Episode 34

How to set-up your business and support your people.

September 15th, 2021


Today we’re chatting with Jessica Bilston from Positive HR all about How to set-up your business and support your people..
We dive into:
  • How Positive HR is shaking up the HR industry
  • The importance of your people
  • The four C’s of onboarding and why onboarding is so important
  • Becoming an employer of choice
  • How to find the right team for your business
  • Hiring employees vs engaging contractors
  • What a HR agency can help you with
  • How to performance manage your people well

Connect with our fabulous Speaker

Jessica Bilston | Positive HR

About Jessica

Jessica Bilston-Gourley is the Founder and Director of HR consultancy and outsourcing provider, Positive HR. With a double degree in Human Resource Management and Psychology, Jessica has a strong understanding of what makes people tick. She works with companies holistically to ensure a strong and compliant foundation is built that fosters a positive and connected company culture.
With a focus on HR, employment law, and workplace culture and compliance, Jessica continuously seeks ways to challenge the status quo in HR and delivers a fresh and holistic approach.
Jessica is a speaker at many industry events and in 2017 was recognised for her work in HR after being ranked in the Top 5 HR Professionals on LinkedIn across Australia.
Connect with Jessica on Instagram
Jessica’s Website


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Full Episode Transcription

Nicole Smith 0:02
Welcome to take control with Nicole. As business owners, we experienced firsthand the fine line between our personal and business life. During our conversations, we will look at simple hints and tips to create time, reduce, overwhelm, and help you to navigate through your journey to where you want to be. If you’re looking for smarter ways to work, and create space and time freedom in your day, then you’re in the right place. All right, let’s go.

Hello, Hello, and thank you for joining me for this fabulous episode of take control with Nicole. today. I have the amazing Jess Bilson here with me and we are going to be talking about how to set up your business and support your people. But firstly, I would love to introduce you to Jess. Jess is the founder and director of HR consultancy and outside and provider called positive HR. With a double degree in human resource management and psychology. Jess has a strong understanding of what makes people tick. She works with companies holistically to ensure a strong and compliant foundation is built that fosters a positive and connected company culture. Wow, that sounds beautiful. Hi Jess, thanks so much for coming on and sharing all your fabulousness with my community here.

Jessica Bilston 1:23
Hi Nicole, thank you so much for having me. It’s really great to be here and speaking to your community today.

Nicole Smith 1:29
I love it. And from the moment that we saw each other over the Zoom Room, I knew that we would have a connection sharing the love of all things sparkly and champagne and pink, and blue. And your business name just radiates everything that should be what HR is about, which I absolutely love. And don’t forget the matching clothes from little party dress. Yes, exactly. It’s good like minded. Love it. Love it. Love it. Now, I would love you to share a little bit about your goodness words a little bit about you, and your business and what makes you sparkle.

Jessica Bilston 2:11
Perfect. Thank you for the introduction. So I guess, myself having grown up with entrepreneurial parents, it wasn’t always my journey to start my own business or have my own business. I was always on a career to be a psychologist sexually a child psychologist. And then a lot of know my story, I was actually informed I’d never be able to conceive when I was 16. And again, when I flew to Berlin, I received the same information when I was 19. So you know, obviously at that age, my emotional state kind of moved between disbelief to numbness and I thought I wouldn’t be able to be a child psychologist because I would always want children and knowing I couldn’t have them i thought was a challenge I just wasn’t prepared to face so I started studying HR, still finished my psychology but moved into HR and worked with multinationals. You know, I was 25 when I was offered the head of HR for a multinational company and ready to go off to Singapore and was very excited and then found out I was 20 weeks pregnant. Surprise.

Nicole Smith 3:27
A lovely surprise though isn’t it.

Jessica Bilston 3:29
And you know, Harrison is absolutely my world. And he is single handily. My Why have you know why I’ve started that positive HR nearly four years ago. And so you know, with that I think positive HR and HR in general is just what I live and breathe. And I think it’s because I understand the power it holds to really transform not only businesses and business owners, but to make a difference to people. And I like that the business we’ve created and how I think we’re unique is that we’re not just here for the business owners, but we’re advocates for the people as well. You know, being a single mum now as well. A lot of what I like to do on a personal level when I work with my businesses is help them be really open to being completely inclusive and very flexible. And that means accommodating single parents, whether it be a single mom or single dad, you know, grandparents that are carers, but being very open to the full inclusivity and equals So there’s a lot there that we do on that side of things. I think how the business is unique as well from a model perspective is we were actually the first HR company in Australia to have pay transparency on our website. We How you work with us. So you know, the pays were up on the website, they still are with our membership model, this is what it costs, we don’t figure out what your budget is, first, we don’t, you know, try to increase the cost. If you have more budget, it is what it is, you know, whether you’re a female business owner, a male business owner, these are our costs to work with us. And then the first provider to have our e commerce store as well. And the reason that we did that is myself as a business owner, and going back speaking to my mom who had 20 businesses, she said, Jes I could never afford to put my employees on contracts. And I said, Well, why was that the case, mum? And she said, I couldn’t afford it, I didn’t have $1500 that the lawyers wanted. And so I thought to myself, well, that’s not good enough, you know, we need to make sure that small business owners have access to these compliant documents, you know, and legal documents that are going to protect them. And that’s why we started the e commerce with, you know, our employment contracts, which are all completely legally drafted. They’re not written by myself, they are written by a part of my team who are lawyers, our policies, our procedures, you know, everything’s in there. So I think what I’ve created is a platform where a model where the community can come together and get really cost effective and accessible documents, because then there’s been a huge gap. I’m really grateful. Now, there’s, and you know, I’ve spoken a bit about this, there’s been lots of others pop up, you know, and let’s call them competitors. But I call them, you know, innovators, because the more of us, the more we shake up the industry. So I think it’s really good that others are popping up with the same model as well. Now,

Nicole Smith 6:58
I love that, and the few words that have stuck out and all of that. And, you know, I was thinking before I even said it of his advocate for the people, which I just love, because in the small business space, sometimes they don’t have an in house, many times they don’t have an in house HR contact, and being able to have someone that you know, you can reach out and talk to you about whatever is happening is so key. And being that the quality of you know, I know, I’ve worked in places where, you know, when I went on maternity leave with Sebastian, it was like, the return rate for maternity leave was 0%. So just even in that instance, having someone that’s really champion championing, I cannot say that word today, going for it cheering for us to be able to educate and make business owners aware of what is possible, with just those few little changes is so amazing. So good.

Jessica Bilston 7:58
Absolutely. I mean, when when you look at, you know, there’s lots of sayings that get thrown around, you know, your people are what make the business kind of hum, and the people bring the money and, you know, take care of your people first and the money will follow. And, you know, when we look at, and I’ve spoken about this, a bit around the onboarding process is, you know, that’s your first impression to your people. And that’s where I find we’re able to influence businesses quite a lot. You know, we look at the recruitment side, and we look at the onboarding side of things that businesses necessarily don’t have time for. And they put it on the back burner, and they don’t focus on it, they don’t think it’s important. But the first impression with your people is actually what counts. And then obviously, you know, the maintenance of your people as well, absolutely. But there’s statistics, I don’t have them in front of me. But you know, this statistics around onboarding is actually the biggest one of the biggest contributors to company’s success. I think recruiting is is you know, kind of first and onboarding is second, and managing talent is third. But everything comes back to your asset, and your asset is an are the people and you know, for you to have a successful business, you do have to be taking care of your asset. And if the managers aren’t doing that, then it’s up to us as HR to be advocating for them and taking care of them.

Nicole Smith 9:34
Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, onboarding, I obviously talk about onboarding all the time, from a business owner and client perspective, but I was heavily involved in the employee onboarding processes in my previous roles. And there’s such a difference between welcoming someone into the team and just like chucking them in a state and kind of having an ad hoc haphazard approach to training and, you know, education. Rather than a sort of structured support that guides people through they feeling supported, they know exactly what’s going on and where to find things and who to contact and what all the things are. It is absolutely such a positive thing to bring into your business. And it’s not that difficult to put that thing in place, is it Jess?

Jessica Bilston 10:23
No, not at all. I mean, onboarding, we we actually love, I don’t know if you’ve heard of Taylor bore, who’s a researcher into relationships in the workplace. And she talks about the four C’s of onboarding, which is compliance clarification, culture, you’re testing my memory now, and connection. And connection is the most important that, you know, when you look at these four C’s in this particular model. And like I said, if you don’t get it another chance for that first impression, the four C’s really focus on that engagement aspect and engagement right from the beginning, right from the first day, you know, if you start off on that right foot, it’s going to increase and improve their productivity, it’s going to reduce the turnover. I mean, you know, the benefits. And that’s why we really hone in on the the four C’s, the compliance, the clarification, the culture, the connection, to make sure that businesses are focusing and understanding how important this is, in order to continue having a really positive workforce. And that’s where you know, even someone like yourself Nicole, doing up your click up and having your onboarding checklist or your process, matching against these four C’s in there. And you ticking it off. And we work with so many managers that say, Oh, well, I don’t need the process. I don’t need a document to tick off. And then they onboard someone, you go back and you say, Okay, great, how is the onboarding? What did you do? Oh, well, I just said hello, and you know, showed them around and introduce them to a few people. And that was he, okay, so you didn’t follow the four C’s.

Nicole Smith 12:11
And it’s look, it’s so easy to forget one of those steps when you’re in the world of just doing all the doing all the time. But having that checklist there, you’re absolutely right. And the little details, like I know, one of my the most thing I love to do when we had someone come on board was make sure all their systems were set up, they had an email, their signature was done, they had their phone set up there, all the things but then even at their desk, how the computer was laid out, they had a station repack there, they were welcomed in and be like, Hey, this is your this is your new home. And then the response was always like, wow, like that small, tiny little bit of effort there just makes the world of difference to someone coming in.

Jessica Bilston 12:56
Absolutely. And it goes to being part of being known as an employer of choice as well. I mean, when you think about it yourself, and even me, reflecting on my time with a few companies I worked with, you remember the ones where you had a great onboarding where they gave you, you know, that welcome pack at the start, they went above and beyond. They didn’t just talk and say, Oh, this is you know, Sarah, or, and this is what she does, but they actually talk to you about the company vision and the mission and the objectives and, you know, gave you the history and the detail of where they want to go. They’re the companies you remember. And if you’re then going and telling, you know, I’m telling you now, and then I’ll go and tell 10 other people, and you’re talking about with a company name, that’s now 12 people that think, Wow, what a fantastic company. And that’s how you get recognised as being an employer of choice. And, you know, I think being an employer of choice, especially in today’s market is so important when it comes to finding your people and recruiting. Because it’s just such a difficult market at the moment.

Nicole Smith 14:10
Just interrupting this episode for one little message. If you have been listening and love what you hear and want to come in Connect. We have a tight control in the Facebook community right over there on Facebook that I would love to invite you to come and join us. We are a supportive community. We are looking to really take action in our businesses and change the way or evolve the way we’re working right now. So I invite you to come on over and join our community and connect with us. Community is the essence of everything in business, being able to really build those relationships that you can nurture and support and celebrate each other are how fabulous. I hope to see you over there. pop on over to Facebook. Take control with Nicole. See you soon.

Yeah, I was actually going to talk to ask you about that. So like, you know, as a business owner, we start, many of us start just as a single, solo, fabulous selves, and we grow and we’ve grown our business develop, you know, builds and builds, and all of a sudden, we’re like, I need people. I need someone to come and join and support me on the next stage. But how do you find those people? And how do you know that that’s the right person? For you?

Jessica Bilston 15:31
Yeah, great question. I think one of the things I always say as well and people listening, I’d say, okay, when you hear the word recruitment, or hiring, Is this making you cringe? No, does it? Does it not excite you? Or does it excite you? And most of the time, I guarantee everyone listening to this will say, Oh, no, it makes it’s making me cringe. And that’s because hiring is a lot of work. And even myself, as a HR company, when I hire, it is a lot of work. No matter what business you’re in what industry you’re in, it is a lot of work, it takes time to write your seacat to do your job analysis, your position description, to, you know, source through CVS. And that’s if you even find CVS, and profiles, you know, conducting the interviews, doing the reference checks, and you would not want to go through all of that process to then realise, oh, this person’s the wrong fit, okay. So, you know, adding a team member is a very costly investment, and you want it to pay off. And, you know, in this kind of, I guess, post COVID world or, you know, currently COVID worlds, we’re still in a pandemic in Melbourne, here, we’re still in lockdown, and we’re doing remote schooling and remote work, work – the joys. We’re finding at the moment that there is the talent pool have really shifted, people are not moving, they are very fearful to move. They will are staying where they are because they get a sense of security, and stability. And so what we’re finding is okay, well, how do we go about finding the people like you said, Where do we go? What do we do? How do we get the right talent? You know, how do I find the right person. And what I would say, I guess, is some kind of tangible tips is, as I mentioned earlier, obviously, you want to be recognised as an employer of choice, you want to be demonstrating your values, people these days that are looking for a job, they will stalk you, they will look at your business website, they will look at the Managing Directors, Facebook, they will look at your LinkedIn, they will look at your Instagrams, people are savvy, they are going to stalk. So you need to make sure that the information out there on your social platforms is not just targeting your clients for revenue, but it’s also projecting your values and showing future employees. This is what you can get from coming to my business. I have strong leadership in my business, you know, this is how you can see it from landing on my Instagram, the company Instagram page. So that would be my first kind of tip is making sure that you’re integrating your marketing with becoming an employer of choice and showcasing your values. The second thing I’d be saying is, you know, don’t don’t rush into the recruitment process. I find and I don’t know if you see this a bit as well, Nicole, and the work you do, but people think are great. You know, I’m feeling overwhelmed. I’m just going to quickly go and hire someone so they can help me because I’m so overwhelmed.

Nicole Smith 18:56
Yes, yeah, that doesn’t always result in the what you’d like it to be. Go in that mind frame. Absolutely.

Jessica Bilston 19:07
Absolutely. So you’ve got to take the time, you know, analyse the business position, analyse the gaps in the business, what is it exactly that you’re needing? What does the environment look like right now, if you think that you’re not going to get the creme de la creme people, can we wait a few months so that we can tap into the creme de la creme? Or are you happy to find someone that’s maybe, you know, has less skills than what you’d like? You know, don’t don’t hang out for the unicorn and I always say that don’t wait for the unicorn, especially in today’s market, you won’t find it. But just really make sure you’re thinking about your structure and what you need first, before you dive into the process. The other thing I would say and I say this a lot is be honest in your interview. If your business is going Through a really, you know, Excuse My French but shitty time. And this person’s coming in where you’re, you know, changing processes, and it’s messy and it’s not smooth sailing it, the workflows aren’t documented, if it is going to be a bit messy like that, communicate it, you don’t have to sit there and say, well, you’re coming into a really poorly run business, and there’s no processes. But you can say, look, we’re definitely focusing on our internal infrastructure and building our processes and process mapping. So you will come through a period of adjustment and change, we would love for you to have some input as well of ideas. So it’s still positive, but you’re being honest with them. And the reason we say that is not everybody is going to be able to go into a small business where it’s not perfect. Some people are very, you know, if they were to come from a multinational, with hundreds and hundreds of policies and procedures documented into a small business with nothing, they may potentially not cope. They could, but they may not. So be honest about that is going to help you find the right person for your business.

Nicole Smith 21:16
That’s a very good point, isn’t it, because I’ve come from the corporate multinational land, and it’s very structured, there are processes and hierarchy that you have to go through to get things signed off, for instance, whereas in a small business space, that’s just not you talking to the owner directly, and things can change. And that’s amazing, you’ve got this real opportunity to make change instantly. And that’s actually why I moved into the SME space, because I knew that I could come into the businesses, and really make that change for the business, not just the business owner, but the employees and the staff in those businesses that can really make it, you know, really grow. So but you’re absolutely right, if you don’t have that used to that real structured way, and you maybe just like to follow the line. Understanding that a star that’s really good.

Jessica Bilston 22:14
Yeah, look, what you do is fantastic for small businesses and, and that’s it, don’t you know, don’t oversell it. Don’t oversell the role, just be honest, articulate their responsibilities. And if it’s not, for them, I’m finding candidates are gonna let you know, you know, they’re very smart these days, they’re coming in with their questions, they want to know, what are you going to give me? Why are you different as a business? What’s unique about you, they’re asking these hard questions. Um, the other thing I’d say at the moment from finding the right person as well is just to not discount outside industry experience. Yeah, it’s, you know, transferable skills are something you have to really focus on. And, you know, someone from a different industry can bring new opportunities or a fresh perspective. And we just find business owners, I guess, you only know what you know. And the let’s call it traditional approaches been, I want to find, you know, Sarah, who’s done this job at a different company. And she’s done everything I need her to do. And I’m just going to grab her and popper into this role, where that’s great. Sarah might know everything or is done everything. But Sarah is also not bringing any fresh perspectives. So perhaps we need to just kind of read, you know, be creative, readjust that readjust the profile of the person to make sure we’re meeting our objectives. because realistically, this whole, you know, everything I’m talking about all the tips of recruitment and finding the right person ends up with all we need simply is we need someone that is going to support the business revenue growth, and our people.

Nicole Smith 24:01
Yeah, it’s the right like, you know, I’m sure I’ve applied for jobs that on paper, maybe I didn’t take all the boxes, but I knew that I had the skills and experience that is absolutely transferable across to that next position. Like, and that’s so important. And I think you’ve raised a really good point there is, you know, on the job descriptions, you know, what do they say, um, you see all these things, the lines of requirements, but just because you’re not taking everything, just have a look and say, is that role going to be for me, as if you’re looking to, you know, to become an employee of that company? And how can those skills that you already have, how can you support that business to take it to the next level or to maintain whatever it is in that role? So, yeah, I always talk about skills are transferable just because you’ve been here doesn’t mean you can’t travel there. Now with your teams, I know in this small business space, outsourcing to contractors is a theme, you know, because you get to find the budget that you have, what’s the requirement that you’re looking to get support on and have those hours that are allocated to do that particular task? versus an employee, which is obviously a different kettle of fish. But could you like, share some wisdom around this? If you’re thinking that you need to grow your team, but you’re not sure which direction to go in? What’s the right thing for you?

Jessica Bilston 25:33
Yeah, I think, I mean, look, there are a number of benefits to hiring contractors instead of employees. I’m myself, I have quite a number of contractors in my team, I have a few employees. But I do have quite a few contractors as well. And I think there’s, you know, there’s some myths around it. So you’ll hear a lot of people say, or a contractor will cost less, it’s actually not always the case. And if I be perfectly honest, and if my contractors are listening to these, yes, they cost more than it would for me to have an employee. But you know, there are benefits to having them. So I get, I get to tap into their skill, I get to tap into their knowledge. And that’s what I’m engaging them for particular projects, or particular clients, where I need that skill or that knowledge. And it may not be for other projects, it’s, it’s potentially not going to continue. It’s just for these particular projects, I need that skill or knowledge. And that’s where, you know, I use my contractors. So I think it is, it can also be blurred, you know which way to go? The best thing I say is you weigh up what you need. So going back to that recruitment side, what is the gap? What do you need? How long is it before? And then work out your financials as well? So what is it going to cost to have a contractor? What is it going to cost to have an employee, the big thing I’d like to say, as well as it’s dependent on where your business is at? Okay, so if your business is one that is growing, and you want those people to come along that journey of growth and into the future, and really be committed and loyal to that, it may be that a contract is not the best approach, it may be that you want an employee, because if look as much as contractors, and I’m a contractor to businesses, so I can say this, as much as we are there to partner with businesses and, you know, to be seen as being a formal part of the business and involved and committed and loyal, it can be a different relationship, you know, we aren’t in there every single day, we have multiple clients that we’re juggling, and this is usually the same for most contractors. So I do think that it’s a different type of relationship. And something to be very mindful of the distinction, I kind of say, as a general rule of thumb is the relationship between a business and an employee is a contract of service. While the relationship between a business and a contractor is a contract for service. That’s a distinction that I use.

But when it comes to deciding you look at the gap, analyse the gap, do your financials and make the determination from I guess, employment law and HR perspective, you have to be very careful. You know, if your contractor is actually considered an employee for tax and super purposes, then you may still have to be paying in superannuation as well. So you’ve got to be really careful. You know, there are lots of myths out there. Like they say your people who only do one day a week, they must be a contractor. It’s actually false. They could still be a permanent part time employee. You know, I hear all the time from business owners, when I tell them, they’ve got to pay their contractors, so par up, but they’re on it, they’re on a contractor’s agreement, and it says we don’t pay their super and they’ve signed it. That’s great. But if you were to be audited or if something was to happen, they were to become disgruntled. They went to the Federal Circuit Court, they could be owed back pay of annual and sick leave. And so part so even though you have that agreement in place, it still has to be a, I guess, an ethical and appropriate agreement for that relationship. You know, it goes the same without but they invoice me. The same thing if they invoice you for 38 hours a week and they’re not what Looking anywhere else, it’s most likely an employee relationship. So I think when it comes to the employee contractor, you know, conversation you have, the first part is determining which one’s appropriate. And that’s from a, you know, gap in the business skills and knowledge, and financial. And then the second part is, okay, now I’ve decided which one is legally the correct engagement and the correct way I’m engaging this person.

Nicole Smith 30:30
And that just, just from my experience and previous roles in businesses, that’s something that it’s why it’s so important to have someone like you, and your business supporting a business owner, or, you know, in this decision making process, because when our as business owners, we don’t have all the knowledge like you do on the HR perspective, and those legal elements that we may not even consider. And yeah, so and even that, like not getting into the onto this conversation, but like the pay scales and the pay rates and you win an award or you not not award and how do you draw dotted around all the things, having someone like you that can you can reach out to and go, Hey, Jess, I’m thinking of bringing this person on there, like this is the role that this is how it looks and got some TVs and data to do that, and just like as a sound sounding board and a checkout to say, hey, these are the things that you need to be aware of?

Jessica Bilston 31:32
Absolutely. And that’s, you know, that’s coming back to why I set up the businesses, there’s been a lack of education to small business owners. And, you know, there’s, at the moment, I think, there sits over something ridiculous, like over two, you know, to maybe 2 million small businesses, where they there’s some statistics around, I don’t have it in front of me, but where they felt that in a survey, they just received absolutely no education. And the Australian employment landscape is so complex, it’s actually one of the most complex employment landscapes in the world. And to be able to navigate that on your own, when you are not an employment lawyer, or you’re not an HR specialist, you’re not reading the Fair Work Act with champagne every Friday night. You know, it’s not expected that for you should know all of these.

Nicole Smith 32:25
Exactly. And you know, like HR, I guess, in the past you when you think about HR, you think about the multinational corporates that the floor of HR team that are doing all those things, but really, it doesn’t matter. If you are over there in the bigger space of multinational or you’re your own business, it’s probably actually more important. When you’re a small business owner, to have this information. Sorry, that you are unaware like it’s fine when everything’s happy, and the relationships great, but it’s for those percentages that don’t go that way. That’s when you hope that you sorted out at the start and you’ve covered yourself for for those instances.

Jessica Bilston 33:10
And that’s why we have a free 15 minute consult. Like we had a gentleman phone us just this week or last week, saying oh look, I’ve received this legal letter and I don’t know what to do. And the letter was regarding. He had thought he engaged in apprenticeships and paid the apprentice wage officer award, contacted for work, knew what to pay did all of that thought he was doing the right thing. And she actually never enrolled herself in the apprenticeship and he didn’t follow that up. Now what that means is that engagement then became actually just a casual or a permanent part time employee relationship. And she’s come back saying, well, he’s $13,000 of underpayments. So, you know, little things like that can be a super quick 15 minute conversation of going okay. What I want you to do when you’re engaging in apprentice is get evidence that they have enrolled in their apprenticeship and have the document in front of you. If you do not get this they are not an apprentice. So you know, and it’s a two minute conversation. And I think, you know, coming back to just now with COVID. And, gosh, we’ve gone through job keeper, we’ve gone through apprentice, ship subsidies, everything has been changing and as employers, even myself, you know, we’re kept on our toes. It is literally a full time job to keep up with everything that is changing. And you know, that’s why I just always encourage and educate business owners there is no shame in not knowing everything. You know, so Heatley. If you don’t know processes, call Nicole. There’s no shame, Nicole wants to help you.

Nicole Smith 34:56
I love a process. Let’s talk processes all day.

Jessica Bilston 35:03
I think the compliance side of of a business is just forever changing. And if you’re not reading the Fair Work Act, like I said, Every Friday night, you’re never going to know everything.

Nicole Smith 35:15
I love that it sounds like a beautiful Friday, I can see you there with like, I’m imagining this beautiful chair and like a massive big one of those big books, you know, and that’s probably online. Now I know. But if you are imagining, with your cocktail, that a beautiful glass or champagne and beautiful glass, just like, just not reusing, look at the page, the next thing. So this compliance side of your business, and it’s black, we all know the whole like accounting stuff, right? Like, we got to do all the tax data, but still we engaged in him as an accountant or a bookkeeper to help us with those things. So how do you support your clients to like, you know, tick those boxes and get those things in place. So they understand what their business compliance is, and how they can really become confident in it. Be aware.

Jessica Bilston 36:07
We like to talk to our our businesses, or our clients about two, two sides. The first is obviously compliance when it actually comes to their revenue stream and them engaging clients. And then the second is obviously compliance in terms of the employee lifecycle, and you know, from recruitment process all the way through to an exit interview businesses, you know, on the employee lifecycle, little things like they have to comply with keeping the records for seven years, so many business owners do not know this. And then they get audited, and they’ve got nothing. So, you know, little educational points like that. We look at, obviously, compliance with the relevant legislation, the National Employment Standards, which have a significant impact on the businesses. You know, this is where the Fair Work Act provides that set of 11 minimum terms I actually posted on my Instagram the other day, but talking to them about this and educating because if they breach that the penalties at the moment are, you know, upwards to 63 or 65. I think 1,000 dollars very significant penalties. You know, and that’s talking about things like leave and redundancy, pay termination, pay notice periods, then we go into the awards. And you know, when I talked earlier about the complex landscape of Australia, we’ve got over 120 Awards. Now.

Nicole Smith 37:38
Noisy, isn’t it? And not at like, I remember in, you know, one of the businesses and we’re all sort of looking at it, and I’m just like, I don’t know, I don’t know which one it sits. How am I supposed to that that

Jessica Bilston 37:52
Absolutely and then, you know, some employees are award free. employees could fall under the miscellaneous award, the professional What if they’ve got a degree like, there’s just there’s so much there to dissect, and if you get it wrong, the consequences may not necessarily be about getting a fine if you get audited, but it’s about even employees disgruntled they go to a fair work or Federal Circuit Court. They deemed Yes, there are underpayments. You know, this is what happens with the Georgia Kumbaya saga. You know, underpayments occur because the award levels are incorrect, or the they’re on the absolutely incorrect award. You know, I went into a client last week and did an award audit, and I said, Okay, you know, why, why are employees on the architectures award? Oh, well, they’re kind of doing architecture. I said, Well, kind of and are is a little bit different. Do they have an architectures qualification? No. Are they studying it? No. Okay, so they don’t fall under this award, you know, little things like that. And in that instance, we actually found out that we were engaging employees and overpaying them. So you know, it does go both ways you might be paying your employees too much than you have to. And as you know, small businesses in this economy right now, we need to be watching our pennies in our budgets as much as we can. And if you’re paying someone $5 an hour, more than you have to, that could be money that goes into your wage or your profit or just being able to pay the bills in the current climate. So that’s another way we then work obviously into a lot of the the HR policies required by law, so your bullying, anti discrimination, whistleblower policies, you know, developing these income employment contracts, like I mentioned earlier. And that’s all to do with our e commerce store and education. And it’s really just about the education component. You know, there’s no legal obligation to have an employment contract, but it’s educating on this is what could happen if we don’t do this to mitigate the risk? And, you know, just showcasing that to employees? Yes. You know, $500 for an employment contract might seem like a lot. But this is the cost if you don’t do it.

Nicole Smith 40:26
Yeah, that mitigating risk thing is is so key and you break regarding the policies, you know, having that employee handbook, not only just created, but be having it reviewed. So there’s it just because things evolve, everything evolves and changes. So if you’ve created an employee handbook, and new for doing that for starting fabulous, tick, tick, tick, but if it was created, like, probably five years ago, or probably even a year ago, I’m imagining things change so quickly, like do you have a property or your current clients, you review these, I’m assuming frequently, but if someone’s sitting there going, Oh, yeah, I know, I have one. And I’ve got like, an important process and data that are but how frequently should they look at those policies and get them reviewed by someone like yourself?

Jessica Bilston 41:15
Really great questions. So they should absolutely as a minimum be reviewed as a whole every 12 months is as an absolute minimum. But there are new policies that pop up all the time or changes to the Fair Work Act, that should trigger a new policy. And that’s when you need to, you know, either be engaged with the HR provider, if you’ve purchased so like for us, if you purchase a handbook with us, we give them notifications. Hey, guys, you know, there’s an changing the Fair Work that like Recently, there was the casual changes to the Fair Work Act. This has prompted new policy we’ve attached it just added into the handbook. So you know, if you’re not getting that information, then you need to be signing up to other sources. Now, when you look at Fair Work, you can sign up to their newsletters, and they’re going to let you know that there’s a change to the Fair Work Act. But they’re not saying this change should trigger a new policy. So you’ve really just got to link everything. Anytime there is an amendment in the Fair Work Act, there needs to be a new policy. But like I said, Unless you’re reading the Fair Work Act, every night, every nominee changes, you’re not going to know. So that’s where you’ve really just got to make sure you’re getting some professional advice on policies.

Nicole Smith 42:40
Do you find so like I know, when you think, legal, I know, you’ve obviously got an in house legal person, but if someone’s going to an employment lately, oh, my goodness, where’s employment law specialist versus say yourself? Is that going to be okay? Or is it that because the hate as HR business, you’ve got all those extra little bits and pieces that flow in? What do you sort of think about that?

Jessica Bilston 43:08
It’s funny, you say this, because we have a client, which is a law firm. And the other day, she’s, she’s gorgeous. She’s actually one of the partners, an employment lawyer. And she said, just, I just got your email about the changes here. It’s to do with the the Fair Work, regulations had an upgrade in respects to talking about stress in the workplace. Very important, very important, and part of why they updated it. And then she said, I’ve just got to ream out. I didn’t even know this changed. And I’m an employment lawyer. I think there’s a lot of assumptions. And I have so much respect for Employment Lawyers, they’ve obviously gone through and studied their, you know, six, nine year degree, to come out with being a lawyer, and practising and it’s far more than myself, however, they are not necessarily dealing with the Fair Work Act, yeah, every day in day out. They’re not necessarily, you know, sitting there and monitoring the updates, they are taking a particular case, they are obviously reviewing that section for that particular case. And then they are, you know, providing advice. So, yes, you know, Employment Lawyers are fantastic, but they’re also costly. And if you have money, you know, to pay you 15 $100 for an employment lawyer for, say, an employment contract versus for 19. With us, you’re actually getting the same output, because, as a buyer, you know, my internal team, who is an employment lawyer, I do think though there are definitely times like, you know, with with my client who advised we knew the information first. They’re so busy as lawyers that they don’t have time to You know, be straight on to an update within a few minutes, where as HR practitioners, and especially myself, obviously, I have a team, my role in my business is purely to stay abreast of the updates, I have only a couple of clients. Now, most of my team handle my clients. And my role is really to work on the business and part of working on the business is staying abreast of those updates. So I think that there are definitely there differences. You know, we engaged some Employment Lawyers, when our clients perhaps even matters escalate. Sometimes we have clients say, or can you assist me with a fair work process, we’ll review it, we will sometimes take it on and we can as an HR professional, and other times, we will advise, nope, we’re going to pass you on to our employment lawyer. If it’s, you know, an extremely complex manner matters. So, I think there’s, there’s pros and cons. It’s really about what you’re going to them for.

Nicole Smith 46:03
Yeah, that’s so true. And, again, it comes back to awareness, doesn’t it? So your, your key is to make sure that you are aware of all of the things that are going on, so that you can educate your clients to make those informed decisions or those changes that are going to make sure that they are not only compliant, but that they’re covered. In that instance of of that, you know, unfortunate situation that may happen.

Jessica Bilston 46:31
Absolutely. It’s like a lot of you know, we get a lot of inquiries, people saying all I need to performance manage someone, can I come to you? Or do I need to see a lawyer for that? And we go No, no, that’s our jam. Yes. How we can support Yay, we love that. But it’s the I think it’s just the education they’ve been given is Oh, well, the only people that can help is employment law. And a lawyer.

Nicole Smith 46:58
Yeah, you’ve just hit on to the next question I was going to ask you and, you know, employment, managing performance managing is is a topic in itself that I’ve had to help facilitate in situations, but um, how do you support your clients to really not hopefully arrive at that stage, but maintain that healthy and happy and supportive work environment, but also support them through those situations that can arise from, you know, an underperforming situation?

Jessica Bilston 47:33
Yeah, I think, gosh, when it comes to performance, and the whole performance review process, it’s it’s really twofold. You know, they exist for the employee evaluation and development. But they should also exist for the employee to provide the reverse feedback back to the business and back to the manager. You know, they’re very much kind of, I guess, overlooked in businesses, I find just from our experience, they, you know, you go back to the traditional performance review approach, okay, we’ll sit down with you once every 12 months, and let’s just have a bit of a chat. We’re really that’s actually not supporting your people, your your people want, especially now with, you know, remote work challenging times the juggle at home, people are craving what I call transparent conversations. You know, transparency has become a top priority in so many businesses at the moment. And this is to create that, you know, that openness, that accountability, it allows the employee to understand, you know, everything really clearly, which is something like I said, we’re all juggling, we all have our personal circumstances right now. We need CLI and open communication. And that’s what’s going to support, you know, engagement and productivity and the business revenue. You know, the other thing I would say is, with that transparency and those transparent conversations, it’s not about waiting for a review every 12 months and saying, Okay, this is where I think you’re falling behind, or these are the improvements. You know, let’s have those conversations. Now. Let’s have those conversations in an informal manner. If you wait 12 months, and then you list you know, here are 10 things that you’ve not been performing against for the whole year. How do you think the employees going to feel they’re not going to feel good,

Nicole Smith 49:43
And as well, from a like an employer point of view, we want our businesses to be running smoothly. And not only that, that our team are happy. So if there’s something that’s not quite happening, that is maybe an expectation, checking And Firstly, have you communicated that, that that’s an expectation that they need to but also checking in with them to go. Okay, so maybe this isn’t like Joe, she’s normally this than the other, but I’m going to check in and make sure that everything’s going okay. Because it might not be a work thing. It might be something else. And being able to support them through that, I think is so important, isn’t it?

Jessica Bilston 50:24
It’s absolutely, you know, we, we talk a lot about, and I say this to managers all the time, and they call up and I ask, obviously, how they are, and we have a chat. And then I say, so how, Sarah? Oh, I’m not sure. What have you heard? Oh, no, I’m just asking if you have checked in on your employee, have you asked Sarah, how she’s going? Oh, well, no, but I’m, I assume she’s doing well. Never assume? Yeah, ask it really, you know, it goes to not only about the recognition component of a happy, you know, humming workforce, and as we know, employees crave recognition and acknowledgement. But it just goes to the human element of checking in asking how they are, you know, can are they sitting at home. And we found this a few weeks ago, when we did check ins or the new client, they were sitting at home struggling pulling their hair out trying to manage children’s schooling, but also do the typical nine to five, because no one asked them, How are you going? And do you need to change your hours. And yes, you’re going to have some employees that are going to speak up. And they’re the ones that are going to say, I need to change my hours, my hands up, I need to change my hours. But you also have other employees that don’t do that they don’t speak up. And that’s up to you, as a leader or a manager to ask how they’re going to have those transparent conversations, you know, and really just be there to support them. And this, it’s the same with underperformance, employees actually want that feedback, they want to know if they’re not doing well, they want to know how to improve, but don’t go to them with you know, here are the 10 things of where you’re not improving, go to them with a conversation that is prepared, here are the 10 things that aren’t quite working, let’s dive into these, have a conversation and then come out with the goal of I need as a leader to give you ABC further resources or tools. And you’re given me as an employee, the commitment that you’re going to try and focus on some new strategies to get to meeting my expectations.

Nicole Smith 52:44
That’s exactly like no, you again, nail on the head. But as a leader of your business, or if a team fixing all the things all the time, I found from experience, seeing in life doesn’t actually support your team to grow and empower them to be able to be at their full potential that they want to. And then there’s a cycle that keeps happening, knowing all well, Joe will fix it. If we don’t, you know, Joe will just fix it down. And whereas if you actually have those conversations, and you’d be like, okay, I can see here that we actually need training on duck, duck, duck, duck, and this is how we’re going to do that we’ll put this schedule in place. And we’ll give you that information. And how did you go with that training? Did that all make sense? Is that do we need to do that at all, whatever it is, because then that’s going to improve and empower your team to not only evolve from where they are right now. But they’ll could potentially move into a next space where they’re going to be highlighting to you, they’re going to be like, hey, Nicole, did you know that our team, we need this now? We want this? how fabulous when that happens?

Jessica Bilston 54:00
Yeah, absolutely. It’s it, you know, a lot of the talks that we do on mental health comes back to exactly that, and I call it you know, keeping our cup filled. And as managers and leaders of our cups not filled, then we’re not going to be able to support others. And if we’re sitting here being frustrated about people underperforming, then our cups most likely not filled because we’re we’re feeling this constant frustration, if we have employees and team members that you know if my drive and motivation is to see people performing and growing and developing, and that’s my drive and my motivation, but I’m not supporting or empowering them to do that. Again, it comes back to my cup not being filled. I’m then going to be less productive as well. So you know, you have to and that’s where it kind of connects into that mental health side as well is if your cups not feel It does have an effect on your mental health, you know, productivity will decrease as well. So you’ve got to just, you know, talk about your feelings, be open, share your motivations, you know, as business owners be vulnerable, I tell my team all the time, guys, I’m having a shit day, I’m sorry, crappy day. And I’m really struggling, and I need your support. And I want you, you know, I’ve recognised that, even though you haven’t done this before, I know that you can do it. And here are the tools to do it, I trust you that you can do it, go into it. And that’s part of that empowerment. And they feel amazing, you know, they go back and go, Oh, my gosh, I was given this opportunity, I’m going to really prove myself that I can do this, because she’s trusting me with this task. And that’s how, again, all about that workforce. Everything you do in your business helps and is part of your success, and you’re increasing in revenue and growth. And, you know, even though you may not be in business, for the whole money side of things, you know, I’m not here to make billions and millions of dollars. I think I’m much like yourself, Nicole, we’re here to support small businesses. But money is still a factor in running a business. And it may not be your priority, your focus, but it’s a factor. So every step that you take on that journey with your people, is about your increased in revenue and profit.

Nicole Smith 56:36
Absolutely. And you know, if you find that you’re at a moment where you need to have that conversation, but you may be not 100% confident, in what Oh, how to do that. You can guide people through that, can’t you with your way?

Jessica Bilston 56:55
And look, it’s not about making, you know, things appear to be perfect. It’s not about communicating perfectly, by any means. It’s just about communicating full stop, whether it’s perfect, whether it’s jumbled. It’s any form of communication. people recognise and appreciate.

Nicole Smith 57:18
And yeah, you’re right there, aren’t you like, I think, showing yourself as a vulnerable going through that moment, saying, you know, hey, I’m feeling like this. And the way that I can not feel like this anymore, is I want to feel like this. And this is what we can do to do that. And this is what I really would like you to help with, so that we can move through get to that whatever he is over there.

Jessica Bilston 57:43
It’s everything, you know, Gone are the days of that stereotypical traditional HR of Oh, gosh, I’m going into the HR manager’s office, I’m in trouble. You know, it’s now about Yay, I’m going into the HR manager’s office, because I’m going to get some amazing strategy and some ideas and thoughts. And even if it’s not an HR manager, or a business owner, you know, you shouldn’t be fearful of that conversation. Whether you’re an employer or an employee, you should be creating an environment with that conversation is about the moving forward, you know, the future of our relationship, and a really positive and productive discussion.

Nicole Smith 58:27
And that is the same with employee contractors or subcontractors that you’re working with, if you’ve engaged someone to for a service, and you know that they are fabulous, but it’s not quite whatever, at that point, having that conversation, not just like cutting ties, some you may just need to, but if you believe that they’re the right fit for you, and yeah, just having that conversation is, um, he’s really important. So good, amazing, amazing. Just so much every conversation, you just bring so much amazingness I just love it. Is there anything else you’d like to share with us before we go into the three questions don’t actually know about?

Jessica Bilston 59:13
Look, I just think if I was to give anyone a takeaway from this, you know, as a business owner, if you’re feeling really down at the moment, you’ve had a bit of a loss, just use this time productively, you know, review your business plan, review your business values, look at your strategic position, look at your goals, you know, look at others out there as well and what they’re doing differently. Look at your recruitment strategy. We’ve talked about, you know, review your engagement, whether it’s contractors or employees, get your compliance sorted, you know, look at your, your performance review process and above everything, just look after yourself. And that’s kind of I guess, to wrap up, that’s my to do list, you know, pop that down.

Nicole Smith 1:00:00
I love it. Yeah, that’s a very good reminder that in these times, you know, there’s definitely things that we can be looking at taking care of ourselves as well. You know, I did a little live this morning about productivity. And I actually said, the first thing to do is check in with yourself. How am I feeling today? What do I need today? Being able to put that front of mind, you know, will actually set you off on the right path because you know that if you need that walk today, or whatever it is, you need some connection. You’ve got that on your, your priority list for for right now. So, yeah, wonderful. Well, are you ready for the three questions? Alright, let’s go. Awesome. Okay. Well, that’s all sponsored. I love it. Okay. What is your go to app that creates ease in your day?

Jessica Bilston 1:00:57
Oh, okay. Is it classified as an app? I don’t know. But one note,

Nicole Smith 1:01:02

Jessica Bilston 1:01:03
I just I live off that every day. If that shut down, or if I didn’t have access to onenote I think my whole day would be a shambles.

Nicole Smith 1:01:13
When I turn my eyes. I love one night to like, obviously, I’m super cricket fan. But I do still use OneNote as well. A lot of my personal historical stuff sold in there still. So yeah, good. One thing you that got me onto one. Yeah, that’s about right. Yeah. Oh, good. I’m glad you love it so much. It’s so good. For those who don’t know what one is. It’s basically an electronic notebook. But you can have it all sectioned into little files, little areas. And it’s just really, really great for those brain dumps and those plantings and even I’ve built processing manuals within one note prior in other businesses, so it’s a really good tool. Yeah, that’s a good he like that one. I know the answer to this, but are you an online or paper to do lists lover?

Jessica Bilston 1:02:06
100%. Paper so 100% online,

Nicole Smith 1:02:11
I love that

Jessica Bilston 1:02:12
I really trying to go for our B Corp. And part of that is being a completely sustainable business. Completely paper free, HR have definitely there is a historical information on HR having so much paper, you know, printing everything single sided, and just ridiculous. So we do everything via technology, everything online, and we do the same for our clients. And there are definitely some clients that go but this makes me nervous. It’s not a physical signature on it. No, but they’re, you know, we have systems in place where everything’s time stamped, and tracked and, you know, back end login tracked, we know exactly who’s logged into sign in. That’s still legally accepted. So we we are definitely an online lover.

Nicole Smith 1:03:10
Love that. And that’s very true with that adaptation from black finance sector for many years. So the amount of paper in that industry, it’s just crazy. Having that confidence, knowing that you’ve got a data plan as a not mobile data, but a digital data documentation plan of how you manage save back up as well. So when we’re talking about the online space for your long online information, being able to know that you’ve engaged an expert to ensure that your your back end stuff is updated and secure is so key to that moving across to that online world. So awesome. I love that you’re an advocate for that. Sorry, good. Okay, so what would you do if you created more space in your world?

Jessica Bilston 1:04:04
Oh, wow. Okay, that’s a good question. I would probably, and something that I do at the moment, but not to the scale, I would like to, I would actually have a full functioning, very active internship programme for HR students. The moment we have two interns, but I would love if I had more space and more time and availability. I would love to have a full programme because I think we just we have to, you know, continually educate and support those that are coming up in our industries. And there are not a lot of programmes out there or businesses that take interns there. They really want I want someone that’s Experienced way, I think I have such a passion for supporting those more junior coming through university. And I think that’s because of my own personal experience. I was given a high HR internship in my second year, and I learnt so much through that I did it when I was just, you know, reading a textbook and studying.

Nicole Smith 1:05:22
Oh, yeah, the practical application, you know, is amazing when you’re working with someone as well like, and that’s, I’m so excited to hear about that, because that would be an amazing programme to be involved in, because you are so passionate and you know, focused on creating the new way, or the evolved way of looking at HR and supporting businesses that I know anyone that goes through that programme will just come out the other side being just amazing as well. And if I worked with you a little bit more frequently in the call, I’d probably have that space. But my welcome. Hi, we can chat about that often. Oh, no, that is amazing. Well, thank you so much for coming on line online, on the podcast, whatever we’re going to say today. I’d love to know. Or if you’d share where our listeners can find you connect with you all those things.

Jessica Bilston 1:06:16
They can connect with me on Instagram, positiveHR_, or on Facebook, which is positive HR Aus, and via email Jessica@positiveHR.com.au.

Nicole Smith 1:06:32
Amazing.I’m going to put all of those details and a little bit more about Jess in the show notes. So pop on over there, have a look. Go out and follow all the socials and say hi to Jess because she is amazing. And you need her in your world right now.

Jessica Bilston 1:06:47
Thank you so much Nicole. Thank you for having me. It’s always a pleasure to speak to you and your community for everything you do for them.

Nicole Smith 1:06:55
And I thank you so much. And thanks. Yes, thanks again so much for joining me today. I hope you have a rest of your rest of your day. A wonderful rest of your day. Not only you just but everyone else is listening. And I hope you enjoy creating space and time freedom by now. Well, there we go. Thank you so much for joining me today. It’s been such a pleasure having you on board. Have we connected on social shares? If not, please come on over Say hi, I’m on all the platforms at the artisan solutions. So I’d really look forward to seeing you over there. And if you enjoy today’s episode, don’t forget to tag me and I’d love it if you could leave a review. And of course share this with others so others can come and join us next time. All right, then everyone have a fabulous rest of the week and until next time. See you then


Acknowledgement of Country

We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land on which we work and live. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging. We celebrate the stories, culture and traditions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders of all communities who also work and live on this land.