Archive for April, 2014

SmartIdeas – fanning the spark of innovation

Innovation is a key KPI for Smartgroup and we have some aggressive goals in maturing this capability throughout 2014. In preparation, last year we formalised the ideas pipeline, integrated it into Salesforce and renamed it SmartIdeas. We’ve also invested in innovation with two dedicated Innovation Champions to drive the program – Joelle Jenner and Jess Sorrasson (image L-R).

SmartIdeas helps to drive recognition and awareness amongst all of our employees that innovation is something we’re all capable of and is critical to any organisation’s ongoing success and growth. And it’s not just about game-changing big ideas – small, continual innovative improvements are just as important.

We’ve set a goal of implementing 100 ideas this year. To hit that we’ll probably need to generate at least twice that figure but this has the added advantage of demonstrating to employees that there’s a good chance their idea will be implemented.

We’re knocking it out of the park already! We’ve implemented in excess of 28 ideas in the last couple of months and we’re well on track to reach our goal of 100 ideas.

ImageOur employees are really energised and engaged by the process and our Innovation Champions are recording and enabling ideas at a rapid pace. Jess says the reason she loves being an Innovation Champion is that she gets to make ideas a reality and work on some amazing projects: “To be able to tell a colleague that their idea will be implemented and rolled out to the rest of the company is incredibly empowering and makes me feel like I’m just helping to make everyone’s life easier.”

Many of the ideas are currently focused internally and are operations based. As the year proceeds we’ll look to implement ideas more widely across the business and introduce some targeted customer feedback sessions.

Joelle says she loves bringing the innovation spark to life and keeps a Nelson Mandela quote in mind: “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

And next month is InnoMAYtion, a whole month dedicated to learning about great innovators of the past and open everyone’s minds to their own inner innovator.

Thanks to Jess and Joelle for being such a positive driving force!

Smartsalary welcomes the St Vincent’s group of hospitals in Sydney

It is always a great honour to be entrusted by an employer to provide an important service to their employees. Never do you want break the trust developed during the sales cycle, once the implementation begins and the phones start to ring.

Well, the pressure is greater when your selection is based in large part on a referral. Your company must take extra pains to demonstrate that this trust is well placed. This is effectively that challenge that faces Smartsalary. You see, following the April 2013 implementation of St Vincent’s Health and Aged Care and SVHA Group Office, Smartsalary has recently been entrusted to service St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney, St Vincent’s Private Hospital Sydney and St Vincent’s & Mater Health Sydney – they all commenced with our salary packaging service on 1 April 2014.

Time Line_New Clients_April 2014-2

Across the three new sites, 3000 employees are currently salary packaging, with 7000 eligible to package so we’re hoping to help our client increase packaging uptake. A key ingredient to support the marketing of services and employee education is regular visitation across all of their sites.

Along with the implementation of North Sydney Local Health District (NSLHD) in December 2013 and Northern NSW Local Health District also in April 2014, we have recruited and also promoted a number of staff into field sales and mobile leasing positions within Sydney and across the state. Exciting times for staff charged with driving uptake and certainly exciting times for us as an organisation! We strive to never let our clients down, and to always continue to build on the trust that we are humbled to have placed in us.

We all need a Fighting Chance

Hello there, this is Houda Lebbos, Smartgroup CHRO, borrowing Deven’s blog to let you know we had the great pleasure recently of meeting Laura O’Reilly, CEO and co-founder of Fighting Chance.

Laura’s organisation is a non-profit which provides opportunities for meaningful social participation, employment and skill development to young people with the most significant disabilities in our community.

Laura says these are people that would otherwise, very likely, be prevented from pursuing their ambitions and fulfilling their potential simply because they have a disability. The statistics are stark – 85% of young adults with profound disabilities in Australia experience life-long unemployment and have just one-tenth the opportunity for social participation outside the home compared with the ‘average’ Australian.

Fighting Chance Australia, launched in early 2011 by Laura, her brother Jordan and a team of committed young professionals, challenges these injustices and societal exclusion by removing the practical barriers that stand in the way of workforce participation for Australians with the most significant disabilities.

For instance, some individuals may need assistance with the bathroom, meals or medication. Even for organisations with strong employment diversity practices this can simply be a barrier too far for direct employment. The genius of the Fighting Chance model is that businesses can outsource work to the team at Fighting Chance which provide the office space and practical assistance required for employees throughout the working day. It’s a win-win solution for businesses looking for scalable, outsourced support and Fighting Chance programme participants looking for meaningful employment.

Fighting Chance matches skills and provides training where necessary through its Enterprise Program. Every participant or ‘Intern’ follows an individualized program, which combines training and work tasks in a way that best suits the interests and aspirations of the individual and the needs of the employer.

A great example of this in practice is with Aon Hewitt which has outsourced a large portion of the data collection and entry associated with the Best Employer programme – providing both a scalable solution to Aon’s fluctuating administration support needs and meaningful, paid work for Australians with disabilities.

The program has a heavy IT focus, and equips and prepares program participants for IT-based roles within social enterprises in addition to data and administrative support.


At Smartgroup we’re looking at the possibility of outsourcing some peak operational administrative tasks, in addition to providing some direct support to the IT team in their rollout of modules, a system we use in-house here.

The ethos of Fighting Chance is admirable and one that we share here at Smartgroup. In their words: “we passionately believe that employment is important for giving structure, purpose and meaning to the life of any adult. Everyone should have the opportunity to contribute to and benefit from the work of a team.”

Have you got ZEST?

We’re totally focussed on staff engagement and the ultimate customer experience here at Smartgroup. We believe the two go hand in hand and it’s just as important to present a compelling value proposition to employees as it is to customers.

We put a lot of emphasis on making sure that our team is at the top of its game and part of that is ZEST, which we introduced about 18 months ago. ZEST means Zeal, Engagement, Satisfaction and Trust. We want our employees to come to work every day with Zeal and Engagement, and leave work feeling a sense of Satisfaction with their work, and Trust in us. At the three month mark every new starter is offered the option to leave with a ‘thank you’ of $500 for giving it a go. If they don’t feel ZEST in their role, for whatever reason, it allows for a graceful departure and a greater sense of goodwill for everyone involved.

zestSince the programme began in August 2012, we have issued a total of 123 new employees with ZEST offers. Only three people have taken up the offer and left the company. We’re delighted with the results – these figures translate to a 98% stick rate, which is testament in part to our recruitment and on-boarding, as well as our ongoing commitment to increasing staff engagement.

What initially seemed to be a very counter intuitive idea has given us great feedback on true levels of engagement and satisfaction. Given our low take up and desire to further improve our culture, we’ve decided to increase the tension and raise the offer from $500 to $1000. We’re interested to see if this will increase uptake and thus enable us to maintain only the most committed staff. We will keep you posted!

Deven Billimoria
Chief Executive Officer

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April 2014
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