Employee Matters – Helping you Create the Right HR Structure and Grow your Business



Guest: Natasha Hawker

Presenter: Wayne Bucklar

Guest Bio: Natasha Hawker is the Founder and Managing Director of Employee Matters. She is a senior HR Practitioner, speaker, author and trainer. Natasha is an expert in employment relations, recruitment, performance management, terminations and mediation. She works in many different industries like professional services, banking and finance, corporate travel, recruitment consulting & IT. Natasha has been quoted in articles for the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, the Australian Financial Review and the Huffington Post and she has often been interviewed on the radio, including the ABC. Early in her career, she worked in banking & finance and as a recruiter before focusing on human resources. She has managed employees across all aspects of HR and earned myself the nickname of ‘The Angel of Death’ at one time by terminating 40 employees in 6 weeks.

Segment Overview: In this segment, Natasha Hawker, Founder and Managing Director of Employee Matters joins Talkers.FM to talk about her firm that focuses on recruitment and HR services. She also talks about the various types of industries she works with and shares about her extensive career background that lead her to establish Employee Matters.


Wayne Bucklar:  You’re listening to Business Radio Talkers.FM. My name is Wayne Bucklar and I’m joined in conversation today by Natasha Hawker. Now, Natasha is the Founder and Managing Director of Employee Matters and you might be able to guess what she’s going to talk about from the name of her firm. But, why don’t we ask Natasha? Natasha, welcome to the show.

Natasha Hawker:  Thanks very much Wayne. It’s lovely to be here.

Wayne:  Now, Natasha, I can have a guess what Employee Matters does but fill us in, what is it that you do and who do you do it for?

Natasha:  Great. Yes. What we do is we help businesses who want to achieve success through their employees. So we help them hire, manage and if required, accept better or fire better and we do that through a number of different ways but we do it for a number of organizations. Initially, we actually started with various small organizations. And we’ve now over the last 6 years, started to move more into that mid-market. So our sweet spot is probably businesses with employee numbers of between about 50 and 200 is really where we come in and we can do the magic.

Wayne:  And in the Australian market, 50 is not a small business. I mean I know the measurements internationally, so it is but in Australia, that’s a significant business.

Natasha:  Yes. It’s starting to be. And what we’re finding and our target is working with businesses who were doing that massive growth base. We’ve got a couple of clients now that has 35 now but they’re going to have a hundred by the end of the year. So that’s where we can really come in and what we do is we help businesses where they don’t need a full time HR manager but there are times in their employee life cycle where they do need help. And they can’t afford somebody with the skill set they need to have the brick of experience to do everything from the filing to strategic HR and everything that happens in between. And as you know with growth businesses, Wayne, there’s different stuff being thrown at you all the time and we have the expertise with our employee experts that have got 10 and 25 years of experience. So there’s not a lot they haven’t done. So you can throw a lot of staff at them and they’ll just get it done. And the secret to what we do is really we teach the managers of our clients to have a duet. So what my bugbear is, you were talking me about your bugbear about this Australia market, my concern is most managers, they never actually taught how to hire manager and if they have to have one of those difficult conversations, they absolutely freeze. And so what we do is not only come in and bring in the infrastructure but we actually teach the managers how to do that and then you lift the capability of the whole organization and then you can get better productivity and profitability.

Wayne:  Now, Natasha, you are based in Sydney. But what’s the footprint you service for your business because having a look at your website, there’s seems to be not many geographic boundaries on it there. So how do you put geography?

Natasha:  Well, it’s interesting because I had an international courier. I’ve worked in India, or in the UK and up in Asia. And when I started the Employee Matters, I thought we’d be an Australian-based company and just deal with the Australian clients because that was my ER knowledge, that was my background. My UK knowledge is a bit dated and my Indian experience is a bit dated. Now, the interesting things is that we’re getting a lot of international clients where they’re coming to set up in Australia and they need that support to set up to hire their people, make sure they’re on the right contracts, make sure they comply with their ER obligations. So we have clients predominantly from UK, US, couple in Asia and that’s probably about in terms of the global footprint but anyone who’s starting a business here we can help and we’re across Australia and New Zealand.

Wayne:  Now, you’ve mentioned numbers of 50 to 200 kind of size business. What’s the picture of your perfect client beyond numbers, say you’re in particular sectors of industry?

Natasha:  It’s interesting. As you would know when you start a business you’ll have, “Can I have some more?” You’ll take whatever you can get … start, “Can I please have some more?” We are finding interestingly because of our experience, we have a team of experts that have experienced everything from the health sector to banking or finance, to travel, to health, a lot of different sectors. So we say when we work with people at the moment, we’ve pretty much done everything from martial arts businesses through to CEOs and CFOs of not-for-profit, banking finance businesses, mortgage businesses. So it is quite broad at the moment. We’re making a bigger impact in organizations in say at the travel, allied health, we’re doing a lot in that space and the banking and finance industry, we’re doing more in that area. So there are the sort of the key areas but that’s not our focus. It’s just where we’re getting more and more work. I think it’s one of those things where once you do a good piece of work, you get referred on and referred on.

Wayne:  You’re listening to Business Radio Talkers.FM. My name is Wayne Bucklar and I’m in conversation with Natasha Hawker, Founder and Managing Director of Employee Matters and we’ve been talking about the services that she offers to businesses and where and what she does. Natasha, if I’m a business person listening to this today, what are the symptoms that I’m going to be feeling and experiencing in my business that would lead me to go, “I’ve got to talk to that lady Natasha who’s on the radio.”

Natasha:  Yes. Great question. I think a lot of the time is you generally feel it in when you got first is you know things aren’t going well and the mistakes start to happen. And often what we find if you take a client to when they first start in business, Wayne, they’ll do whatever they can do to survive. And the first person they generally put on is their finance person. The second person they put on is their marketing person because they need more business. And then they’ve start to think about HR particularly around that compliance aspect. And generally, the reason why they’re starting to think about that is they’ve got a business survival and they know they’re taking some shortcuts and just got through and now they’re starting to think, “Right, I need to get my house in order. I need to make sure I’m compliant with my fair work obligations and I want to grow this business and I want to build a great team.” I think they start to realize that resignations or attrition is really expensive. You want to hire the best you can afford, you want to manage them so that they are a highly engaged workforce, you want to have performers and you want to retain your top people so that you don’t lose them. But if you’re starting to get a couple of resignations that you didn’t want or you can’t recruit at the moment, the market in Australia is really tough. There is a very tight applicant market. So to find the best people, you need to be very creative and you need to follow a best practice approach. So they tend to be these signals or the triggers to somebody that needs to come and talk to us.

Wayne:  I’m interested that you said the market is tough because I hear from business people that business is going pretty well and there’s lots of people around. Is there just a shortage of skills?

Natasha:  Yes. And example being is we put out an executive assistant role 3 years ago, we would have got a hundred applications to which 20 could do job easy, dunning on the head. If the first one didn’t accept that, then I’ve got another 19 ready to go. That same ad these days will solicit to quality CVs. One is fabulous and if you don’t move quickly, you’ll miss out and the second one is average. I have a view is to why that’s the case but I think what I’m seeing is and I’ve been recruiting for 25 years now, so I’ve seen a number of cycles of type and lose that for different markets. But at the moment, it’s particularly tight and so for employers and for your listeners, they need to be very clear about where they’re sourcing channels are and it’s just not seek, they need to be very clear about what they’re employee value proposition is. What that means, Wayne is – What’s in it for the candidate? What are the benefits? What’s the career opportunities for me if I join your organization? And you need to write great ads that you can attract that various small pool of candidates to apply for your job and not your competitor’s job. And then you need to move very quickly and handle that candidate beautifully so that the candidate has had a fabulous interaction or candidate experience with your organization and you need to offer competitive salary. Salary is whilst that being frozen in Australia to attract candidates that you want to, you may need to offer a bit more than what you’re planning for.

Wayne:  That’s an interesting insight, Natasha. Now, I don’t want to let you escape today without talking about some of your books that you’ve written and in particular, some of the kits that you’ve done because I was very interested to see your Kit for Canteen Operation because this is like school touch shop because it just never occurred to me that there was a need there. So tell us about some of the resources that you offer.

Natasha:  Yes, great question. I’ve covered the Kit for Canteen. I’m a mom of 3. I had 3 children in 3 years and I could see the struggle that the canteens we’re having in Australia because when I went to school, moms didn’t work and so moms look after the canteen. Now, they’re struggling to get volunteers to come into the canteen. And I can see that there was a problem there. It’s not a big sell for us but I wanted canteens that are run by kids who are all volunteers, who are all exposed to breeches and don’t know what they’re doing. So I wanted to give them an opportunity to go, “He sold the tools and things that you need to run your canteen, well go do it.” More where we spent our time is we’ve got a “Hire to Fire Tool Kit.” This is designed for businesses with 2 to 15 employees where they don’t have the money, all the need for full-time HR manager but they do need resources and they want great resources, they want a reference check, they want an exit interview, they want to be able to have one of those difficult conversations to get somebody out of the business and that’s all, Wayne, and they can buy it and there’s training on there as well where they can download a whole lot of training videos – How do I do a great interview? How do I have that difficult conversation? And that’s only 49 to 50 per month so it’s great buy where they can manage it themselves. We have a tool called Employee Metrics. This is moving up the scale and this is a diagnostic tool in essence, Wayne. It assesses a business for its current levels of HR compliance, risks and best practice. And what that does is that enables the business to go, “Alright, I know what I’m doing well now. I know where I’ve got some red and I know I’m breaching and I’m exposed to a fine about to $63,000. I need to get that fit.” So it’s a great tool that we do for businesses. And then we have the 12-month program of HR work where we will come in and do everything that a business needs. We’ll set up the HR department. We’ll train up their managers so we lift that capability so we’ve got that leverage and that works really well for our clients and that’s that sweet spot of between probably 50 and 200 employees and where they don’t need a full time HR manager but they need to get their systems in order and they need to get their managers doing what they’re effectively paid to do which is manage your team.

Wayne:  Great resources, Natasha. I look through them and thought, “There was time when I needed all of this but these days, I’ve just moved to chatting.” I’ve just moved to chatting people now on the radio. I just sit around and talk to people. So it’s my dream job really. Natasha, for people who are listening to us and for whom we’ve touched the nerve either they have those symptoms we talked about needing something or maybe they know they have got a potential breach sitting in their HR areas there and they’re bit scared by the 60 or thousand plus that are penalties, how do they get in touch to you? How do they reach out?

Natasha:  Yes. There’s a couple of things. One thing I should mention is that I wrote a book called, “From Hire to Fire and Everything in Between.” And I wrote that book specifically for small business owners who I believe that the hardest working people in Australia and it’s designed as a resource that they can grab and go, “Oh. I have to have a difficult conversation or I need to know what course is.” So that’s called from “Hire to Fire and Everything in Between.” That’s available on Amazon and also, you can buy ebook on the website for $4.95. But in order to get in touch with me, the easiest way is or my personal website which is And then just reach out to me that way. I’m more than happy to have a chat with any of your listeners that are just concerned and see whether we can help them.

Wayne:  And Natasha, am I right in assuming that you do speak at events, and retreats and conferences and things? So people who are looking for speaker, they should reach out to you as well.

Natasha:  Yes. That’s my favorite space. I love speaking, give me a microphone then I’m in heaven. I did a gig with Mark Bruce last year and Allan Pace at Financial Brokers Association of Australia. That was 800 people. But I’ll do everything from small groups to the big groups. And I think the feedback I get is I make HR fun and interesting and people learn something and they also have something they can take away and apply in their business as soon as they get back that has an impact.

Wayne:  I’m certainly making HR fun as a challenge in itself so you’re doing really well there. Natasha, thanks for your time today. I realized you have a busy people. I appreciate you taking time to chat with us.

Natasha:  My pleasure and all the best to you and to all your listeners.

Wayne:  Thank you. If you just joined us on Business Radio Talkers.FM, then you’ve just missed my chat with Natasha Hawker. Now, Natasha is the Founder and Managing Director of Employee Matters and she’s been making HR fun for us which I have to say is “no small thing to take on.” But the good news is, you haven’t missed that all together because we have a transcript of the interview that you can read at your leisure. And if you’re not a reader, if you’re a listener and I guess because this is radio, you probably are, we also have an audio archive on iTunes, SoundCloud and YouTube where you can download it and listen to the whole interview at your leisure. Treat it like a little mini podcast that you can download and listen to it over and over. And if you are listening to us on social media speaking of podcast, don’t forget to click all those nice buttons at the bottom of the screen  – the smiley face, the like, the share, all of those things because we need to know you are there. We have egos too and knowing that you’re listening is what drives us to go to the bed and do this everyday. You’re listening to Business Radio Talkers.FM. My name is Wayne Bucklar.

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