A human resources expert from Perth has become the first businessperson in Australia to set up a local branch of a successful global HR franchise.
Pia Engstrom has launched The HR Dept Western Suburbs Perth from home in West Leederville, offering SMEs in her territory high quality outsourced HR advice and support.
She is the first in the state and the country to launch the brand, which currently serves more than 6,000 SMEs in the UK and Ireland after being set up the more than 15 years ago.
In a joint investment with the company in the UK, Sydney businessman Brad Adams has bought the Master Franchise to roll the model out across Australia.
Ms Engstrom brings more than two decades of corporate experience to her new role in Perth and is looking forward to developing a potent offering for SMEs in an area which reaches from North Fremantle to Scarborough and across from City Beach to West Perth.
Formerly an HR Senior Manager with a British multinational consultancy, engineering and project management company, she has worked with global businesses, family businesses and SMEs.
And she said business conditions across Western Australia were making The HR Dept’s offering – outsourced, high-level HR advice and support on a retained or pay-as-you-go basis – relevant and attractive for SMEs.
“It’s a challenging time for many businesses in Perth,” she said, “especially in the recovery from the economic downturn with the reliance we have here on mining and oil and gas.
“Businesses are under pressure and good management of employees, compliance with labour laws and proper performance of recruitment and dismissals is more important than ever.
“Legislation is changing, social media is revolutionising the way we do business and there is already a complex industrial relations system in Australia with more than 120 Awards in place.
“Every business wanting to grow or restructure needs to be aware of the legislation. Through the HR Dept Western Suburbs Perth I can offer the type of support you would receive from an in-house HR director but when you need it and a price SMEs can afford.
“It is easy for small business owners to dismiss the HR side of the business when things are running smoothly, but this can lead to costly mistakes and has the potential to have negative repercussions.”
Ms Engstrom has two children with her husband Darren, a water operations specialist with a global mining group.
She said the flexibility and independence of running her own business was more compatible with family life than a corporate role which meant late hours, regular travel and the cost of child care.
She said: “I have always wanted to be my own boss and when the opportunity to open a franchise with The HR Dept came up it seemed like the perfect opportunity.
“It’s an exciting time, setting up my own business, and it’s great to be at the cutting edge of a successful company as it launches into Australia.”
The HR Dept is originally a UK-based family business, which was set up by Sue Tumelty in 2002 and begun franchising in 2005. Today, it has a network of 65 Licensees operating independent HR businesses in 83 territories across the UK, Ireland and now Australia, providing more than 6,000 SMEs with a range of advice and support.
Mr Adams is a new market entry specialist with an extensive background in business management and transformation and an MBA from Macquarie Graduate School of Management. He said: “This is an incredibly exciting opportunity for me and my team as we establish The HR Dept as the go-to provider for outsourced HR advice and support for Australian SMEs.
“The brand already has significant presence nationwide with my franchise in North Sydney and Pia’s in Perth. I am delighted to have a franchisee of Pia’s calibre and experience setting up The HR Dept Western Suburbs Perth franchise.
“The HR Dept is a highly successful UK business and I am confident that the need from SMEs to deal with complex employment legislation in Australia is just as great as the need in the UK. Despite the differences in Australian HR regulations, the business will see similar success here also.”