Author Archives: Susan Rochester

About Susan Rochester

BSc MHRM FIML Susan Rochester has been managing director of Balance at Work since 2006. According to her Harrison Assessment, Susan has a natural tendency to balance analytical thinking with an optimistic outlook to set direction and solve problems. She is an effective facilitator and constantly creates new and more effective ways of doing things, motivated by helping others to achieve their goals.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

How smart SMEs save time and money with assessments

Killing the business you love

For every business, the pressure is on to hire the right person the first time! But for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), that pressure is so much stronger. There’s not only the cost factor involved,  but also the social factor of how much influence one person can have, especially in a SME.

Finding the right person takes time

…but using assessments will allow you to make a good decision faster. Using an automated recruitment assessment process as a filter at the beginning of the recruitment process can eliminate the need to read every resume received. Your minimum criteria regarding eligibility can be set with respect to qualifications, prior experience and training, so unsuitable candidates will not proceed to the next level. Instead of reading a large pile of resumes, you only have to consider the shortlist of those who ‘can do’ the position.

Part two of finding the ‘right’ person concerns their suitability to the job. Yes they are capable of doing it, but how will they fit with your organisation? Do they really enjoy  the work they are doing? Will they want to do the job well? Today’s technology by way of assessments, can provide reliable data which measures an individual’s strengths, weaknesses and motivations as they relate to a specific job.

Finding the right assessment for your company

When looking for an assessment to use when making your talent decisions, see if the criteria is met with the following questions:

1. Is the assessment job-related?

2. Can the assessment be validated against job performance research?

3. Is the assessment easy to administer (or can you find someone to administer it for you if you are not inclined to do so yourself)?

4. Are the results easy to understand and interpret (for both you and your employee)?

In an organisation where staff numbers are small, there may not be an experienced interviewer or a person available with the knowledge to Identify that ‘right’ person. A good assessment program will also provide tools such as interview guides relevant to the position and selection criteria upon which decisions will be based.  

But what happens after you’ve identified and hired that right match for your business?

How do you keep them for the long run? If the normal time frame for employee retention is two years, what can you do to avoid the same process again in the not too distant future? As with most businesses, turnover needs to be avoided in an SME as it can create a multitude of problems such as there not being ample staff to handle the workload left by the vacancy.

Again, a good employee assessment program such as Harrison Assessments will be able to identify what is important to your new employee – what engages them, what do they need for their long term development and how they will fit in with your business culture.

When all these benefits are measured, it’s easy to see the return on your initial investment on an employee assessment program. You have the ‘right’ person skill-wise and organisational culture-wise … and you can feel a bit more secure that it’s unlikely you will be repeating the process for that position any time soon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

3 steps to building a better business case

career help

Are you required to apply for money for initiatives you wish to implement or purchases you wish to make?

When you are putting forward a case for funding for a project, it’s easy to slip into thinking the numbers are all that matter. Yes, the price is important, but it never tells the full story.

You can easily improve your chances of gaining support for your project by demonstrating you can answer some fundamental questions.  Here are the questions we suggest our prospective Career Navigator clients need to be able to answer before they even start talking about the money:

1. What are you hoping to gain by using this product or service, or completing this project?

How will this purchase or project benefit your organisation and/or your clients? For example, you may expect it to help you supply higher quality client services, or to serve your clients more efficiently. Can you clearly and precisely articulate the benefits so they can be easily understood by people who are not experts in your field?

2. How will you know when that outcome has been achieved?

Detail exactly how you will measure if your project has been a success. For example, suitable metrics may be the number of new clients served, time spent with clients, client feedback ratings, time saved and costs cut. Of course to be able to make a comparison, you will need data for your current situation, before the purchase and/or implementation.

3. Is there anything else you need to know?

You need to feel confident you are making the right choice so if there’s anything at all that is unclear, seek more clarification and/or evidence as to why this proposal should be supported. Examples of further information may be white papers, case studies, benchmark or validity data, or opportunities to speak to existing users.

Being prepared in this way – while also paying attention to the financial viability of all options – supercharges your credibility as a business-minded partner in the decision-making process.

Then it’s time to talk about how to make your dream a reality.

What do you think?  Would you follow these steps for better results?

Share your thoughts, suggestions and feedback below.

[Thanks, Rachel Bourke, for providing the inspiration for this article!]

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Experience is a great teacher

But only when we open our minds to the lessons it gives.

The difference between knowledge and wisdom is experience, either our own or the experiences of others that can also teach us.

Whether you’re at the beginning, middle or end of your career, understanding this distinction can make all the difference.

You can know a tomato is a fruit, but wisdom lies in not using it in a fruit salad.

The opposite of learning from experience is either ignoring its lessons or using experience to confirm what we already believe instead of keeping an open mind.

We always have more to learn.

Did you know there are certain careers where experience is a definite advantage?

Here’s a list of jobs where experience is a benefit because it clients need to feel comfortable that they can trust your judgement because of the wisdom you have gained*:

  1. Health care professional
  2. Financial adviser
  3. Career counsellor
  4. Brand manager
  5. Consultant

This list shows that age may be an advantage when advising others in many areas of their lives, provided you also have the necessary expertise.

Of course, there will be other advantages for someone with a fresh attitude, up-to-date knowledge and excellent people skills. Combined with experience, these traits produce remarkable benefits for individuals and those who employ them.

*Source: msn.careerbuilder.com

What has experience taught you?

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Using Harrison Assessments to develop staff

workplace training

In our experience, a well-planned combination of tools and activities gives the best outcomes when coaching and training employees.

Here’s an example where Harrison Assessments was used as part of an integrated approach to staff development.

How could you use an integrated approach to staff development in your organisation?

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

New SLICE survey of people strategies in financial advice practices

The second SLICE financial planning survey examines a range of critical issues confronting financial planning practices, topics that challenge practices’ efficiency, profitability and viability.

The SLICE 2 survey provides financial planning practice owners and managers with an opportunity to quickly and easily share their views and insights with their peers, to build an understanding of trends across the sector.

Survey authors, Peter Dawson of The Dawson Partnership and Susan Rochester of Balance at Work, were thrilled with the response to the first SLICE, held in November 2013. Here’s a small sample of the results the survey uncovered:

  • 32% of practices increased their headcount in 2013, with 13% expecting the implementation of FOFA would lead to them employing more staff in the future;
  • 18% use social media as part of their recruitment process;
  • In selecting staff, 21% of respondents always use behavioural profiles and 20% always use knowledge based test.
  • Half the practices surveyed increased their training spend in 2013, but 13% spent less on training;
  • 23% rated the support they receive from their licensee for recruitment and people management as ‘good’ (16%) or ‘excellent’ (7%). A further 25% rated it as ‘satisfactory’.

The second SLICE survey looks at business growth, succession planning and the impact of the proposed chances to FOFA. The survey takes than 5 minutes to complete.

Click here to complete the survey.

When you complete the survey, you will be able to access a copy of the results of the previous survey.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Harrison Assessments and privacy

New privacy provisions come into force in Australia today. Here’s a link to the summary for small businesses (annual revenue under $3 million):

http://www.oaic.gov.au/privacy/privacy-resources/privacy-business-resources/snapshot-of-the-privacy-act-for-small-business

One of the amendments (new Australian Privacy Principle 8) applies to personal information that is collected here but stored overseas. See: http://www.oaic.gov.au/privacy/privacy-resources/privacy-fact-sheets/other/privacy-fact-sheet-17-australian-privacy-principles

Harrison Assessments data is stored overseas, so we are taking the time to let you know how we handle data.

Here is how we ask profilees or applicants for personal info via HATS

  • For jobs: “You are invited to apply for the <<Job Title>> job opening for <<Company Name>>. Please click on the link and complete the electronic questionnaire. The questionnaire results will be used to help <<Company Name>> better understand your work experience and work preferences.”
  • For development: “Please click on the link and fill out the work preferences questionnaire. The questionnaire results will be used to help <<Company Name>> better support your work satisfaction. There are no right or wrong answers. The questionnaire will take approximately 20 minutes to complete. Please complete the questionnaire when you can do it without interruptions.”
  • CNS landing page: “To gain access the Harrison Career Navigator, please click the link below then enter the e-mail address that this letter was sent to and the following temporary password: <<User Password>>. This system can help you to improve your understanding of your career preferences and options, and can be a very useful planning tool.”

These texts explain what we do with profilee’s information when they are actively taking steps to complete a questionnaire and why. Harrison Assessments is an assessment service provider (ASP), so in comparison to credit agencies or financial institutions the personal info we ask for is bare bones. The exception may be the optional and anonymous Age/Race/Sex questions that we use in research to prove HA’s not discriminatory, which can be turned off by request (given its anonymity it seems extreme to remove, but we err on the conservative side where this sensitive data in concerned). As for their assessment info, it’s personal, certainly, but being work preference related it’s almost irrelevant in any other context. We protect it none the less.

In the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner’s words:-

Relevance

13.39 Personal information is irrelevant if it does not have a bearing upon or connection to the purpose for which the information is held.


Our data collection is 100% relevant and securely held, with control in the hands of our Customers for how they manage individual concerns that spring from their employees/applicants.

Harrison Assessments have always been globally careful regarding privacy because it’s the right thing to do. The data is secure. We are sensitive to it remaining so.

For more details, read Privacy Policy Statement_Harrison Assessments International

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any concerns.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Universities Australia deal to get students ‘work ready’

By Alexandra Hansen, 26 February 2014    The Conversation logo

Universities Australia has announced an agreement with business groups to collaborate on vocational training to improve the employability of graduates.

Universities Australia chair Sandra Harding made the announcement in Canberra today. The agreement will assist students in undertaking Work Integrated Learning. This includes work placements accredited for university course work, mentoring and shadowing programs, and internships.

Universities Australia chief executive Belinda Robinson pointed to the closure of manufacturing plants in Victoria as evidence that university graduates need to be equipped with on-the-job skills in an increasingly competitive job market.

The signatories to the agreement include Universities Australia, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Business Council of Australia, among others.

One of Australia’s leading voices on education policy, Dr Gavin Moodie of RMIT, described the announcement as a positive but only preliminary step to increase understanding and cooperation in expanding work-integrated learning.

“Much more will be needed to convert this statement of goodwill into increased and improved work-integration learning,” Dr Moodie told The Conversation today.

He said Australian universities have long incorporated work experience in some of their programs, such as medicine, law, and nursing. Over the past decade, they have sought to offer Work Integrated Learning in more programs to all students who wish to participate.

“Universities are expanding Work Integrated Learning because they believe it enriches students’ learning, it makes graduates more employable, and it responds to employers’ wishes.”

One of the challenges, he said, is finding enough work experience opportunities for students.

“This is particularly ironic in view of employers increasingly seeking graduates who are ‘work ready’.

“As the Australian Workforce Productivity Agency responds, some employers don’t seem to be ‘graduate ready’,” Dr Moodie said.

For vocational training to become a permanent and successful aspect of university degrees across the board, Dr Moodie suggested it cannot be orchestrated purely by peak university and employer bodies. Individual employers, including small to medium-sized employers, will need to work with universities.


Update: Professor of International Education Simon Marginson said work and education are qualitatively different social sites, and should remain so.

“Education provides skills and knowledge useful both short term and long term, but can only provide broad or generic training for work, even in specific professional courses like engineering or law, “ he said.

“If education is tailored too closely to particular jobs or workplaces it becomes inflexible – the skills are not readily moved to other places,” he said.

Marginson said good quality generic training produces mobile, flexible graduates. While they still have much “on-the-job” learning to do, they can only learn to be specific job-ready in the particular job they undertake after study.

He says the vocational training provided by universities should be generic training, such as how to search for opportunities, how to write a resume, and how to succeed in a job interview.

The Conversation

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Get it done!

Despite being a coach myself and understanding the value of accountability, I am also probably as bad as anyone else at keeping myself accountable.

Despite every tool available to me, sometimes the keeping track just seems to take up too much time – time I want to spend moving on to the next week, project, client…

If this sounds like you, too, here’s a quick checklist to use to keep yourself aligned to your goals. Fill it in every Friday afternoon to keep you focused.

  1. Top 3 tasks to be completed next week to bring me closer to my goals.
  2. Top 3 tasks I completed this week (including the goal(s) they relate to)
  3. Who I met this week (include current, prospective and past clients; centres of influence; staff; alliance partners)

Use a quick ‘check in’ like this and I guarantee you will make progress. Read it and don’t act on it, I guarantee you will find it hard to keep yourself – or anyone else – accountable.

Let me know how you go!

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Are you heading in the right direction?

terminating employment

Occasionally, it’s good to know you are on the right path…

This email we received from a consultant using Harrison Assessments Career Navigator System (CNS) demonstrates the power in knowing you are heading in the right direction:

A colleague in her mid-twenties who worked opposite me has for quite a while thought that she would like to be a nurse. All she really knew is that she didn’t enjoy working in this job, behind a computer all day every day because it didn’t give her a sense of doing something meaningful. But she didn’t know what else to do. A few weeks before Christmas she used the Harrison Career Navigator, and surprise, surprise, it listed nursing as something she would be really good at. She moved into high gear, enrolled at university to do a nursing degree, resigned from her job, moved a lot closer to the university, and has already begun preparing for the next three years of study. What’s inspiring is that she was willing to sacrifice her income and live another three years as a poor, struggling student in order to do what she loves.

Another friend suffered a major mental health issue and had to be hospitalised for a month. The crisis was brought on by issues related to work, and on leaving hospital she knew she couldn’t keep working in that area, but had no idea what else she could do. She did the assessment, which amongst other things recommended she work in a post office. It so happens her old job also managed a post office, and so she moved into the new role. She now loves what she does, finds work a lot less stressful and her health has really improved (so much so she’s returned to full time work).

A colleague who is successful in her current career but a little bored has been increasingly wondering, ‘Now what?’ She jumped at the opportunity to do the assessment, which confirmed that she would be well suited to being a doctor, something she had contemplated before. She is now seriously considering whether to give up her current work and pursue a career in the medical field. It would be a very long road for her, but immensely rewarding. I’m betting she’ll go for it!

I guess I can also add my own story to the list. I’ve known for a long while that I really want to work in the areas of counselling, coaching and training, which I love, but have often doubted whether I have what it takes to make it in that area. Doing the Harrison Career Development Assessment gave me a huge boost in confidence, confirming that I would be well suited to all three and that they would give me the sense of doing something meaningful that I’ve lacked in my career so far. And even more than that, it even more specifically identified that I would be particularly suited to career and relationship counselling, and adult education training, which I have really enjoyed in my education. So it was a great confirmation that I am on track and has helped give me the confidence and motivation to push on. Exciting times ahead!

What difference has direction – or lack of direction – made in your life?

Click here to get sample reports.

To find out more about how you can help your clients find their direction with Harrison Assessments’ Career Navigator, click here.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

New products from Harrison Assessments

Agile Culture

We are thrilled to announce:

  • The Career Navigator
  • The Succession Planner

Dr Dan Harrison and his team are upgrading the Harrison Assessments HATS system this month to include these new modules.  There will also be updates to the questionnaire and the standard Job Success Formula library of over 6000 templates. Click here to download a summary of the changes: Harrison Assessments New Release Sept 2013

Here is a brief explanation of the new assessment products and talent management tools soon to be available in your HATS system at no extra charge:

CAREER NAVIGATOR

This is an interactive career system that has been added to the current Career Module.  This means that now when you send a questionnaire invitation to a client you have the option of linking their results to their own Career Navigator account.

The client can log into their Career Navigator account to run their own reports and view much more information about careers than previously available in HATS reports.

And you’ll notice that the reports have been updated to be more focused on career satisfaction with an additional 19 ‘interest’ and ‘employment preference’ traits.  HATS administrators will still be able to log into their clients accounts to see the results and run reports for coaching purposes.

The Career Navigator will make it much easier for career professionals, schools, universities, and employment organisations to give their customers access to the accuracy and vast amount of valuable employment information only found in the Career Module in HATS.

SUCCESSION PLANNER

The Succession Planner is an internal job succession tool for employees.  Companies can invite their employees to compare their work preferences (HA questionnaire) against any number of internal jobs included in the Succession Planning module.

Applications are linked to the recruitment campaign module which includes external applicants (if desired) and ensures a transparent, fair and performance based selection process.

The Succession Planner helps companies retain talented and committed employees and is a great resource for HR professionals.  It means employees have the benefit of applying for jobs they know they are already suited to, and may even consider a change in career direction with confidence.  It is also a valuable tool for company restructures and mergers.

For more information on what these changes mean for you, please contact us.  We look forward to answering your questions!

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Recruitment cost calculator for small business

hiring

Do you know how much it costs you to fill a vacant role?

Use the steps below to help you calculate the hiring costs for your business.

We hope you find the following guide useful – and if you do, please share it!

Identify your direct costs

The direct costs of replacing a departing employee include:

  • Expenses of advertising the vacancy
  • Fees paid to recruitment agencies
  • Fees paid to consultants for conducting tests, checking references, pre-employment medicals, etc
  • Termination payout amounts, including pro rata long service leave and pay in lieu of notice

Add your indirect costs

The indirect costs are often less obvious and contribute a substantial proportion of the overall expense.  Indirect costs include:

1.       Loss of productivity for other employees filling in for vacant position

Where other employees perform part of the vacant job as well as their own jobs, estimate one-third of each employee’s total daily remuneration, multiplied by the number of days they continue to fill in.

2.       In-house costs of hiring

This includes the hourly rate of each employee involved in the process, multiplied by the number of hours they spend on tasks such as:

  • Drafting position descriptions and advertisements
  • Liaising with advertisement placement and recruitment agencies
  • Fielding enquiries from prospective candidates
  • Reading resumes
  • Screening applications and advising candidates
  • Making appointments for interviews
  • Carrying out interviews and debriefing
  • Verifying qualifications, checking references, conducting pre-employment assessments, etc

 3.       Induction and training

Multiply the hourly rate for each employee involved, by the time spent on training and induction of the new recruit.  Also include the cost of training and induction facilities.

4.       Termination administration

Again, it is possible to calculate the cost based on the hourly rate of the relevant staff members.  This may include:

  • Pay officer time to process termination pay,
  • Exit interviewer time,
  • Employee and line manager time to finish paperwork, return and check employer’s property (such as security tags, vehicles, tools, uniforms, sales resources, etc) and
  • Administration time, for example, on cancelling computer access.

5.       Loss of productivity in early stages of employment

New employees normally take some time before they become sufficiently familiar with their jobs to achieve 100% productivity.  One suggestion is to use an estimate of 50% productivity until the required standard is reached.

Estimate the number of days required to reach 100% productivity and multiply this by 50% of the employee’s daily total remuneration rate. Some estimates will be quantifiable, such as changes in sales income, but many will not.

6.       Loss of productivity in final stages of employment

The productivity of many employees falls while they are serving out their notice period. For example, many are preoccupied with making new arrangements relating to a new job.  Others may want to take unused sick leave or other days off they feel are owed to them.

There will also be time used for exit interviews, client hand over and farewell parties.  You might attempt to estimate percentage loss of productivity based on your observations of past employees who resigned, and multiply the percentage by the employee’s daily total remuneration rate and number of days after resignation.  Again, some estimates will be quantifiable but many will not.

Summary of employee turnover costs

When all the quantifiable expenses are calculated, the total cost of turnover for one employee is as follows:

Total direct costs

+ Loss of productivity for other employees filling in for vacant position

+ In-house hiring costs

+ Termination administrative costs

+ Induction and training costs

+ Loss of productivity in early stages of employment

+ Loss of productivity in final stages of employment

LESS Unpaid remuneration while the job is vacant.

Would you like to reduce your hiring costs?

In association with Peter Dawson of The Dawson Partnership, we have prepared an e-book to help you hire efficiently and effectively. Click here for your copy of Successful Recruitment: Transforming your business through best practice.

As always, please share your comments and queries below…

"The last couple of years at batyr has seen incredible growth and the Balance at Work team has supported us along the way. They have helped us improve leadership skills across the team by helping us source and manage mentors, and even engaging as mentors themselves. As a young and fresh CEO Susan has also supported me personally with genuine feedback and fearless advice to achieve great things. "
By Sam Refshauge, CEO, batyr
"We used the Harrison Assessment tools followed by a debrief with Susan, for career development with staff, which then allowed us to work with Susan to create a customised 360 degree review process. Susan has a wealth of knowledge and is able to offer suggestions and solutions for our company. She is always ready to get involved and takes the time to show her clients the capability of Harrison Assessments. "
By Jessica Hill, Head of People and Culture, Choice
"Balance at Work are the ideal external partners for us as they completely get what we are trying achieve in the People and Culture space. Their flexibility and responsiveness to our needs has seen the entire 360 approach being a complete success. The online tool and the follow up coaching sessions have been game changers for our business. The buzz in the organisation is outstanding. Love it! Thanks again for being such a great support crew on this key project."
By Chris Bulmer, National GM Learning and Development, ISS Australia
"We use Harrison Assessments with our clients to support their recruitment processes. We especially value the comprehensive customisable features that allow us to ensure the best possible fit within a company, team and position. Balance at Work is always one phone call away. We appreciate their valuable input and their coaching solutions have also given great support to our clients."
By Benoit Ribe, HR Solutions Manager, Polyglot Group
"The leadership team at Insurance Advisernet engaged Susan from Balance at Work to run our leadership development survey and learning sessions. Susan was very professional in delivering the team and individual strengths and opportunities for growth. Susan's approach was very "non corporate" in style which was refreshing to see. I can't recommend Balance at Work more highly to lead, employee and team development sessions."
By Shaun Stanfield, Managing Director, Insurance Advisernet

SUBSCRIBE