Australia’s farmers frequently face apocalyptic events: record droughts and floods, extreme weather, and even mouse plagues. Through it all, Elders is a lifeline for tiny agricultural outback communities. “Our employees and our customers are at the heart of our business—and often they’re one and the same,” explains Chief People Officer Olivia Richardson. “Elders really is a family. Our teams open the door on a Sunday when a farmer needs something urgently—or when the sun goes down and harvest is just winding up for the day.”
In the last two years, rapid growth, both organic and through acquisitions, has added 15% more FTEs to the Elders workforce. While growth is great, Richardson acknowledges it can also create pain points in the business. “We bolted on different businesses, diversified across different products, and grew new solutions. The result was a disjointed employee experience,” Richardson says. “We needed one consistent platform to create a better user experience, get insights about our team, and give our growing workforce future skills.”
Instant uplift in productivity and efficiency.With everything on one platform, Elders experienced an immediate reduction in busy work. “Reports that previously took us a week could suddenly be created at a click of a button,” recalls Richardson. Soon, people were noticing other productivity gains. “All our metrics around time to fill, time to hire, issuing a contract, processes around leave, and absence management all improved dramatically.”
With most of its employees literally in the field, leave leakage used to be a major problem, creating a financial liability. “Now we have Workday’s mobile capability and intuitive interface, leave leakage has all but been eliminated,” Richardson says.
Happy users unaware of AI and machine learning behind the scenes.Rural employees are not known for their eager adoption of breakthrough technologies. So, Richardson is quietly amused that much of what Elders’ people love about Workday is actually being offered by AI. “Our users often don’t realize it, but AI and machine learning are sitting in the background every time they interact with Workday. AI is curating their learning, prompting them to respond to a leave approval, or helping them take control of their career by alerting them to and supporting them as they apply for an internal role.”
Workday has also introduced a super-charged ability to connect across the business. “Everyone networking together in our business is an essential part of our Employee Value Proposition. When people look for new opportunities to connect, they’re getting an incredible search functionality that they’ve never had before. Workday’s embedded AI and machine learning capabilities are driving that for them in the background.”
AI and ML move the Workday product forward every single day, giving our people an ever better user experience.
Chief People Officer
Equipped with future skills to meet changing customer needs.
Richardson says Elders is experiencing a pace of change unlike anything the business has seen before, requiring rapid upskilling. “As a business, we have to be able to respond to that in real time. We want our people and our communities to thrive. Workday is helping us equip our people with skills that will take them—and Elders—into the future.”
Using Workday Learning, Elders can respond dynamically to changing customer needs by identifying and providing the right learning. “It’s a changing digital world—globally and within our local communities as young farmers experiment with agri-tech. Our people need access to new skills. We’ve got a responsibility to take them with us on the journey and help them re-equip themselves for the future.”
Elders has been around for 183 years, and we plan to be around for another 183. I hope that Workday continues to be part of our journey.
Chief People Officer