Revealed: 3 toughest HR jobs in Australia

by Human Capital10 Mar 2014
We all have those days where everything seems to turn pear-shaped, but we take comfort in knowing – for the most part – that the situation will be temporary. Spare a though for these HR managers who are doing it tough, with no end to the trouble in sight.
Queensland Health
It was bad enough when Queensland Health’s executive HR team had to handle 2010’s notorious pay debacle, which resulted in thousands of employees being underpaid, overpaid or not paid for months. They then had to go through the process of weeding out and sacking those responsible for ultimately costing the under-performing state $1.2bn.
But just as they wiped their hands of that disaster, HR has to deal with the news that senior doctors are now threatening a mass walk-out over controversial new contracts. A glut of skilled workers resigning in unison wouldn’t just be an HR nightmare; it could also potentially be life-threatening, as the impacts on Queensland’s healthcare system could be catastrophic. One thing is certain – Queensland Health is getting more than enough bang for their buck from their HR department at present.
Shrinking profits, massive job cuts, a multi-billion cost-cutting program and an instability in the management ranks… It’s safe to say that the challenges plaguing Qantas HQ at present run the full gamut.
No one can predict the future of the Australian airline, but HR has its hand full with a hurried redundancy package reportedly on offer to 4,000 staff, and a recent management reshuffle that will see former Tigerair boss Andrew David being moved into a key role.
You know your situation is dire when you make an announcement about your company and the Prime Minister weighs in!
“Nothing we can say or do can limit the impact and devastation today that some people feel… [but] there will be better days in the future,” Abbott said of Toyota’s news that they plan to shut its Altona, Melbourne plant in 2017, shedding 2,500 jobs in the process.
Here’s the tough part for HR: those roles will need to be staffed for three more years. Just how can the HR leaders prepare to manage their long-term loyal workforce out of the company, while keeping them motivated and engaged in the meantime? We’d say they have their work cut out.


  • by Jim Sherlock 10/03/2014 2:22:10 PM

    Most HR jobs have been very tough over the past 5 years as organisations have had to restructure to survive.

    I don't feel being high profile or in a large organisation makes the HR gig any tougher than many of our colleagues faces working in small organisations often alone.

  • by Leanne Faraday-Brash 11/03/2014 12:33:13 PM

    I believe HR is both a rewarding gig and a tough gig today, either because we are restructuring, fighting for relevance or diversity in companies that still don't get it or because we're exiting staff. There are rewards to be felt in each job if we do them well and in the case of Qantas and Toyota (mentioned above) it is in trying to treat every employee as an individual and with dignity and compassion. Any leadership role is not a recipe for popularity at times. Ours are no different. The HR heads at iconic monolithic companies are paid a lot of money. Their responsibility is to earn it. The supreme difficulty is wanting to do the right thing but having to fight with an Executive team to do it and with outrageous timeframes that can dehumanise the process.

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