Talent – Giving a damn about employee health and wellbeing

In FastTrack’s latest In the Fast Lane newsletter, we chat with Georgia Kelaher, Global Chief People Officer at leading global technology and digital recruitment agency Talent. Georgia shares how their award-winning health and wellbeing initiative has supported world class employee engagement levels, and what her focus will be in 2023.


Q. Thanks for speaking with us Georgia. Firstly, please tell us a little about Talent, and your role as Global Chief People Officer.

I joined talent as Global Chief People Officer in June this year. We have 400 employees and 15 offices all around the world – in the UK, Bangalore, Germany, USA and of course Australia and New Zealand. Talent has a deep history in Australia, having started here as a tech recruitment agency back in 1995. We now have a technology services business called Avec that really leverages our core business of recruitment services, enabling us to help customers find the right capability and talent to deliver big technology projects. We also have an embedded and outsourced recruitment solution, and our charity arm of the business, Talent RISE, which is committed to helping young people find employment.

In my role I am focused on continuing to build our people strategy, focusing on our employee experience, and ensuring our people have what they need to delivery our business strategy. People are core to all aspects of our business, and we are a people first organisation.


Q. This strong focus on your people was recently recognised by the industry with Talent receiving APSCo Australia’s Award of Excellence for the best approach to health and wellbeing. Congratulations! What do you think made your approach stand out?

Our health and wellbeing initiative is really about ‘Giving a Damn’ which is one of our values, and it is built around caring about our people.

We see our people as the most important part of our business and place a huge organisational focus on ensuring their health and wellbeing is supported. Give a Damn aims to support our employees through every stage of their life.

We recognise that health and wellbeing spans across many areas and each person has different needs within this space so our objective is to support our people in as many of these areas as we can.

Our health and wellbeing initiatives have always been based on what our people need and have been designed to support our team’s social, physical, mental/emotional, occupational, intellectual, and environmental health and wellness.


Q. What are some of the key elements of Give a Damn?

Give a Damn aims to provide holistic support to our employees and includes paid parental leave and flexible return to work arrangements, an annual wellbeing benefit, a proactive Employee Assistance Program, Domestic Violence paid leave and financial support, and paid leave to learn anytime.

We offer employees Monthly Talent Time Out Days ‘TTO’. Six days are awarded to support the employee’s growth and the other six days are awarded to allow the employee to recharge, permitting them to have a day off and do whatever they want to encourage downtime and reduce burnout.

Our Talent Anywhere program encourages work-life balance and backs up our commitment to flexibility. Team members can work from anywhere in the world for 4 weeks a year. This allows our team to travel to and work from other Talent offices, learn about the business from different regions and reconnect with loved ones overseas.

We recently surveyed over 400 global employers and tech candidates into how much companies and candidates are focusing on environmental sustainability. We released the report with the aim to highlight the amount of influence that environmental sustainability has on the hiring market with candidates, and where businesses can bridge the gap between their current sustainability initiatives and candidate expectations. We know that we also need to walk the walk with this and have partnered with an external company to measure Talent’s carbon footprint. On top of this, we are making changes to reduce our team travel, and switching to a sustainable merch provider.


Q. How has your approach to health and wellbeing changed in recent years?

Talent has a strong foundation of recognising the importance of health and wellbeing and it has grown to support our people in all areas of their life.

The current Give a Damn initiative represents the latest commitments to our team and our company values, and a lot of it was built as a response to Covid.

We saw three key things through Covid. The great resignation where people were looking for more purpose and wanting to focus on their life priorities; the emergence of a kind of life-burnout combining physical and emotional fatigue; and the desire for more flexibility between work and life.

So, we really tried to take an approach of listening to what people wanted. As an example, a lot of people wanted to be able to travel home, wherever home is, and not just take a holiday but spend real quality time with family over a longer period. This is how we landed on Talent Anywhere. To address the feelings of burnout or exhaustion, Talent Time Out gives employees additional time to rest, recharge and focus on personal development.

We are constantly improving and refining our policies to keep up with our peoples’ changing needs.


Q. What impact has the Give a Damn initiative had on your organisation?

The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and team members have made use of one or more new or improved benefits over the last year.

Culturally this initiative has uplifted our team and lets them know that Talent really cares about them. In a recent survey, 96% of our employees said that they felt like their manager genuinely cared about their wellbeing which is amazing.

Health and wellness have a high impact on engagement, and our engagement levels are at world class levels.


Q. Finally, looking toward 2023, what three things do you see as being either a challenge or an opportunity for recruitment business like Talent?

I don’t think the great resignation, or at least that sentiment has ended. We continue to look for that life priority or balance. One thing that Talent is good at and is personally an ethos of mine, is continuous improvement. We don’t have to keep doing things the same way. We need to keep asking questions, keep listening and seeking feedback. You know, we still feel like we’re coming back into life after COVID, and our lives are still adjusting.

We’re obviously going to see market changes – we’re already seeing many organisations let people go in market uncertainty. Our industry is very dependent on the market conditions, but we have a deep history and strong presence in our markets, and we’ve got a great team to continue to thrive. Just as we were during COVID, our leadership team will be transparent with our people about what we’re seeing, what we’re hearing, and how we can support them.

Thirdly for us, we’ll continue to concentrate on increasing our learning experience for our team members. This was one part of the focus of our wellbeing initiatives in 2022 and we will soon be launching some new initiatives in this space as learning and development is so critical to engagement, wellbeing and managing burnout.



Georgia Kelaher, Talent GPO

Georgia Kelaher, Global Chief People Officer, Talent

Talent is a global technology and digital recruitment specialist committed to creating a better world of work for all. To learn more, head to www.talentinternational.com.au

This interview featured in the latest edition of FastTrack’s In the Fast Lane newsletter. Read the entire newsletter here.

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