Businesses are always having to adapt to changes from the economic and social environment, technological advancements and their customer’s needs. Many of these changes can be planned for and implemented when the business is ready. The pandemic changed a lot of these plans and some businesses were forced to pivot their operations and priorities or even temporarily close, no more so then in the building industry.

Significant events like COVID-19, have impacts on employee roles, responsibilities and conditions, however, at the same time, it hasn’t changed employer obligations no matter the severity of business issues.

In a recent case, a client in the building industry had an employee file an unfair dismissal claim citing constructive dismissal and redundancy. Due to the complexity of the dispute and changes to the business as a result of COVID-19 at that point in time, Catie Paterson HR Business Consulting was brought in to manage the unfair dismissal case to help the employer and employee resolve the dispute that was both fair and reasonable for both parties.

The lead up to the dispute

The employer owns and operates two business entities in the building industry. Before taking twelve months maternity leave the employee was engaged in a role, working three days per week and no weekends. When the employee was due to return to work from maternity leave, COVID-19 restrictions meant some of the builder’s operations were closed. There was a decline in sales which resulted in the employee not being able to return to their previous role.

The employer offered the employee an alternate role in their other ‘business entity’ for a period of four to six months until sales increased. The role offered was similar in status and the pay remained that same as the previous role with the other business entity. The hours of work would this time include working one weekend day.

The employee did not agree that the alternate role was of similar status and requested a further six-month extension of maternity leave in order to return to the original role. The employer did not agree to the maternity leave extension but agreed to the employee working three days per week and no weekends. The employee did not accept this and resigned from her role and filed an unfair dismissal citing constructive dismissal and redundancy.

The approach to the Unfair Dismissal Conciliation

According to Fair Work, a constructive dismissal is a forced resignation, meaning an employee has no real choice but to resign. A genuine redundancy is when an “employer no longer required the person’s job to be performed by anyone because of changes in the operational requirements of the employer’s enterprise.”

Catie Paterson HR Business Consulting approached the dispute by first reviewing and understanding the facts of the case by utilising prior knowledge and experience from other similar disputes, to determine if it was constructive dismissal and a genuine redundancy. With this concise process of review and consultation, Catie Paterson HR Business Consulting were able to gather the necessary documentation to justify the decisions that were made and that procedures were followed in compliance with Fair Work. This meant the client was well prepared for the unfair dismissal conciliation with the Fair Work Commission (FWC) and an agreed settlement could be reached, avoiding a full FWC hearing or conference.

The Result

During the conciliation it was found the situation was not constructive dismissal as the employee resigned on their own accord as a result of not wanting to accept/work in the alternate role offered with the other business entity. It was deemed that the employer did offer flexibility with changing the roster to working three days per week and no weekends.  Also, the original role was not made redundant as the employer required someone in the role for the future and within six months.

The importance of Human Resources (HR) policies, procedures and documentation

FWC conciliations and hearings can be very stressful for all parties involved and can be a very long, drawn out process if procedures, documentation and consultation requirements are not followed or complied with. As this case demonstrates it’s important to have workplace policies and procedures in place to help manage legal risk, provide that support framework for when decisions need to be made and required documentation.

It also shows how the complexity of the pandemic can affect a business and their employee’s roles, responsibilities and conditions but employer obligations still remain the same as before the pandemic.

Businesses going through significant changes should seek guidance from a Human Resources Consultant on any decisions that need to be made around their workforce to hopefully avoid FWC conciliations and hearings.

If you have ever had to hire new staff you know how much time and money it can take to find the right person for the job. This is only part of the process. Once you have found that right person you want them to stay for the long term and not up and leave after a few months. It’s estimated that replacing a staff member can cost 3 or 4 times their annual salary.

Many businesses underestimate the importance of integrating and training their new starters from day one as well as creating a successful employee experience. The necessity of the administrative parts of the process when a new employee starts often takes centre stage. More important than ever is the concept of having the employee at the centre of everything you do and this starts with onboarding.

What is onboarding?

Onboarding is a formal process for integrating a new employee into the business – their role, their team, business operations and culture. A good onboarding process can help your new starter get up to speed quickly, alleviate uncertainty and any concerns, boosting their confidence and productivity from the start. An onboarding process will start before their first day and continue to their twelve-month anniversary and sometimes beyond.

Frighteningly, 40% of organisations rate their onboarding programs as less than moderately effective. On the flip side, companies with structured and standardised onboarding processes experience 54% higher productivity from their new staff, and twice as much engagement.

Why is onboarding so important?

Onboarding is the critical point for making your new starter feel valued, part of the team and setting expectations from day one. It bridges the gap between the candidate and employee experience and helps manage the social and emotional fears your new starter may have when starting a new job.

Three of the biggest benefits a good onboarding process can have is the increase in retention, productivity and employee satisfaction. An effective onboarding program can increase retention by 25% and improve employee performance by 11%.

Retaining your people

It has been reported that an average person will now hold almost 12 jobs before the age of 50. This means it can be harder for businesses to retain good talent. A way is making sure your employees are engaged from the very start. Onboarding helps your new starter understand your culture and core values and develop key interpersonal relationships to kick start engagement from their very first day. Businesses with highly engaged workforces are generally 21% more profitable than those with poor engagement.

Increase in productivity

An effective onboarding process will increase their productivity level faster and have them ‘up to speed’ with others in their team in less time. A solid onboarding process will include training the new starter in not only their job role and what is expected of them but also how their role aligns with the overall business and its values. This will in turn increase their engagement and motivation for staying on for the long term.

– Increase in employee satisfaction

More important than ever is the concept of having the employee at the centre of everything you do and this starts with onboarding. The old way of induction was very business compliance – paperwork, forms etc. A good onboarding process is built around the new starter experience which includes compliance but is not the focus. An employee centric approach allows you to take the time to learn and get to know the individual and develop that all-important relationship. If they feel valued and understood this will result in an increase in employee satisfaction and a smooth transition.

The onboarding experience is the critical opportunity for setting expectations on how their experience will be with you but also has the added benefits of increasing retention, productivity and satisfaction. First impressions count, so take the time to plan an effective onboarding process. With so many aspects of modern-day workforce management changing to more flexible models of operation, creating certainty for your new starters has never been more important.


As restrictions start to ease and many businesses begin thinking about how their staff may return to the office, for some people working from home may not end when the COVID-19 pandemic does.  

Following recent conversations I’ve had with my clients, one thing that has been discussed a lot has been around productivity. Some businesses have seen significant increase in productivity when it comes to new working environments while for others technological challenges, lack of communication and routine, stress and uncertainty has led to reduction.  

It’s important to remember that during these times of uncertainty and change everyone reacts differently and not one day can be the same. For many leaders, this can mean a new way of working or even thinking a little differently to get the most out of your team on a regular basis. 

Here are three tips that might help your team to stay focused and boost productivity no matter the environment.

Focus on your long-term plans  

Over the last few months businesses and staff have been focusing on what impact situations like COVID-19 have on the short-term. When really, it’s important we shift that mindset and get people thinking about what the future looks like, where they sit and what role they will play. When employees feel a sense of purpose and feel part of a journey, they are more likely to be engaged and be in a more positive frame of mind.  

Re-connect your team  

For some teams, the dynamics might seem a little smaller or they may not have connected with each other for a long period of time. This could mean that your employees may have lost touch with each other or even what each other are working on, which can have an affect both personally and professionally.

During these times, it’s important that teams communicate on a regular basis and don’t just focus on work. People need to re-connect and start to feel part of a wider team again, no matter the size.

For example, you might want to implement a simple weekly stand up (virtual) meeting where each person talks about one thing they’re working on and one thing they did on the weekend.  

Have you set clear goals with realistic expectations? 

Over the last few months people’s expectations both from a manager’s and employees’ perspective have most likely shifted to accommodate different challenges around personal life, work life balance, home schooling etc.

As restrictions shift and kids start returning to school it’s a good opportunity to re-assess your expectations with your staff and set clear goals to help them engage and refocus their efforts, as well as understanding what you need from them.  

Just remember that not everything needs to change. Yes, you might start returning to the office soon or increasing your hours back to normal but don’t forget that during these last few months your business and your people will have adapted to new ways of working that might just be for the better.  

Embrace them and be willing to continue to change and adapt as we’re still not sure how long this pandemic will last for or whether we’re at the end. 

Leadership is an essential skill that is critical in many aspects in life, from a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or founder of a company, a project leader on a building site, an office manager, president of your local football club or on the board of your industry association.

No matter what role you are in, a good leader is one that brings about positive change, has a growth mind set to really make a difference and has the ability to inspire others to achieve the vision and goals.  

What is leadership?

Many people think of leadership as the title someone has such as the Managing Director of their company or their ‘Team leader,’ but leadership is more than just a title.

Leadership is an important interpersonal skill and the ability of someone to be able to positively influence others and direct them towards achievement of shared goals. 

A strong leader is able to engage their people to maximise their people’s potential to be better, communicate effectively, regularly solicit feedback and new ideas and have the ability to problem solve and react quickly to the changing environment.  

Leadership versus Management 

Although leadership is an important part of a manager’s role there is a significant difference between ‘leadership’ and ‘management.’ Management deals more with the administrative aspects of planning, organising, budgeting and making sure day to day tasks are being completed to achieve the business goals.

Leadership creates the vision and goals, persuades and motivates people to believe in the vision and to strive to achieve the goals. Leadership often will be involved in decisions on large scale transformations or changes such as entering a new product into a market or a merger or takeover, whereas, managers will plan and set up the business processes to enable successful transformations.

There is a difference between leadership and management but both are complementary skills and effective leaders need to be able to both lead and manage.

Core leadership skills are important when leading a team of people in an office environment.

Essential Skills for a leader in an office environment 

Strong leadership skills are valuable in today’s ever-changing environment.

Becoming a good leader doesn’t happen overnight and can take many years of experience, coaching and working with a mentor to hone these skills.  As we come through the other side of the pandemic, leaders are starting to plan to bring their people back to the office.

Here are some core leadership skills that are important when leading a team of people in an office environment. 

Being positive 

A positive attitude, the way you conduct and present yourself around the office will have an effect on what is expected of the team. Teams look up to the way their leaders act and conduct themselves in specific situations. A positive attitude and the ability to have a ‘laugh’ when something doesn’t quite go to plan or simple acts of acknowledging your people when you first come into the office, asking how they are or about their holiday plans can provide a happy work environment which keeps your people motivated and likely to put in the extra hours when required.  Being caring, friendly, empathetic and encouraging, can go a long way to developing a positive culture and rapport with your people.


Being able to clearly articulate what you want to achieve, from your vision, values and goals to developing positive relationships with your peers and staff and concise explanations on specific tasks, communication is one of the most important skills of a leader. Leaders are required to use all forms of nonverbal and verbal communication from speaking at large office events, public speaking, social media to one on one with peers and staff and emails. In an office environment many leaders have an ‘open door policy’ to let their staff know they are regularly available to hear any concerns and to encourage a flow of conversation between them and their staff. 


Implementing your vision is essential for business success. Leaders who try to do this on their own will struggle and growth will be hard to come by. Being able to delegate tasks to the right people and trusting in your people to create what you visioned is a sign of an effective and strong leader.

Be honest

As a leader, demonstrating key values of open, honest and ethical behaviour no matter if you are in the office or managing a virtual team is important for building trust and respect with your people. In an office environment, people can easily pick up if someone is being dishonest through sighting of inaction and conversations. News travels fast around an office!

Safety leadership

The role of a leader is significant in creating a safe work environment and inspiring others to do so. Not only enforcing the legal obligations of safe work but having a workplace where their people are able to effectively do their work to their full potential. Leaders need to also provide a workplace free from bullying, harassment and discrimination and foster a culture of safety and innovation. 

Displaying commitment and confidence

No matter the size of the business there are always going to be good and bad days. It is a key skill for a leader to remain calm and show a level of confidence when problems arise, especially in an open office environment. If you are calm, your team will be as well, and morale will stay high.  

The benefit of being in the office is you can take some time to see and work alongside your people. Allowing them to see your commitment to your role and all the work that is being done and them understanding that what they do is an important contributor to the achievement of the overall goals, will increase their motivation and commitment to the business. This will also ‘break the ice’ and enable your people to feel that they can come to you if they have any issues or concerns. 

Be flexible

Not all decisions will go to plan and last-minute changes will happen. A skill of a leader is to be flexible, accept changes that occur and have the creative solutions to solve any problems in a timely manner. Leaders need the confidence to trust in the decisions they make as your people will look to you for guidance. Being flexible is also about being open to receiving feedback and listening to any concerns your people may have. For example, a staff member may come to you to let you know a specific issue in the office that is a concern. Your people will respect and appreciate you for taking the time to talk through the issue and your openness to making changes if required.

Leadership is a valuable skill, especially in times like these and you do not have to be in a leadership role to develop these skills. They can be learned over time through job experience, looking beyond your current role to take up more responsibility and through training and development opportunities on areas you think you need to improve on. If you have the ability to inspire people, have them invested in what you would like to achieve, have an appreciation of all the hard work your people do for you and communicate well, you will go a long way to being an exceptional leader. 

Is it possible for employees to be just as efficient at home as they can be in an office?  

As Australians continue to face unprecedented challenges due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it’s important that leaders implement effective communication, teamwork and collaboration to achieve the best results for their business and their staff.   

Remote working comes with a variety of challenges, not only for a business but also for its staff and leaders. For many employees, these current circumstances may have presented them with a shift in the way they work, how they balance work with family now, which they may have never experienced before.

For leaders, virtual teams can present a risk of disconnection and a lack of collaboration which may have an impact on your team’s or individuals trust and employee engagement, if not implemented correctly.

Five tips for leading and managing virtual teams

How can leaders keep their virtual teams engaged during isolation? 

With careful planning and execution, as well as ongoing team communication, leaders can ensure they are continuing to inspire and lead their teams even when they’re not in the same room or physically seeing staff every day.  

Here are five key tips leaders can follow to help their teams continue to perform effectively while working remotely: 

Set clear and tangible goals 

When it comes to working remotely, there can be a certain amount of added distractions that employees might not necessarily be use to within the office. For others, it can be a perfect environment to be more productive by setting themselves a clear structure for how they are going to plan out their day and what they want to achieve during that time. By setting clear and tangible goals, this can help keep people on track and be clear on the work that you would like delivered by a certain time in the day or week.  

Boost transparency and communication across your business  

Communication and collaboration are amongst the biggest challenges’ businesses can face when it comes to remote working. For many people they are use to being able to resolve issues or ask questions from colleagues or managers face to face in an office environment. It’s important to develop an effective communication plan in which employees are encouraged to have regular conversations and share information openly. Offering tools to employees enables them to quickly and easily engage with others which will help to increase engagement and avoid disconnection or productivity.  

Build employee engagement  

When managing a remote team a hands-off approach isn’t going to be enough. It’s imperative to help manage your team’s workload and expectations by checking in with each employee and bringing together your team on a regular basis. With the amount of technology currently available using instant communication tools such as Zoom or FaceTime are great alternative to a phone call. You could start each morning with a team check-in each morning. A short, 15 minute meeting that allows everyone to share what they’re working on and what support they might need from leaders or other members of the team to deliver specific projects.  

Be consistent and supportive 

To ensure productivity, leaders must manage remote employees effectively. Being consistent with your approach and supporting employees who may feel disconnected or even isolated during circumstances such as COVID-19 can have a huge impact. Just as people would do in an office, having an open communication policy and being accessible to help employees on a regular basis can see people thrive in environments that may be unnatural to them. Employees may be looking for answers or just need to talk with someone to help them through a difficult client or roadblock they’re having on a project. Your team will look to you for guidance and leadership more than they will look to you for management during these times.  

Model best practice  

To get the best out of your colleagues, identifying an effective virtual team leader who models the best behaviours and practices for your business can make a big impact during these times. For many, this can be very unfamiliar and present challenges they’ve never had to deal with in the office. Now more than ever, is the time to have a leadership team in place that people can turn to and feel supported as they embrace this new way of working. This will help to bring the best out people and make people feel comfortable with what could be the new way of working now and into the future.  

What does the future of work look like? 

Over the last few months, we have seen a significant change to the way we work and have had to overcome significant challenges. How businesses adapt and manage teams remotely varies considerably but embracing change and developing essential skills required to manage a virtual team is becoming even more important, especially if this could be the new way of working for a lot of businesses now and into the future. 

We are currently seeing a rapid change to the Australian workforce and economy with ongoing environmental and social impacts seeing businesses having to change and adapt more quickly than ever before, technology advancements replacing human labour, increasing customer expectations, legislative and regulatory changes, demographic shifts and shortages of skilled and qualified workers. These immense changes raise many organisational and human resources challenges now and for the future.  

People form the foundation of any business and its more important than ever before to have an agile, diverse workforce that can respond accordingly and still deliver on customer expectations.

How can you assess and develop your workforce now and for the future? 

Strategic workforce planning will help you put a system in place to proactively align the long-term goals of your business with your future workforce needs. It will ensure you have the right people, in the right roles and identify opportunities to further develop your team’s skills and behaviours or recruit if required to deliver core customer outcomes.  

A strategic workforce plan will be slightly different depending on the type of business, industry and what is expected of the workforce to meet that business’s particular goals. The core requirements of a workforce plan remain the same; to assess and develop your people capabilities to be adaptive to change and meet the future needs of your business.  

Importance of workplace planning and people management

Why is workforce planning so important? 

To be prepared for the future you need to assess and understand what might be required from your greatest asset – your people. Creating a workforce plan and putting it into action can positively impact your business in more ways than one.

Here’s why: 

— Improves employee engagement – if your people see a plan for their future, they will be motivated to achieve success in their roles and will form a deeper commitment to the business. 

— Provides an understanding of any skill gaps and builds a pipeline of what talent you may need to acquire to reach your future goals.  

— Continuously reviewing your current and future business needs, will help you stay ahead of changes to your industry, technology, legislation and regulations and identify any compliance related issues. 

— Allows a more diverse and gender balanced workforce which has seen to provide greater innovation. 

— Making more efficient and informed decisions based on metrics and success measures a workforce plan provides. 

A workforce plan is crucial in these times of uncertainty and rapid change. It takes time but is a valuable process that can be the difference between competing businesses and being able to adapt quickly to the changing environment.  

Organisational change continues to be difficult for many businesses as we adapt to sudden shifts in our industry, new business models that may be required and even external factors including pandemics such as COVID-19. 

What is Change Management?

Change management is a structured approach that helps businesses be prepared, equipped and support individuals to adapt change that delivers a positive outcome for the business and its people.  

A change could be a simple process within your business that needs adjusting or it could be a major change in policy or strategy that’s required to further leverage your business potential within your industry and even grow.  

This structured approach focuses on the wider impact change may have for your people and how they, as individuals and even teams, transition from the current situation to a new one.  

Change Management

How do we continue to adapt to change and make sure that we’re keeping our people informed? 

With digital technologies and the changing nature of the workforce creating new opportunities and challenges for businesses each and every day we need to make sure that we are building a foundation that incorporates change in a positive way and continues to involve people at every level across the business.  

As human beings we are generally averse to change especially if it may be misaligned to our own beliefs or actions or thrown upon us without any understanding of why this change may be required.  

For any business to adapt to change it’s important that people understand why it’s happening and leaders don’t assume that this transformation is clear to the whole business. Clear communication is a fundamental avenue that leaders need to develop to help all employees understand where the company is headed, why it is changing, and why this change is important.  

Change Management

What are some of the warning signs when it comes to change management? 

— Are any of your employees on edge? 

— Does your leadership team focus on adverse outcomes or problems? 

— Are your employees unclear about expectations? 

— Are your employees working on multiple projects but don’t know which ones are priorities?  

— Is there a lack of planning that require urgent results?  

— Do you not have an approved change plan?  

— Has the change happened without any monitoring?  

— Has the change been implemented with no change policy and procedures? 


Who is responsible for change and how should it be incorporated into your business? 

For change management to be successful it is the responsibility of the leadership team to engage, inspire and support employees to adopt the change and the individual employees’ responsibility to change their behaviour to start a new way of working. 

Here are five key steps to consider when incorporating change into your business: 

Success – Best chance of success when everyone with authority and influence is engaged. 

Adapt – Always assess and adapt. Assess what is working and adjust next steps. 

Execute – Leadership team should NEVER delegate execution. 

Delivering change is running business 

Don’t rely on past work, assumptions 

Pre-work to determine legitimate case for change

All – More efficient to bring people along with you on the journey. Lead with process and make sure all of it is in place such as training, incentives, procedures and processes. 

New – Define essential behaviours that are vital. Leadership team must visibly model new behaviours. Behaviours shift when procedures change and incentives are in place.  

In Part 1 of this topic I introduced the concept of succession management and the importance of career planning when it comes to retaining your employees and creating a culture of growth. In Part 2 we’ll dive deeper into the individual needs of your employees and how communication is central to the success of your ongoing succession plan.

Effective succession planning goes beyond a one-time event; it’s important to plan with your team and encourage the continual development of your staff through mentoring, regular check-ins, goal setting and strategic evaluation over time. Career plans are no longer static, and as companies continue to downsize and flatten, traditional career ladders are becoming less prevalent. Instead, helping your employees seek opportunities to grow and having authentic, timely conversations about their personal and professional goals can have a huge influence on how engaged they are, their perception of where or how they work, and how supported they feel on their professional journey.

Particularly when managing a multi-generational workforce, each of these different demographics has varying needs, wants and expectations. Baby boomers, for example, might have typically enjoyed decade-long careers while millennials will seek multiple jobs throughout their lifetime. With this in mind, succession planning then isn’t just about finding the right talent, but also dealing with high rates of turnover within younger generations. Yet in the race to replace older generations and retain the millennials, it’s important you don’t forget about Gen X. This demographic is often next in line to step into leadership roles as older generations move into retirement, but if they’re continually looked over in favour of millennials or sense a ‘grey ceiling’ looming above them, they might leave to follow their career dreams elsewhere.

Once stripped back, the common thread is all about communication. Communicating and planning across the board is essential, not only regarding succession management but planning for growth and being prepared for successions when they arrive. Staying ahead of the curve by understanding each employee’s individual growth trajectory and communicating openly with your team has long-lasting results; effective leadership means less about ruling from the top, and more about identifying if the people who work beneath you are growing and developing.

It’s important to really know your team; we’re all humans after all – each with varying aspirations, attitudes, skills, goals and dreams – and it’s human nature to want to grow, whether that’s learning a new skill to advance your career, embracing new responsibilities, or exploring ways to find happiness and challenges in your day-today that might simultaneously help your company too.

Communication is imperative and working with your team to plan for and execute an effective growth strategy requires the right tools to do so. Inspired by my passion for strategising and deep interest in culture and career development I’m excited to announce the I’ve recently finished working on a customised business planning system that’s finally ready to launch in the market. It’s been built using years of industry knowledge and experience, drawing upon case studies and fervent analysis of the ins and outs of career planning and succession management.

If you’re looking to adopt an innovative and cost-effective approach in the new financial year, I’d love to hear from you.

Driven by an increase in global competition and dramatic changes to workforce demographics, Succession Planning is more than just a plan. Coming of age over the past decade, a successful ‘succession’ goes hand in hand with career development and the weight it carries with both new and existing employees. 

As 2020 fast approaches, establishing an effective succession management strategy alongside career development processes is more important than ever. The evolution of succession starts at the bottom; retaining, motivating and driving employees to consider how their role might extend deeper into the business, and giving them the tools to do so. With talent continuity essential to the evolution of succession planning, what better place to start than with your own team?

What is Succession Management, and why is it important?

Succession Management is, at its heart, a comprehensive and integrated recruitment strategy for positions of leadership. The world of work is changing, and no company can assume that essential talent will always be available. When it comes to the long-range view, finding value in the development and training of future leaders is equally as important as placing weight on technical skill.

Effective succession facilitates a positive impact on performance management, not only in terms of ensuring that key positions are filled with competent performers, but also in terms of saving money on external recruitment and training, which are often significantly more costly than promoting from within.

By encouraging the broader participation of existing employees, it shows your team that they have a future in your organisation; a path to get there, and a reason to stay. It’s vital for creating a culture of growth, which is both positive to the personal and professional development of your staff, as well as an important way to identify which employees have the necessary skills to either replace senior executives, or step into positions of leadership down the track.

Your employees know what’s in it for them; and it’s often the ambitious, talented team members who value the ability to take charge of their own careers that become your future leaders.

Where does HR come in?

In playing a vital role in the process of succession planning, HR leaders are on the front line when it comes to facilitating the smooth and successful transition of critical positions. While on the surface this process appears seamless, the challenges often lie within the integration of both long and short term goals, as well as choosing the right candidate with the best cultural fit.

With the concept of succession planning ever evolving, it’s become clear that an effective program needs to be dynamic and ongoing, multifaceted and further linked to greater collaborative initiatives. It’s a complex process that requires the right people to lead it, and deep investment into a long-term strategy.

In Part 2 of this topic I’ll share some deeper insights into understanding you team, their needs and how effective communication is paramount when implementing succession planning within you company.

If you’re running a growing small business and are finding yourself spending an increasing amount of time and energy on your staff instead of spending that time on your business then this is the list for you.

If any of the below apply, then bringing a HR consultant on board could be the right choice for the future of your business.

1. You’re out of time

After good staff, the most valuable resource to your business is likely time. You may need a HR consultant if you or your team are consistently short on the number of hours you can devote to day-to-day HR tasks – or if those tasks are fractured among different staff members. Leaving HR as an afterthought can often lead to costly non-compliance or legal issues and dissatisfied employees. A HR consultant also saves you the time that you’d spend training and on-boarding a new in-house HR manager. Plus, a professional’s existing expertise also means tasks are often completed faster.

2. Your business is rapidly growing or changing

During periods of high change in your business, you’ll have enough matters – aside from HR – that demand your attention. And when that change is particularly tumultuous, a specialist can help navigate the stickier side of running an organisation. Especially as they understand the ramifications of changes in pay or roles, down-sizing, restructuring, terminations, investigations, conflict resolution and any disciplinary matters that arise.

3. You just haven’t found “the one” yet

Culture fit is one of the most important factors that nurture a happy workplace. Whether you’re thinking of adding an HR manager to your team for the very first time, or you’re in between HR managers, you want to hire the perfect person. Temporarily partnering with a HR consultant as a stop-gap measure during this time is often more cost-effective in the long run than hurrying the recruitment process. It also ensures your eventual new hire will be seamlessly joining a well-run department. Not to mention, a HR consultant can also assist you in finding the right person to join your team.

4. You need the resources to meet your business growth goals

Do you have big plans to grow your business and need a top-level HR strategy to meet your objectives but don’t know where to start? HR Consultants are experts in providing the framework to ensure you have the right staff and systems to meet your strategic business objectives. On top of this, they can develop an employment strategy in line with your overall business plan to communicate the vision to existing staff, build and motivate your team, drive efficiencies, and inspire individuals to reach their full potential. HR Consultants can also customise strategies to develop the individual capabilities of staff, to enable you to achieve your business goals.

5. You simply don’t need a full-time HR manager

If your business is small to medium in size you may very well not require permanent HR staff. Yet as soon as you hire your very first employee, it’s important to start thinking about your future HR requirements. You probably have an intimate knowledge of what your business offers, who it’s for and what your hopes are for the future, but may not know the finer details of HR. Working with a HR consultant means you can add their wide-ranging expertise to your team, and save on the salary and recruitment costs you’d spend on HR staff. Good consultants are also highly adaptable and flexible; meaning you can hire them on a project-by-project basis or for longer or shorter time periods to suit your business needs.

Still not sure if a HR consultant can assist your particular situation? Get in touch for a chat about how Catie Paterson Consulting can help you.

While there are some things you can teach, not everything comes as naturally as a second skin. Some of us are born leaders and loud communicators; others are deep thinkers and quiet achievers. In many instances our upbringing or familial roles can seamlessly shape our future experiences, where in others you must learn to cultivate and develop your path along the way. 

Growing up on a farm in the deep south of New Zealand, my formative years were shaped wholesomely by the remote area in which my family lived. At the tender age of thirteen I went off to boarding school in Dunedin – the only accessible option for a high school education – and spent family holidays in Queenstown, where in the winters we snow-skied and in the summers we water-skied. My first job was a room attendant in one of the hotels here, where at the age of fifteen I became acutely aware of the broad opportunities the hotel and hospitality industry could bring. 

Dunedin, NZ

Travel, culture and the exciting possibility of exploring beyond my home town was welcomed. 

In my final year of boarding school I applied to gain a place at the only Hotel Management School in New Zealand, based in Wellington. At the same time I applied for a scholarship to attend Drysdale in Hobart, one of the best Hotel Management schools in the Southern Hemisphere. The scholarship was an initiative between the sister cities of Invercargill and Hobart, established to boost tourism throughout Tasmania. I was fortunate enough to secure one of these scholarships, and so my adventure in Australia began.

From here my passion for working with people catapulted. A component of my three-year degree at Drysdale was a six-month practical placement which I was fortunate enough to secure at the Grand Hyatt, where I remained for a subsequent three years. During this time part of my role was to look after the VIP guests who stayed there, from U2 and the Rolling Stones, to Phil Collins, Sammy Davis Jnr and Katherine Hepburn.

14th June 1969: British rock band the Rolling Stones in 1969, after the death of founding member Brian Jones. They are, from left to right; drummer Charlie Watts, new member guitarist Mick Taylor, vocalist Mick Jagger, guitarist Keith Richards and bass player Bill Wyman. (Photo by Len Trievnor/Express/Getty Images)

For a teenager from the deep south of NZ, starstruck was an understatement. 

Yet customer service – or rather, ‘people’ service – soon became a natural extension of who I was, and the experiences I gained in my formative years certainly paved the way for the career I have now. 

Working with people is not something I felt challenged to learn, nor did I feel the need to suppress. It was simply who I was. Following my studies I managed a few bars and pubs before deciding to go back to school as a lecturer, teaching food and wine studies to give back to the industry. While this certainly kept me busy and immersed in the thriving food and culture scene of Melbourne, a career in HR was something that had always been at the forefront of my professional ambition.

Two years later I completed my post-grad studies in Industrial Relations and Human Resource Management at RMIT, and haven’t looked back since. 

In the past two decades my career has seen me tackle challenging tasks head-on, and deliver practical, tangible results to corporate companies across Australia, Asia and the US. My experience spans companies across a multitude of industries from hospitality, building, construction, law and IT, to banking, finance, retail and not-for-profit. My toes are well-travelled, and my passion for human development ever increasing.

In late 2016 I established my own consulting firm, which is where I find myself today. Drawing upon my strengths and skillsets developed over many decades, my offerings are as unique as they are time honoured, and while inherently consistent they are not without regular reimagining. With each new year comes a new innovation or trend, and I’m both fortunate and excited to be in the position of welcoming change. 

One of these is developing a more digital presence for Catie Paterson Consulting, and I invite you to follow my journey along the way. Each month I will be publishing a blog post on an interesting concept, or an exciting or relevant piece of HR news, littered sporadically with engaging commentary and personal insights. 

My aim is to connect better with people online, and showcase a different side to the world of HR in an expressive, informative and digital way. 

-Catie Paterson