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HR case study: Why you need to call in the experts

By CCIWA Editor

 Staffing is continuous issue for business, whether attracting, maintaining or terminating.  

Getting your staffing systems in place, as early as possible, can reduce your chances of costly disputes and incredible stress.  

Good staff who are loyal and enthused are worth their weight in gold.  

The West Australian Institute of Martial Arts has 1700 students, 40 full-time, part-time and casual staff, and runs at three locations.  

Some 10 years ago, it was one quarter this size. With its growth, WAIMA has learned and moved forward from costly mistakes. 

General Manager Michelle Pitter says when it started, they all had the same vision, drive, work ethics, standards and passion to grow and excel.  

“When we started expanding, we needed to employ more people and we just presumed the new staff all had the same work ethic or knowledge as we had,” she says.  

“You can never presume. We quickly learned we needed strict procedures and systems in place. Then, if you do have problems, it’s better because everyone has communicated in the right way.”  


“We’ve appointed a trainer and assessor within our company because even though we had our procedures, people interpreted it in their own way, and made their own version,” she says.  

“So now we have a trainer, we know everyone is following the same system, because it creates chaos if you don’t”.  


As well as the trainer, WAIMA uses technology to help. It’s co-created a training portal which includes all procedures, videos, audio, the leadership program, and opportunity for instructors to obtain different levels.  

For all the payroll needs, it uses accounting package, Quickbooks.  

Give staff a voice 

“Managing 40 staff, we need to keep a check on what they’re doing, and deal with their issues quickly,” Pitter explains.  

WAIMA uses a checklist that staff submit each evening, and an end-of-day report to summarise challenges, successes, and issues.  

“Managers get busy sometimes so with that system in place we can easily be on top of things quickly. That was a challenge we found a solution to,” she says. 

The company uses ‘Teams’ on Office 365 which gives information in a Facebook messenger style format so that managers’ email accounts aren’t flooded.  

Legal help and dispute resolution 

The organisation enlisted outside help to create systems to review and assess employee performance, an employee handbook, management handbook, working out award levels and contracts.  

When staff issues arise, Pitter recommends getting outside advice. 

“They interviewed us and the employee about the issue, and this third party came to the conclusion. You need to take yourself out of the equation and this way the employee feels like it is not a biased decision and it is resolved.”  

CCIWA provides a variety of help such as HR related subscription services, which includes information and forms to assist with resolving staff issues, a phone advice line, and a team of workplace relations experts.   


“When you need to terminate a contract, and you don’t have written evidence, it’s a challenge,” Pitter says.

“You really need to set out a proper performance management plan. That’s massive, absolutely massive and we’ve learned from our mistakes with that.”  

She says you need to have provided staff with training and opportunities to achieve the things you ask them to do.  

“There’s weekly meetings, there’s a performance management template that we follow, and we had to create a management booklet on policies and procedures. If you manage the situation verbally, that’s not enough.”  

CCIWA’s Workplace Relations can help you get all your policies and procedures in order for a range of issues that may arise, while the Employee Relations Advice Centre can answer your questions over the phone.   



 Staffing is continuous issue for business, whether attracting, maintaining or terminating.  

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