Renee Henville, Managing Director Integrated Human Resourcing started her business while on parental leave from her corporate HR role, and is now celebrating 10 years in her Gold Coast based business. Renee built Integrated Human Resourcing to serve the needs of small to medium sized businesses located across the Tweed Coast, Gold Coast and Brisbane, who need qualified and professional outsourced human resources advice and support.
With over 17 years experience providing specialist HR and industrial relations support to industry sectors including construction, strata management, entertainment, retail wholesale and distribution and finance, Renee has developed a business partnering approach that supports leaders to strengthen the relationships between the organisation and the people who work in it.
How has Integrated Human Resourcing helped clients confidently manage their people behind the scenes through ongoing changes through COVID-19?
The first few weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic was extremely stressful for the nation and business; the information released was overwhelming and constantly changing.
It was difficult for me owning a business and being concerned for my employees, whilst ensuring that our clients were supported in line with their needs. We had to be extremely agile as our clients turned to us as a pillar of support, as a voice of reason and to provide guidance for a way forward.
Through the process we remained calm and steady on the outside whilst underneath we were scrambling to quickly and accurately provide support and advice in line with the legislation and directives from the Prime Minster. We also drew from our network of other HR professionals and employment lawyers for support and to bounce ideas around with. As an industrial relations community I was so proud with how we all banded together in a time of crisis.
We supported each of our clients differently and in line with their individual business needs
Some clients are within retail and hospitality and therefore we were working with them to restructure their workforce and in some instances stand their employees down. Some professional services clients however went from strength to strength and have continued to grow and succeed during this time. So their requirements were very different.
Some clients were ok to take some risk with restructuring (I must say always legally and ethically though). Some clients were completely risk adverse and every ‘i’ was dotted and every ‘t’ was crossed which was amazing to work with them through. These are the businesses and CEOs which pushed us to be better, to provide practical solutions to restructure their workforce to meet the ongoing needs of their business – to provide best practice and industry leading support. We’re in the process right now of obtaining feedback from one of our clients who has over 100 staff; specifically around how their business approached COVID and what the experience was like; so far the feedback has been extremely positive which builds a strong culture and improves employee retention.
We also wrote and implemented a lot of policies and procedures for working from home, COVID-19 safe work practices and at present, return to work.
Now, for many businesses, things have settled but there is definitely an air of uncertain anticipation to see what happens after JobKeeper ceases at the end of September. We are already working with some clients who are preparing for this situation as they know they are most likely going to have to make further workforce changes.
In 2021, you celebrate your 10th year in the business, how did you successfully navigate the growth stages during that time?
As a business and as a Managing Director of Integrated Human Resourcing it has been a time of constant learning, which I have loved every minute of. The business started whilst I was on maternity leave from a full time in-house human resources position, with my first son. Various consulting opportunity presented to me and of course I accepted. Actually, my team will tell you that one of my mantras is ‘never say no’. If we don’t know the answer immediately, we’ll work it out, or if an opportunity presents, we will say yes and then work it out. After my second son came along, the question was asked – do I continue doing what I’ve always wanted to do in owning and operating my own HR consulting firm or return to an in-house position? I chose to follow my dreams!
I attribute part of my success to surrounding myself with like-minded people who are specialists in their field. Over the last 10 years I’ve sought their counsel and advice, considered and implemented the same. I’ve read a lot of books, attended a lot of personal development and business courses and continued to push myself to do better. I never rest on my laurels. The Queensland Government also has some wonderful mentoring opportunities which I been fortunate to participate in.
Of course, networking is a very important part of business growth and groups like Femeconomy and BNI have been extremely supportive to us – which I am so grateful for.
In short, a lot of hard work, late nights, some tears, lots of laughter and celebrating the wins. I still do a happy dance when a new client engages us.
How did building a trusted network assist the growth of your business?
It does take me a while to form trust with people to ensure that they aren’t just telling me what I want to hear. I want to ensure that they are not over-promising and under delivering. I ask a lot of questions to really understand the individual, their values and ethics to ensure they align with me and the business. It’s a slow burn I guess with me, but once that relationship has formed, its long term.
Its also better for our clients as I can confidently refer them to my network. I love having a strong network as I match the needs of the client to the best person or company to get the best result.
Building a trusted network to me is very important and it is always evolving.
How did your corporate career in Sydney influence how you built your business?
Working in Sydney for a Big 4 Accounting firm was everything in influencing how I built the business. I was only 21 when I moved down there and for 6 years, I worked extremely hard. Quite regularly working to midnight or 2am. It provided me with a strong work ethic to get the job done correctly, to meet timeframes and strive to be the best.
Returning to the Gold Coast, I no longer needed pantyhose and stilettos and corporate ‘power suits’ trading them for a pair of flats and more casual professional attire. But that strong grounding has remained with me and I value the experience.
Of course, you don’t have to work until midnight to have a strong work ethic, it’s about going the extra mile. We try to do that with our clients, providing a little more than what they bargained (or paid) for. For example, we write company Employee Manuals which includes policies and procedures. Whenever there is a legislative update, we provide an updated document complimentary to them. Or with recruitment and selection – we provide extra materials to make their decision-making process easier.
Last year we decided to mentor HR university students and I try to instil some of the things I’ve learnt in my 25+ years working experience and that is, always tell the truth to your colleagues and the client – its ok to make a mistake but own it and rectify it. Do what you say you’re going to do and don’t over-promise. These also form our company values and mission.
Your greatest challenge?
Balancing the needs of my family (my boys are now 10 and 8) with the needs of the business. I’m an overachiever and sometimes something has to give and it sways from family to business all the time. Balance is not possible and when I came to terms with that, there was more peace within me.
Most proud of?
Besides my children and family, I’m proud that I’ve built a successful business. In total, there are approximately 900 employees that we provide HR support to.
Advice for future female leaders?
Keep pushing, keep looking for opportunities, do what you love and challenge the status quo.
You are the female economy. Whether you are a female consumer, business owner or a woman in the workforce, you can create gender equality by choosing female led brands.
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