“The main benefit from working with Challenge Consulting is the guarantee of finding the best possible person for the position required.”

Wendy Tunbridge – Uniting
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For more information:
Stephen Crowe

Managing Director

Ph: 02 8042 8907

[email protected]



Artificial intelligence is transforming the world of work. Advances such as deep learning, new sensor technologies, and subsequent data availability, mean that computers can perform a much wider range of tasks than previously thought possible.

While we may be getting used to the idea that automation will render many current occupations obsolete, many of us still struggle with the idea that artificial intelligence can perform more human tasks.  But that’s exactly what’s happening in the world of aged care. With the help of “more human” technology, older people will be able to stay in their homes longer, and lead more independent lives. This will also have repercussions on how aged care facilities are staffed in the future. As the industry incorporates new technology, new jobs will be created and old jobs transformed.

According to the Smithsonian Institute, new technological tools will play a huge role in helping the elderly to take care of themselves. From wearable devices that measure heart rate to remote-controlled robots that pick things up from the floor, older people will be interacting with technology in their homes in a variety of new ways. This trend is expected to start with the baby boomers who are now hitting their seventies, and grow with successive generations.

Of course, there are design factors to take into consideration. Elderly people may have misgivings about incorporating so much technology into their home, and usability and invasiveness are going to be top of mind. Sensors, voice recognition, and wearable devices are relatively non-invasive, and require little interaction with keyboards or other equipment.

In fact, a whole new startup industry has emerged in recent years specialising in developing new technologies to be used in the aged care space. Smartphone apps like Lifewatch V that keep elderly patients in touch with their doctors between visits simply by holding a finger over a sensor, robots that take them through light stretching exercises, and intelligent virtual assistants like getAbby that remind people to take their medications are poised to play a huge role in elderly patient care. This will give them much more autonomy, and increase the length of time people remain at home.

So what’s this going to mean from an aged care facility staffing perspective? Will machines take the place of human aged care workers?

Well…..Yes and No.

Over the next decade more and more manual tasks will be performed by robots, for example, robots that assist people to get out in and out of beds and chairs without third person assistance will improve the independence of many mobility impaired people.  There are currently prototype robots that autonomously take blood. The quality of remote monitoring of people will dramatically improve through implanted sensors etc., reducing the need for visits for these tasks.

However, the increased use of AI in aged care, along with the massive amounts of data that will become available means a new kind of health professional will emerge, one that is able to understand data generated by this new technology, create a tailor-made health plan, and carry out any necessary action. Analysis skills may replace the ability to complete manual tasks like lifting. Also with less emphasis on carrying out manual tasks, care workers of the future may have time to become more engaged with patients on a personal level, improving the mental wellbeing of people under their care.

We are at the dawn of the practical use of artificial intelligence as we become more familiar we will find a myriad of ways to incorporate it into the aged care space. We can only surmise the skills that will be needed. But with so much potential for change, the sector is sure to offer some real opportunities in the future.



While looking after the promotion and social media side of the business, I am constantly online reading. I am reading up on social trends, latest apps, industry related articles, you name it. The more technology is advancing, the quicker information can be available and more I need to be on the ball with what is going on so that I can market our business the right way.

At the same time, I still need to maintain my duties in administration with telephone enquiries, skills testing enquiries, event organising and printing/filing/data entry tasks. I am very privileged to have a varied role because there is always something to do, and most of the time tasks need to be done within a short time frame.

How do I keep up to date with what is required within my role? Without overloading myself I look at different mediums:

Following companies online that share industry news – This allows me to receive industry updates as well as invitations to events.

• Sharing information through LinkedIn groups – Again this involves following online networks that appeal to your role or industry. You can direct questions to the group and share information or blogs from your website.

Networking Events – Meet like-minded individuals on a more relaxed, social scale. Find out about latest trends, software applications, what duties are required of individuals etc. Not to mention finding out contacts that can provide further training and development through word of mouth.

Attend training workshops – This helps me keep up to date with my skill sets and also find out about latest tips and tactics on how to market to my industry.

• Setting personal goals for progression – what do I want to learn over the upcoming weeks, months or year? Am I keeping myself accountable and keeping an up to date checklist?

I meet with a mentor every few months – Someone who is in a more senior and experienced position who can guide me with expert advice, but still allows me the authority to make my own choices and go in the direction I feel is best.

So what are the advantages of keeping up to date in your industry of work? While researching the topic I found the following three benefits outlined by MindTools.com:

First, you’ll make better decisions, and you’ll spot threats and opportunities early on, which can give you a competitive edge. This is especially important if you contribute to shaping your organization’s strategy. It’s also important if you’re involved in sales and marketing, where it helps you identify and take advantage of the sales opportunities that come your way.

Secondly, keeping up-to-date with your industry is key for building expert power. By developing expertise in your job and your industry, you’ll earn the trust and respect of the people around you. From a leadership perspective, this is invaluable!

Finally, it will alert you to changes that you need to think about.

As change is a common theme in business, it is important that you keep yourself up-to-date so that you are prepared to take the next steps in your career and assess any unexpected situations that may arise. It is important that we continue to drive ourselves to be our best and continue to prove ourselves as valuable assets within our organisations and further drive the business and ourselves towards success.


Initially, I was quite surprised at how close the results of the online poll leading up to this blog entry were: 

Should smokers be allowed to go out for a cigarette break during office hours?

Yes – 38.2% 

No – 47.0% 

Other – 14.7%

My initial response when I was chatting to my boss about this topic was something along the lines of “certainly not outside normal break allowances, ie, lunch. What if I said to you ‘I have an addiction to pretty shoes and must go out looking for them at least four times a day’? I’m sure you’d just love that …” 

But then I put my reality hat back on and thought a bit more about it. We all hear and read about the notion of ‘the flexible workplace’ these days and how, due to factors such as technology and constant connectedness to our jobs, standard hours of work don’t really apply any longer. 

So, really, as long as the job’s getting done, who cares how many ‘smokos’ someone has during the day, or how many ‘fresh air breaks’ they take, or how many times they update their Facebook status, or how often they pop over to Priceline or Nine West or Wittner (ahem)?

Here is some food for thought from last week’s poll respondents:

> “As long as it is not excessive and the time is made up for there is no issue.”

> “As long as they make up the time elsewhere or don’t have as long a lunch break as non-smokers. Meaning, they should add up the time they take smoking each day and calculate this into their break/overtime etc.”

> “If cigarette breaks are allowed, which can add up to an hour or more a day, then non-smokers should be entitled a similar type of break or given a 1.5 hour lunch break as standard.”

> “If smokers go for a smoko break, then non-smokers should get a non-smoko break. It is only fair. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander!”

So, the notion of fairness and ‘break equality’ is the key for many people. Fair enough. I also rather loved this response: “Are you going to stop people from having a cup of coffee, too? Smokers have a wonderful ‘friending’ network which seems to be evaporating in the office where people do not talk but prefer to email or text.” This totally reminded me of my pre-Challenge Consulting job when I was a smoker who did smoke on the job. There was a place where the building’s smokers all gathered, enjoyed a cigarette, and chatted for a few minutes. I met colleagues from other departments I would not have otherwise. Interesting …

But what of the health issues surrounding smoking? I think it’s fair to say that, whilst it may be someone’s right to choose to be a smoker, is it ethical for a company to in any way support what is generally accepted to be a very damaging habit? Granted, many smokers don’t smoke during the working day such as this poll respondent, who said: “There has been a ‘no smoking’ policy in the work place for more than 20 years. I am a smoker but I do not smoke at work.” Another respondent was much more decisive: “It is counter productive and bad example for the company.”

Yet another respondent observed: “if you’re a smoker who works in the health industry then no, it’s not a good look to smoke at work.” I know I have often found myself aghast during visits to hospitals seeing nurses outside puffing away on cigarettes. On one hand, I think they have one of the most stressful jobs in the world and don’t blame them (as an ex-smoker, I know how marvellously relaxing a cigarette can be), but then I also think that they are in a prime location to witness the ravages of what a lifetime of smoking can have upon the human body and if that’s not a deterrent, then I don’t know what is.

Ultimately, as with other workplace issues, consideration for your fellow workers must remain topmost. 

Smokers should ensure that their cigarette breaks are not adversely affecting their work performance or inhibiting their productivity. Smoking should be undertaken discreetly. And, as one poll respondent quite rightly pointed out: “Smokers need to be aware of the smell they bring back with them and freshen up before rejoining their colleagues.” 

Mint, anyone?


Challenge Consulting has a Facebook page. “Like” us now to stay in touch re our new blog posts, weekly poll, links and more …


How many times have you heard that Gen Y workers want too much too quickly and have unrealistic expectations about their career progression?

How many times have you heard how inflexible and set in their ways Baby Boomers are? In fact, according to one recent survey, the Baby Boomers are currently the most unpopular workplace demographic: “Generation X reportedly found their mature colleagues to be inflexible and set in their ways, while Generation Y can’t handle the boomers’ ineptitude with technology.” *

Our online poll last week asked “Is there a noticeable difference between the generations in your workplace?”  

The response was:         Yes – 62%          No – 38%

But really, are there many workplaces where everyone has identical values, life experiences, expectations and working styles?

Isn’t it too simplistic to simply lump people into a Generation category and assume that they will behave in accordance with some predetermined generational behavioural style?

In their 2009 study “Career stage and generational differences in psychological contracts” **, Narelle Hess and Denise M. Jepsen found that “despite widespread colloquial use of generational cohort groupings such as Baby Boomer, Generation X and Generation Y, (there are) greater similarities than differences between the different the generational cohorts.”

Another recent study conducted by research scientist Jennifer Deal and published as “The Myth of Generational Differences in the Workplace” *** reached a similar conclusion:Our research shows that when you hold the stereotypes up to the light, they don’t cast much of a shadow. Everyone wants to be able to trust their supervisors, no one really likes change, we all like feedback, and the number of hours you put in at work depends more on your level in the organization than on your age.”

Narelle Hess, whose study is quoted above and very conveniently happens to be Challenge Consulting’s Organisational Psychologist also had this to say on the subject in an email to me: “Perhaps the question should have been can you tell whether someone is born in 1981 (Gen X) or 1982 (Gen Y)? Probably not. Should you start managing those born in 1981 completely differently to those born in 1982? Probably not. So, why are we still talking about generational differences?”


Another Challenge Consulting team member, Carmen Mackrill, commented, “I don’t think the effect is as big as everybody would like to think. In fact, I sometimes wonder whether part of the “impact” is born from an expectation that there should be a difference. However, if we define generations purely in terms of ages, I believe there are differences in the way younger workers approach problems, social situations, obligations, etc,  as opposed to older workers, but this has always been the case … nothing necessarily new.”

Our Senior Account Manager, Patricia Hegarty, said “I think it largely depends on how the more experienced, senior staff interacts with their younger peers. If expectations are made clear across the board and everyone is treated with the same level of respect then the generational differences should not generally have an impact within the workplace.”

Ultimately, as with every area of life, employees and employers within any workplace should be united by a common goal: the continued growth and success of the organisation. Differences will always be encountered – of approach, experience, style, education, execution, communication, etc – but, if embraced as a positive, these differences can be united as a source of strength. Having a pool of individuals from all generations to tap into – what an opportunity for success!


* “Leadership, Employment and Direction ‘Generations’ Survey” [link]


** Narelle Hess, Denise M. Jepsen, (2009) “Career stage and generational differences in psychological contracts”, Career Development International, Vol. 14 Iss: 3, pp.261 – 283

*** Jennifer Deal, “The Myth of Generational Differences in the Workplace”, [link]