People have always been SSI’s most important asset and the means through which we provide support to our diverse client base. Our ongoing work around our people includes increasing the diversity of our workforce, striving to create safer, healthier workplaces, and encouraging learning and personal growth among individual staff members.
This year, the economic and social disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic forced a rapid pivot in our people management practices, with measures introduced to protect the health of staff and clients and to preserve jobs during the downturn.
Meanwhile, the People and Culture team was restructured to further sustain the organisation with the creation of five core centres of expertise including: Talent and Organisational Capability; Operations and Rewards; Culture, Inclusion and Wellbeing; Work, Health and Safety; Business Partnering; and Talent Acquisition.
For consistency with the rest of the report, key achievements are reported under the same headings
as the Social Impacts Framework.
Implementation of SSI’s Diversity and Inclusion Workforce Strategy saw SSI win an Australian Human Resources Institute 2019 Award in the ‘Inclusive Workplace’ category.
SSI achieved Bronze Tier in the LGBTQ Awards 2020 from our first submission for the Australian Workplace Equality Index run by Pride in Diversity
SSI renewed its Disability Confident Recruiter status with Australian Network on Disability for the third year.
SSI’s first RAP plan achieved “Innovate Plan” status acknowledging the actions we are working towards to achieve our unique vision and commitments for reconciliation and renewal.
Paid parental leave was implemented in 2020 across both SSI and Access for primary carers of all genders who are welcoming a new child into their family through birth, adoption, surrogacy, or foster arrangements.
Volunteers allow us to extend the scope of our work, to deliver additional services and to reach additional clients without extensively affecting our budgets. Volunteers help re-write the narrative around our clients in the wider community. They enjoy the satisfaction of helping both vulnerable individuals and benefiting society.
My volunteering experience has reiterated what I have always believed about people – that wherever we come from in the world and whatever language we speak … we are still more similar than we are different. To have been reminded of this, through my volunteering at SSI, has been a gift.
At the end of June 2020, SSI employed 660 employees and Access 251 for a combined total of 911. Implementation of SSI’s Diversity and Inclusion Workforce Strategy saw SSI win an Australian Human Resources Institute 2019 Award in the ‘Inclusive Workplace’ category. SSI also achieved Bronze Tier in the LGBTQ Awards 2020 from our first submission for the Australian Workplace Equality Index run by Pride in Diversity, and renewed its Disability Confident Recruiter status with Australian Network on Disability for the third year. By the end June 2020, nearly two thirds of eligible SSI employees and one third of eligible Access employees completed Culturally Responsive Practice Training.
With our continued vision for reconciliation and in honouring the traditional custodians of our land, a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) was developed. At the time of writing this report, SSI’s first RAP plan was undergoing review with Reconciliation Australia. We are dedicated to continue to promote and foster an environment of awareness, acceptance and cohesion in order to step closer to a truly equal society between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and multicultural Australia.
Health and wellbeing
Work towards building a healthier workforce included establishing a Wellbeing Community of Practice across SSI and Access, renewing our internal staff wellbeing framework ‘Be Well’ and launching an online external platform for SSI employees and wellbeing apps for Access staff.
Paid parental leave was implemented in 2020 across both SSI and Access for primary carers of all genders who are welcoming a new child into their family through birth, adoption, surrogacy, or foster arrangements. Developing this policy resulted in a number of SSI staff becoming foster parents through our Multicultural Child and Family Program and the opportunity to take paid leave to support the needs of the children.
Safety and stability
As the likely impacts of COVID-19 became clear in early March 2020, People and Culture staff members worked with the SSI Crisis Management and Communication teams to develop a working-from-home toolkit and to transition all staff members to home-based work over four weeks. At Access, 85 per cent of staff were directed to work from home. The focus then shifted to facilitating safe service delivery for clients and staff. Finally, work began on a return-to-work project plan incorporating COVID-safe practices.
Another key focus during the year was the switch to a new workers compensation model, known as Loss Prevention and Recovery for SSI. The aim of the approach is to reduce the frequency and severity of claims, something that correlates with our focus on becoming more proactive as we identify and manage risk.
Learning and growth
During FY2020, steps were taken to strengthen the SSI workforce by building capability and enhancing performance at all levels. Leadership development programs including LEAD@SSI, Performance Coaching and Constructive Conversations were used to develop leaders’ skills and confidence, resulting in positive outcomes for teams.
Meanwhile, the Mentoring@ssi program was launched in July 2019 to help develop our people. Some 50 mentors participated, 80 per cent of whom were leaders, enabling the development of 74 mentees over the 12 months. In its second year, Achieve@SSI, our annual performance planning framework saw 74 per cent of employees create an achievement and development plan.
Yarn’n Aboriginal Employment Services is an Aboriginal-owned-and-operated company based in Redfern, NSW, that aims to use employment as a pathway to build capacity and help Aboriginal people change their lives for the better. During FY2020, SSI developed a sound relationship with the Yarn’n team with a view to engaging targeted Indigenous candidates for roles.
We continued our internal advocacy of workforce inclusion through the Diversity and Inclusion Network (D&I) and the Gender and Sexual Diversity Working Group (GSD). We developed GSD inclusive practice training internally, and observed with staff National Reconciliation Week, International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, Wear It Purple Day, R U Ok? Day, and International Day for People with Disability.
Capacity building and thought leadership
The People and Culture team supported SSI’s successful bid to become a Cap Local Area Coordinator for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) through policy development, a recruitment strategy and a Work Health and Safety strategy.
Workforce planning was also conducted for the end-of-life contracts and general decline in service offerings, resulting in a reduction of over 60 staff members with the closure of NSW Ability Links. Staff were supported with career workshops, resumé building, navigating the transition, and exploring internal redeployment opportunities for displaced employees.
In the wake of COVID-19-induced economic slowdown from March onwards, JobKeeper payments played a major contribution to SSI’s financial position. Fulltime and part-time eligible employees were assisted in lodging applications to the scheme, with applications returned within three days. After assessing the ongoing economic situation, the decision was made to stand down on reduced hours 145 employees and 179 casuals were encouraged to apply for JobSeeker (based on eligibility) and supported through the process. Concurrently we experienced a growth in our headcount with staff transitioning into roles attributed to the Local Area Coordination (LAC) role for National Disability Insurance Scheme.
Another milestone was the integration of multiple legacy systems with streamlined processes, as well as next generation paperless recruitment and employee onboarding platforms for both SSI and Access. Alignment of legacy systems resulted in up to 27 per cent on-going commercial saving, while the workplace safety audit and inspection process was cut from 10 days to under two days per site.