See New Job Vacancies!

Will salaries and wages be the biggest influence on the next federal elections?

Maxumise/HRmonise – Australian Salary Curves 2018 – 2019

By Max Underhill from Maxumise Consulting Pty Ltd – August 2018

Well Scott Morrison tried hard to talk up salaries and wages while he was treasurer, with little success, so what will he try now he is PM.  These predictions were the most difficult we have every experienced despite a mid-term review earlier in 2018.

While the politicians and Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) talking up the need for increased base salaries and wages, generally the 2017-18 salaries did not grow at the “budget forecast” rates.  The exceptions were the top-end positions in sectors where remuneration is in, or above the top quartile.  Contrasting with this the lower quartile total salary curves remained static or in cases drifted backwards, an unusual phenomenon in normal times.  Clearly these are not normal times and we feel there are still more surprises to come for salary predictors.

Maxumise/HRmonise develops the position size and value based on its contribution to the organisation i.e. ideal position design.  The HRmonise system can also assess the capacity of the incumbent to ensure equity is maintained and bias is removed.  Maxumise has been advocating for a greater focus on performance pay and a clear distinction between the base (contribution) value and other components of the package, especially performance reward.  This was part of the outcome of the Australia Productivity Commission Review of Executive and Board Remuneration – submission and hearing 2009/2010.  APC Commissioner stated that; “Maxumise put science into human resources management” referring to remuneration practices and methodology.

The 2017 budget was based on the Official Wage Price Index to increase from 1.9% to 3.75% in 4 years.  The Maxumise/HRmonise curves for 2017/18 predicted some significant increases for the [...]

Q&A the Gender Pay Debate – less emotion & more science needed

I am amazed how Q&A can canvas a range of snap-shot views on issues and leave these views, some of which are ill-informed and extreme, hanging.  On 26th Feb 2018, one of these was the gender pay equality.

In October 2017 the Channel 9 – Lisa Wilkinson case raised the important issues of gender equality and pay equality, however, the real issue of “human capital management” procedures, processes and audits was largely been overlooked.  With the quantitative methodology and systems available today this situation should never occur and the way it has unfolded is a true debacle – a complete failure, especially because of bad planning and organization.  It was not unexpected that this high profile “flash in the pan”, gone from sight within a month and what has changed?

The issues of gender pay is not new – 65 years ago we had the International Labor Organisation (ILO) Equal Remuneration Convention, No. 100, that was adopted on 29 June 1951 by the General Conference of the International Labour Organisation at its thirty-fourth session.  Last year, 2017, “ILO, UN Women and OECD, the Equal Pay International Coalition (EPIC).  By 2030, achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including young people and persons with disabilities and equal pay for work of equal value.” (Launched of EPIC in Asia Pacific was Feb 2018).  What happened to Convention No 100 and the many other papers and resolutions.  It would be interesting to see how many of these organisations have a fair pay system, we suspect at least one is still using an incremental pay system – this is not equal pay for equal work.  In 2009/2010 the Australia Productivity Commission (APC) Review of [...]

Who wins the “stuff-up” challenge, Malcolm or Barnaby?

Management by knee jerk reaction? By the end Malcolm and Barnbyof last week we must have got close to a perfect “stuff-up” score for Malcolm and Barnaby; a dead heat I would say.  How can our “peak body” policy makers be making such a mess of basic good management and leadership?  They seem to be stuck in an old-fashioned management style based on activities and tasks rather than a modern outcome approach which identifies and measures the performance by empowering the people to deliver on what we hired or elected them to do.  Rather than looking up to these “statespersons” and taking the lead from them, they have now become the laughing stock of the country.

If business had the same level of internal management distractions and loss of image, the owner/board would quickly step-in and stop the bleeding.  However, well managed businesses would not allow public debate nor apply the knee-jerk, activity-based responses like we saw last Thursday.  They would have the outcomes needed to deliver the organisation’s strategic objectives defined and internal processes would be applied.  From the outside it would appear that the coalition has no such “strategic direction” or framework of indicators as to how they  achieve and manage the success of the delivery of the strategy, collectively or as individual contributors.  Is an elected party or coalition any different to a well-managed business?

Malcolm, we hope you have a team working on your list of instructions for the next set of activities of “unacceptable behaviour” which will might include; drunk and disorderly, gambling, drugs/smoking, driving irresponsible, bullying, unbecoming dress, lying, contradiction and undermining of colleagues, inappropriate communication with the media [...]

Ch 9 – Lisa Wilkinson an Organisational & HR debacle

While the Channel 9 – Lisa Wilkinson case has raised the important issues of gender equality and pay equality, the real issue of “human capital management” procedures and processes has largely been overlooked.  With the methodology and systems available today this situation should never occur and the way it has unfolded is a true debacle – a complete failure, especially because of bad planning and organization.

The NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Opposition leader Bill Shorten have allowed themselves to become caught up in the media frenzy, but blinded by the gender equality aspects they did not address the real issues.  Australia supports the ILO Convention recognising equal pay for equal work, but even so there is a lack of accountability and reward for true contribution.  Despite this support, Governments and many private sector organisations in Australia still utilise incremental pay approaches to base pay.  How can this be equal pay for equal work?  Maxumise has assessed people on the extremes of a “level” and it is not uncommon to find a competence reversal i.e. the most competent contributors being paid the least.

In modern organisational and HR asset management, remuneration is made up of the following three (3) elements:

  1. Base salary for a fully competent person delivering on the expectations
  2. Performance pay i.e. at risk, variable pay linked to contribution above normal expectations
  3. Legal and business based benefits as well as adjustments and “perks”.

In the Lisa Wilkinson debacle, real “business” issues started to emerge when Channel Nine CEO Hugh Marks said: “Today Show is one of the biggest roles there is in Television…”.  Did he mean that it has potential to contribute to revenue, profit, channel 9 image etc.?  “Biggest” is probably not the best term to describe [...]

Trumpism needs a structured response from Australian organisational and HR professionals


Article by Max Underhill

Maxumise Consulting Pty Ltd

Writing an article on a Trump topic is like trying to send an SMS on the Manly ferry crossing the heads in large seas – you are trying to hit a moving target. Experiences with the Trump administration to date indicate we need to get used to that element of surprise. However, the longer-term response to “Trumpism” requires a more structured and independent approach to management. Overall this may be good for Australian organisations provided the “surprises” do not embroil us in events we would prefer not to be part of.


Organisations need to address the Trumpism effect at three levels:

  1. At the strategic level, a reviewing the past and determining the immediate and likely long term impact of Trumpism on the organisation going forward – good and bad as well as commercial and social. Trumpism comes at a time of increased change; the next wave of real technological change is probably larger than that of the 1990’s. Monitoring the strategic or organisational surprise element is established as part of a rolling strategic plan and monitored through “trigger event analysis”
  2. At the operational level organisations need to be vigilant, establishing a monitoring and response mechanism to deal with surprises that are likely to continue to “pop-up”. Surprises can result in operational impacts such as supply, market changes or financing where organisations need to take advantage of the good impacts and respond to the negative impacts.
  3. Employees and even organisations can respond to behavioural messages so we need to be prepared for the unexpected and unacceptable behavioural responses. These “people risks” will [...]

The most vulnerable impacted by poor outsourcing of government services


We need to address the cause rather than just band-aiding the symptoms.  Update on earlier Blog on Outsourcing

ABC 4-Corners has reported on many cases of privatisation or outsourcing of government community services including:

  1. November 2016 ABC 4-Corners reported on the abuse and neglect of displaced children in residential care which I am sure left a number of the viewers feeling angry and disgusted.
  2. Prior to that we saw the report on the outsourcing of some tertiary “TAFE” level education courses to the private sector referring to rip-off’s and abuse that negatively impacted vulnerable people’s lives.  Whether these abuses where legal or illegal is not for me to judge but regardless, it was immoral and left me feeling disgusted.
  3. 27th March 2017 4 – Corners again reported on abuse and neglect but this time it was in disability group homes a similar story to the children in residential care and again was disgusting and sad.

The common threads in each of these stories is the outsourcing government services to providers where some were taking advantage of vulnerable people in the community not to mention the waste of tax payer’s money.  The worrying thing with this is that the outsourcing systems, as they exist, seem to accommodate the unethical and abusive activities without accountability.  I am sure there are also the ethical providers doing the right things.

In the 1990’s we reviewed a portion of the government disability services where abuse and neglect was common place, which may have contributed to the outsourcing of the disadvantaged and disabled assimilation into the community.  However, the “outsourcing” or “privatisation” needs [...]

Let’s Outsource – Out of Sight Out of Mind

Outsourcing, if not managed correctly, can be a major disaster.  IMG_1570

There seems to be a perception that outsourcing is a euphemism for “out of sight out of mind”.  How wrong this is as we have recently seen in relation to some government outsourcing.  In 2016, the ABC 4-Corners reported on the government outsourcing of some tertiary “TAFE” level education courses and more recently on the residential care for displaced children.  The lack of diligent and planned oversight of these programmes has cost the government dearly, but the price paid by the so-called recipients of these services may last a lifetime.

Why do government and private sector implement so many outsourcings, privatisations, sub-contracting without the basic checks and balances?  If the 4-Corners alleged neglect and routing of the system has gone undetected for long periods, even years, then the organisational checks and balances are obviously not in place.  Unfortunately we also see the same lack of monitoring and control in the private sector, not-for-profits etc.

In Australia we tend to provide the “recipe” which specifies how it is to be done rather than define the “outcome” which specifies the end result.  The outcome based approach empowers the deliverer, encourages initiative and innovation while ensuring we get what we needed and at the standard required.  The recipe approach is prescriptive and often provides an opportunity for the contractor/deliverer to interpret the recipe as suites them and therefore enables the system to be manipulate in their favour – “but I just followed your instructions”.  The outcome approach is easier to specify especially the inclusion of quantifiable checks and balances [...]

Today’s technology – tomorrow’s wipe-out or opportunity?

When robots design and build robots to service robots, humans will know they are obsolete. In the meantime people need to manage organisations by optimising all available resources; current and future.  Experience tells us this is not a new issue but the predictors are estimating that technology will take over 40% of the current positions over the next 10 years.  The fundamentals of organisational and human resource design need not change, but stakeholder expectations will change as will the measures of success.

Historical Pressure Points In the 80’s when the PC emerged as an affordable tool, computers were programmed to emulate the activities humans undertook rather than capitalise on their potential.  At the same time many Australian industries became uncompetitive, lagging behind in technological change.  This was not helped by Australia’s economy of scale which also contributed to our lack of competitiveness, for example, it took seven weeks in Battle Creek USA to produce the annual corn flake output of the Australian factory.  Today so many services can be provided on line and from anywhere so the tendency will be for the cheaper costs. Australia’s competitive position requires us to become smarter as we plan for the future. Organisations need to monitor their progress in meeting the future needs of their stakeholders; identifying and measuring outcomes and integrating smart technology. At the global level, our government signs trade agreements with countries where Australia has little competitive advantage.  Maybe some great Australian iconic businesses would still exist in Australia had cooperative deals promoting companies headquartered in Australia been promulgated.  The manufacturing or processing could be located off-shore exploiting their critical mass and better proximity to markets.

Dynamic Planning for the Future – what we should be doing [...]

Goldman Sachs joins HR lions club with a squeak!

Navel Gazing larger Goldman Sachs joins a long chain of icons that are shaking up their performance appraisal process – wow, probably 15 to 20 years late and even then they are just tweaking them around the edges when there are real quantifiable and empowering solutions available.

Where would we be if we managed our other assets like these companies have been managing their people?  Maybe the better question is where would we be now if we had been managing our people assets effectively for the last 20 years?  What if we had included proper position definitions, quantitative measures and empowerment not to mention placing HR assets on the balance sheet?

As the Human Times Monday 30th May 2016 edition ( reported Goldman Sachs “experimenting with an online system” joins Accenture “more frequent check ins between management and employees”, General Electric (similar to Accenture), Gap, Abode and Microsoft “abolished numerical ratings” with J.P Morgan, Chase & Co and Citi Group making “management changes focussed on retaining junior bankers”.  PwC and Delloite are also changing their performance appraisal system, jumping from one subjective system to another.  These prides of lions are squeaking not roaring.  Just imagine if we managed our finances or stock or physical assets like we do our HR – let’s sit down at the end of the month to casually discuss how we feel about the revenue and profits, what about the cost and how do the stock levels look like to you?

There have been human capital management methodology and tools around for 20 years that define the expectations of positions including measurable outcomes [...]

Is qualification a meaningful measure of an organisations capability needs?

Obtaining a qualifications is a significant milestone for many people.  But how does a qualification impact the employer?

Maxumise finds that qualifications are, at best, a guide and not a meaningful measure of an organisations’ capability needs.  Moreover, it does not indicate the capacity of the employee to contribute.  We find that a focus on qualifications can, in fact, be a hindrance to innovation, progression and organisational development especially with the current academic approach to learning and development.

The UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) Labour Force Survey, reported by the Guardian, found that around 15% (1 in 6) of workers are over-educated for their jobs while 13.9% are under-educated i.e. having a lower than average education level for their occupation.  The survey therefore concludes that 28.9% of the UK workforce are in “jobs not suited to their skill level”.  It was also found that the younger employees fall into the “over-educated group” while the 50 to 64 year olds made up the majority of the under educated.  The question is, would we have got a different result if we were looking at the competence of the people against the organisations requirements rather than qualification?

While we have no problem with the report findings, we question the relevance of qualification as a meaningful measure of an organisations’ capability needs.  In fact we would go further to say that qualification can be a hindrance to making real change in organisations as the tendency is to retain traditional “jobs” rather than define new and innovative positions around stakeholder needs.  The blinkered traditional “qualification” approach may be a significant contributor to the productivity issues in the UK and other countries like Australia as we are still teaching to old out [...]