Natasha Caflisch, Diversity Projects & Indigenous Engagement Coordinator at Compass Group, took some time out to tell us all about Compass Group’s experience of connecting with EPIC.

“In March 2015, I had the opportunity to meet with Ted Jenkins from EPIC. I was newly appointed to the Medirest contract at Lady Cilento Childrens Hospital as HR Advisor, and we had been operating in the hospital for 4 months. During this time we were following our standard recruitment process, requiring everyone to apply online.

Having worked within the recruitment industry for a number of years, I had previous experience working with Disability Employment Services (DES) providers with no particular success. In most cases the applicants referred were unable to meet the inherent requirements of the role and I felt the participants were simply being set up to fail. In all of these circumstances, the DES Consultant had not visited the site, did not question the position description or advertisement and did not really understand our business. For any participant that did start working with us, there was limited, if any, post-placement support.

It is likely from this meeting that Ted noticed I was not massively receptive, however he was passionate and persistent. Ted outlined the EPIC business model and how they would partner with us to meet our needs by understanding our roles, the site and the inherent job requirements, while also providing support to the participant in a number of ways post-placement, if they required it.

Needless to say this meeting overcame some of my concerns and the follow up meeting with EPIC Employment Consultant Natalie Hall overcame the rest.

At Compass Group, we believe that our workforce should reflect the diversity of society.

Our Disability Participation Policy states we will assist people with disability to compete equitably for roles in all sectors of our business. Natalie and I formulated an applicant referral process by identifying roles that are frequently recruited, but also roles where it is difficult for us to recruit and retain employees.

Natalie met with every department, reviewed our job descriptions and observed our workforce. She also undertook all of our site entry requirements and inductions. We then agreed that if EPIC had an applicant that could achieve 70% of the role requirements, we could get them the rest of the way with training, assistance or modification. We would be aware of this at the point of hire. With this plan in place, our Senior Managers were on board.

Natalie provided us with guidance and assistance towards disability confidence at our site and made it easy to assist people with disability to compete equitably for roles. Our Department Managers were engaged and trusted Natalie’s referrals, generally booking in interviews without question. Many of the applicants referred by Natalie may never have succeeded to the interview stage through our traditional recruitment process, but with a strong understanding of our business she has presented great candidates to us, the majority of whom have been successful in obtaining sustainable employment.

To quote our Help Desk Manager who interviewed a number of applicants from EPIC referrals: ‘The EPIC applicants are epic! When can I start them?’

Within six months, Natalie had successful placed 8 participants within our business across 5 of our 7 departments at the hospital, ranging from our Entry Level roles through to Customer Support (Help Desk) and Material Distribution. The support provided to their participants (and our managers) before, during and after placement is second to none. Our first successful referral started with us in August 2015 and is still working within our cleaning team, as are all the great new employees who have joined us through EPIC… 100% retention!

The knock-on effect of this great partnership spans further than the success within our Medirest Team at Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital. Bill Gamack from EPIC and myself were invited to speak at the QLD Health, Hospital and Health Services Board Chair forum to provide insight on what other HHS’s could be doing to make their business more accessible and inclusive and most importantly, why!

Ian Langdon from Gold Coast Hospital is leading the way since the forum in making change within his HHS, and Children’s Health Queensland had started a review of their accessibility and inclusion at my last update in May this year. There are 13 other HHS Board Chairs who attended the Forum who were challenged to question their business and make change.

At Compass Group, with over 10,000 employees and 600 sites in Australia, we are now undertaking a full review of our accessibility and inclusion, with an aim to mirror the successful partnership we have with EPIC in Brisbane across our business.”