Vintage hiring

Seasonal employment should be tackled in much the same way as any other hiring process but getting it wrong can prove expensive and, more critically, negative on the business.

Finding people who have the abilities to perform the required tasks and the personality traits to fit well with the values of senior management and the culture of the organisation can be a daunting task.

It becomes even more challenging when this period, such is the case during Vintage, is the busiest time of the organisation’s year.

There is little time to make up for employing the wrong person in a short-term role.

Thus you must get everything right from the start to ensure the best candidate is hired.

Prior planning is vital to achieving the desired results.

Basic steps can aid employers here in preparing to enter the jobs market with a vacancy.

  • Determine both the tasks that will be performed by the seasonal employees and the abilities, personality traits and values they must possess to be successful in the role.
  • Identify the selection tools required, from the job ad to assessing applications to undertaking tests or role play techniques that fit the job to interviewing candidates.
  • Utilise the organisation’s management or key personnel to assist in the screening process and final analysis towards presenting an offer to the desired applicant.

Throughout this process it is important to give credence to a set level of standards and credentials that are required for the advertised position.

Ensure all candidates adhere to the same approach and questioning but at all times just keep it simple.

The earlier an organisation can begin its talent search will encourage better results as well.

With the Vintage period primarily taking in the months of January to April, one should consider starting their recruitment process in August or September of the previous year, should they know a specific role will require filling.

However, this process could also draw well into December – it is never really too late to seek out employees for an upcoming Vintage.

Consideration of past staff members could also prove invaluable while these may be the people the vineyard or winery turn to when a full-time or longer term vacancy arises.

Those who have had a positive experience within your organisation previously make any transition much easier.

You know them, they know you – it normally works well for everyone.

Remember though, your seasonal employees will play a crucial role in the success of your business, particularly within businesses that are impacted heavily by the specific time of the year as is the case here in the wine industry.

Vintage employees, just as much as long term staff, represent your brand and this cannot afford to be affected by undesirable outcomes.

Therefore, advanced planning, a stringent hiring process and a genuine investment in the organisation’s seasonal employees can make a tremendous difference.

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Award winners encourage more women in wine industry

Despite many Australian women enjoying in the occasional glass of wine, fewer dabble in a career within the industry, and viticulturist Sarah Collingwood wants to change that.

Her parents have had a vineyard for the past 18 years, but she did not start working full-time in the wine industry until seven years ago.

“Now John [my husband] and I haven’t left, and we hope we’re doing this for the rest of our lives,” she said.

Ms Collingwood said women only made up roughly 10 per cent of viticulturists and wine makers in Australia.

In an attempt to improve those numbers and recognise women in the field, earlier this week the 37-year-old was among 16 women invited to pour wines they helped create at a local Canberra bar.

The gathering marked the 2016 Women in Wine Awards, and Ms Collingwood was nominated as a finalist in the owner and operator category.

Despite not placing, she was the first woman in the region nominated for the award.

“I guess generally [the industry] is a bit unrepresented by women,” she said.

“Hopefully these awards are a good way to show women there are a lot of different roles in the wine industry and it’s a great industry to be a part of.”

From grape to glass at a small winery

According to Ms Collingwood, the wineries surrounding Canberra are best known for their shiraz and riesling varieties.

“The climate is just perfect for those grapes,” she said.

“The Canberra district is seen as a pretty small wine area, we’re not as big as the Barossa and Hunter and things, but we’re definitely up and coming.”

Ms Collingwood said she and her family shared a variety of jobs at their Four Winds Vineyard.

Her role consists of being a business manager and viticulturist, which involves studying grapes and deciding when to harvest.

Her sister and brother-in-law are the winemakers, while her husband manages the vineyard.

“It’s really labour intensive for us to get the grapes that we want at the end of the season,” she said.

“We probably pick 20 or 30 tonnes and we try and pick everything in one or two days so all the grapes start to ferment at the same time.

“The vines continue to grow until February or March with the riesling and then we handpick around then.”

The family all pitch in during the crushing and pressing process by stomping on the grapes, extracting the colour from the skins.

“We joke about the harvest weight loss program because everyone during harvest loses weight because it’s long hours and quite physical as well,” she laughed.

“It takes about six months for us to have a finished product with the whites and 12 months for the reds.”

Ms Collingwood said she would encourage more women to consider a career in the industry because it was such a supportive one.

“We often joke that if our tractor broke down there would be a line of tractors outside ready to help,” she said, smiling.

ABC RADIO Canberra – Sophie Kesteven


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Early grape markets signal promising 2017 Vintage

Prices offered in a number of major wine regions this year were not enough to cover the cost of growing the crop and vines have since been removed.

The Riverina Winegrapes Marketing Board in (RWGMB) southern New South Wales represents more than 300 growers in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area and surrounding districts.

RWMG CEO Brian Simpson said many of its members were stretched financially from years of low prices.

However, he is encouraged by early price signals.

“The domestic focused wineries, once one moves, they’re all going to jump and they’re all going to push to increase,” he said.

“They think $25, $50, $70 a tonne will get more fruit walking up to their weighbridge and that’s what they want.

The Riverina is home to some of Australia’s largest family-owned wineries including Casella Family Brands, McWilliams Wines and DeBortoli Wines.

Mr Simpson said growers should not rush to lock in prices just yet.

“Wineries are talking about moderately more for price,” he said

“There will be good demand coming into the 2017 season.

“If you’ve got available fruit, maybe you want to pause and speak to a couple of buyers before you make a decision to lock it in.

“But when you do lock it in, do it with a contract and make sure you’re happy with the terms of payment with that contract.”

He said the removal of Del Rios, one of Australia’s largest vineyards in Mildura, which produced around 25,000 tonnes of fruit, would make a difference to supply.

“That’s created a lot of air space in tanks and we’ve seen demand there, with people ringing us up and saying ‘is there any available fruit ?’

“I’m currently surveying our growers to see what’s available so we can start communicating with wineries about what we do have that they can actually start bidding for.”


ABC Rural – Laurissa Smith

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Investment boost for Riverland wine region

South Australia’s Riverland region will benefit from a $40 million investment by one of Australia’s largest wine companies.

Accolade Wines will spend between $35 million and $40 million setting up a new glass bottling plant and warehouse facilities at its existing winery in Berri.

A spokesperson for Accolade said the company would withdraw over the next three years from a co-bottling arrangement it had with Penfolds owner Treasury Wine Estates, in South Australia.

The company plans to start construction on the new facility in late 2016 or early 2017, with the building phase expected to take about 18 months to complete.

It is anticipated 40 people will be employed once the plant is operating.

Accolade Wines is one of Australia’s largest wine companies, and owns brands including Hardys, Grant Burge and Banrock Station.

With a large portion of the industry seeing a downturn in recent years, the news has been welcomed by the region’s state MP.

Member for Chaffey Tim Whetstone said the benefits of the investment, particularly the potential employment opportunities, would be widespread throughout the region.

“The 40 jobs is a really good shot in the arm for the region,” he said.

“It is also Accolade’s commitment to the industry, and it is also acknowledging the region’s commitment to the wine industry.”

Investment a good sign for industry

Australian Vignerons chief executive Andrew Weeks said the investment was hopefully a sign of more positive times in the local industry.

“Having the confidence to invest $35 million to $40 million in a regional area of building a new bottling plant, that fits in well with some of the more confident and more optimistic signs that we have seen in recent times,” Mr Weeks said.

Acknowledging the benefits of the investment for the region, Mr Weeks said it was important for growers to also reap the rewards.

“What we really need is the growers to have confidence to reinvest in their businesses as well,” he said.

“It is not just about seeing improvement in wine company operations, and investment in regions is all good, but we need to have growers getting a reward for their results as well.”

Mr Whetstone agreed, saying he hoped local wine grape growers would also be beneficiaries.

“I would expect now that they would give some better consideration to better returns for our growers,” Mr Whetstone said.

“Any level of confidence in the wine industry is good”.


ABC Rural – Tom Nancarrow

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3 Quick Tips on Attracting the Right Candidates with Job Ads


Don’t leave candidates in the dark when applying for an advertised position. If your job ad is only describing the role in question, you are not giving the candidate the full story.

When candidates are applying for a role, they are also applying to join a community. What does that community look like and is it a right fit for them?

Here are three tips when preparing job ads that will help you attract the right candidates:

Graphics and language

Your logo and any unique graphics give the jobseeker the feeling that your company is important.

The way your company looks on the internet can affect the attitude of the seeker looking at your posting.

Accentuate your company’s personality and image through use of language and images so that the job seeker gets a true feel of the culture of your organisation.

Employee testimonials

If the job site where you are posting your employment ad has a video option, this is a great opportunity for getting employees to talk about why they enjoy working at the organisation. It reassures the candidate that the company is looking after its staff and puts a face to the business name. Written staff testimonials on the company description is another option where videos are not possible.

Sell your company

The section of your job posting that describes your company is a great selling opportunity. It should explain why your company is a great place to work and why it is becoming even better. Include your company’s mission / vision statement here and other selling points that you believe would be important to prospective candidates – eg career advancement, training, company growth.

For more useful articles on everything employment, visit our article archives at

By Elizabeth Bouzoudis

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Independent contractor or employee?

The following extract is from the article Independent contractor, Labour Hire Worker
or Employee? First published in the Wine & Viticulture Journal, November/December 2015. Author Sarah Hills

Just because a person wishes to be engaged as a contractor, has an ABN number and you enter into an agreement calling them an ‘independent contractor’ does not automatically mean they are one. Often relationships are disguised in being given a label when, in fact, the relationship in practice is something
different. The courts look at a number of indicators in the relationship and weigh them up to assess who holds the control in the work or task to be performed.

An employee performs work under the ‘control’ of another person in exchange for payment for the services he or she provides. Indicators of an employment relationship include:
• Control by the employer. For example, instruction as to how to carry out duties, uniform and hours of work, etc. Control indicates an employment relationship.
• The expression of the relationship by the parties in writing. For example, calling a contract an ‘employment contract’ or a ‘service agreement’ is persuasive but not determinative.
• The terms of the contract. For example, is paid annual leave provided? Employment entitlements such as annual leave, long service leave and parental leave are employment entitlements.
• Was the worker in business on his/her own account? Were tax invoices rendered? Did the worker use his or her own ABN? Is there an entrepreneurial-like element about the business?
• The worker operating an independent business indicates that the worker is an independent contractor.
• Whose tools and equipment are being used?
• Was the worker required to work exclusively for the company? Exclusivity of arrangement indicates an
employment relationship.

Independent contractors need to manage their own business and acquire their own insurance for their own negligence and own income maintenance/protection. They are distinguishable from employees (and labour hire workers) by the fact that they take personal risk associated with their business activities. While an independent contractor is responsible for their own business (including any employees they employ) when on your site they have a joint responsibility with you for your employees with regards to work health and safety. The importance of knowing who you are contracting with is highlighted by the fact that an intentional act to disguise an employment relationship by calling the employee an ‘independent contractor’ is an offence called ‘sham contracting’. If sham contracting is proved there are heavy penalties to be incurred by an employer (both as a company and/or the individuals managing
the company) under the Fair Work Act 2009.

To access the full article, visit Wine & Viticulture Journal.

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Have self-directed teams come of age?

self-directed teams


Written on December 18, 2015


A 2012 Gallup survey of employee engagement in 142 countries showed that in Australia, 60 per cent of employees are dissatisfied with their work, while 16 per cent are actively disengaged.

In a bid to remedy this, organisations have instigated a range of employee engagement programs. But while such efforts often work in the short term, they have failed to deliver lasting results.

There’s a growing realisation that the problem is not with the employees – it’s the way organisations are structured. We are starting to see that in an information-rich world where people want fulfilment and even enjoyment in their work, the old pyramid-style hierarchical systems are failing both organisations and the people who work for them.

Add to this trend the attitudes and beliefs of the generation now entering the workforce: entrepreneurial, team-oriented, and authority-phobic, they prefer the shared economy of Uber and Airbnb. This cohort does not respond to positional power the way previous generations have. They know how to challenge power, and they will do it.

The solution, according to a new wave of management thinkers and CEOs, is to reinvent management altogether. It’s not the work or the workers that are the problem. It’s the way we manage both.

Some organisations have already taken a leap of faith and redesigned themselves using self-managed teams as the operating model. These new ways of working are not just an add-on. They require a wholesale reinvention of corporate decision making, processes and responsibilities. Their examples show that even large, complex organisations can operate on self-managed principles, and that the energy and potential that is unleashed is phenomenal.

Pioneers of the movement, the Management Innovation Exchange (MIX), an online community led by Professor Gary Hamel, talk about ‘hacks’ and ‘moonshots’ as they trial new ways of working. The MIX is sponsored by a network of strategic partners including Harvard Business Review and McKinsey & Company.

These early adopters show that, in general, the quality of work life and employee satisfaction (positive attitudes) are considerably higher, with consistent reports of significant reductions in costs along with increased productivity.

At Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, employees can outsource mundane aspects of their job without asking for permission. At a GE plant that assembles jet engines in North Carolina there is just one supervisor and 400 employees. Results have been so good that GE is rolling out this model in another 80 factories.

Under the leadership of Ricardo Semler, the highly successful Brazilian company Semco boasts an organisational chart that features concentric circles, representing autonomous, democratically run units that interact with each other. In just one innovation, Semco has done away with all restrictions on business travel. The caveat is that employees publish their expenses online where colleagues can view them. They are constrained not by the need for management approval or company guidelines, but by their peers.

The online music site Spotify has a flat hierarchy using autonomous eight-person ‘squads’. Each squad can choose what they want to work on, as long as they adhere to the internal company motto of ‘Be autonomous, but don’t sub-optimise’.

At California-based Morningstar, the world’s largest tomato processor, there are no titles and no promotions. Even with 400 full-time employees, no one has a boss and employees negotiate responsibilities with their colleagues. When decisions need to be made, they seek the advice of their colleagues before deciding.

Even the Australian Federal Police is moving away from a rigid paramilitary command and-control style to a focus on flexible, multi-skilled teams.

What can we learn from these pioneers? It’s easier to work with human nature than against it. And that employees can even enjoy work.

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New law protects small business from unfair contract terms

New law protects small businessHas another business offered you a standard form contract? Or do you offer standard form contracts to other businesses?

If so, you need to be aware of the new law that protects small businesses from unfair contract terms.

Many businesses offer standard form contracts on a ‘take it or leave it’ basis where there is little or no opportunity to negotiate the terms.

This new law will apply to standard form contracts entered into or renewed on or after 12 November 2016 where:

  • at least one of the businesses employs less than 20 people, and
  • the price of the contract is no more than $300 000, or $1 million if the contract is for more than 12 months.

The ACCC, Australian Securities and Investments Commission, and state and territory offices of fair trading will enforce this law, and if the court finds a term unfair, that particular term will be void and treated as if it never existed.

Examples of terms that may be unfair are ones that:

  • allow one business, but not the other, to change or cancel the contract, or to limit or avoid their obligations
  • penalise one business, but not the other, for breaching the contract.

So if you offer standard form contracts, start reviewing your terms and conditions to make sure you’re doing the right thing.

Or, if you’re a small business and you’ve been given a standard form contract which you think includes an unfair term, find out what your protections are under the new law.

For more information

  • Read the online guidance at
  • Watch the animated videos on the ACCC YouTube channel – one is about the rights of businesses that receive standard form contracts and the other is about the obligations of businesses that offer them.
  • Read the media release
  • Call the ACCC small business helpline on 1300 302 021 if you have any queries.


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How to Make Your Job Postings Seem Exciting

Get people to lineup for job postings from your company by making them exciting.

Employment Crossing outlines key elements that can make your job postings more successful by making them more exciting to job seekers.


Graphic Appeal

The Internet is a graphic medium. Sometimes, we in the HR business do not always remember the impact that the simple page layout can have on job seekers. And it is different than the newspaper business.

Include your logo wherever you can. Your logo and any unique graphics give the jobseeker the feeling that your company is important. It may sound superficial, but the way your company looks on the Net will affect the attitude of the seeker looking at your posting. Accentuate your company’s personality and image and maintain the “look and feel” that reflects the culture of your company.

Make the copy look appealing. Long paragraphs or lists that have too many entries are harder to read, especially at a computer monitor. You have the ability to include as much information as you need, but break it up in a way that is eye-catching, and make it easy for the jobseeker to find the most important elements of your job.

Some of our customers actually have a graphic artist help them out. While that may be a little extreme, the idea is that image is important.

Sell Your Company

It is easy to assume that everyone is completely familiar with you and your operation. Frequently, that isn’t true, and even when a seeker knows your name, they don’t really know what makes your company tick.

The company description quickly becomes boilerplate, copied from one posting to the next. That is probably okay, but every once in a while, it pays to take a close look at how you present your company’s unique nature. What are the key elements that a jobseeker finds out from your Internet job posting?

The section of your job posting that describes your company is a great selling opportunity. It should explain why your company is a great place to work and why it is becoming even better. Try answering at least some of the following questions:

  • What are your main products and services?
  • What distinguishes your company from the competition?
  • What are your likely sources of growth and prosperity?
  • How long do people stay at your company?
  • How does this job relate to your company’s future?
  • What are your company’s goals?
  • What about in-house career advancement and training?
  • Do you have new products or services?
  • Are you growing?
  • What achievements are a special source of pride to your company?

You can think of more, but you get the idea-set yourself apart. Make your company special and tell the jobseeker all about it.

Sell Your Community

I remember an old song lyric that went, “eight hours to work, eight hours to sleep, and eight hours to play.” While long hours and commuting may cut into that play time, the place where your employees live is important. You can also include one more line in your job description, and that line can tell the jobseeker what it is like to live in your neighborhood.

Community events, local websites, and anything else that makes you, your company, and your community attractive to the jobseeker is not only fair game, it helps you land the perfect applicant.

The bottom line is this: HR has evolved into a marketing function. Selling the right jobseeker is the key to your success.

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South Australian wine grape growers to go into arbitration with unions over working conditions


The South Australian Wine Industry Association will follow through on a submission to the Fair Work Commission to change the modern award rate for casual employees working in the wine sector.

The SA Wine Industry Association wants to halve the minimum engagement time casual employees are entitled to work, from four to two hours.

The current award rate stipulates that employers must either provide four hours work or four hours pay each time they engage a casual worker.

Chief executive of the SA Wine Industry Association, Brian Smedley, said the proposed change would be contested by unions in front of the Fair Work Commission in March next year.

“At this stage we have had discussions with unions about our proposal and there is no agreement that has been reached.

“At the end of the day, this is really about what is fair and a relevant safety net for terms and conditions for the wine industry employment,” Mr Smedley said.

There are concerns that a change in the wine award would affect workers in grape growing, manufacturing, retail and hospitality sectors, who are often subject to sudden changes in their labour requirements.

Mr Smedley said the current award is out of line with other agricultural sectors, including the horticulture award where employers are not required to guarantee minimum working hours for casual employees, such as table grape pickers.

Wine grape growers said they were exposed to financial risk during peak periods around harvest.

They claimed they often have to send home large numbers of casual vineyard workers after one to two hours of work due to weather, yet were still obliged to pay the remainder of the minimum engagement.

South Australia produces 47 per cent of the nation’s total wine crush, with the total workface increasing tenfold during peak periods over harvest.

Mr Smedley said the wine industry was trying to reduce challenges hampering the competitiveness of Australian wine and needed more flexibility in the workplace.

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