Hitting the ground running

To streamline the acquisition of Lendlease Australia’s contingent workforce,
Meaghan Davis CPHR made it as strategic as the acquisition of internal staff.

The steady growth of Australia’s contingent workforce presents employers with a specific set of challenges. They need to manage costs while also ensuring they are getting skilled contractors that align with their business.

Construction and infrastructure company Lendlease has about 9,500 employees in Australia and also uses a large office-based contingent workforce. The challenges include ensuring the external talent pool is being utilised strategically and that these workers are able to hit the ground running.

Meaghan Davis CPHR, head of people and culture at Lendlease Australia, saw the opportunity to centralise and personalise external talent acquisition in a company that is quite geographically dispersed, with contingent workers spread across multiple sectors.

She wanted to ensure that Lendlease’s strong governance and systems for its internal workers were carried over to their external workforce. “It was clear to me that with the large number of suppliers that were providing our contingent labour, we had a real opportunity to have a much more strategic total workforce approach, as opposed to just focusing on our direct employees,” says Davis.

The new process needed to be as effective at cost management as it was in giving managers a streamlined solution to bringing in the right people for the job. The number of companies Lendlease hires through has been reduced from more than 60 to 15 and outsourcing costs have been cut by 10 per cent.

Davis says selection of the agencies the company went through was based on achieving the right level of personalisation, and ensuring the intake of interim workers was done in a way that aligned with Lendlease’s capabilities, resources and organisational strategy.

“We had a lot of suppliers, and many of them had really long relationships with different people in our business and different teams,” says Davis. “When we had to remove some of the suppliers, it took quite a bit of stakeholder management, both with them and with the people in our business, to explain why they were no longer going to be on our panel. We invested quite heavily in terms of time spent with our managers, executives’ assistants and personal assistants.”

Managers now have less on their plate when contingent workers come on board, she says. Their process is much simpler. It’s our recruitment team that does the work!”


Different partnership

Instead of showing up on their first day of work and learning about Lendlease Australia
as a business, contractors come pre-equipped with that knowledge and an awareness of the expectations the company would have on them as part of the team.

“We have a real relationship with the companies,” says Davis, “They know us and we know them. It’s a very different partnership as opposed to something that’s quite transactional.” Streamlining Lendlease’s contingent workforce acquisition process is the project that contributed to Davis achieving her HR certification through AHRI’s senior practitioner pathway.

“The profession has come a long way since I started in HR,” says Davis, who has several decades of experience. “I think certification sets a line in the sand that says, ‘This is the minimum you need to call yourself an HR professional.’”

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This article was originally published in HRM Magazine May 2020 Edition, written by Anna Ghioni. 

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