HC spends 5 minutes with Lucy Wilson

by 13 Apr 2012

Lucy Wilson
RedBalloon employee experience manager

The worst job you ever had
I used to work in a Chinese restaurant as a bain-marie assistant after school. I got $7 cash in hand, which was great money back then. It wasn’t all bad – I got all the spring rolls I could eat!

Your first job in HR
Caxton St Catering. I was based in the Queensland Performing Arts Centre ‘QPAC’ and I got to see so many amazing shows – favourite show would have to be Chicago.

The most outrageous (and best) company perks you’ve experienced
Apart from the spring rolls, I used to think for a long time that when I got a Blackberry I’d know I’d made it because that would mean people needed me approving costs and all sorts of fancy HR things, any time of the day or night!  Needless to say, once I finally got one I didn't want it anymore! The best perk at RedBalloon has been getting my own iPad and going on a sailing experience with team mates in my second week. That’s pretty hard to beat.

Your best candidate interview story
A candidate asked me on a date after an interview once. I’ve also witnessed a candidate answer their phone numerous times during an interview, with the phrase “I really have to take this”. They did not get the job. But the best (or worst) story was when a candidate vomited in a plant in the corner of the room. We bought her back for another interview and she got the job.

Weirdest thing that ever happened to you at work
I've had someone come to me to ask me to make them redundant. They even put together a proposal and made the case that some of their colleagues’ positions had been made redundant so they didn't understand why they had to stay. This person actually said to me “I feel like I'm doing a really great job and I want to go on an overseas holiday and this is the perfect way to finance it”.

Your most embarrassing HR faux pas
Calling someone and inviting them back for a final-round interview when they were supposed to be rejected.

What inspires you
Great leaders. It sounds really boring, but having worked in businesses where I've seen fabulous leadership and the impact that has on people as well as business with poor leadership that isn't really leadership at all, I’ve seen just how important it is to lead from the front. Someone who has respect, integrity and the best intentions for the people they work with day-in day-out inspires me.

The best thing about working in HR
I get access to people’s personal information (insert evil laugh). But seriously, I love the job; I'm trusted by everyone in the organisation and I have the privilege of sharing in the best and worst experiences people go through in the workplace. They come to me with business and personal problems and I get the opportunity to help them, even if it’s just lending them my ear! It's all about the people and seeing them happy to come to work is amazing.

The worst
It’s shattering when a manager wants to end someone’s employment for supposed ‘performance issues’ (so often I used to hear…“they just aren’t performing Lucy”), when that employee hadn’t been given the tools to do their job or set up for success through effective coaching to allow them to reach their potential.  Poor leadership and lack of mentoring and coaching is quite devastating and when people cannot go to their leader or a mentor for support it makes for a very unhappy situation and a somewhat toxic work environment – not to mention the end result usually being high turnover.

Does HR have a place at the boardroom table
Absolutely. Without people you don't have a business. And businesses who truly believe in the HR function will flourish with the right internal representation.

What are the biggest challenges facing HR?
Rewarding and retaining talent. How do you retain great people without throwing cash at them and offering more than just your everyday basic succession plan? Businesses don't have the funds anymore to just throw money at people, and we know this isn’t the path to long term retention or engagement. Businesses need to learn how to retain great people by showing what they stand for as a brand, rather than how deep their pockets are.

Haich R or Aich R?
Neither. At RedBalloon, it's all about the “employee experience”. Humans are not resources. But for the record, it's Aitch.


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