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AHRA Winner Talks: HR Director of the Year Excellence Awardee Zahra Peggs

Culture Leadership People
Culture Leadership People

“The thing that I relish most in my current role is the ability not just to react to change, but to actually create change and for it to be really meaningful.”

TSA Group Executive, People & Corporate Affairs, and HRD Australia HR Director of the Year Excellence Award Winner Zahra Peggs reflects on her proudest moments, including implementing paid domestic violence leave and paid volunteer services leave.

Originally posted on here






For me, the thing that I relish most in my current role is the ability not just to react to change, of course, there’s a lot of that, but to actually create change and for it to be really meaningful.

One of the things that is great about our business is we’re scaled. You know, we’re a big business, with three thousand people across two countries and lots of different sites. So we’ve got that scale there. But we’re still very much a privately owned business headquartered in Western Australia. And so we can be really nimble in the way that we do things. We have short planning cycles as well, which helps. So we’re able to create change, experiment and trial a lot of things. We can see the impact of that almost immediately right across the scale of our business. So that’s a really rewarding aspect.

The things that I’m most proud of in my role over the years are the things that maybe don’t have the greatest application in terms of impact across a broad range of people. But matter, you know, are really deeply important to certain people. So that’s things like introducing paid domestic violence leave for the team members who are experiencing that sort of crisis in their home and family lives. And, you know, it’s a really desperately sad situation that we’ve got across our societies. And for us to be able to support people going through that when they need it most, that’s incredibly important and certainly incredibly rewarding to know that we can help there and in a meaningful way. Other things like that are volunteer emergency services leave, which is something that we, again paid leave, that we brought in to support all of our team members who want to contribute to their communities when their communities need them most.

In Australia, we know that there are you know, there’s a bushfire season, which is often incredibly tragic and it seems to be almost increasingly so over the years. So we’re really grateful that we can support our team members to, you know, not have them worrying about how they’re going to pay their mortgage and put food on the table for their family while they need to be out there supporting their communities when they need the most. In the Philippines, we’ve done some really great work with local underprivileged communities and schools and genuinely transformed the lives of really underprivileged people there to support them, going through schools, supplying technology for schools, to be able to connect to the Internet and access all the knowledge that’s available in the world. And that is genuinely transformational stuff that we do there. The role that HR will play in the future will be increasingly connecting people with business purpose, and that is going to play a far more significant role in creating successful, not only just successful cultures but successful businesses. There is a real direct bottom-line impact that stems from getting that right. And I think when you look at businesses that have succeeded through the COVID period, a lot of what has happened has become that real united focus on a common goal, a common purpose.

And for us, we actually found that our engagement scores improved over that period, although it was incredibly chaotic, there was a lot of uncertainty. We were asking a lot of our people. They actually really relished that opportunity to step up, to be more creative, to take a more direct role in participating in achieving business outcomes. And so that’s going to be a really important thing for HR to continue to focus on is how do you maintain that momentum, that really deep sense of connection and purpose through what may become a sort of business as usual, a period of time?

I think the other thing that is going to become critically important for HR to grapple with is rethinking employee experience in the same way that businesses invest and think about their customer experience and really putting as much time and investment into the employee experience space using good tech, importantly, to support that.

So as customers of businesses, employees expect things to be on-demand. They expect things to be intuitive. They expect it to be seamless. You know, no friction in that experience. And there needs to be the same reflected when an employee joins a business and goes through that career journey with that business that that same sort of on-demand experience, the same intuitive use of technology, friction-free kind of experience is perpetuated through that whole employee journey.



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