We talked to Karen Kirton of Amplify HR, human resources consultants with professional experience across different industries and organizations of any size and here is what she said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Karen Kirton: Very grateful! Australia has managed the pandemic, so far, much better than many other places in the world from a health and financial perspective. We are really very fortunate.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Amplify HR
Karen Kirton: Great workplaces are my passion as I love working with business owners on the value of people to their business’s long-term success and the impacts on us all as human beings. Work has a major impact on our health and wellbeing, our relationships, and our community. If we can get things right in the workplace, people can go to work and feel fulfilled, appreciated, trusted, and able to do their best, then they’re more likely to be great citizens. So we not only get businesses that thrive but also healthy communities through great workplace practices.
How does Amplify HR innovate?
Karen Kirton: I love learning and am very intentional about reading widely and reviewing research. As a team, we also regularly discuss what is happening in the marketplace and consider how we can innovate or reinvent a product or service to help businesses succeed. Innovation and collaboration so often go hand in hand!
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Karen Kirton: We were very busy when Australia first went into lockdown as all of our clients were trying to work out how to move all their staff to remote working. Over the first half of 2020, there was so much uncertainty, and the market was difficult for engaging new business. We listened to the market and created a flexible outsourced HR product, which has helped businesses to get the support they need to find, grow and keep great employees without being “locked-in” to a contract. We also developed an online scorecard for businesses to assess the strength of their workplace culture and receive a customized report on how to improve. Towards the end of last year, that market confidence picked up, and we have been able to engage, and onboard new clients with our updated services and have been growing each quarter.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Karen Kirton: The most difficult situations were our clients, who were impacted negatively and had to make tough choices around redundancies. In terms of lessons learned, it has been more around how effective workplace practices in an office can’t just be directly transferred to a remote environment without revisiting the processes. Sometimes they need to be completely re-configured. For example, onboarding new staff needs to be an intentional process as the usual social learnings that occur in the office don’t happen as effectively through zoom/slack/teams, etc.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Karen Kirton: We have embraced more technology such as Trello, Teams, and document sharing, but it is also important to be quite intentional about making connections. Human beings thrive on connections and communities (even those who are very introverted), so it is important to take the time and space to connect and check-in with team members.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Karen Kirton: HR consulting is a pretty wide and varied field, from sole practitioners to large professional services firms. Rather than focusing on competitors, we spend time connecting with business owners to understand the problems they are facing from a people perspective. Then we check and reassess our offerings to create services that take their pain away!
Your final thoughts?
Karen Kirton: 2021 will be another strange and difficult year for many, but it is also a time of opportunity.
The market is really forgiving right now of companies that want to reinvent and innovate, and businesses need to leverage this. Once the economic recovery gets going, the businesses focusing on the future and not just trying to recover their losses will be the most successful.