When you meet Shelley Johnson, HR Manager at Compassion Australia, you are immediately caught by her energy and passion, not just for the ‘people’ work that is the focus of her role, but also for the purpose and cause of Compassion Australia. We’ve had the privilege of working with Shelley and the Compassion Australia team, based in Warabrook in the Hunter, for a number of years.
We sat down with Shelley recently, to chat about those projects, and the value Seed People Consulting has been able to add to the work which Compassion Australia does across the world.
Tell us a little about your organisation?
Compassion Australia was actually founded in 1977 in Newcastle, all centred around a vision to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name through child sponsorship.
We now have over 150 committed team members in Australia and many more volunteers who offer their time, energy and skills to help fulfil our mission. We consider it an absolute privilege to see the significant growth in our organisation, as we know that it has had a profound impact on many children and families around the world.
Tell us about your role in the organisation? What are you passionate about?
I’m the HR Manager and I see my role as partnering with managers to get the right people in the right roles. I’m really passionate about managers developing and attracting talent to the organisation. Getting that right means that we can see our organisational strategy being achieved through our people.
My other HR passion is developing and implementing new and innovative ways of working, enabling our managers to get their jobs done quickly and more efficiently. Ideally, we want our managers to be operating strategically. We work to implement programs to release our managers into higher order thinking, instead of being focused on the detail of people management issues.
What would you say are the biggest people challenges in your organisation?
As simple as it sounds, it really is just getting the right people in the right roles. It’s also around how do we develop a culture of healthy conversations? We are passionate about developing and embedding a culture that values authentic and real dialogue, and diversity of thought. With a great relational culture, we are very lucky to have a great base to work from.
The other challenge and opportunity that we have is our geographically dispersed workforce. We have teams in every state of Australia, and the ACT, as well as having more than 20 employees work from home on a regular basis. Our focus on attracting key talent in remote locations brings with it a great advantage of highly-motivated people, with the challenge of ensuring they still feel included and valued as part of the broader Compassion team.
Can you briefly describe the work/project/employee issue that you sought Seed’s help with?
We had a remuneration system that was quite rigid; we wanted to design a system that recognised the individual skills and capabilities that employees bring to their role, as well as having the capability to recognise their development over time. We reached out to Seed People Consulting to help us to design a Remuneration & Recognition framework to address these challenges.
We had a rough idea in our minds about what we thought would work—it was a fairly simple solution that we discussed initially with Stacey. What we ended up with was a solution which was much more strategically-aligned to our workforce plan and our strategic performance objectives.
How was the process of working through the design of that solution?
One of things that was really helpful was Seed’s ability to interpret the business needs. Stacey and her team were able to get to the heart of the issue which, as it turns out, we hadn’t fully considered. Stacey asked some really great questions, brought in the commercial and market knowledge of what’s happening externally, and gave us options and helped us to work through the solution that was best for the business and for our team.
Seed also helped us to identify that working on and articulating our entire Employee Value Proposition (EVP) would help us to describe how the new remuneration framework fits and to understand the reasons why people work for us, and why they stay. This is particularly important given our status as a charity: it’s more than a job with a salary, it’s about the entire EVP, working for a compelling cause with exciting development opportunities! To have this articulated has made a major difference to how we approach remuneration as a whole across the business.
This has then led onto a number of projects that we’ve worked with Seed, including team building and relationship-based programs with other departments in the business, as well as individual coaching relationships with a number of leaders.
What type of improvement have you seen in the work/project/employee issue since engaging with Seed People Consulting on the topic?
We’ve been able to embed our EVP in our recruitment processes, so we can now clearly advise people at the outset on what our benefits offerings are. This has helped us to attract more people who truly align with the work we do. Flexible work was also a clear driver that came out of the focus groups, so we now highlight that more.
In our recent engagement survey, we’ve seen a lift in our question of ‘Compassion rewards our top performers’ which links back to our new remuneration system. This has also enabled managers to contribute to pay-related decisions, which has increased the emphasis on employee development conversations throughout the year, and enabled the recognition of strong performance and culturally-aligned behaviours of our team, reinforcing these further.
How would you say Seed has added value to your organisation?
There are so many ways! Seed’s desire and ability to understand our business, whilst bringing commercial and market knowledge to the table, has helped us to think differently in order to better understand our culture and people. As well as the remuneration work, the coaching programs that Seed have rolled out have been amazing. Seed’s personalised and tailored approach means that we can see significant improvements in leadership effectiveness.
What Seed does so beautifully is to approach each project with a genuine desire to understand our culture better, and then to work together to collaboratively generate ideas and solutions that work for us and our organisation. Businesses are unique, weird and wonderful enterprises; we always feel that Seed adapts to us and tailors the solution to our business and what we need.
Working with Seed is also fun! It’s relational—no matter who we’re working with in the team, it’s relaxing, conversational and personalised.
How would you describe your experience with Seed in three words?
Fun, relational and strategic.
Do you need help with that HR project that you can’t get off the ground? Do you want to partner with a consulting team who gets to know you and your organisation, building internal skills and knowledge to create sustainable change?
Then please contact us! We’d love to chat with you about how we can bring our extensive expertise to tailor a solution to meet your business needs.