• Leadership Excellence: Sonia’s strategic transformation of Resthaven’s workforce

    Leadership Excellence: Sonia’s strategic transformation of Resthaven’s workforce

    Over the past three years, Manager Workforce Strategy, Sonia Hunter, has emerged as a dynamic leader. She has contributed to shaping Resthaven’s workforce and organisational culture in the face of challenges such as the Royal Commission, a global pandemic, and ongoing government reforms.

    Late last year, Resthaven nominated Sonia in the ‘Emerging Leader’ category for the 2023 Future of Ageing Awards, for which she was awarded Highly Commended.

    Sonia says, ‘I feel honoured and humbled to have received the nomination, let alone to be highly commended in this award.’

    ‘I sincerely thank CEO, Darren Birbeck, for this opportunity, as well as Resthaven’s People & Culture team, and particularly Executive Manager People & Culture, Sylvia Powell, for her ongoing support.’

    Sonia began her impactful journey in the aged care sector when she joined Resthaven in September 2021, initially as Project Lead, People & Culture.

    Sonia explains, ‘My role involved delivering on a number of projects, including “recruitment remediation”, in which I analysed the Recruitment and Onboarding system at the time to determine what could be improved.’

    ‘It was evident that a new recruitment system was needed.’

    PageUp was selected as the new recruitment and onboarding software. The new system features improved integration, automation, and simplification —offering managers and recruiters greater transparency of the candidate recruitment journey. It also offers better reporting capabilities.’

    ‘The result is a better experience for candidates — keeping them engaged with auto-generated communication capabilities, and targeted information about roles that they are interested in.’

    In recognising her capabilities, Sonia was promoted to Manager Workforce Strategy in May 2022. During this time, Sonia played a pivotal role in crafting Resthaven’s Strategic Workforce Plan (SWP) for 2022–2025.

    Sonia Hunter and Sylvia Powell attending the Team Talent Showcase
    Sonia Hunter and Sylvia Powell at the Team Talent Showcase

    In late 2022, Sonia was appointed the lead for a new unique professional development event —Resthaven’s Team Talent Showcase.

    For this program, Sonia coordinated with an external consultant, with a goal to foster collaboration, confidence, and staff retention — tackling staff turnover through offering leadership development.

    Sonia explains, ‘The Team Talent Showcase brought staff together from across Resthaven, giving them the opportunity to showcase their talent and experience in managing and leading practical challenges in the workplace, and fostering cross-site collaboration and understanding.’

    ‘The successful program was also ‘Highly Commended’ in the 2023 Future of Ageing Awards.’

    Concurrently, Sonia led the Employee Value Proposition (EVP) project, collaborating with external consultants to articulate Resthaven’s EVP and develop materials to enhance employee attraction and engagement.

    ‘The EVP project was created with a goal to ensure that we continue to attract and retain outstanding employees,’ Sonia says.

    ‘We wanted to find out what is most valued by select Resthaven employees, and why. The project identified a number of staff from across all Resthaven sites and positions to participate in both photography and filming, with the goal to create content that would resonate with ideal potential candidates.’

    ‘Staff shared their employment experience with Resthaven in areas such as nursing, personal care, and home care. This provided valuable information that helped us to identify and better promote the unique benefits Resthaven has to offer.’

    ‘The filming in May 2023 showcased the outstanding work our people do every day.’

    Sonia explains, ‘The final films and outcomes of the EVP project were launched with the Recruitment and Onboarding project in August 2023.’

    ‘Findings from this project enhanced the new careers website, resulted in revised job advertisements, improved recruitment marketing campaigns, and internal promotion to our people about the benefits of working at Resthaven.’

    Upon completion of the EVP project, two EVP Working Groups were established to continue exploring ways that Resthaven can differentiate itself from other employers.’

    Sonia explains, ‘The purpose of the EVP Working Groups is to explore further potential tangible and intangible opportunities that will continue to differentiate Resthaven as the leading South Australian employer in the aged care sector.’

    ‘I’m looking forward to seeing where my role takes me in future — there’s certainly never a dull moment!’

    Sonia’s achievements reflect not only her professional expertise but also a commitment to fostering a positive and thriving workplace. Congratulations on your ‘highly commended’ award, Sonia!

    Resthaven employs more than 3,000 staff across 40 locations in South Australia — open the door to your future career today.

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