We sat down with Karen Hillen of Hillen Staff Solutions to discuss the extremely nuanced and specific skillset the modern HR landscape demands.
Hi Karen! Can you start by telling us a little bit about yourself?
I run Hillen Staff Solutions, an HR consulting business that provides HR services to SMEs. Most of these services are provided virtually; it’s like having an HR Manager in your back pocket!
I hate to see businesses doing the wrong thing with their employees, so I help them to do the right thing by providing HR policies, contracts and generally providing HR support and advice. Most of the time, businesses want to do the right thing, they just don’t know where to start. I’m also committed to helping businesses get the best from their staff and assist in them having a happy, productive working environment.
What are some of the services that Hillen Staff Solutions provides?
HR policies, HR systems, employment contracts, employee handbooks, HR advice and support, DiSC profiles and workshops, training, harassment and bullying awareness sessions, employee engagement surveys, emotional intelligence workshops.
We also have a subscription website that provides online HR support, www.myhrpartner.com.au.
What are some of the challenges involved in running a business like Hillen Staff Solutions?
Getting business owners to understand how important it is to put HR systems and processes in place, so they can minimise their risk when it comes to employing people.
It’s also tricky juggling priorities and managing time. I find that having good systems in place are important to help with this.
Why is HR support so important when running a business?
It’s important that businesses know how to manage their teams so that they don’t get distracted by unnecessary issues. Businesses need to be able to focus on what they do best and HR support allows them to get on with this whilst still knowing that their staff – and their needs – are being looked after. HR support helps business owners and managers feel confident they are doing the right thing. Staff also feel safe in the workplace, knowing that they have somewhere to turn if things aren’t going well.
Business owners can’t be expected to know everything about HR. We’re passionate about helping businesses better manage their teams, so they can focus on what they do best.
We understand that they run a business to make a profit and be successful, not to spend time managing human resource administration. By having an HR consultant, they can get on with what makes them money with the confidence that they are doing the right thing with their team.
How have you seen HR needs change over the years?
HR tended to be very transactional in the past, but now there is so much more.
Years ago, the human resources department, or “personnel” as it was called, was responsible for keeping employee records, making sure regulations are being followed, determining salaries, wages and other benefits.
Technology has automated a lot of the work that was done by HR in the past, things like payroll process being automated, streamlining induction and onboarding processes.
HR now spends time and energy managing employee engagement and focusing on improving and strengthening culture. There is also a lot more time spent mentoring managers and employees and helping them develop their skills.
I love being involved with businesses that are looking for ways to develop their employees and keep them happy and are prepared to invest in their people.
Technology has also brought challenges, like dealing with bullying and harassment that may occur online. We also need to work with businesses to manage how employees use social media, and also how to use social media to their advantage, for example advertising vacancies on platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn instead of the old methods of putting a job in the paper.
Employees are much more aware of their rights these days and we have really good legislation that protects people from being discriminated against.
I love being involved with businesses that are looking for ways to develop their employees and keep them happy.
What are the most common reasons HR intervention is needed in the workforce?
I find that if a business doesn’t have any structure around their HR processes, they need help. Usually, intervention is needed when there are performance or conduct issues. I like to work with businesses that are focused on prevention and are prepared to invest in their people.
From your perspective, what are some of the key things that make a happy workplace?
Recognition and acknowledgement: a simple “thank you” can really make an impact because employees want to know that they are appreciated.
A happy work environment is one where:
- people are respected and valued;
- people feel good about going to work;
- managers seek feedback from their teams and implement great ideas;
- people can take ownership of their goals and career progression;
- everyone collaborates;
- employees are mentored;
- there are some great perks;
- wins are celebrated.
Anything else you’d like us to know?
It’s not expensive to have HR support and advice in your business. In fact, it can save you a lot of stress, time and money.
For more, visit www.hillenstaffsolutions.com.au.