Meet Alex Hattingh, Chief People Officer and remote first advocate

Meet Alex Hattingh, Chief People Officer and remote first advocate

“We are all unique and work most productively when given the trust and freedom to deliver on outcomes.”

BY Business Chicks, 11 min READ

Thanks to our friends at Employment Hero.

What really matters to employees in 2020?

How do you maintain a happy and productive team during a pandemic?

And can a business function successfully without an HR function?

Alex Hattingh is the Chief People Officer at Employment Hero, and has over 15 years experience answering these questions. In advance of her upcoming Masterclass Online, we chatted to Alex about her career lessons, research findings and overcoming the “fun police” stigma, and got her advice on keeping employees happy and engaged.

You’ve worked in HR roles across banking, property, education and now in the tech space. Have you taken different learnings from the way these sectors operate? 

I was fortunate enough to start my early career in the tech space in New York with Monster.com and Yahoo!. Then Google in Singapore and Australia. I am beyond thrilled to be back in the tech space.

The learnings from each sector have been very different. I am entirely biased to technology. We attract people who genuinely care about the end-user experience and impact of the product, platform or solution you are providing to your end user or customer. In essence, very purpose driven people. Founders and leaders in the tech sector are usually ahead in their innate understanding that talented people are the secret sauce to your success. They understand that people are at the centre of everything.

In recent years HR has had a rebrand to People and Culture within many businesses. Can you explain the role and goals of a People and Culture team?

I love this debate and topic! Mostly due to my experience of being an expat working in the US for 10 years in People and Culture, followed by Google in Singapore and Australia – where people were centric to the leadership team and every decision.

People and Culture belongs to every person in any business (not just People and Culture as a ‘function’ – we are the custodians of People and Culture). For people managers, culture should be core to their everyday role. The more you can have your people managers understand this, they will leverage it and your employee engagement levels will soar.

I feel that in Australia we have been slower to “catch-up” on the concept of the re-brand from “HR” to “People and Culture” or “Employee Success” or “People Operations”. Personally, in Australia, “HR” has a bad reputation as being the corporate police.

People and Culture encompasses the entire employee experience, which is what we do. Influence, direct and make sure every touch point in the employee experience is the best it can be. Forever reiterating and surveying your employees is key to this. Feedback and responding to your people will ensure you meet their needs and get them to the self-fulfilment stage of their career

You’ve previously said that, ‘fatter pay cheques are no longer the be-all, end-all when it comes to keeping employees engaged, happy and productive in the workplace’. In your experience, what do employees want from their employers in 2020?

Employed Hero conducted our own studies with YouGov to validate what people want in Australia. It does differ generation to generation. I also observe career/work desires change as people mature and what is important to them in life alters.

  • Career Development; Benefits / Perks / Flexible Work all top the list for what Australian’s want in their employers / companies they work for.
  • A holistic approach to wellbeing. Employees are understanding more and more that mental, physical and financial wellbeing is vital to their happiness. Employers must meet this rising (and very fair!) demand.

What’s your best piece of advice for someone interested in a career in this area?

Pursue the path if you love it. Network, intern and gain experience.

You’ve developed a Remote First communications playbook for the businesses forced to rethink their operations during COVID-19. Can you tell us a bit about the Remote First mindset and why you’re so passionate about it?

Remote First Work is the future of work and the forward way to support top talent to work the best and deliver the best outcomes in their time and in their own way. As an individual you know when and how you deliver best. That might be responding to a few morning emails, then dropping your kids at school and then logging back on. Or it might be attending a midday yoga or personal training session and starting later if you’re a night owl.

We are all unique and work most productively when given the trust and freedom to deliver on outcomes. We asked our employees if they would return to the “office” once we gain normality or recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. 92% said they would come to the “office” for brainstorming or off-sites, not for general day-to-day work. In listening to our employees, we decided a “Remote First” approach was in their best interest for happiness, engagement, and their own productivity. We shifted to have our “Hubs” be a place where we will socially connect (as opposed to a sense of feeling you have to be “seen” in certain hours). How could we not adopt a “Remote First” approach when our own people were telling us they are happier and more productive with remote work? We absolutely have groups who want a workplace and the social connections so we will be providing that choice. It’s not just our own team either, we surveyed 1,200 Australians, of which 84% of them enjoy working from home and 92% would continue to work from home regularly if given the opportunity.

What would you say to business owners who are too small for a dedicated People and Culture function?

Invest in a great technology solution such as Employment Hero that facilitates everything people engagement related (along with ensuring you are compliant, paying people correctly, rewarding and recognising people).

If you can’t afford a tech solution, think outside the box in terms of employee engagement, reward and recognition and goal alignment. What do you currently have that can facilitate this? Google shared docs? All-Hands (regular team-wide meetings and updates)? Create a “People” centric champion team comprised of leaders and team members passionate about employee experience. You will be surprised at how impactful this will be.

How does Employment Hero help to make employment easier and more rewarding for employers and employees?

We make employment easy through providing a seamless, paperless and compliant people management system, available on the cloud anytime for your employees.

We make employment more rewarding through providing an end-to-end platform for employees to make their employee experience wonderful. From onboarding to 1:1s, coaching to giving feedback, and empowering reward and recognition. Providing Goals or Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) that allow each person to understand how their role and achievements contribute to and align with the overall business’s purpose and annual goals or OKRs .

We help Australian’s salaries go further through access to savings through our platform economics buying power. In short, people can save on everyday items such as petrol and groceries all the way through to bigger ticket items such as technology and insurance.

We also have a focus on holistic wellness. We do this by helping employers provide their employees with financial, physical and mental health products, programs and content.

Our friends at Employment Hero want to give you the opportunity to get personal advice and insight from Alex Hatting and our very own CEO, Olivia Ruello. These inspiring leaders have decades of experience and are passionate about the development of women in leadership roles and the growth of female led businesses.

One lucky winner can use the one-hour coaching session to chat through an area of focus, whether it be a business plan, advice on managing teams or use it as a personal development session. Enter the comp now, and you could be on that video call soon!

Employment Hero is an all-in-one HR, Payroll and Benefits platform that powers employee management from anywhere, anytime.


©2020 Business Chicks

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