When we started our humanitarian employment journey at Service NSW, little did we know we’d be tapping into an underutilised treasure trove of digital talent which would transform the agency into a market leader in a fast-paced competitive environment.

In support of the NSW Government’s commitment to employ 100 refugees across the state, we set ourselves a goal to employ five refugees by December 2017.In two short years we welcomed into our wonderful organisation more than40 talented colleagues who are refugees from many countries including Iraq, Syria, Tibet, Egypt and Armenia.

Predominantly employed as Digital Service Representatives, the refugees have been critical in delivering on our goal of 70 per cent of government transactions completed via digital channels. Digital adoption for services such as Toll Relief, Active Kids and Creative Kids ranges from 79 per cent to 100 per cent. These cost of living initiatives have collectively saved NSW households millions of dollars since July 2018.

More than 70 per cent of NSW Government transactions are available via the Service NSW website. It means simple transactions like vehicle registration renewals and Seniors Card applications can be completed online, saving customers time and money and freeing up staff to help customers in different ways and on more complex transactions.

Diversity is the key to successful thought leadership in all disciplines but becomes especially important when designing and rolling out digital services. To truly put the customer at the heart and centre of everything we do, it’s vital Service NSW employees reflect the communities we serve.

To recruit the right people in this digital age means using screening and assessment methods applicants can relate to and which reflect the cutting-edge design of the products we offer to customers to make doing business with government easier.

Take Belinda Hutchinson for example. She’s the Head of Recruitment at Service NSW and is passionate about seeking new and innovative methods to attract and assess talent in a competitive market. This includes exploring opportunities and partnerships to recruit neuro-diverse people who have a natural capability to learn and excel at digital programming and design. The paired programming assessment is one of the methods we use to understand the capability of our engineers.

While Megan Sayers takes a literal approach to putting the customer at the heart and centre of everything we do. She’s a Recruitment Consultant and recently enrolled in a Coding for Beginners course to develop expertise and credibility as a specialist in recruitment of IT professionals. Additional learning in the digital space has contributed to the attraction of a wealth of talent. Not just people with professional digital backgrounds, but those who are also refugees and seeking a better life in this great country of ours.

Five to seven career changes in a lifetime is the new average for Australian workers who are willing to update their qualifications and switch careers. Why then do we as HR professionals insist on looking for capability where capability already exists? Aren’t we just fishing from the same talent pool and driving up demand in an already heavily contested digital talent market?

Government salaries are heavily regulated through NSW Government wages policy and hiring managers may not have the same flexibility to negotiate outside of award rates of pay or offer bonuses as sometimes occurs in private enterprise.

But Service NSW, an award winning government agency, can offer employees an experience like no other.

Our people are our greatest asset and in August 2019 Service NSW was the first public service agency in Australia to be recognised with a number eight ranking in the Top 100 Great Places To Work with over 1000 employees in Australia, ahead of Atlassian and just behind SAP. And it is the customer centric culture matched by innovative people programs that has helped to get us there.