thomson, HR director – ANZ at Merlin Entertainment. “For me, the variety of challenge makes the career I’ve chosen so varied and so exciting. If I was to choose one, it would have to be disruption,” Thomson tells HRD. “Disruption exists in most industries and most businesses these days, and is critical in order for businesses to stay ahead or even just keep up in their industries.” Thomson says the challenge for HR is being able to offer team members an “element of stability” through a period of disruption. “It’s about being agile enough and giving your team members a level of comfort and assurance


that they’ll be consistent,” she says. “Generally, I would suggest that this stability that you’re able to offer your team members links to your business values and links to what makes people want to work for you as an employer.” Thomson adds that technology has greatly impacted her role over the past few years and HR should be aware of the misconceptions around automation. “Technology really forces us to have to think about how we approach our roles and change the way we approach our roles,” she says. For Thomson, one of the age-old challenges in HR and for any business is around communication. “I see a lot of good practices out there, but

Why your employees want a robot CEO

Would a robot make a better boss than a human? More than a third of workers seem to think so, according to a survey on workplace automation by Advanced. Moreover, 65% of respondents said they would welcome working alongside robots if it would help reduce repetitive, manual tasks. People are also becoming more keen on using artificial intelligence, with 35% of respondents hoping the technology could be incorporated into their daily work. Another 32% said they wanted to use AI for business intelligence, while 31% said they needed it to conduct predictive analytics. 12

I’m yet to find a business that has really nailed communication with their team members,” she says. “Technology, I believe, has assisted us in this space and will continue to assist in this space. However, as technology becomes stronger, team members’ expectations around how we communicate also grows.” Thomson says technology will also have a huge impact on the “inevitable area of automation”. “I think there’s maybe a slight misconception out there that automation is mainly going to impact blue-collar workers or frontline

“I’m yet to find a business that has really nailed communication with their team members. Technology, I believe, has assisted us in this space” employees,” she says. “I actually think the impact from a white-collar perspective is going to be quite big as well. “It’s about having the right attitude and the right approach to be optimal within the business and industry that you’re in.” Thomson adds that the time has come to take a more strategic and creative approach to HR. “It’s about understanding, as we move further away from processing, what value we can add to a business and how we can ensure we can change, shift and adapt to continue to add value to our businesses moving forward.”

How much tech is too much? While employers want their workforce to utilise digital tools to enhance productivity, technology is a double-edged sword. How much tech is too much? A recent report from The Branded Research Inc found that 75% of employees are constantly distracted by digital notifications – to the point where it’s negatively impacting on their work ethic. In fact, the research highlighted that most people spend eight hours every week just checking these messages. The culture of being constantly ‘switched on’ is having a damaging effect on employee mental health, which in turn is leading to a drop in overall productivity.

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Attracting talent in 2019 Mike Ellis Chief commercial officer SYNCHRONY GLOBAL

Fast fact A study from reMarkable found that 38% of employees would like to be allowed to use their phones less, with 66% claiming the threat of constant notifications is sapping their focus.

Why is attracting and retaining talent so important for growing a company? I recently hosted a group of HR executives at a roundtable event on this topic. What struck me halfway through the session was the focus of the challenges faced was entirely on attracting talent into the recruiting funnel, not necessarily the hiring process itself once that candidate was in the recruiting funnel. I likened it to the demand generation side of a sales and marketing department. Interestingly, we all came to the conclusion that attracting talent was a continuous process. You not only have to attract new talent but also have to continue to retain that talent once they become an employee. We’ve recently had a re-look at how we recruit our talent. We’ve grown from 50 employees when we first started our organisation to over 170 people in a three-year period. For the first year or so, the growth was largely achieved by using personal networks, people who had worked for us before in previous organisations, and employee referrals. We’re now at the point where we have to look beyond those networks at how to efficiently and cost-effectively attract new talent to the organisation.

So how does Synchrony attract the right talent? As an SME, spending money on recruitment agency fees isn’t the ideal option, so we looked at utilising the cloud HR solution we sell, SAP SuccessFactors, to facilitate this growth. We utilised SuccessFactors from the very start of our organisation, and as the initial growth has largely been based on hiring people who we’ve worked with in the past, our focus and usage of the toolset has been

Amazon relying more on automation

E-commerce giant Amazon is planning to hire fewer seasonal workers this holiday shopping period as the online retailer relies increasingly on automation, an internet analyst said. Amazon is expected to enlist 100,000 temporary workers this year, which is 20,000 less than the figures for 2016 and 2017, according to Citi analyst Mark May. This is the first time the retailer is reducing the number of seasonal hires, but the move ties in “very closely with the use of robots and automation within their facilities”, said May.

applicant tracking. We’re now moving into the next stage of our growth, where we are looking at having to attract talent to our organisation that we haven’t worked with in the past. We’ve therefore looked again at our toolset and have just implemented the ‘marketing’ side of the SAP SuccessFactors Recruitment solution.

Besides recruiting, how is Synchrony focused on talent management? In addition to attracting new talent, we’re focusing on the concept of “continuous attraction” of our existing employees. Our next process to go live is the Onboarding solution, which is designed not only to simplify the collection of information needed to set an employee up with system access and completion of statutory forms, but more importantly to start to engage with the employee pre-start date. This is done by introducing them to their team, providing training access and the ability to set 30-, 60- , and 90-day goals. After onboarding, our next module in our HR road map is Succession and Career Development, to identify the leaders of the future and to provide our employees with the ability to highlight where they want to go in their careers. This will allow us to look at providing learning opportunities to our talent. All of this is possible through the integrated nature of our solution, without any integration points or having to wrestle with double entry of data, which is manual, costly and cumbersome. It goes without saying that we provide our internal teams with the ability to apply for any current jobs. We strongly believe in encouraging personal growth across all of our teams and welcome employees wanting to look at other opportunities within our organisation.

Email makes the workplace ‘lonely’

Today’s global workforce spend half their time each day ploughing through emails and catching up on instant messages, according to new research from Future Workplace and Virgin Pulse. However, 40% of employees who rely on email said they felt lonely. Workplace tools can create the illusion of being connected, the study showed. “In reality, [workers] feel isolated, lonely, disengaged, and less committed to their organisations when overusing or misusing [tech],” said Dan Schawbel, Future Workplace partner. Moreover, 43% of remote workers who feel isolated believe spending more time with colleagues would help foster deeper relationships.

Major bank to build Silicon Valley hub

JP Morgan is hoping to tap into the tech industry’s talent pool by opening a campus right at the heart of Silicon Valley. The new site will be built in Palo Alto, California, with construction beginning in early 2019 and completing a year later. It will be located at Stanford Research Park, in the lot once occupied by Lockheed Martin. The campus will be dedicated to the company’s fintech services and house over 1,000 workers. It will serve as an “innovation hub” where staff across departments can streamline their work on new products and services.

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Trust builds better teams Delegate proactively, writes Karen Morley, in order to cultivate trust and develop the next generation of leaders THE DEMANDS of leadership continue to increase in pace and complexity. Leaders have to care about more things than ever before. If leaders delegated more they could cultivate greater trust and increase both engagement and productivity. What can HR managers do to encourage leaders to delegate more? Under the pressure of escalating demands, most leaders adopt a command-and-control style of leadership with their teams. They don’t delegate enough, so they overwork and end up feeling overburdened. Teams disengage. Leaders and their teams end up producing less, while also jeopardising everyone’s wellbeing and increasing the risk of burnout. Leaders who put trust at the heart of their leadership take a different approach. Trusting leaders support and develop their people. They readily delegate work and responsibility. They do what they can to equip team members to do their best work. Not only does more and better-quality work get done but this also has the enormous benefit of relieving the pressure on leaders. Delegation is a good proxy for trust. When leaders readily delegate work and responsibility to their team members they show them that they trust them. Delegation helps develop next-generation leaders, so leaders need to be flexible and willing to give up status and power in the service of their team members, and this relies on high levels of trust.

Leading versus managing HR managers have a key role to play in helping leaders to understand what delegation is, and increasing their confidence in delegating. HR


also plays a vital role in helping the organisation to take a learning rather than retributive approach to mistakes and challenges. Performance improves substantially when leaders empower their teams. Management control is less often the style of choice. In agile, adaptive organisations, leading is more about helping teams to learn how to navigate the system for themselves. Leaders need to expect their team members to be able to grow, and therefore they need the chance to exercise their own authority. Signalling the importance of these

1. Help leaders redefine their roles from experts to leaders. They should let their team members be the experts in situations that occur in their areas of responsibility. If they put on a coaching cap, leaders keep the responsibility with team members to manage their own issues and challenges. 2. Help leaders change their focus to one of creating opportunities rather than avoiding mistakes. Set up a learning frame, and focus attention on the future and what is possible, rather than on the past and what has already been done. 3. Attune leaders to the impact of their power. When leaders use their power in a coercive way, they erode trust. By stepping back, they show trust by delegating responsibility back where it belongs. They offer guidance and support, rather than direction. Through these steps, leaders’ mindsets shift. They can be more collaborative and generous when they focus on ‘how can we make this work?’ Many leaders feel that they must step in, particularly when there are problems and crises. These are some of

Leaders need to be willing to give up status and power in the service of their team members, and this relies on high levels of trust capabilities is a key opportunity for HR. Make sure your managers are equipped to manage well by clarifying the role of leadership, particularly the distinction between managing and leading; supporting them in developing new mindsets and skills; and making sure good people leadership is recognised and rewarded.

Delegate to grow trust Trust has two main aspects. The first is a willingness to be open to someone else’s actions. The second is a positive expectation that the other person will not exploit the situation. You can encourage leaders by take the following steps towards increasing their confidence in delegating more, and more often.

the richest opportunities for people to learn, so if HR managers can encourage leaders to take a more open, coaching approach, and to trust people to solve their own problems, they will be better equipped to avoid or respond adaptively to future situations. HR managers can teach leaders that those who extend trust grow trust. Many leaders wait for team members to show they are trustworthy. However, where leaders trust first, team members are more likely to reciprocate. Karen Morley is the author of Lead like a Coach and Gender Balanced Leadership: An Executive Guide. Karen works with executives and HR leaders. For more information, visit

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HR and WHS: Are you ready for 2019? HR leaders must demonstrate a commitment to building a positive safety culture by making WHS a high priority in their organisations, says Alan Girle

ACCORDING TO figures from SafeWork Australia, in the 13 years from 2003 to 2015, 3,207 workers have lost their lives in work-related incidents. These figures should elicit a pretty obvious response in any organisation, but where does the responsibility fall for starting or rekindling the conversation about work health and safety (WHS) in the workplace? Is WHS a part of someone’s portfolio in HR? The questions to ask are: what happens when an incident occurs in your business? When does HR get involved and to what degree? Today, WHS is expanding to include the health and wellbeing of an employee as well as the physical safety the employer must provide. This move towards looking after the mental health of staff, along with their physical safety in the workplace, is expanding the portfolio of the HR executive. It goes beyond the compliance documents, audits and training that should be standard practice for all businesses, and encompasses cultural change that engages employees in being proactive in managing WHS risks for themselves and others. The HR team has the power to drive WHS cultural change in an organisation. Making it an integral part of management is the key. Use the following checklist to gauge how your business promotes a positive WHS culture.

Consider whether your company: • includes WHS induction training for every employee • regularly conducts consultative reviews of WHS practices with employees • communicates to all staff on how to respond to a critical incident – this may depend on the nature of work the team does • leads by example and exhibits prompt action

of breaches, and the commitment management has to the wellbeing and safety of its staff, changes can happen. If you operate in a unionised workplace, a Health and Safety Committee should be established, made up of a mix of management and employees. If not unionised, it is highly recommended you have such a committee and promote its activity to the business. This needs to be more than just giving someone the fire warden’s hat for the fire drill. You need to demonstrate the commitment to building a positive safety culture. Together with the HR leader, this committee should establish a Health and Safety Program that includes the following: • • • •

WHS inspections and audits staff training incident response training Employee Assistance Programs

Leadership must work fastidiously to promote and engender a culture of work health and safety adherence. This must be a demonstrated by example from the top down, and HR holds the power for establishing uniformity across the organisation.

The HR team has the power to drive WHS cultural change in an organisation. Making it an integral part of management is the key when things go wrong – employees need to see that their health and safety matters • shares the cost of ineffective WHS practices and remedies to fix this, including training and workers’ compensation or rehabilitation • enforces penalties for repeat offenders in breach of WHS policies When employees understand the importance of best practice WHS, the consequences

If this article has made you think that WHS priorities are not top of mind for your staff, make 2019 the safety year and shift the culture in your business. Alan Girle is director of Australian Business Lawyers & Advisors (ABLA). Give Alan a call on 1300 565 846 for a confidential chat about how you can shift the focus on safety in your business. Recognised expert in Safety – Doyles 2018.

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SKY’S THE LIMIT FOR TALENT Virgin Australia’s Lucinda Gemmell talks diversity agendas, measuring ROI, and cultivating those leadership pipelines IN THE world of consumerism, you’d be hardpushed to find a more commendable or recognisable brand than Virgin. What began as a small record label in the UK evolved and spread across the globe, branching out into travel, banking and healthcare. Virgin Australia was formed in 2000, boasting over 130 aircraft and 10,000 employees. At the heart of its day-to-day business operations sits Virgin Australia’s exceptional people-centric plan: programs and development schemes designed to steer top talent into future leadership roles. HRD spoke to Lucinda Gemmell, group executive, people, at Virgin Australia, who revealed how her organisation is pushing forward important diversity initiatives, and how to measure the ROI on this as well as talent and engagement initiatives. “One of my first priorities after joining the Virgin Australia Group was to implement a defined people plan, which clearly explains how our team would add value and help the organisation to deliver on its core business objectives,” Gemmell said. “While developing the plan it was clear


that to really deliver on it we needed to acquire new capabilities and work differently together and with the company. We had to rethink our HR operating model, create a shared-service function and Centres of Excellence, which enable our function to better align to the strategic priorities of the

for our team, with nearly 100% of our team members reporting being delighted about the change ahead of turning on the new model,” she said. “The wider business response was also very encouraging. We are now partnering on what really matters to them, where

“By offering a differentiated and culturally appropriate recruitment process, we look to support Indigenous candidates who enter the organisation via a diverse range of roles” business and deliver an efficient and effective people advisory service.” Gemmell explained that the response from within her team was incredibly positive, which in turn led to a number of proactive talent moves. “They were also able to see their day jobs radically change, supported by a bestin-class HR capability program. In fact, we measured the success of the change process

their people are, and have seen the benefit of new initiatives we were not previously equipped to deliver, such as a suite of leadership programs. We also provide a new and different service that gives more accessible and timely support to the majority of our geographically dispersed workforce.” Another proud moment for Gemmell came in the form of Virgin Australia’s groundbreaking Pilot Cadetship Program.

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PROFILE Name: Lucinda Gemmell Company: Virgin Australia Position: Group executive, people Years in the industry: 20+ Career highlight: While at Diageo, Gemmell improved engagement by 20% and outperformed the market on all key financial metrics.

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GLOBAL HR LEADER Here, Gemmell was instrumental in improving female representation in the technical areas of aviation – a sector that’s notoriously male-dominated. “This year we announced an equal intake of males and females for our 2018 Pilot Cadetship Program, and I’m proud to say that we exceeded this target and increased female representation by more than 200% compared to the intake for last year’s program,” Gemmell said. “By developing a more targeted recruitment strategy for this year’s campaign, we doubled the amount of applications we received and saw four times the number of females apply. The calibre of talent this year was outstanding, and that really excites me for what’s to come for our next generation of pilots.” One of the main issues in the Australian employment landscape revolves around the promotion and development of Indigenous

run monthly information sessions targeting prospective Indigenous candidates, showcasing the breadth of opportunities we offer within the organisation. “We deliver training for leaders and the teams within which new Indigenous team members will work, and provide mentoring from fellow Indigenous team members. These frameworks are developed in conjunction with our Indigenous working group, who tell us what is of most value and how we can continuously improve.” Reports suggest that the best way to ensure that an organisation will survive in times of tumultuous change is to invest more in developing future leaders. Gemmell explained that this was something of a priority at Virgin Australia, which led to the emergence of its High-Altitude Graduate Program, Emerging Leaders Program and Women in Leadership Program.

“By developing a more targeted recruitment strategy for this year’s campaign, we doubled the amount of applications we received” employees. Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane has said: “Although those who have non-European and Indigenous backgrounds make up an estimated 24% of the Australian population, such backgrounds account for only 5% of senior leaders.” Bridging this rift is something Virgin Australia takes very seriously – hence its standout Indigenous Employee Program. “We’re passionate about creating sustainable employment opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and we do that through our partnership with Diversity Dimensions to help source Indigenous talent,” Gemmell said. “By offering a differentiated and culturally appropriate recruitment process, we look to support Indigenous candidates who enter the organisation via a diverse range of roles. We


“These programs run alongside a set of clear and common leadership standards we have launched. These standards aim to give guidance to team members on how they can perform best in their roles, and how they can prepare themselves to transition to positions that are more senior if they aspire to do so. Our organisation is one that offers many diverse roles, and that creates great opportunity. We have the ability for cross-functional moves through our talent planning processes, building breadth and depth across the group and a strong cohort of leaders to assume bigger and more complex roles.” And with all this commitment to embracing diversity and inclusivity at Virgin Australia, HR leaders will undoubtedly be asking how the organisation measures the return on its ethically charged investments.


Virgin’s key components of company culture are Heart, Spirit, Imagination and Collaboration

Virgin employs around 50,000 people in 30 different countries

Virgin companies specialise in transportation, travel, financial services, media, music and fitness According to Gemmell, it all comes down to managing future pipelines. “We measure success on the talent pulled through into our succession plans, and the number of internal moves we make as a result of our planning processes. A strong example of this is our corporate governance statement that sets targets for female representation at CEO-2 level, which is something we are currently exceeding. Currently we have over 50% female representation at an executive level,” Gemmell said. “We also know engagement drives performance, and we are very pleased to see the impact of these initiatives in our marketleading engagement scores, and our recent financial year results.”

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HRD’s second annual HR Service Provider Awards recognises the best of the best when it comes to HR’s most valued business partners

AS AN industry, HR is changing. With the shift to an increasing focus on long-term business strategy, HR specialists have moved away from the position of being a catch-all department for anything staff related. Yet these responsibilities have not disappeared; the day-to-day office still presents a variety of challenges. Accordingly, many HR specialists are turning towards vendors for solutions to these issues – ideally, they free up staff both in HR and on the frontline so they can better carry out their core duties. There are three basic service provider classifications that HR can leverage: consulting/advisory, information technology


and process outsourcing. Most HR professionals would have encountered these organisations either on the client side (ie the business that is procuring the services) or the supplier side (ie the business – or vendor – that is providing the service). In this report HRD has identified nine key specialist areas, which have been refined and updated from the 2017 awards: • • • •

Corporate Health and Wellbeing Employment Law Human Capital Management Systems Learning and Development

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• • • • •

Payroll Systems Pre-employment Screening Recruitment Systems Reward Platforms Talent Management


Information technology

Process outsourcing

• Provision of advice, recommendations or project management services

• Provision of technology services on premises or in the cloud

• Provision of services to execute transactions or activities. This could be one-off or ongoing process outsourcing

Service example

• Remuneration benchmarking • Employee engagement advice/services • Employee relations case advice • Project management support • Recruitment services

• Solutions could be end-to-end on premises (eg SAP), or in the cloud (eg Workday) • Solutions could be functionspecific in the cloud (eg Workable or LinkedIn)

• One-off services like medical or background checks • Outsourcing and/or offshoring of HR processes like payroll, recruitment, mobility/relocation services, workers’ compensation, etc

Vendor example

• McKinsey, Deloitte, PwC, IBM, Accenture • Korn Ferry, Mercer, Aon Hewitt • Herbert Smith Freehills, Minter Ellison, Holding Redlich

• SAP SuccessFactors, Oracle/Taleo, Microsoft • Workday, Cornerstone OnDemand, SABA • Google, Apple, Custom Apps • LinkedIn

• • • • •


Vendor submissions were vetted and voted upon by an independent panel of seven judges (see page 30 for judging panel bios), comprising senior HR professionals from a range of industries. Gold, silver and bronze medals were awarded to those vendors who received the highest number of votes in each category. As HR’s role moves away from day-today staff management and further towards strategic responsibilities, it’s likely that service providers will be increasingly called upon to help out with everyday transactional work, or to help in-house teams provide specialised services. Read on to see who is up to the task in 2018.



Strategic vs tactical Short-term vs long-term


Across multiple services Across multiple business units Across multiple geographies

IBM, Infosys, Accenture Manpower, Kelly Recruitment agencies (various) Training providers (various) Corpsec, Kinnect Health

Source: ‘‘A Perfect Partnership” by Peter Szilagyi, HRD issue 14.12




A NEW category for 2018, Corporate Health and Wellbeing is emerging as an increasingly important consideration for businesses. With employees spending most of their waking hours at work, employers have a moral responsibility to provide them with the tools they need to maintain both physical and mental health. The companies showcased here are undertaking this mission, helping make workplaces better places to work.

WorkScore takes pole position this year. Measuring the ongoing wellbeing of staff against five key elements (Work, Body, Fuel, Fitness and Mindset) using the WorkScore survey, WorkScore creates targeted wellbeing and engagement programs. The organisation aims to be an effective and affordable payper-user one-stop shop for wellbeing. With its innovative and leading-edge digital platform, WorkScore saves HR valuable time as its smart

dashboard reporting condenses key information into a single space for easy reference. “It personalises the entire process by monitoring your employee engagement and productivity with real-time data and feedback,” said one judge. “It also gives you a great tool to calculate your return on investment for your wellbeing strategy.” Career Money Life takes silver, thanks to its data-driven insights into the wellbeing of employees. Aware that HR departments often lack the resources to provide the kind of care employees need, Career Money Life aims to redress this balance. Through digital means, it offers employees the ability to design unique and customised career journeys. Claiming bronze this year is Uprise. The company has a simple philosophy: given that work can play a significant role in triggering mental health issues, surely it can play a key role in resolving them too. With its Stepped Care EAP, Uprise aims to improve the response of employees and employers alike to work-related mental health issues. Congratulations to all of the medallists in the Corporate Health and Wellbeing category.

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RETURNING TO the Service Provider Awards for the second consecutive year, Employment Law is a hotly contested category, with a notably different line-up to last year. This is a reflection of the calibre of players in the industry: Australia’s legal system can be notoriously complex, and HR specialists need to be sure they are working with the best. Making its debut in the top spot on HRD’s list, Employsure has created an innovative and service-delivery-focused model for small to medium-sized businesses to be able to focus on their core business. The company believes that Australian employers – irrespective of size – should have access to high-quality and accurate legal advice. This is essential in order to ensure a fairer workplace for everyone.



With outstanding growth over the past eight years, Employsure has still managed to maintain a high level of customer focus. The company has also been recognised for its exceptional culture and recruiting and onboarding processes. As one judge noted, “Employsure has listened to customers and created a business model that allows them to offer a full suite of advice across employment relations and health and safety, at a fixed price in one bundle.” With a silver medal under its belt, Harmers Workplace Lawyers should be very proud of its commitment to giving 20–30% of the firm’s profit to social justice causes. It has also shown an impressive commitment to gender equality and to the advancement of women in law by employing 70% females.

Progressive policies like this work to the betterment of others now, while also helping to secure the organisation’s legacy into the future. LegalVision retains the bronze medal in Employment Law in 2018, which is a notable feat considering the shifting tides that have occurred elsewhere in the category. Heralded as an impressive “disruptor” last year, LegalVision has this year stood out for its strong commitment to improving its legal processes and enhancing the customer experience, and for the firm’s truly customised content delivery. This is testament to how much those who consistently deliver excellent service will be able to offer customers in the long term. Congratulations to all of the medallists in the Employment Law category.

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REPLACING last year’s HRIS category, the Human Capital Management Systems Category also sees a significant shake-up in the medallists. One of the toughest categories, it’s essential for businesses to be continually innovating within the field, providing new services and meeting the ever-evolving needs of the HR industry. This year’s entrants have demonstrated themselves to be more than capable performers, singling themselves out as exceptional achievers within their field. Collecting gold, Employment Hero has earned acclaim from the industry, thanks to its pioneering approach to HR tech. Expanding beyond its traditional product base in recent years and into new territory, the company has leveraged its knowledge base in a unique fashion to bring its signature touch to new areas of HR.

“Employment Hero has shown to have stepped above their peers [and] developed a tool that has considered and delivered for all stakeholders,” noted one judge. “WorkLife will revolutionise this space and has created a true point of difference against other providers.” Sage was also highly praised for its contribution to the modern HR landscape with its Cloud People solution. Winning the silver medal this year, the organisation prides itself on its ability to provide businesses with a scalable solution that engages and grows your top people, while also aiding their ability to attract top talent. “In the ever-changing landscape of work, Sage understands the importance for HR to integrate a system that supports remote operations in one centralised location,”

said another judge. “Sage has automated the core HR functions, simplifying the employment journey.” Additionally, Sage’s Cloud People solution can be linked with its payroll system MicrOpay, ultimately making for an effective, customisable end-to-end solution for HR professionals. Rounding out the category with bronze is Subscribe HR. Providing a firm base on which organisations can build their HR strategy, the company’s program allows data to be easily centralised in one place. In a world where data has become the lifeblood of many organisations, Subscribe HR continues to impress and provide top-quality service to its clients. Congratulations to all the medallists in the Human Capital Management Systems category.

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IN 2018, continuous learning is crucial for any member of the workforce worth their salt. The world is moving at a more rapid pace than ever before, and there is immense pressure on both employers and employees to keep up. As a result, learning and development has rarely been so important to the success of any organisation. HR teams therefore want to ensure that they are partnering with the companies that will deliver the best outcomes for the staff in their organisations. The following have marked themselves out as outstanding performers in the field, providing employees with the knowledge necessary to continue upskilling. Taking hold of the gold this year is Learning Quest. Innovative in the L&D and change space, the organisation incorporates


science and psychology-based research into all of its programs. It has also created the Mind Management Methodology™, which is intended to incorporate the findings of recent neuroscience, psychology and leadership research, translating it into practical tools and skills for leaders and employees alike. Working with some of Australia’s largest employers, Learning Quest has also demonstrated strong client growth. The organisation’s human-centric focus continues to take it to greater heights, and Learning Quest has clearly earned the respect of the HR industry. PD Training has collected silver in 2018. The company provides in-house and public training across a broad range of topics, including HR, culture change,


customer service, leadership and time, to name a few. Continually evolving through trainer feedback, participant feedback and innovations in best practice, PD Training prides itself on delivering a high-quality and up-to-date learning experience for staff. Coming in with bronze medal is Art of Mentoring, a coaching, mentoring and leadership development consultancy that is based in Australia and operates in more than 26 countries. Offering best practice around mentoring, with a vast range of evidencebased programs, expert consultants and world-class resources, Art of Mentoring aims to support the design and implementation of effective mentoring in the organisations it works with. Congratulations to all of the medallists in the Learning and Development category.

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WITH STORIES of underpayment of employees breaking regularly, getting payroll right and remaining compliant with a multitude of laws and regulations has never been more challenging. Payroll is among the most important functions carried out by any business, and staff – understandably – rely on and demand a high standard of service. Trust is also a paramount concern, something perhaps indicated by the fact that two of this year’s medallists are new entrants. Their commitment to excellence around this delicate issue must be highly commended and is reflected in the trust they have built with Australian HR specialists. Seizing the top spot this year is newcomer ADP, which offers a versatile software solution that can be utilised nationally and globally across businesses of all sizes. Now servicing


more than 7,000 clients around Australia, ADP offers organisations the ability to run payroll themselves through its system, or to partially or fully delegate payroll functions to ADP if they so wish. ADP has also demonstrated an impressive commitment to data protection and security as the only Australian payroll business with an Australian Financial Services Licence. With strong growth in revenue and sales year-on-year, ADP has spent more than 30 years establishing itself as a trusted player within the world of payroll and human capital solutions. Receiving this medal is a mark of the achievements of the organisation, and the promising future that still lies ahead. Coming in at silver, Frontier Software is the sole returning entrant in this category


from 2017. Remarkably, one in 10 Australian employees is paid using a Frontier Software Solution. In addition, its strong client retention rate of 98% and wealth of great client testimonials points to a system that aids HR specialists in navigating what can be a confusing and ever-changing issue. Taking out bronze is another new entrant in this category – Synchrony Global. Focused on helping HR executives transform into true strategic roles within their organisations, and designed to cater to employees throughout their entire life cycle with a company, Synchrony’s services are aimed at optimising HR delivery through innovative technology, cloud processes and high-quality operational services. Congratulations to all of the medallists in the Payroll Systems category.

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HIRING THE right person can be challenging, even for experienced HR professionals. Interviewing well is certainly a positive, but is not necessarily an indicator that a candidate is right for the role. For this reason, many organisations are choosing to invest in pre-employment screening in order to secure a higher standard of candidate, rather than having a problem employee further down the track. In this new category for 2018, HRD sought to find the providers whose services had most resonated with the HR community in Australia. In the inaugural year of this award, the gold medal has gone to Xref. The company offers HR and recruitment professionals an innovative and unique solution that embeds seamlessly with other platforms (such as JobAdder) and provides privacy


protection and discrimination prevention with fraud algorithms across multiple touchpoints. Xref ’s global growth strategy is impressive, and with the continuation of partner networks it is likely to emerge as a market leader for HR professionals wanting a solution that speaks to their HR platforms and workflows. “The reference checking process is usually slow and a pain point for HR professionals and recruiters,” noted one judge. “XRef ’s secure cloud-based reference check process is driven by the candidate, which reduces the time-consuming activity of chasing up referees and speeds up the recruitment process.” Claiming silver is HireRight. In use across 200 countries and territories, its broad adoption is testament to its efficacy in spanning local languages and cultures. Allowing for

effective background screening, it’s easy to see why it’s secured a spot in this category. “It ticks the right boxes of customisation, seamless user experience, fast turnaround and continuous improvement across four key areas of employment verification, as well as integration with a large number of e-recruitment systems,” said one judge. Finally, Referoo collected bronze in this category. An online system that allows for the easy checking of references, Referoo has endeared itself to HR specialists around the country thanks to its ease of use and diverse applications. As one judge said, “This product’s point of difference in regard to the online reference checking process is their low-cost, easy set-up and fast, flexible checking process.” Congratulations to all of the medallists in the Pre-employment Screening category.

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RECRUITMENT REMAINS a key function for the modern HR professional. HR is frequently involved in the hiring process, helping to determine both whether a candidate is qualified for a role and whether they are a good cultural fit for the organisation. However, this often involves a more sophisticated process these days than simply meeting in person. Technology has allowed for a greater amount of data to be gathered during the recruitment process, enabling for better decision-making when it comes time to confirm a hire. Given the costs involved in recruitment and training – and then the additional costs if the staff member doesn’t work out – it’s crucial to work with the right provider. This year’s medal winners have demonstrated their commitment to delivering the data

employers need to make the right decisions for their business. Taking out gold in a second category for 2018 is Xref. The Xref team have developed an agile, analytics-driven platform that helps the HR function complete reference checking in a quick and cost-effective way. Over the past 12 months, the company has demonstrated significant growth in both customer base and customer satisfaction. The platform can be customised to client requirements and provides a great solution to an area that frequently receives limited focus in the recruitment process. Vieple’s video interviewing platform has earned praise from the judges this year, securing the company a silver medal. By automating the interview process, HR staff are able to effectively review

the prospective candidate at any time they choose. This means no more issues around different time zones, potentially time-consuming in-person interviews with inappropriate candidates, and no-shows. It’s a more efficient way for both employers and candidates to determine the right path forward. Psychometric testing is an increasingly important part of the recruitment process, with many employers utilising it to determine competencies and skills and to assess whether a candidate’s personality type will mesh well with other employees in the workplace. This year’s bronze winner is Testgrid, which has been providing these solutions for employers since 1999. Congratulations to all of the medallists in the Recruitment Systems category.

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THE REWARD PLATFORMS category has seen a total overhaul since last year, with all-new entrants in the winners’ list. More and more employers around Australia are beginning to understand the importance of effectively incentivising their employees. While some might argue that a wage and good working conditions are rewards in themselves, this is an increasingly old-fashioned view. Given that every job offers these, it’s crucial to invest in new ways of keeping employees effectively engaged on the job. For different businesses this will take different forms. Larger companies tend to have more resources for such initiatives, but smaller enterprises needn’t feel left out. By partnering with the right provider, businesses can still incentivise


staff. Making employees feel appreciated within the workplace is hugely important for staff retention, and those who invest wisely will reap the rewards in the future. Since 2012, Employment Hero – gold medallist for 2018 – has been providing a reward platform for organisations around Australia. Employment Hero has a strong proposition for small and medium-sized businesses, providing cost-effective solutions to rewarding employees and driving engagement. Its product road map has shown significant expansion in the past 12 months, with many exciting features that will continue to drive value for customers. Employment Hero has also demonstrated strong growth in customer and financial metrics over the past year.

Pegasus Group claims silver. With access to over 20,000 discounts and benefits from more than 4,500 suppliers, Pegasus is able to tailor its services to each client’s individual needs. The group has 11 service locations around the globe and 1.5 million members in Australia. It takes a customerfirst approach, providing employees with the incentive programs they need to stay engaged in the workplace. Voted this year’s bronze winner, BI Worldwide has a measurable, researchbased approach to employee engagement. Since 1950, the company has assisted employers in retaining their staff through a variety of bespoke products that can be tailored to their businesses. Congratulations to all of the medallists in the Reward Platforms category.

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TALENT MANAGEMENT is an ongoing concern for any business. Planning for the future and anticipating potential shortages is a near-impossible task for any one department. But with the right providers HR specialists are able to connect with new talent on an as-needed basis. Securing gold for the second year in a row in this category is Cornerstone OnDemand. The company’s HCM platform features four product suites that support every phase of the employee life cycle. The suites cover recruitment, learning and performance. Just as critically, they allow employers to manage all global workforce data in one central location, with administration, planning and visualisation capabilities. The four product suites were organically built, which means they seamlessly integrate,


taking away much of the data entry and initial legwork needed with other solutions. They are also configurable to meet the talent strategy, compliance, business and workflow needs of any organisation. “It’s pleasing to see that not only do Cornerstone OnDemand offer their platform of four key product suites for large organisations but have a complete suite (PiiQ) also tailored for small to medium businesses as well,” noted one judge. Silver and bronze both go to new entrants in 2018. Scoring silver, Harrier Human Capital has attracted high praise for its commitment to diversity. “Harrier appear to have a deep understanding of the challenges associated with resourcing in remote, regional and unstable talent markets,” stated one judge.

“It’s pleasing to see that they have developed innovative sourcing strategies to support diversity, achieving 46% female placements of all management-level roles.” Meanwhile, Expert360 has won bronze, thanks to its understanding of the unique challenges facing the market. “Expert360 have recognised an important, growing gap in the market of white-collar freelance and are assisting to power this economy across multiple industries,” commented one judge. “They provide organisations with the ability to build a hand-picked project team of experts within a very short deployment time frame, along with a valuable service to Australian freelancers.” Congratulations to all the medallists in the Talent Management category.

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HRD SERVICE PROVIDER AWARDS 2018 THE JUDGING PANEL Rebecca Aston, organisational development manager, East Gippsland Shire Council In her role at East Gippsland Shire Council, the secondlargest council (in area) in Victoria, Rebecca Aston’s portfolio includes HR management, learning and development, organisation development, risk management and workplace health and safety. Aston was invited to present to CEOs and senior managers on talent retention as part of the LGMA Australasian Management Challenge awards. Her HR team at East Gippsland Shire Council was recognised by HRD as one of Australia’s most innovative teams for the work they have done, and continue to do, in diversity and inclusion practices. Aston holds a BA in Psychology and a Graduate Diploma in Human Resource Management and Industrial Relations from the University of Melbourne. Joanna Bell, head of HR, Citadel Group The head of HR at Citadel Group, Joanna Bell is a senior leader and a qualified and certified practitioner who is passionate about leadership capability, talent succession, workforce planning, health and wellbeing, innovative practices and engaging a high-performance culture that aligns with organisational goals and strategic direction. Bell was a finalist for the HRD Human Resource Manager award in 2017, and received a Rising Star award in 2016. She is a certified trainer and is actively involved in the Australian Human Resource Institute as vice president on the ACT Council. Bell enjoys networking and building teams, as well as taking on new challenges, particularly those that call for strategic planning in moving projects, systems, processes and organisational culture forward.

Team of the Year and Best Recruitment Campaign; the AHRI Inclusive Workplace award and NSW Training Awards Large Employer of the Year; as well as finalist places in the HR Technology, HR Innovation and HR Director of the Year awards. Paine holds a Master of Strategic Human Resource Management degree from East London University and a Master’s degree in Labour Law and Relations from Sydney University Law School. He is a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development in the UK, a certified professional of the Australian Human Resources Institute and a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Vaughan Paul, vice president, HR, Optus Vaughan Paul is responsible for leading the HR function at Optus, including the development and delivery of its people strategy. He has held this role since 2009. Paul joined Optus in November 2005 as general manager HR for Optus Business, where his responsibilities included leading staff delivering to corporate, government and business customers. In his time at the Singtel Group and Optus, Paul has successfully driven change across a range of HR functions, including career development, talent and leadership programs, and staff engagement in Australia and across the region. Prior to Optus, he worked in a range of senior HR roles at Computer Sciences Corporation Australia, including as HR director of global infrastructure services and director of HR – new business. He was also head of HR, business banking, at Westpac. Paul holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Western Australia and a Graduate Diploma in Applied Finance and Investment from the Securities Institute of Australia. He is also currently acting vice president for digital consumer at Optus.

Cherie McGill, executive director HR, Mantra Group Cherie McGill joined Mantra Group in 2004. As executive director HR, she is responsible for the HR practices for all brands across the organisation, including payroll, OH&S, learning and development and corporate social responsibility. McGill has over 20-plus years’ experience in the HR sector, having held senior HR management positions at both the Saville Hotel Group and P&O Australian Resorts. She is also a member of the Australian Human Resources Institute and an advisory board member for the Southern Cross University Tourism and Hospitality School.

Megan Townsend, HR/IR manager, Buslink Vivo Megan Townsend is an experienced HR and industrial relations professional, and is passionate about aligning HR practices to organisational strategy and increasing the capability of her team of HR professionals. Townsend’s aptitude for her discipline has been derived from a career in service-led industries, including the oil and gas sector, transport and hospitality. She holds a Bachelor of Business degree, with a major in HR.

Mathew Paine, director of HR, International Convention Centre Sydney In addition to his role at the International Convention Centre, Mathew Paine holds non-executive director board positions at the Bobby Goldsmith Foundation and Definitiv and its subsidiaries. An HR practitioner with over 18 years of senior HR experience across Australia, New Zealand and the UK, Paine’s HR leadership has resulted in multiple industry awards, including the highly coveted Australian HR

Lauren Trethowan, head of HR, technology, Australia Post Lauren Trethowan is a registered psychologist with over 15 years’ experience in HR. She is currently head of HR, technology, at Australia Post and a member of the Technology Senior Leadership Team. Prior to that she was head of enterprise culture at Australia Post and has over eight years’ consulting experience as a senior manager at PwC.


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Recruiting for the new wave of diversity Diversity and inclusion have evolved beyond buzzwords to become embedded cultural practices in organisations worldwide. And now a new subset of diversity is gaining traction among forward-thinking employers – cognitive diversity

OVER THE past few decades there has been an increased focus on diversity and inclusion within organisations. The prevailing belief has remained consistent: that diversity of gender, ethnicity and age results in more creativity and better productivity.

The results may surprise some, with leadership development and strategy execution specialists Alison Reynolds and David Lewis concluding “not really” after undertaking extensive research to answer this question. With a pre-existing interest in the impact

“Developing a culture of creativity and fresh thinking requires a recruitment process that makes cognitive diversity the focus of the exercise” Kim Boyd, national sales and marketing manager, Frontier Software “Today, nearly every medium to large organisation has dedicated D&I teams,” says Kim Boyd, national sales and marketing manager at Frontier Software. “But has there been a measurable impact on productivity and creativity after an increased focus on D&I activities?”


of diversity on organisations, Reynolds and Lewis devised and ran a strategic execution exercise with executive teams around the world. The task focused on managing new, complex and uncertain situations and required a group to plan and execute a strategy to achieve a specified outcome within

a nominated time frame. Reynolds and Lewis gave groups of 16 people the same task. These groups were comprised of senior executives, GMs, MBA students and teenagers; the expectation was that creative problem-solving and sound strategy would result. Yet after running the experiment hundreds of times, the results showed that some groups fared extremely well, while others could not even complete the task. So what factors were influencing the outcome beyond age, gender or ethnicity? The answer gave birth to a whole new area of D&I known as ‘cognitive diversity’.

Expanding to new ways of thinking Challenging the notion that “great minds think alike”, the cognitive diversity theory suggests that great minds draw similar conclusions, but not necessarily the best ones. “The concept of cognitive diversity, or CD for short, holds that groups comprising members with different thinking and problem-solving styles devise solutions superior to those derived by groups that are more homogenous in their thought processes,” says Boyd. Defining CD is straightforward. ‘Cognitive’ is a reference to cognition, or the process by which knowledge and understanding is gained through thought, feelings and the senses. ‘Diversity’ refers to the differences, or a range of options, in a group. Hence, CD in a group refers to the collective differences in how we think, feel and act, and specifically how a group of people: • make sense of information (how we absorb and process information) • solve problems (how we gather evidence, generate options, make choices and manage risk) • respond to the unfamiliar (how we move forward when faced with ambiguity) In Australia, large corporations such as banks are actively reviewing their D&I

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programs to accommodate CD. Leading global organisations such as Virgin, Microsoft, Amazon and Google are embracing CD and including neurodiversity, a more targeted approach to recruiting employees. The shift in mindset is returning tangible benefits for organisations that are building a CD culture. Boyd highlights three key ways in which CD can benefit organisations:

THE SEARCH FOR DIVERSITY OF THOUGHT One way recruiters are targeting diversity of thought is through neurodiversity programs. These typically seek to recruit people with specific alternative thinking styles, such as dyslexia, autism, ADHD and dyspraxia. Anecdotally, applicants with neurological conditions such as autism have been frequently selected for interviews on the basis of their résumés, but seldom hired once met in person. However, organisations are becoming more aware of the unique cognitive abilities of employees on the autism spectrum. Being autistic can equip them to excel in niche roles, such as software testing, in which prolonged attention to detail is required for success.

1. Protection against groupthink Diversity in approaches to analysis and problem-solving helps ensure better decisions and more successful completion of tasks. It also guards against the natural inclination of expert groups to have greater confidence in their solutions than is objectively correct. This is because homogenous groups cannot access the considered, creative information processes that cognitively diverse groups do.

2. Increases in the source and scale of insights Studies on CD show that new insights and

ideas emerge after approaching problems in new and creative ways. By using social media, crowdsourcing and internet connectivity, technical teams can access a diverse array of knowledge and thought.

3. Helps organisations identify the employees who can best tackle their most pressing problems Once an organisation adopts a culture of CD, it can match people not only to roles but to teams. By understanding the ways their people think,

feel and act when faced with a new problem or challenge, organisations can embed diversity and elicit superior problem-solving.

Increasing CD in your organisation “The most obvious means by which organisations can achieve CD is via recruitment, but the process itself can serve as a barrier,” says Boyd. “Typically, organisations tend to recruit in their own image – this might be due to unconscious bias or due to a direct mandate from a hiring manager.”

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Many organisations simply look to their successful existing teams to develop an ideal profile to hire against. Likewise, the traditional approach of wading through reams of résumés is not necessarily going to effectively convey CD either; for CD to be embedded into an organisation, new approaches must be adopted when recruiting. “Developing a culture of creativity and fresh thinking requires a recruitment process that makes CD the focus of the exercise,” says Boyd. “Hiring for a diversity of backgrounds alone may not yield different perspectives, as physical diversity is not a sufficient indicator for diversity of thought.” Millennials in particular are perceived as valuing individuality and will seek employment opportunities where they can stand out. By extension, they will seek workplaces that are cognitively diverse. The recruitment challenge to attract these and like-minded candidates is to promote your CD culture when sourcing talent. But that’s not where the journey ends either. “Organisations need to find the mechanisms for assessing thinking styles and distributing them among teams,” says Boyd. One way this might be achieved is via artificial intelligence. With the right algorithms, notes Boyd, AI could identify those people who bring different perspectives, paradigms and processes to an organisation. Similarly, AI could be used to name internal resources with the capacity to bring unique perspectives to existing challenges. “By cataloguing the total experience and perspectives of candidates and team members alike, that understanding could be extrapolated across unique problems in the working environment,” says Boyd. The addition of AI could prove a powerful means of removing human biases and selecting the best possible candidates for an organisation. There’s obviously a need for it: according to Roffey Park’s The Management Agenda 2018, more than 37% of survey participants reported that they were not


ADAPTIVE VS INNOVATIVE THINKING STYLES There are many different theories about thinking styles. Here is one:

Adaptive thinkers

Innovative thinkers

How they see each other Seen by innovators as sound, conformist, predictable and intolerant of ambiguity

Seen by adaptors as unsound, impractical risk takers, exciting but threatening the system

How they solve problems Accept the problem as defined

Tend to reject the accepted perception. They may struggle to explain their perspective

Quick resolutions with minimal disruption preferred

Focus on long-term gain over immediate efficiency

Rarely challenge unless support assured

Challenge rules and disrespect past approaches

Sensitive to interpersonal relationships and group cohesion

Appear insensitive and a threat to group cohesion

How they generate solutions Prefer to generate a few novel but acceptable solutions aimed at doing things better. Typically easy to implement

Produce multiple ideas, some appearing obtuse. Ideas often contain solutions that require things to be done differently

How they navigate change May struggle to cope with stepping outside of their role when unexpected change occurs

effective at recruiting for CD. In fact, only 14% of organisations actively seek new employees who are not a natural ‘fit’ for the existing culture. Ultimately, incorporating CD into recruitment practices requires an organisation to understand the differences in the people it considers as potential employees. It requires an understanding of the current landscape of teams and how they think, feel and act. More than ever, the task of recruiting for cognitive diversity needs to focus on what

Essential in times of change or crisis, but may find ongoing organisational demands a challenge

the applicant can bring to the organisation that it doesn’t already have. Once identified, the offering must be considered in light of the challenges the organisation faces today and into the future. “Undoubtedly, recruitment practices must change if cognitive diversity is a strategic goal,” says Boyd. “And once they start employment with you, managers need to consider how they can encourage and incorporate the contribution of outliers to the collective team thought process.”

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A refreshing approach to HR Christian Campanella of Pernod Ricard talks to HRD about how he creates conviviality at one of the world’s largest beverage companies

WITH MORE than 20 years in the industry, Christian Campanella has established himself as a significant player in the HR industry. Previous experience in automotive, professional services, local government and rail served as the training ground on which he would become the HR professional he is today. Since 2007 Campanella has been working at Pernod Ricard, bringing his skills to bear at one of the world’s largest global beverage companies in a variety of different HR roles across Australia, New Zealand and China. Today, he holds the position of global HR director responsible for setting the group’s HR strategy and direction for operations and office-based teams across Australia, New Zealand, Spain and the USA. “The role has been both dynamic and very interesting,” he says. “I get to travel to


many countries; each has its own culture, opportunities and nuances that make my role fascinating.” This includes leading a group of 50 HR professionals working in multiple countries, who are responsible for overseeing over 1,700

says. “We completely overhauled our operations footprint and commercial business. But shortly afterwards, I was asked by the CEO of Pernod Ricard Winemakers to become the HR director for the entire wine business globally. So that was quite flattering.”

“It’s a decentralised organisation, and we are given the latitude to run our own business” Christian Campanella, HR director, Pernod Ricard Winemakers permanent employees and more than 400 seasonal staff. It’s HR management on a scale that would stagger many, but for Campanella it reflects the natural progression of his career. “New Zealand in particular was a very solid, tough three-year period of change,” he

HR management on a global scale Campanella describes Pernod Ricard’s approach to HR as “multifaceted”. Operating across multiple territories with significant cultural differences means that a one-size-fits-all approach is impractical.

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INSIDE HR “It’s a decentralised organisation, and we are given the latitude to run our own business,” Campanella says. While naturally there are certain best practice guidelines and legal requirements that must be met, the wider organisation also expects to see its three primary values in action – mutual trust, a strong sense of ethics, and an entrepreneurial spirit. These are common traits across many companies, but Campanella feels that Pernod Ricard’s approach elevates it above many of the other organisations he’s worked with. “At Pernod Ricard we talk about our purpose being as ‘Creators of Conviviality’ – that’s what we stand for,” he says. “Conviviality is what sets us apart from other organisations.” Accordingly, Pernod Ricard puts significant efforts into internal relationships and networks in order to enhance collaboration across the globe. From Campanella’s perspective, he is eager to ensure that his team is adding value to the organisation, streamlining or eliminating non-value-added activities in order to deliver a more effective strategy. Additionally, employee engagement is a key focus, with specific initiatives implemented to ensure that people are satisfied with their roles. Through employee surveys and other forms of feedback, Campanella looks for ways to further improve working conditions, processes and other aspects of the business. People, as he notes, are crucial to the business as a whole.

“Our two competitive advantages are our brands and our people,” Campanella says. “They’re two key assets that our competitors simply can’t replicate.”

The push for people power Indeed, people are one of the long-term challenges that the organisation – and the beverage industry as a whole – is currently facing. As a “grape to glass” organisation, talent scarcity is a real issue, particularly for semi-skilled roles such as vineyard hands and cellar hands. “It’s becoming increasingly difficult to find people who want to do more manual work,” says Campanella. “It’s an area where you have extremely low turnover, around 3–4%. Many of our operations are also based in regional areas too, so I think as we come through the generational change it’s going to become more difficult to attract people.” These issues are also compounded by stiff competition within the industry itself. Pernod Ricard’s voluntary turnover currently sits at sub-10%, which Campanella describes as “very good for this industry”. Nonetheless, he is aware of the pressures and is making strides to address the issue. Digitisation and automation may prove to be solutions further down the track. “How do you leverage digitisation and technology in an operations environment to manage skills shortages or people shortages?” he says. “I think that’s something that’s quite unique for us in that regard, though it

CONSUMER TRENDS AND RETAILER PRESSURES As with any other producer or seller, Pernod Ricard isn’t immune to the effects of shifting consumer trends or retailer demands. “Australia’s a very unique market with basically two players who control the majority of the market,” says global HR director Christian Campanella. “Obviously that brings complexities, but you have to layer consumer trends on top of that – people’s drinking habits are changing, and there’s been a real shift towards health and wellbeing.” Campanella concedes that this creates pressure, but believes it ultimately works to the betterment of the brand. “If you don’t innovate in the Australian market, you’re dead,” he says. “So there are challenges, but we try to look at these things as opportunities. Ultimately, they’re going to be growth levers for the organisation, so we need to leverage them and work with our retailers in order to draw maximum benefit.”


likely applies to other agricultural organisations too. This is where trends like Industry 4.0 start to become increasingly relevant, because they work towards solving some of these issues.”

Planning ahead Currently, Pernod Ricard works on a three-year cycle around organisational development that spans the globe. This enables the company to establish its strategic direction over the coming years, while also assessing its current alignments and how value can be added to the business. With the most recent cycle having wrapped up around a year ago, Campanella has introduced a number of new initiatives to enhance the existing culture of the organisation while also pushing it forward into the future. “I assessed the research insights that have emerged in the last couple of years and looked at how we could best align them to Pernod Ricard’s values,” he says. “For example, Deloitte release their human capital

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Created through merger of Pernod and Ricard in 1975

18,000+ employees worldwide

Second-largest seller of wine and spirits in the world

“How do you leverage digitisation and technology in an operations environment to manage skills shortages or people shortages?” Christian Campanella, HR director, Pernod Ricard Winemakers trends survey every year, and Industry 4.0 is an increasingly prominent digital aspect.” What emerged from that was the apparent need to reprioritise as an HR department. With these ideals in mind, Campanella restructured his HR team at the end of 2017. “I put a lot more emphasis on strategy and projects,” he says. “I’ve now got a Project Management Office within my team, which keeps us all a lot more accountable. We’re also now able to focus more effectively.” Other changes have been implemented too. Administration across the Pacific has been centralised to drive greater efficiency

and start leveraging more digital technology. The way the organisation partners internally has also shifted in order to provide better outcomes for Pernod Ricard as a whole. And perhaps most significantly, the Australian office has been moved into the new development in Barangaroo, Sydney. “What we were trying to do is make sure we had things structured and resourced correctly in order to deliver the plan effectively over the next few years,” Campanella says. Yet there’s still more to be done. Pushing for better balance on diversity and inclusion is the next logical step, according to Campanella.

Pernod Ricard Winemakers has a global portfolio of leading brands, including Jacob’s Creek, Campo Viejo, Brancott Estate and Kenwood “Over the last four years we’ve really been driving hard on creating the case for change and getting properly aligned across the organisation,” he says. “We’ve had good moves and things have shifted. But now it’s about taking it to that next level.” And once that’s done? Well, there will still be more challenges to negotiate into the future as the industry continues to evolve. There will always be a demand for Pernod Ricard’s products, but the way they are consumed will shift due to industry and consumer trends. Yet Campanella is confident that the storms of the future will be effectively weathered too. “I’d say that people are drinking less, but what they are consuming is better quality,” he says. “That actually works very well for us, because we’re a premium player. It fits our long-term strategy.”

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Ignore the connection economy at your peril Creating a culture of connection and purpose will inspire your employees and ultimately drive your organisation’s success, explains Alan Heyward, managing director at O.C. Tanner | accumulate THE SINGLE greatest cultural challenge facing HR and business leaders over the past 12 months has been the growing sense of disconnection among employees. It’s a common challenge faced by organisations spanning multiple industries on every continent, and one that will grow in significance and impact over the coming year and beyond if allowed to continue unchecked. As highlighted in the Connection: 2018 Global Culture Report by the O.C. Tanner Institute, this sense of disconnection is largely being driven by an increasingly diverse workforce and a flood of new technology. The latter is of course enormously ironic, as we live in a time of unprecedented digital connection. The challenge is perhaps best articulated by renowned neuroscientist John Cacioppo: “Loneliness isn’t the physical absence of other people. It’s the sense that you’re not sharing anything that matters with anyone else. You have to be in it together – and ‘it’ can be anything that you both think has meaning and value.”


Connection to purpose is the key Cacioppo is of course talking about purpose; that same report tells us that a paltry 53% of employees globally describe their company’s purpose as inspiring. We know that Gen Z and millennials have a stronger

connecting their people strongly not only to organisational purpose but also to individual and team accomplishments, and to each other. Achieve those goals and the impact on employee retention, attraction, motivation, innovation and productivity, and business profitability (among other things) can be profound. The 2018 Global Culture Report does a terrific job of exploring in depth the powerful connections that can be built when companies perform well within each of the ‘Talent Magnets’ – purpose, appreciation, leadership, wellbeing, success and opportunity – so I won’t delve further into that territory in this article. Rather, I will share with you a couple of stories that encapsulate for me what we really mean when we speak of connection.

Creating a peak experience At a previous company, I had reached my 10-year milestone. It came and went with little fanfare, and I thought very little of it at the time. I’m a classic Gen Xer in many respects; I don’t crave the spotlight, I work hard, and the satisfaction generally comes from seeing the business and others succeed. It hadn’t really crossed my mind again until earlier this year, when I was part of a 10-year career celebration for a colleague,

“It is the connections to a well-defined, inspiring purpose, to the accomplishments of individuals and teams, and to each other, that are the core ingredients of a strong workplace culture” Alan Heyward, managing director, O.C. Tanner | accumulate sense of purpose than previous generations, so business leaders will ignore this worrying trend at their peril. So, where to start? The key to success for leaders lies in their ability to shape their strategies around

Alex, with whom I have worked closely for each of those 10 years. Note that I said “career celebration” rather than “milestone”. There’s a big difference. Alex is a big personality. He is well liked and respected among colleagues and clients.

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He has achieved a consistently high level of performance during his tenure, and he doesn’t mind being the centre of attention (in a good way). And that’s why I was profoundly moved by the impact of Alex’s career celebration on him, on those who witnessed it, and on myself and the other long-standing colleagues who participated in the celebration. Alex was visibly moved both by the number of people who took time out to show their appreciation, and by the heartfelt words from his direct leader, myself and other members of the leadership team, who talked proudly of Alex’s contributions – as a colleague, leader and friend. There was laughter, tears, and gentle ribbing, all underpinned by an amazing level of respect. While we have been in the culture transformation and recognition business for 20 years in Australia, it was something of a watershed moment for our Australian team, and one that is still spoken of fondly as a moment when we got recognition and appreciation absolutely right; when everyone felt a powerful connection to each other and

to the purpose of the O.C. Tanner company as a whole.

during the year; connections to his role, to his colleagues, to the purpose of the organisation.

The chair

Focusing on what really matters

The second story centres on Rob, a rising talent within our business. He was engaged in a recent performance discussion with his leader, and when it came to Rob’s proudest achievement for the year, the discussion turned to a chair that had appeared next to his desk during the preceding few months. He didn’t know how it had got there, but he had noticed a growing stream of people dropping by not only to discuss elements relating to his specific role and projects but also to seek and share ideas about broader issues. To Rob, this was a clear marker of his growing confidence and stature within the business. He was viewed as a subject-matter expert and mentor – approachable; knowledgeable. He was having a tangible impact on the day-to-day working lives of his colleagues. Rob has achieved an impressive list of accomplishments during the year, but the ‘chair’ discussion was telling – he was speaking, of course, of the connections he had built

A seamless employee experience is important, from onboarding to offboarding. As is data integration. As is a natural, intuitive user experience on each employee platform you use. But it’s important your systems don’t become yet more pieces of technology that people can hide behind. Technology must complement culture; enable it. It is the connections to a well-defined, inspiring purpose, to the accomplishments of individuals and teams, and to each other, that are the core ingredients of a strong workplace culture in which people can thrive, and that will heavily dictate the fortunes of organisations over the years ahead.

Influence greatness Learn how to influence greatness in your organisation with O.C. Tanner’s Culture Cloud™ at For a copy of Connection: 2018 Global Culture Report, visit the “Whitepapers” section under “Resources” at

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How to give feedback effectively Are your employees too sensitive to negative feedback, or have you just been delivering it poorly? Ayetkin Tank outlines five ways to ensure feedback is well received

PAUL GREEN and colleagues at Harvard Business School believe negative feedback – on its own – rarely leads to improvement. Instead, it spurs us to remove ourselves from the partner or group where we’ve received the feedback and ‘shop’ for confirmation among new social circles. At work, that means we will seek out a new arrangement for our next project. If stuck with a certain partner or in a specific department, we might feel the urge to form relationships with people in other departments – anything to confirm the positive view of our actions and values within the company. When we can’t maintain that positive confirmation, it isn’t pretty. Physical consequences like anxiety and depression can threaten to pull us deeper into a spiral of poor behaviour and, in turn, negative


feedback. This need to protect our psyche is how and why we end up creating – and subconsciously locking ourselves into – our own echo chambers. Yes, feedback is a necessary evil – and there aren’t many things I’d say that about. Feedback is a multifaceted concept that’s vital to the way many of us work and live. So I thought I’d dig into just why feedback is such a hard pill to swallow and a few ways I’ve learned to deliver it effectively over the years.

Setting the stage for feedback delivery Delivering feedback, especially negative, is far more complex than telling an employee what they need to fix and expecting them to scamper off and focus on those items in a vacuum devoid of their own emotions. The tactical tricks that I’ll get into here won’t prove effective without setting the stage with

an affirmative work environment in which opportunities for positive confirmation and supportive relationships flourish. Think of your relationship with your partner or a long-time friend. A single disconfirming remark from one of them certainly wouldn’t send you running for the hills, would it? Negative feedback can lead to improvement when given in a confirming environment where the receiver feels supported and valued. When it comes to the workplace, there are many systems in place that erode the sense of value employees feel they offer the organisation. Competition for promotions, commission-based salaries and poorly executed peer reviews can certainly degrade any positive confirmation and lead to feedback falling on deaf ears. Once you’re able to create an environment

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Unless your comments can be tied directly to organisational goals, they really are just personal judgments, which have a way of putting their receiver into a defensive and combative mood – and rightly so in which your workers feel valued and confirmed in their positive attributes, you can try these five methods I’ve used to deliver feedback they can actually act on.

1. Encourage continued conversation with subjective feedback It’s tough to give feedback that people don’t want to run screaming from.

And it can be even more challenging when it comes to giving feedback for creative work. On JotForm, our users use our online form builder to collect feedback, and a big part of that feedback involves creative input. One thing I’ve noticed is that, much like creativity itself, feedback about creativity is highly subjective. If you’re able to frame it as such, you’re much more likely to start a discussion about where the design or feature

can go next instead of shaming and shutting down its creator. For example, I might say, “Personally, I gravitate towards this bigger, brighter button than towards the main action you want me to take on the page” instead of a definitive, objective statement like “This design is wrong”. It’s not about control. It’s not even about being right. It’s about providing constructive feedback in a way that encourages the creative process to continue.

2. Speak in patterns rather than specifics Duration neglect dictates that we’re more likely to remember peak moments (good or bad) and the most recent moments in any event. It is this, along with tons of other fascinating and confusing tricks the brain plays with memory, that makes

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it all too easy to provide biased feedback. And people who sense unfairness aren’t likely to take positive action. Instead of relying on one particular recent example, it’s important to collect data from different sources over time to find patterns in behaviour. I personally like to use a simple evaluation form template to collect anonymous feedback on how my team feels a certain design or feature came out. By combining this information with my own observations of specific examples, I’m able to provide unbiased feedback on areas where a certain design is excelling, as well as areas where it could improve. The knowledge that I’ve taken the time to identify real patterns goes a long

feedback will reinforce their positive values. It will take more than a sandwich to create a workplace in which feedback isn’t perceived as a threat and employees don’t feel the need to shop for confirmation. But this method is effective for times when you haven’t had a chance to establish good rapport with the receiver or have to deliver quick, one-off feedback.

4. Tie feedback directly to organisational goals We often hear the phrase “it’s nothing personal” when it comes to giving and receiving feedback. However, unless your comments can be tied directly to organisational goals, they really

Instead of relying on one particular example, it’s important to collect data from different sources over time to find patterns in behaviour way in negative feedback being received as supportive rather than a threat to the employee’s wellbeing and job security.

3. Whip up a delicious feedback sandwich A quick way to help create an environment that confirms an employee’s value before delivering negative feedback is to deliver it stacked like a sandwich – otherwise known as the PIP (praise-improve-praise) method. The process is as easy, and tasty, as it sounds: First, deliver praise that confirms the positive values a person pweabout themselves and their place in the organisation. Sandwich feedback that could be taken as negative in the middle. Top it off by reiterating the earlier praise or by explaining how acting on this


are just personal judgments, which have a way of putting their receiver into a defensive and combative mood – and rightly so. In order to deliver effective feedback that helps an employee better align with organisational goals, you’ve got to make sure those goals are clear to begin with. It wouldn’t be fair for me to deliver negative feedback solely because I don’t personally align with someone’s management style. In the same vein, it also wouldn’t be fair to critique an employee for not hitting certain organisational goals if they’ve never been told what those are. That’s why I strive to make sure my leadership team, as well as every single employee, is on the same page when it comes to organisational goals. And when it comes time for me personally to deliver feedback, I always make sure to first revisit

our organisational goals right there in the meeting to make sure my comments are aligned and actionable — not emotional.

5. Encourage the employee to walk a mile in your shoes Feedback can be especially frustrating to hear when you don’t understand what’s motivating it. So it can really help an employee by inviting them to ‘walk a mile in your shoes’, as the saying goes. Right there in the feedback session, encourage them to role-play as if they were in your management position. After describing the situation, you can tell your employee that you find it challenging to address the issue, and ask how she would handle the matter if she were managing the group. By stepping away from the threatening feelings for a second and viewing things from your perspective, your colleague can better understand that negative feedback is not meant as a personal attack, but as a way to help them better serve their team and grow their own development. This tactic can also help managers see how their team members personally process feedback and provide great insight into the management strategies they respond well to. Employees who understand management’s motivation are more likely to view negative feedback as a tool for growing their professional development rather than a threat.

Aytekin Tank is founder and CEO of JotForm, an online form creation software with four million users worldwide and more than 100 employees. A developer by trade but writer by heart, Aytekin shares stories about how he exponentially grew his company without receiving any outside funding.

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Creating a culture where innovation thrives What does it take to embed a culture of innovation in an organisation? Amantha Imber examines the key drivers of an innovation culture

DOES YOUR organisation have a culture in which innovation thrives? Are people challenging the status quo and being encouraged by leaders to take risks in pursuit of innovation? Or is the opposite true – managers don’t take time to listen to new ideas, and suggestions to make improvements are met with the comment, “But we tried that last year and it didn’t work”? Building a culture of innovation is hard work. Many leaders who have been given this directive immediately think about the Googles and Apples of the world. Images of beanbags and table-tennis tables fill their minds, as do ‘blue sky’ workshops in far-off country retreats. However, what we know from research is that all of this is completely ineffective in creating a culture of innovation. As is often the case, the voice of popular culture and fad-ridden management books wins out over the voice of scientific research. Jargonfilled, densely written journal papers are harder to access than the pop-psych books filling the shelves. The scientific research into how to create a culture where innovation thrives is both


plentiful and precise. For example, Samuel Hunter from the University of Oklahoma, along with his colleagues Katrina Bedell and Michael Mumford, ran a large-scale metaanalysis to understand which variables had the biggest impact on innovation culture. They reviewed 42 journal papers, which, in total, had drawn data from 14,490 participants.

and/or tasks are challenging, complex and interesting – yet at the same time, not overly taxing or unduly overwhelming’. It is important that you don’t simply think about how to give people the biggest possible challenge. Instead, you should ensure that the level of challenge you set is one that is achievable. On the flip side, setting tasks

It is not uncommon for senior leaders to play it safe when confronted with the choice of whether to support innovation The research revealed 14 key drivers into innovation culture and ranked the drivers from most impactful through to least impactful. Let’s delve further into three of the top-ranking variables. 1 Find the right level of challenge

Hunter’s meta-analysis found that employees feeling a strong sense of challenge in their work is one of the strongest drivers of a culture of innovation. They defined ‘challenge’ as the ‘perception that jobs

that people are able to complete with their eyes closed will not breed a culture where innovation thrives. In a 2014 review of several meta-analyses, Silvia da Costa and several colleagues from the University of the Basque Country examined the difference in creativity for those in challenging versus non-challenging roles. The researchers found that if people are in a role that challenges them, 67% will demonstrate above-average creativity and innovation in their performance. In contrast,

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You might even want to consider having a company award for innovations that were not successes, but where the learnings were really rich. Finally, consider reframing risktaking in a positive way, such as talking about how risks provide people with the opportunity to learn. 3 Support from the top

only 33% of people in ‘easy’ jobs show aboveaverage innovation. At GE, Jeff Immelt famously introduced imagination breakthroughs (IBs), defined as an innovation that will contribute $100m worth of incremental growth, to his senior leadership team. Each member of the team was responsible for generating three IBs every year. The challenge is big, but the resources made available to leaders make it a challenge they can meet. Matching the level of challenge to an individual’s skill level is key to finding the optimal level. As a manager, take time to thoughtfully consider how you allocate tasks and projects to people. Ensure that you are matching these elements so that people feel a significant sense of challenge. 2 Encourage risk-taking

The notion of failure being unacceptable is one that I have found resonates with many organisations. Failure is generally thought of as a dirty word, something that gets swept under the carpet when it does rear its ugly

head. But being able to acknowledge and learn from failure is a huge part of building a culture where risk-taking is tolerated and innovation can thrive. Leaders play an important role in signalling that risk-taking is encouraged and that failure is tolerated. The Tata Group is an example of a company that has embraced risk-taking. Like many organisations serious about innovation, it has an annual innovation awards program, known as InnoVista. While that is not particularly groundbreaking, what is innovative is the awards categories. InnoVista pays tribute to the group’s most outstanding and promising innovations, but there is also a category called Dare to Try, which was launched back in 2009. This category is reserved for ideas that were attempted but that, according to the Tata Group, “have fallen short of achieving optimum results”. As a leader, think about initiatives and actions you can put in place to illustrate that your company doesn’t just pay lip service to risk-taking, but actually does it.

Ensuring that senior leaders in your organisation understand and communicate the importance of innovation is critical. In fact, Hunter’s meta-analysis showed that people feeling that the top level of management truly supported innovation efforts was one of the strongest predictors of an innovation culture. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for senior leaders to play it safe when confronted with the choice of whether to support innovation. I recently worked with the Australian leadership team of a global technology company. While innovation was a strategic priority for the company globally, the Australian CEO was frightened of innovation because it meant taking a risk. And this fear permeated the business, which meant that employees were too nervous to do anything differently because that was the message they were getting from the top. If you are a senior leader, make sure that you see your role as actually innovating, as opposed to just delegating it to other people. Research has shown this is a key differentiator between leaders in innovative versus non-innovative companies. Further, as a leader, think about behaviours you can engage in that symbolise your commitment to and support of innovation. Dr Amantha Imber is the founder of Inventium, Australia’s leading innovation consultancy. Her latest book, The Innovation Formula, tackles the topic of how organisations can create a culture where innovation thrives. For more information, visit inventium. or contact her at amantha@

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Put an end to team dysfunction Dealing with a dysfunctional team is not only bad for workplace culture, business efficiency and retention, but it can also be extremely costly. Workplace adviser and author Rose Bryant-Smith offers her tips to help you build a better team

JUST LISTEN to the conversations around you on public transport or at the pub and you’ll not be surprised to learn that unhappy workers and dysfunctional teams are common in Australian workplaces. In 2016, research by Lindsay McMillan found that 14% of workers described their workplace environment as ‘toxic’, and 20% had experienced major problems in communicating with a co-worker or boss. A massive 50% of Australian workers have experienced one or more serious incidents of conflict or other negative conduct at work. Problems in team functioning reduce productivity, divert management attention and drive good staff to leave. After all, why would your best performers tolerate a toxic or underachieving team when they could thrive elsewhere? To avoid all this wasted effort, additional costs and heightened risks, HR and other senior leaders and managers must be able to understand the causes, spot the signs of dysfunction early, and take action. Here are the most common causes of team dysfunction, from the micro to the macro: An individual employee in the team who is behaving in destructive ways also holds power in the organisation – whether or not they have formal authority or



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seniority – such that no one is prepared to take them on. There is a lack of clarity in terms of roles, responsibilities, accountabilities and reporting lines. Some team members are trying to implement improvements, while others remain happily responsible to no one and accountable for nothing. Manipulative or malicious employees exploit the confusion to their own ends.


Failure to manage badly behaving individuals is allowing them to set the tone for the team culture. A sexualised, gossiping, bullying or undermining culture has crept in.



A fundamental disconnect exists between the values that the organisa-

consider offering training to the team in how to have difficult conversations, give negative feedback reasonably and respectfully, and intervene when they see poor conduct in the workplace. These interpersonal skills are anything but ‘soft’; they will enable your colleagues to check each other when behavioural standards slip. If one individual is breaching the organisation’s rules and standards for how to behave in the workplace, that person must be reminded of the organisation’s expectations and counselled and supported to change. If they fail to improve their conduct, they should be disciplined or removed from the organisation. The alternative – tolerating the toxic employee – costs the average business an additional $15,169 per year, according to Harvard Business School, primarily due to

Problems in team functioning reduce productivity, divert management attention and drive good staff to leave tion says it holds (what we say we believe in) and the operational reality (the way we are actually behaving). If these causes are familiar to you, or you’re already grappling with conflict, misconduct or an undesirable culture in your team, don’t panic. There are effective interventions that managers and leaders can use to get the team back on track. Conflict should be addressed in an honest and sophisticated way. The team’s manager, an HR manager or a consultant can facilitate a team discussion or hold a mediation between two warring employees. These processes enable individual employees to understand each other’s perspectives better, identify the ideal future state and guide them to design the ground rules for how they will work together in the future. Although you can’t teach emotional intelligence to those who inherently lack it,

loss of valued team members who can no longer put up with the negative atmosphere that the toxic employee creates. Can you afford to ignore that one employee’s conduct that is dragging everyone else down? Address any lack of clarity with respect to how the team should function by reviewing the organisation’s values and employment policies. Check that the individual team members are all clear about what they are accountable for achieving, and make sure that everyone has a direct manager. Dotted or blurry reporting lines only work for the most diligent, achievement-driven employees, and even they will tire of the confusion. When managing a dysfunctional team, a manager can often feel frustrated, distracted and ineffective, despite their formal authority. To turn around a team that is crippled by infighting, gossip, resentments and other problems, the manager needs to develop influence, negotiation and leadership skills.



of workers described their workplace environment as toxic


had experienced major problems in communication


had experienced one or more serious incidents of conflict


is average cost associated with tolerating a toxic employee for a year The manager has a key role in holding everyone accountable for their own individual behaviours, and engaging everyone in the effort to rebuild their team.

Rose Bryant-Smith is a director of workplace advisory firm Worklogic, and co-author of Fix Your Team. Worklogic works with employers across Australia to fix dysfunctional teams, resolve disputes, investigate complaints, and build positive workforce cultures. For more information, visit or

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Overcoming ego in the workplace Business culture expert Georgia Murch explains how a constructive style of leadership can promote creativity and collaboration in your team

YOU KNOW the type. Their ego walks in the door before they do. They love talking about how good they are and what they’ve achieved, and have little or no self-awareness. Their belief in themselves often outweighs their interest, or desire, to understand the needs of others. Their concern is with themselves and how things impact them. Yep, they have fallen prey to the ‘ego monkey’, that silent whisperer that sits on their shoulder and tells them that people are much more interested in them than they actually are. Their ego distorts their perspective. It happens easily and it’s damaging to them and the people around them. But not all ego is bad. Ego is described as a person’s level of self-worth or self-belief. We all need a healthy level of ego to achieve what we do in life, work and relationships. In fact, we all deserve it. But when it tips over to arrogance it is unhealthy and can distance us from the people around us and limit our own personal growth.


It gets in the way by making us no longer as open to feedback from others, not to mention less enjoyable to be around. If you believe you are better than someone else, they will sense it, and your words won’t make a difference. After all, people hear your content, but they smell your intent. There are many diagnostic tools to measure the culture of an organisation. One that I like is Human Synergistics’ Organizational Culture Inventory tool, which allows organisations to understand what type of culture they have and, more deeply, the behaviours and performance of their people. In its simplest explanation, the data is split into three categories:

2. Passive/defensive: These cultures are nice. Nice is good but it’s often ineffective in pushing things forward. People are not comfortable with challenging the status quo, and innovation and creativity do not occur. People are not comfortable taking risks or being vulnerable.

1. Aggressive and defensive: These

3. Constructive: These are cultures that

cultures are highly competitive with each other. They remain in silos, hold back information, and do not value collaboration. This leads to mixed performance and volatility.

get things done. They deal with conflict in a healthy way. They hold each other to account and push ideas and strategies forward, which leads to effectiveness and sustainability.

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How do we build great relationships and make great decisions to create constructive cultures? Start with how we communicate While we need a combination of all of these styles for an organisation and its people to perform at their best, we mostly need the constructive style of leading and dealing with each other. This can push through the awkwardness of tough situations and conversations and deal with things as they arise. This is where we are at our most productive,

highly engaged, and profitable or successful. When there are unhealthy egos, an arrogant culture permeates and creates high levels of competition. It’s survival of the fittest. Conflict, the unhealthy type, is the norm. Blaming and finger-pointing become the way of thinking, rather than asking, ‘How do we work through the issue?’ These

cultures are toxic. There are some industries that have higher levels of this than others, such as consulting, financial services, the legal profession, property and sport. But these cultures are not ideal. So, what would the opposite look like? A humble workplace means people are interested in working as one and collaborating first. Creativity thrives because people are OK with taking risks; people choose to work together and celebrate and work with differences; leaders reveal their flaws and work around them rather than hiding them; and people are committed to growing each other, not bringing each other down. Sometimes we see confidence as cockiness because our relationship with confident people is skewed. Confidence is not the enemy; arrogance is. How do we build great relationships and make great decisions to create more constructive cultures and relationships? Start with how we communicate and collaborate. We need conversations, not accusations. Arrogance does not hide when we work and talk with people, nor does humility. The difference is your intent. Before you have that conversation, be still; breathe. Ask yourself: what am I bringing to the conversation that will serve it? What am I bringing to the conversation that will detract from it? My attitude? My thinking? How do we balance cockiness and confidence? Work on yourself first and take responsibility for how you treat others. That’s when humility follows. Georgia Murch is an expert in creating feedback cultures. She is the bestselling author of Fixing Feedback and has just launched her new book, Feedback Flow: The Ultimate Illustrated Guide to Embed Change in 90 Days. For more information, visit

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How to build a virtual workforce From cost cutting to freeing up staff to meet clients, ditching the office has a lot to offer if you can get it right, explains virtual working expert Ruth MacKay THE TRADITIONAL boundaries of officebased work no longer apply in the modern business environment. With the proliferation of mobile technology, professionals can now work from home, on the road, in their favourite cafe or indeed almost anywhere there is a good internet connection. Never before have workers had so much autonomy over when, where and how they work. This brings a long list of benefits to the forward-thinking companies that are using virtual workforces to maximise their competitive advantage, attract and retain the best talent, and become first-choice employers, all while cutting overhead costs and increasing productivity. However, running a successful virtual workforce requires a completely new management philosophy. Traditionally, the manager’s role was to supervise, direct and interact face-to-face with employees. For most managers that was easy. With employees at their desks from nine to five, managers could stop by at any time and check in. Now they’re asking: “How can we maintain solid oversight while allowing our employees the freedom to work virtually?” That’s a good question, and one that can only be answered with solid planning, training and a top-down understanding of how to implement, integrate and manage a virtual workforce designed to address the challenges of doing business in the 21st century. Follow


these four steps to build an effective virtual workforce that will take your business to the next level.

What is your competition doing? If they have moved or are moving to a virtual workforce, you are definitely at risk of being left behind the eight ball.

STEP 1 Evaluate Not every business is the same, so there is no one-size-fits-all virtual workforce that you can simply drag and drop into play. Some businesses will be more suited to a virtual workforce than others, as will certain business units within your company. Take some time to carefully evaluate your business for strategic fit, and consider the following: How will a virtual workforce potentially increase your competitive advantage? Consider how a mobile workforce may be able to outpace your competition by providing your clients with on-location service. How will a virtual workforce impact your market position? Without the overhead drain of maintaining a bricks-and-mortar office, you may be able to offer discounts to high-value clients or become a lowercost provider. Will a virtual workforce open entry into new markets? Having employees stationed around the country and even around the globe operating in a range of time zones may open up new opportunities to expand your territories and enter new markets.

STEP 2 Assess Virtual workforces offer a range of potential benefits but also require investment in key areas to ensure maximum effectiveness. Like every business decision, you must assess the benefits against the costs to determine if a virtual workforce is the right fit for your organisation. Here’s some food for thought to get you started: POTENTIAL BENEFITS Reduction in employee commuting time increases flexibility and improves work–life balance. This leads to reductions in staff attrition and associated recruitment and training costs. Fewer in-office distractions can improve employee productivity and boost motivation and engagement. Cutting your overhead costs may offer the opportunity to rethink your pricing structure and improve your competitive advantage. There is the potential to improve client relationships via face-to-face visits with staff stationed nearby.

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management of software, hardware and support each business unit has clearly written policies that can be easily distributed to your virtual employees During your pilot program, look for gaps that may require training, new technology or infrastructure, and recruit staff – either internally or externally – with the attributes required to work virtually. Plan out the scope, tasks, timing, resourcing, costs and acceptance criteria (use these as the basis for your ongoing management metrics) so that the transition is as seamless as possible. Be disciplined in completing the plan, and after a meaningful period (this should represent at least one complete business cycle) measure outcomes to goals. This will enable you to construct a new project plan that offers solutions to the gaps in the initial cycle. This may be improved by utilising relevant expertise from outside.

STEP 4 Launch! POTENTIAL COSTS Required investment in new software and hardware technology to support the virtual model. Initial management training required to convert to virtual workforce management practices and techniques. Training and support costs required to assist employees in transitioning to new technology and work philosophy. Resources may be required to ensure buy-in up and down the management chain to prevent resistance.

STEP 3 Implement With your evaluation and assessment complete, it’s time to enter the implementation

stage. Running a pilot program provides a positive pathway to transitioning to a virtual workforce in one part of your business without impacting on overall operations. Most importantly, you must have the various business units take full ownership of the transition to ensure they have clearly identified both the opportunities and the risks within a virtual workforce. Also, your managers will need to be trained and motivated so as to be up to the challenge of effectively leading their virtual employees. To run a successful pilot project, businesses must ensure that: software and hardware selection and application is approved by all of the company’s units sales and IT have worked with all areas of management to identify the most effective

Your pilot project will have lessened the overall risk while gaining the much-needed support for the virtual model across your organisation. And with all your evaluations, assessments and planning in place, it’s now time to pick a specific date to launch – because the only way you will identify what will work and what will need improvement is by doing it.

Ruth MacKay is the founder and managing director of OURTEL Solutions where she manages a 100% virtual workforce. She is passionate about helping businesses gain a competitive advantage, improve profits and retain top talent through leveraging proven virtual workforce models. Ruth is also the author of the new book, The 21st Century Workforce. For more information visit

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Across countries, industries and cultures, Phil Turner has become a master of negotiating transitions Freshly graduated with a design and communications degree, Phil Turner, a native of Norwich in England, joined a fast-paced and demanding London advertising agency. “Once the team pulled a 36-hour shift – we worked through the night to get a pitch ready, and the next day there was no thanks; it was just expected. The demand for creativity every minute of every day was a real challenge, and I couldn’t really afford to live in London – at one point I was sleeping in the office!”




MOVES DOWN UNDER Turner and his wife secured their permanent residence visas for Australia and returned in search of a higher quality of life and more plentiful opportunities. He took a series of temporary HR assignments to build up his local experience before securing an internal recruitment manager role. “I still recommend temping to people arriving in a new country; it gave me the experience to navigate different industries, diverse teams, cultures and work environments. On psychometric assessments my adaptability rates off the charts.”


JOINS COCHLEAR Introduced to Cochlear on the recommendation of a previous manager, Turner joined the innovator – a move that culminated in a relocation back to Australia. He remembers the experience resonating with him as it gave him the chance to be part of an inspirational mission to enable people to hear, while also having yet another workout of his capacity for negotiating change. “I was new to the biomedical industry, but I integrated into the culture quickly and worked on some exciting HR projects.”



Despite joining Lindt to assist with a business transformation program – moving three sites into a new head office and a manufacturing facility to support growth – Turner’s portfolio grew to include talent, L&D, projects and technology. A standout moment was seeing his submission land Lindt the 2017 Australian HR Award for Employer of Choice.


TRANSITIONS INTO HR Returning from a year in Australia where his highlight was working at the Sydney 2000 Olympics, Turner was on the hunt for a long-term career when his eye was caught by a newspaper ad for a graduate HR program with a national retailer. His communications background, coupled with previous retail experience working for supermarket giant Tesco in his student days, got him a place on the program. “I missed people interaction in a job, and the retail industry is all about people.”


TAKES TO TRANSFORMATION Turner returned to Blighty when he was brought on board by Thomas Cook to facilitate the post-merger integration of two large travel companies. Under time pressure and running in parallel with the core business, Turner worked on the delivery of HCM projects to accelerate synergies in the new organisation structure. “I was handling the integration of two groups of employees – it was about assessing people. It was challenging, but I had the advantage of being new to the company and bringing a fresh view.”


SUPPORTS BOOMING INDUSTRY Turner changed gears yet again, taking on a sizeable role at a multinational support services company where he was challenged with sourcing 4,000–6,000 people per year. His work was recognised with an Australian HR Award for Best Recruitment Strategy. “It was very high volume. At one point I had a team of 35. We had assessment centres running in major cities every day, but it had to be high quality. We wanted the right skill sets and attitude.”

“I’m using skills I learned 20 years ago but applying them to a different industry in a more strategic and focused way. Skills are transferable”

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“The high level of precision [associated with barbershop] was part of what appealed to me,” says F iona Petty. “It was a craft that required commitment”


Number of singers in the chorus


Number of performances per year


Songs in the choir’s repertoire

SINGING A DIFFERENT TUNE When she’s not providing HR expertise across nine worksites, Fiona Petty can be found raising her voice in song


FIONA PETTY was always musical as a child – she fondly recalls appearing on stage as an elf. However, the demanding nature of the Gold Coast-based HR manager’s career left little time for another creative outlet until March of 2016 when she finally felt ready to join Coastal Charisma, the female a cappella singing group whose male counterpart she had seen perform in 1988. The precision required from the choir resonates with Petty. “It mirrors my working life. I would never put in a mediocre effort,” she

says. “That’s not who I am.” It makes perfect sense, then, that in addition to her vocal work Petty is also the choir president, in which role she takes care of both the administrative functions and compliance issues connected to the not-for-profit. But the aspect of her involvement that gives her the greatest pleasure is to do with the people. “The community that surrounds me is very empowering for women. I can see how it’s made a difference in people’s lives.”

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