HR beyond the city limits: Albury City Council

by Iain Hopkins11 Jun 2012

HR essentials

Murray, who holds a business degree with HR major from Charles Sturt University, has held his current role for the past six years. Prior to that he undertook an internal secondment at the Council’s Community Services area, which he says was “quite a shift from HR”, but adds it provided a greater understanding of this aspect of the organisation and provided deeper appreciation of the need for HR to work across all areas of business.

In his current role Murray leads a team of eight HR professionals, a mix of generalists and specialists across HR, OHS and risk teams.

Alongside the full spectrum of roles in the HR function – recruitment, L&D, IR, health & safety, performance management, reward & recognition – Murray and his team work closely with Council’s business leaders to ensure they own the initiatives, and to get the maximum buy-in and engagement with staff.

Taking just one example, recruitment, Murray says Council prefers to handle this whole process inhouse. “That’s been a conscious decision – it’s allowed us to have a really good handle on the needs of the business. It’s ensured we’re providing candidates that will add value not only to the role they are applying for but also the broader organisation. We are focused on recruiting to the team rather than a specific role,” he says.

Looking to the future, Murray says he will continue to avoid “flavours of the month” when it comes to HR theories and fads, but will aim to continue fine-tuning his knowledge of the business and its people. From there he will continue to collaborate with business leaders on ways to engage staff. Still, he notes, there is work to be done. 

“We need to have a more robust approach to strategic workforce planning – moving away from looking at these things from an ‘as needed’ approach to being more on the front-foot. We need to get some better metrics around our workforce, which will feeds into sustainable workforce planning. We’ll also be working with leaders to help them get a clearer understanding of where their people are at.”

He adds that from his perspective HR in any organisation is in somewhat of a unique position to understand the entire business. As a result, HR has a great opportunity to get involved in developing the people strategy and initiatives that touch on every facet of the business. “At the end of the day for me, good people outcomes mean good business outcomes,” he says.

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