By Peter Hamilton >>

IN EARLY 2019, Australia’s unemployment rate reached its lowest level in nine years at 4.9 percent. Despite the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) forecasting further decreases, rates instead have been slowly increasing and we’re expecting to sit at 5.1 percent at the end of this year.

According to the RBA, Australia’s drought, bushfires and international health threats, such as the coronavirus, are impacting consumer spending and employment opportunities. As a result, the RBA has revised forecasts, with wage growth declining to 2.2 percent in 2021, preparing workers for a period of stagnant income growth.

With Australian businesses across all major industries facing slower employment and wage opportunities, business leaders urgently need to look at strategies to strengthen resilience, mitigate risk and adapt during these uncertain times.   


Meeting change with agility

In 2020, more than ever, Australian businesses must review current strategies and undertake new approaches to talent resourcing. In fact, our new report Agility to Adapt to the Future of Work revealed that the majority of Australian business leaders believe that an agile talent strategy is critical to future successes.

Ninety-six percent of Australian C-level executives agree that stronger talent yields strong business performance.

The report explored the key forces that impact talent management as organisations adapt to shifting economic environments. It found that the contingent workforce has established itself as an important work arrangement and source of talent.

 In fact, 85 percent of Australian leaders agree that some of their best talents were found through the contingent workforce. In addition, 40 percent of Australian organisations have a contingent workforce that makes up more than one third of their total workforce.


Deliver talent exactly where it’s needed

An agile workforce is critical in adapting to the organisational business cycles of today. But changing to meet the needs of the business and remaining nimble is hard, and it comes with an element of risk.

You need to consider tapping into a wider pool of talent such as the contingent workforce.  

Local businesses are recognising the benefits of offering alternative work arrangements as skilled talent seek control over their career trajectories.

The majority of Australian leaders (88 percent) recognise that the best talent wants to organise work around their life. To remain competitive, organisations should grant greater flexibility and autonomy to those who want it.

Contingent workers consist of freelancers, independent contractors, micropreneurs, small-business owners and temporary or contract workers. They bring extensive experience to the workforce.

Our report found that 68 percent of Australian businesses are looking to source skills through this alternate strategy.

In larger organisations, many roles are becoming increasingly specialised. Highly trained individuals through the contingent workforce can be brought in to meet a specific technical or business need to fill essential skills-gaps that the permanent workforce cannot.


Invest in un-tapped ideas

As we experience a slowing economy, businesses can benefit from the new skills, opportunities and agility contingent workers can bring.

Despite the benefits of contingent workers, particularly in today’s economic climate, only half (53 percent) of Australian business leaders are proactively engaging in strategies to ensure these team members are embedded into the organisation.

Organisations should take the time now to review their hiring policies, attract the best talent and integrate them deeper within the organisation.

Embracing a non-traditional recruitment strategy opens organisations up to un-tapped talent, new ways of thinking and innovative opportunities for 2020 and beyond.


Author Peter Hamilton is the vice president and regional director, Asia-Pacific,for KellyOCG, a global provider of workforce strategy, solutions, and operations with expertise across every aspect of the talent supply chain.

The KellyOCG Agility to Adapt to the Future of Work study was conducted with more than 200 C-suite level executives across the Asia-Pacific region – including Australia, Singapore, India and Malaysia – from industries such as banking and financial services, business consulting, information technology, engineering and architecture.


MALE Champions of Change (MCC) have released their annual Impact Report (FY2018-19) detailing progress and outcomes in achieving gender equality, advancing more women into leadership and building respectful and inclusive working environments for all employees.

The report is believed to be one of the largest, voluntary public disclosures on gender equality in the workplace globally, representing 230 men and women CEO and Board-level leaders and organisations operating across 155 countries.* 

The results show collective year-on-year improvements on gender equality in every major employment category (see page 3 for more detail). Other key outcomes across the MCC coalition include:  

  • 81.5 percent of members have achieved or improved gender balance overall; 
  • 82.9 percent have rates of women’s promotions that are either gender balanced or greater than women’s representation overall;
  • 74.6 percent have achieved gender balance in recruitment that improved women’s representation in the past year; 
  • 62.4 percent have achieved or improved gender balance in key management personnel – roles such as chief financial officer and chief operating officer which are often on the critical pathway to CEO and board-level positions. 

According to Male Champions of Change founder Elizabeth Broderick, the results show the impact of collective action from the top to accelerate change on gender equality, together with clear opportunities for improvement.

“We need more intentional and disruptive work on the issue of sexual harassment and while that has commenced across the coalition, we keenly await the findings of the Australian Human Rights Commission’s National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces being led by Commissioner Kate Jenkins," Ms Broderick said.

"Similarly, achieving gender-balanced executive teams and more women in CEO-level positions requires ongoing focus,” she said. 

More generally, according to Ms Broderick, the report shows the immense power of more than 200 organisations with national and international reach acting together to shift entrenched workplace systems that have served as barriers to women’s advancement.  

“What we’ve found is that making work more accessible and inclusive for women, is delivering wider benefits for organisations, teams and employees," Ms Broderick said.

“For example, 89.2 percent of MCC members now provide flexible access to parental leave through policies which recognise and celebrate the role of each parent in the care and development of their children.  

“88.1 percent of MCC members are supporting employees to better manage their work and life commitments through flexibility strategies that are available to all. Here, what we’ve found is that - when combined with enabling technology – flexibility can build employee engagement and improve workforce participation amongst a wide range of groups who might otherwise be excluded,” Ms Broderick said. 

At an aggregate level, MCC members are well-ahead of the national average on many of the lead indicators that are measured in the latest scorecard from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA). For example, 77 percent of MCC organisations are conducting and acting on regular pay equity audits compared to 44.7% of organisations that report to WGEA (see table).

 The 2019 MCC Impact report also: 

  • details work undertaken over the past 18 months by MCC members to better understand and address the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace; 
  • describes major initiatives led by specific MCC groups on issues such as the under-representation of women in the STEM sector and pay equality for elite women athletes;
  • provides a detailed account of progress on women’s representation across all levels for participating organisations; 
  • shares case studies from organisations across a range of sectors, including large and smaller businesses; 
  • demonstrates how coordinated action impacts performance on gender equality.  

Commenting on the report, chair of Manufacturing Australia and Male Champion of Change said,  “The progress we have made affirms for me the impact we can have when: men step up beside women on gender equality; the most senior leader makes gender equality a strategic business priority; there is sustained focus; and we collaborate outside our usual networks for new and different solutions."

The MCC Impact report is aimed at all those interested in advancing gender equality and tracking progress of the MCC strategy. 

The 2019 MCC Impact Report  (Click here for Summary Report

*The Philippines and Insurance groups are new to the MCC coalition and will be included in the MCC Impact Report in 2020. 

**For full transparency, and where possible, MCC benchmarks its data against results arising from the 2019 Workplace Gender Equality Agency’s (WGEA) Scorecard. The WGEA scorecard is the result of compliance reporting by Australian private sector employers with more than 100 employees, and is a globally-unique data set, now in its sixth year of publication. While not completely alike due to our international and public sector members, we believe this is a useful comparison to include.


THE Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell said vocational education and training (VET) providers need to engage more with small businesses, amid declining use and satisfaction rates.

The National Centre for Vocational Education Research recently released the 2019 Survey of Employer Use and Views of the VET system, which found small business employers using the VET system fell from 47.5 percent in 2017 to 44.percent in 2019. The report also showed small business satisfaction with the nationally accredited training fell from 80.7 percent in 2017 to 76.7 percent in 2019. 

“Small businesses have identified a number of reasons for the drop in satisfaction levels with VET,” Ms Carnell said. “They’re primarily concerned there’s not enough focus on practical skills and that the level of training does not meet their needs.

“It’s clear from these statistics that VET professionals need to consult with small businesses so they train the right people with the right skill set.

“Small businesses employ the highest number of people in the Australian workforce, including apprentices, but more than 40 percent continue to experience some level of difficulty in recruiting skilled workers," Ms Carnell said.

“It’s important that VET providers understand the need to be flexible in their approach to training workers, even if that means tailoring courses to match the skills needed by small businesses.

“Instead of concentrating on whole qualifications, they should provide a range of short courses to build a skill set that is relevant to the small businesses in their community," she said.

“If training organisations genuinely engage with small business employers, new markets will open and enrolments will grow.”


By John Sheridan >>

SOFTWARE automates processes and activities and as well as delivering benefits in efficiency, productivity and reliability, it also ‘eats jobs’.

Artificial Intelligence (AI), 3D printing, Augmented Reality, Internet of Things, Blockchain, Cloud services, BIM, GPS, 5G, Cryptocurrency, Cybersecurity, Drones, Digital Identity, IP protection, Robots, Virtual Reality, Amazon, Airbnb, Freelancer, Google, Uber etc and even ‘fake news’ and manipulation of elections are all driven by software.

And many of the tasks that software now does so well used to be done by a person. 

As a result, businesses and other organisations can do ‘more with less’. Businesses and other organisations can become more profitable because of ‘reduced payroll’. Businesses and other organisations can become more productive.

Undoubtedly, there is a huge upside. Software improves just about every aspect of our day-to-day lives. But there is a cost. 

Cyber bullying. Scams. Loss of privacy. Identity theft. Security. Intrusion. Facial recognition. Fake news. Electoral interference.


These are the more obvious costs. But there is another cost and that is job destruction.

About half of all jobs can be done better by software. And at almost no cost. 

ED Toolbox ( is a simple tool to help students and parents better understand how disruptive technology (software) is changing the world.

Used wisely, students and parents can make better study and work choices, and even begin to help sort out the world of work, by creating new jobs themselves.

All the effort in the world to retrain people, help them gain new skills, change attitudes and expectations will come to nothing if businesses and other organisations no longer need those capabilities, because the operational process or activity has been replaced by software. 

We live in a country where half the working population is in small business. Software comes in – a person goes out. And that adds up to a lot of people.

The July figures from Roy Morgan Research show 8.7 percent of the workforce is unemployed and another 9.6 percent under employed – 18.3 percent. See Roy Morgan for more details. 

We are a rich country with many resources and, in response to this challenge, we should focus on building our productive industries – agriculture, creative industry, defence, education, ICT, medical and health, manufacturing, mining services, smart trades and tourism. 

There is a lot we can do to manage the future. And we need to do everything we can. But we can start by helping students and parents – who are challenged by these changes – better understand the impact of disruptive technologies, and the industries under threat. This is about their study and work future.

Then students and parents can make better choices, and even begin to help sort out the world of work, by creating jobs themselves.

We have the resources, the productive industries and there is no lack of good will. If we can just harness these collaboratively then the future looks good.


Entrepreneurialism needs to become universal. We are an amazingly well resourced country. We just have to husband our resources like farmers, with intelligence, and a clear vision for a productive industry led future.

ED Toolbox is a tool created for students and parents. 

We are now configuring a version of ED Toolbox for high schools, which will include Groups, Resource Library and Events mapped to a region.

ED Toolbox for High Schools is designed to connect all high schools in a region to local businesses, TAFE, universities, incubators, parents and P&Cs, so that study and work discussions can be timely, relevant and real. And so that students can choose the best pathway for the future.

ED Toolbox is simple. It outlines how technology is impacting 19 industry sectors and 400 business categories. 

It shows the level of threat and opportunity for each category and provides examples of how organisations are using technology in a positive way. Sign up and explore your future today.

John Sheridan is CEO of Digital Business insights, an organisation based in Brisbane, Australia, which focuses on helping businesses and communities adapt to, and flourish in, the new digital world. He is the author of Connecting the Dots and getting more out of the digital revolution. Digital Business insights (DBi) has been researching and analysing the digital revolution for more than 20 years and has surveyed more than 50,000 businesses, conducting in-depth case study analysis on more than 350 organisations and digital entrepreneurs. Now DBi is turning that research into action through a series of digital business development platforms, the latest of which is the ED Toolbox.

By Leon Gettler >>

PAY EQUALITY is one of the big issues bedevilling Australian businesses and companies are under pressure from unions and courts to address the issue.

Philip Morris Australia has become the first organisation in the country to achieve Equal-Salary certification, an award handed out by the independent Switzerland-based Equal-Salary Foundation.

The award to Philip Morris Australia, handed out in March, places Phillip Morris up there with organisations like PricewaterhouseCoopers Switzerland and the World Economic Forum.  

Australian Government statistics show there is an average 14.1 percent pay gap between full-time male and female workers around the country but independent analysis from the Equal-Salary Foundation revealed only a 0.9 percent difference between what female Philip Morris Australia employees are paid compared with males.

Philip Morris Australia managing director Tammy Chan said it comes down to being carefully managed.

“We started a long time ago for some obvious reasons,” Ms Chan told Talking Business. “Because of the nature of the industry, we are in tobacco, and that environment has always been very male dominated and so we became aware of the issues.

“That is, if we don’t do anything to attract and retain, particularly women, we will have a big problem.”

She said the company had to put a number of measures in place. It wasn’t a “one size fits all” approach.

She said 44 percent of the organisation was female.

She said with pay rises, it had to be carefully managed.

“When we arrange a pay increase, I don’t even get to see the gender of the person I’m looking at. It’s all about their performance. I don’t even pay attention to their last name,” Ms Chan said.

“I just look at their performance and their history and their potential.”

She said the same rule applies when it comes to hiring employees.

“We are paying attention to make sure we are hiring 50:50 for the new position and so we are interviewing enough females to make sure are not discriminating.”

She said while women were represented more in areas like culture and in external affairs, there were more men.

She said companies need to address hidden biases in their systems to address the issue.

Philip Morris is also on the way to achieving 40 percent female managers.

She said one of the key issues there is to address retention to ensure that men and women stay with the company as they go through different life stages.

The key approach there, Ms Chan said, was to be flexible because what works for some people does not work for others. 

“Flexibility means something different for different groups,” she said.

“Everyone’s motivation is different. The individual motivator is much better than a general rule of thumb.”

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at


A NATIONAL mentoring program for women will boost the numbers of women working in the building and construction industry. 

“Numbers of women participating in building and construction remain low despite our industry presenting a fantastic opportunity for women to pursue secure, fulfilling and rewarding careers,” Master Builders Australia CEO Denita Wawn said. 

“Part of Master Builders Australia’s Women Building Australia initiative, the mentoring program will work to boost female participation by supporting women starting out in the industry,” she said.  

“The program, which is funded by the Federal Government, follows the success of a successful pilot project developed and implemented by Master Builders in 2017/18.

“It’s an important investment in the future workforce and skills needs of the nation’s second largest industry. Our industry needs an additional 300,000 people over the next decade so this is about creating jobs now and in the future which boost productivity and growth.

“It is also a pathway to improve the gender pay gap by encouraging more women into a male dominated higher paying industry,” Ms Wawn said. 

“Important to the program’s success is the involvement of both male and female mentors who are established in the industry and whose breadth of experience allows mentees to be matched with a mentor who can best support them,” she said. 

Applications are now open across the country and close on November 11, 2019. Mentoring will commence in February 2020.


SOCIAL MEDIA strategy specialists, Strategic Social Profiles – recognised by Business Queensland as one of Queensland’s ‘100 Faces of Small Business’ – will stage a social media strategy workshop for SME business leaders on May 31.

As part of Queensland Small Business Week, the company has been awarded a grant by Business Queensland, to assist with the staging of the social media strategy workshop for small business owners and managers, to be held at the Brisbane Powerhouse on Friday, May 31.

The half-day workshop will provide participants with a ‘deep dive’ into social media, according to Strategic Social Profiles co-director Annabel Sullivan. 

She said it would include the five key steps identified by Strategic Social Profiles as being crucial for small business to learn, in order to more effectively handle their own Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn accounts.

The Social It Yourself – Social Media for Small Busines workshop will be limited to a group of no more than 25 participants, in order to maximise interaction and learnings, Ms Sullivan said.

As a small business itself, Strategic Social Profiles is keen to share invaluable insights and tips with fellow small business operators during Queensland Small Business Week, which will run from May 27-31.

Ms Sullivan said the workshop would  address the ‘pain points’ generally associated with developing a social media strategy and has been designed for small business operators who don’t know where to start, have neither the time nor the expertise to figure it out and are essentially frustrated and overwhelmed by the whole social media proposition.

“Unlike many other courses, the ‘Social It Yourself’ philosophy behind our workshops seeks to upskill small business people to manage their own social media,” Ms Sullivan said.

“Unless they specifically request our ongoing involvement, we then step back and let them manage their own social media, because they know their customers and clients better than anyone else.”

The workshop will be delivered at the heavily subsidised rate of $49 per person, she said, a substantial reduction from SSP’s standard $495 workshop price, “all made possible due to the generous support being provided by Business Queensland”.

The half day workshop will take place from 9am to 2pm and will include morning tea and lunch.  Those interested in participating at the workshop should register on the Strategic Social Profiles website under the SIY Workshops banner.


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