Kalyra Communities – formerly James Brown Memorial Trust – is a not-for-profit (NFP) organisation in Adelaide, SA, that has been in operation since 1892. The organisation is governed by an act of the South Australian parliament and managed by a board of trustees who have continually responded to the evolving needs of the community.
In the early years, the organisation provided support to children with disabilities arising from diseases such as poliomyelitis and tuberculosis. When vaccines eradicated such diseases in the community, the organisation moved to support other community needs. At the end of the Second World War, the organisation extended its affordable housing program, which helped people who had survived TB and were unable to work, to support women who had limited housing options. From there, Kalyra moved further into health and palliative community hospital services and residential services. Today, Kalyra Communities’ biggest focus is to provide aged care services and other accommodation services to support older people in the community.
The Kalyra Communities workforce has almost tripled in 10 years, and the People and Culture team is stretched thin. Consisting of just three practitioners, the team’s HR portfolio involves recruitment, retention, learning & development and looking after all industrial and employee relations. As aged care is a high compliance industry, a key responsibility for the team is to facilitate employee learning & development and manage mandatory training programs.
There were several factors holding Kalyra Communities back from reaching its full potential. Margot Strachan, People and Culture Manager, says her team was spending too much time using manual processes and were relying on paper filing and spreadsheets to store and access important information. This was hindering good HR practices and from a business perspective, was inefficient.
The organisation was also experiencing specific challenges. Recruitment takes up a large portion of the People and Culture team’s time, but processes were unproductive. Strachan says the organisation used a standalone recruitment platform that had zero integration. This meant that while they were able to manage recruitment through technology, onboarding was completed manually, on paper, which compromised efficiency and professionalism when it came to communicating with candidates and new employees.
Another challenge for Kalyra Communities is compliance, as Strachan explains: “Aged care is a very high compliance industry. We need to ensure that all of our employees have particular training, qualifications and police checks – and now flu vaccinations.” For Strachan, managing compliance was difficult with spreadsheets, and when auditors requested reports, the information wasn’t easily accessible.
Ensuring the organisation remained compliant was made harder for Kalyra Communities as they had no way to effectively manage employee training. With no learning management system, the organisation used spreadsheets to record when staff had completed mandatory training programs. This proved problematic as the information was recorded in different places, meaning that if a staff member asked which courses they had/hadn’t completed, it was hard to provide the answer.
Performance management was another challenge. Managers had little information on staff performance because information was not easily accessible – performance appraisals were completed on paper and then filed away.
Being a not-for-profit organisation, Kalyra Communities is heavily reliant on government funds, so resources are tight. “Our organisation has an ethos of putting the funds that we do get into services to the people who we’re here to serve – so only a thin portion goes towards corporate services,” explains Strachan.
The need for more technology infrastructure to manage HR processes was very apparent to Strachan, but with Kalyra Communities being a not-for-profit organisation she had to put together a business case to get funding for additional resources. “We’re not an organisation that can waste money, because we don’t have anything to waste,” she says. To ensure the investment was going to pay off, Strachan did extensive research. She spoke to other people in Adelaide who were using ELMO and found that many were having positive experiences. She also attended ELMO roadshows to find out more about how ELMO could help fulfil her specific needs.
To address the compliance-related training issues, Kalyra needed to distribute specific learning courses to employees. Strachan notes that developing learning modules from scratch is tricky, so for her, one of ELMO’s selling points was that the Course Builder allowed her to easily modify and adapt courses to suit the needs of the organisation. She recounts that other providers charged additional costs to modify course content, whereas ELMO afforded her flexibility, which she values highly.
In the end, ELMO was the preferred provider. “For me, it had the integration. I didn’t want lots of little standalone platforms – I wanted a one-stop shop for our staff,” explains Strachan.
Strachan says that qualitatively, ELMO has been a huge success for Kalyra Communities. First, there is more transparency. When aged care auditors ask for reports, Strachan can access information easily. “I could pull the report that came out of ELMO and show that 98% of our staff completed this particular mandatory training course,” says Strachan. What’s more, with information no longer being stored on spreadsheets, Strachan recognises they are improving their risk management.
Strachan also explains that using ELMO has been a fantastic opportunity for previously reluctant staff to get onboard with technology. “I put out a mandatory training program a week and a half ago and it was due within a month, and within a week I’d had 30% complete – that’s unheard of, because people leave things to the last minute and they don’t like using their computers. It’s working well and people are realising that it’s not that hard.”
In terms of performance management, Strachan reports that both managers and employees are responding well to having a dedicated platform for performance management and are enjoying doing appraisals. “Performance management can sometimes be a ‘tick and flick’-type process,” says Strachan. “But [ELMO Performance Management] is encouraging some ongoing monitoring and conversations that are targeted to what’s working and what’s not working.”
Strachan values the consistent support she received when implementing new ELMO solutions into Kalyra Communities, and said it was great not having to re-explain the organisation’s needs. She has been able to introduce her new recruitment officer to the whole ELMO suite without a hitch, which she considers very helpful. “There’s always more we could do if we had more resources, but with ELMO assisting us we are getting the best bang for our buck around staffing for HR.”