HC spends 5 minutes with Melissa Johnson

by 03 Feb 2012

Melissa Johnson
HR manager
PDT Architects

Main business
Architecture, landscape architecture, interior design, master planning

Number of employees
82

Years in HR
11

The worst job you ever had
I got my first job while I was still at university at an outback recruitment firm.  I recruited camp cooks, governesses, chefs, gardeners, anything domestic.  It went against everything I was learning at university. Firstly, I didn’t meet one of my clients or candidates – it was all via phone. Secondly, I had to ask if candidates smoked and ascertain via their references if they may be problem drinkers.

Weirdest thing that ever happened to you at work
Having a male employee ask me to send an e-mail requesting gents using the toilet to ‘please clean up after themselves’.

What inspires you
Interacting with people who have a genuine passion for what they do, either at work or personally, and watching that passion ‘explode’ when you talk about it or try to help make it happen for them.

The best thing about working in HR
Having the opportunity to make a difference. For me, HR is common sense and it never ceases to amaze me how hard it is for some to grasp.  But I am in the privileged position to help them learn.

The worst
Having to justify your existence and value and dealing with people’s perception of what HR do.  These perceptions are sometimes based on previous negative experiences with HR, and this can be due to many reasons. Trying to bring them back to seeing it as a productive relationship is sometimes very difficult, if not impossible. But that is the great challenge.

Does HR have a place at the boardroom table?
Definitely, and with this should come the ability to present information that someone at the table hasn’t yet thought of or hasn’t requested.  If you are able to provide proactive insight, they will trust that you, as HR, will be able to give them everything they need to make an informed decision, sometimes before they even know it.

What are the biggest challenges facing HR?
Work lives and personal lines are converging like never before, and I feel the line will be non-existent in the future. I fear the breakdown of relationships, financial strain, substance abuse, unhealthy lifestyles etc are going to be key areas employers will have to address.  I don’t know if we are equipped for the people and financial cost of this.

 

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