Posted on 16/6/2021
FPE is a family-owned business that leads in supplying food processing equipment to the food production industry in Australia and New Zealand. Founded in 1983 by Brian Carey, the business started out small, selling only one key product to local food processing companies. In the four decades since its inception, it has grown into a business with 13 different agency lines, employing 26 people across Australia and New Zealand and is now run by Brian’s daughters Tania and Jodie.
Tania is the General Manager and is responsible for managing all sales and business operations. Jodie is the Quality and Compliance Manager and is also responsible for ensuring the wellbeing of FPE’s employees, with a particular focus on health and safety.
Since taking over from their father, Tania and Jodie have had two priorities; to grow the business without spreading themselves too thin, and modernise the organisation to support their growth ambitions.
As part of this process of modernising the company, Tania and Jodie decided to develop a comprehensive strategic plan for the business, encompassing everything from a brand refresh to implementing new sales strategies and establishing a vision and set of values for the business. As part of this process, they also undertook a review of existing systems and processes, which is when they realised their current HR practices weren’t up to modern standards.
“We found we weren’t doing enough to live up to our own values in terms of being compliant as a company and meeting our obligations to our employees as a family-owned business,” said Jodie.
“As an example, we didn’t have employment contracts or job descriptions in place and without these things or an overarching framework in place, we realised we would struggle to meet our growth ambitions.
“However, we didn’t have the capability to manage this on our own and weren’t of the size where it was practical to employ someone internally – so we needed someone to hold our hand through the process, which is when we did some research and decided to contact Perks People Solutions.”
Having already worked with other outsourced HR support companies, Jodie and Tania were looking for individualised 24/7 support and attention for FPE’s HR management – something that had so far been lacking from other companies.
“The thing that really attracted us to Perks People Solutions was that they were going to provide the personal approach we were looking for,” Jodie said.
“With the other companies we had worked with, we would ring and get a different person answering the phone, so it felt like you were repeating the situation over and over again. It wasn’t the relationship we were looking for because we really needed someone we could call on any time and bounce ideas off or who would be able to give us timely advice when it was needed.”
As Director of Perks People Solutions Cecilia White said, the firm’s HR On Demand™ solution is ideal for businesses such as FPE that don’t have their own internal HR resource, are not of the scale where it is economical to employ someone in such a role or have someone relatively junior in the role that may need assistance with more complex or strategic issues.
“FPE is a great example of a small business that has experienced steady growth and has brought on new staff members – they’re still what you would consider a small business, but their HR systems and processes hadn’t kept pace with the growth they’d experienced or the values they wanted to live,” Cecilia said.
“So, we come in and act as a virtual HR manager for them. We partner with them and they have access to our team of eight specialists for any support, assistance or advice they need in any HR related matters.
“We go out and do regular site visits as well to make sure we get know their business and their people really well. They’ve got a strong sense of team and really value their people, which resonates with our philosophy here at Perks People Solutions.”
In the early months of working with FPE, Perks People Solutions implemented a range of changes to bring the business up to scratch with modern HR standards. This included developing and implementing compliant contracts to ensure that employees were being paid correctly with no risk of underpayment, establishing policies and procedures for complaints handling, and every employee was given an up-to-date job description. They also put in place an annual performance review and appraisal system for the business.
The staff at FPE have been made aware of Perks People Solutions’ services and are advised by Jodie and Tania to reach out to their HR On Demand™ team any time for advice or guidance. Jodie sees this as a major advantage of the outsourced HR manager model, as they provide an independent voice to any situation.
“We’ve had some employees seek advice from Perks People Solutions, which we think is a great resource to have. While they’re welcome to speak to us, having independent HR support available on demand provides an extra layer of support,” Jodie said.
“In certain cases, it may be easier to speak to someone externally rather than speaking to someone in the constraints of the company who may have preconceived opinions or unconscious biases. I feel confident that any employee who reaches out will receive confidential and genuine support, and that’s very reassuring for our leadership team.”
In addition to four HR specialists, the Perks People Solutions team also comprises three recruitment consultants, ensuring the firm is able to offer a comprehensive, independent service for employers.
And according to Cecilia, it’s this independence that really sets Perks People Solutions apart from an internal HR resource.
“When we come in, we have no relationships, ties or biases with regards to the team and we’re also able to offer a much more comprehensive service than one internal resource,” said Cecilia.
“In dealing with an issue we can look at it objectively, which means that we are in a good position to be truly independent in situations where a pair of fresh eyes is needed. A lot of our clients really value that and, importantly, their employees do too.”
In the early days of working with FPE, this independent expertise was crucial in navigating a complex issue with an employee relating to Work Cover.
“The issues they were having with this person were ongoing and actually started prior to our involvement but they had been struggling to manage the situation because they didn’t have the policies, procedures or expertise that empowered them to deal with it appropriately,” Cecilia said.
“So, when we came in, we were able to look at that whole body of work, to put in place the framework for dealing with these issues that has since enabled them to professionally resolve the situation with that employee.”
Jodie said Perks People Solutions were invaluable in helping FPE navigate this complex issue and have provided them with the confidence and support moving forward knowing they are handling employee issues in a professional and compliant manner.
“Right throughout, Perks People Solutions were right there by my side, guiding me through this situation, whether that be conducting meetings with this employee, dealing with the lawyers or managing the process with Work Cover,” Jodie said.
“I don’t think that we would have been able to manage it ourselves considering everything else that we have on a day-to-day basis. They were there to endure the brunt of every situation through that process, which was so helpful.”
With the help of Perks People Solutions, FPE has now hired two new employees since the implementation of their new compliant systems and contracts. During the hiring process, Jodie emphasised the importance of any new employee having shared values with FPE.
She said her and Tania took this same approach when they were searching for a new outsourced HR team in 2019 – they wanted a company that shared their ‘people-first’ values and they haven’t looked back since.
“I would really recommend outsourcing to Perks People Solutions services to any small or medium company,” Jodie said.
“I am now absolutely confident that FPE can move into the future, that we can continue to grow and expand and always remain fully compliant. We’re a people focused business, we really value our team and our people, and now our systems reflect this fact.”