By: Stewart Silk, Group Human Resources Executive, Michael Hill

Posted on 04 Dec 2015

Every Piece Tells a Story.

That applies to the Michael Hill collection of jewelry. It could also easily apply to the jigsaw puzzle of skills and capabilities required in the next generation of employees behind this brand.

Human Resources Director, Stewart Silk, oversees a diverse team that has been a critical part of his organisation’s growth as it has scaled from 1,500 employees to more than 2,500 across four markets.

Three years ago, Michael Hill didn’t have a customer team monitoring Facebook and LinkedIn

What’s driving this business growth in a market that was traditionally bricks-and-mortar? The addition of a robust e-commerce. This has led to not only the need to increase hiring but also create new types of jobs. Three years ago, Michael Hill didn’t have a customer team monitoring Facebook and LinkedIn to find top talent or employees handling online transactions. New jobs are being created constantly at Michael Hill – Stewart notes that there’s no external benchmarking data on some of these new roles because they haven’t previously existed.

Today’s consumers are much more knowledgeable; employees are too

With technology helping to grow the business, it’s only natural that HR embraces technology as well. The traditional HR model is gone, and with it are the conventional roles. In their place, Michael Hill has an eye on hiring engagement strategists, sourcing specialists and employment brand managers – all key to creating a more rewarding experience for job candidates and current employees alike. Today’s consumers are much more knowledgeable; employees are too, and they expect consumer-like technologies in order to do their jobs.

Stewart commented that he believes that HR was knocked back on its heels with all of these changes. There are a lot of demands and expectations that need to be digested and understood in these turbulent business times, and most HR people are struggling to be relevant. The disconnect is deep. For example, Michael Hill is currently conducting an internal efficiency review of its business systems. “It will be challenging to convince the Board that more HR technology is a worthwhile investment, however in order to pursue strategic HR initiatives, technology is an essential component.”

HR of the future is exciting, says Stewart, but it’s also a scary place. Could HR disappear entirely? Perhaps. Years ago, employees needed protection, which is why unions played a much more significant role. “Ten years ago, customers just went to our stores, but now they shop online as well,” he concluded. “We never would have thought of job titles such as digital marketing specialist or social media manager.”

HR needs to stay in lockstep with this exhilarating change. After all, fine diamonds are created under great pressure.

About The Author

Stewart Silk
Group Human Resources Executive, Michael Hill

Stewart joined the Michael Hill team in 2005 and is responsible for group people related strategy and support including Learning and Development, Workforce Planning, Payroll and Benefits, and Employee Relations. Stewart possesses over 17 years Retail Human Resources experience from working with major retail brands in Australia

View all other contributors