This team has been commended for their efforts in supporting the Meeting the Challenge project during 2018, which required an unprecedented volume of change at ACU.
Meeting the Challenge was a necessary response to the Commonwealth Government’s higher education funding cuts, requiring every area of ACU to reduce expenditure to ensure a sustainable financial future for the University.
The team faced the complex task of working through 30 changes processes across ACU, supporting many stakeholders, including over 100 staff seeking redeployment.
Liza said Meeting the Challenge was driven by external forces and was “the change no one wanted to have” yet was vital for ACU’s financial sustainability.
“Previously, redeployment had always been done on an individual basis. The sheer volume of change really drove us to put a structure around the redeployment process and to keep asking ‘what more can we do to support our staff?’ This was a whole of HR effort.” she said.
She said the team connected affected staff with help, including interview skills support, resume guidance, dealing with change workshops and seeking financial advice.
“Being available for people to talk to during times of distress sometimes came at the expense of doing long hours and took a toll on team members emotionally. But they showed an extreme commitment to supporting staff through change,” she said.
This was no mean feat considering that the Human Resources Directorate was also going through its own change plan, as well as introducing a new HR and Payroll system. This meant HR staff had new teams to form, new systems and processes to learn, and changed ways of working to adopt.
Julie said she joined ACU just as the new HR Business Partnering team formed.
I really had to jump in as we worked out how to support Meeting the Challenge,” she said.
It was really helpful that I could rely on my team member’s sharing their knowledge with me.”
Grace said the HR leadership team really helped them to navigate this complex time and offer effective support to the business.
“I hope that people felt there was a human touch. Having the dignity of the staff member at the forefront of any interaction was paramount,” she said.
Leisa agreed that maintaining empathy for the staff affected by the changes was top priority.
“I’ve been involved with delivering change for a long time, but for me it was one of the most challenging times of my career due to the sheer volume and the impact on people,” Leisa said.
“One of the best things was the leadership we received from Diana Chegwidden and Liza. They created a regular open forum for frank discussions where we could be a bit vulnerable, and say ‘I’m struggling a bit with this one’ and we were able to get support from each other and problem-solve together.”
Kim said it was great to see support for good practices become further embedded across the organisation during this time. For example, an increased awareness amongst senior staff and hiring managers about how to use the redeployment process to achieve successful outcomes for staff and unit needs.
“I’m looking forward to using the structures we’ve put in place and the improved processes to deliver change into the future that grows the University. Change that builds upon our strong foundations, and rather than being about responding to budget cuts in the sector, is more about innovating and improving ACU into the future,” she said.
The team plans to donate some of the award prize money to support a women’s community shelter.