HR Tech Fest in Sydney

This past week I got the chance to attend the HR Tech Fest conference in Sydney. It was an awesome experience to be around great HR and Talent Pros from Australia, New Zealand and a surprising number that came in from the UK.

I was told by a number of folks, before I came to Sydney, that Australian HR is about 3-5 years behind the United States.  What I found was that about 80% is actually probably about the same. While some things might be a bit behind, some of that has to do with the differences in regulations and culture, more than lack of knowledge!

Australians have to some major people issues to deal with that we don’t even consider in America.  First, Australian’s compensation systems and processes are far more complex than their U.S. counterparts. Also, Australian HR Pros have to deal with productivity issues that we wouldn’t even consider.

There is a push to pay waitstaff and service level people in the U.S  a living wage. Australia already does this. Guess what?  It’s cause major productivity issues in Australia. When you pay a server $20/hour how do you incentivize them to give good service?  I constantly witnessed business losing major revenue because servers weren’t coming back to the table to ‘sell’ that next drink or food item, or pushing to turn tables over quickly to get another party in.  In the states, this doesn’t happen because servers get paid more the more the table orders.

This isn’t just a restaurant issue. In grocery stores, clothing stores, etc., there seemed to be little motivation for anyone to sell anything! If you want it, you can buy it. If you don’t, don’t. The workers will ring you up, if they don’t have something else they would rather be doing!  Can you imagine working in operations and HR in the states having to fight this, daily?!  A cultural phenomenon, that has a major impact to how you perform HR.

The HR and Talent Pros at HR Tech Fest spoke and talked about the same issues we all talk about.  How do we get better at using the technology we have? How do we improve the technology we have?  How do we get our hiring managers and employees to use our tech? How do we attract great talent to our organization? Etc.

I’m not sure if it’s the international mix of HR and Talent bloggers and thought leaders that continue to build around the world, but it seems like the distance and differences between HR pros worldwide continues to narrow.  The access to great HR knowledge is a click away, and more and more pros are clicking to find answers!

What I learned is Australian HR and Talent Pros have many of the same HR Tech issues facing them as their U.S. counterparts.  Are they behind the U.S.? Well, some are, but guess what, those are the same ones who are behind in the U.S. as well. It’s those pros who refuse to get involved and find the information they need.

The Australians I met were engaged, on top of their business and involved with making it better. I think that’s all we can ask out of any HR Pro, regardless of where you’re located in the world!

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