Rachael Jones: All to Executive Corner expert talks. Today, I’m with Gavin Altus. Gavin is the Managing Director of Sentient. Now Sentrient helps businesses take steps to deliver workplace relations and safety training, policy management and mandatory reporting via their online workplace compliance system.

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Welcome, Gavin. How are you today?

Gavin Altus: Yeah, really well. And thank you for having us on Kalkine TV.

Rachael Jones: Excellent. Great to chat to you today. We’ll be looking forward to hearing your insights. So firstly, in your opinion, how important is it for any business to have a reliable compliance system? Apparently, around seven in ten Australian businesses don’t have them.

Gavin Altus: Yeah, well,  compliance means a whole lot of different things to different people, doesn’t it? And in the realms of what we do, compliance is around helping directors take all reasonable steps for training and policy management. And we’d be surprised how many businesses, both small and large, have got gaps in that undertaking.

Rachael Jones: So, could you please briefly explain for our viewers the services that Sentrient does provide?

Gavin Altus: Yeah. What we’ve done is we’ve developed a piece of software and a compliance solution that enables small and medium sized businesses to get up and running within 15 minutes to half an hour with all of the bread-and-butter workplace relations and safety courses. I think safety, bullying, sexual harassment, privacy, this type of thing. And then it comes with legally endorsed policies as well. So effectively you can add staff just like you would any accounting software. First name, last name, email and roll out the necessary training and policies and show that you’ve taking all reasonable steps for any new starters. But then on an ongoing basis we’d expect at least once every two years you would be doing this as a bit of a benchmark across all industry sectors.

Rachael Jones: So why do you believe Sentient is better than the legacy compliance regimes?

Gavin Altus: Oh look, I think what’s happened several years ago when we disrupted the market, gone are the days of spending tens of thousands of dollars establishing software with five-year contracts and really quite exorbitant fees. We just made it a lot easier for a business that might have five or ten staff, up to those with a few hundred. And so, what we’re really focused on is our brand promise of “smiles, not frowns”. And it’s all about making that whole process much easier. So that you know a one person HR manager and HR function can get this stuff done without it being a painful exercise.

Rachael Jones: Excellent. And as work conditions have significantly altered due to the COVID 19 pandemic, how has Sentient risen to the challenge? And also, how have they evolved during that time?

Gavin Altus: Yeah, I think. I mean, here in Australia, but globally, one country at a time, it took everyone by surprise. So, we were going through all the same processes, our clients, and many businesses back in February-March of 2020. Well, it seems a long time ago and everyone was going to that remote working from home. And we had a number of clients that had come to us and said, “Hey guys, do you think you could give us a helping hand in training for infection control and COVID safety and working from home?” And we were able to very quickly, within the space of several weeks, construct a package to help organizations with training and policies. And not only did we decide to do it for our own clients, but we made it publicly available from our website at no cost. And so, we’ve seen thousands of people every day register for this since back in February-March. And it’s gone quite global as well. Many health authorities and others from outside of Australia have taken on the free content, transcribed it to other languages. And it’s just been our little way to add a bit of value during some pretty tough times. It’s one less thing a business needs to pay for.

Rachael Jones: Excellent. That sounds great. So how does your compliance system ensure an optimally safe, inclusive, and respectful workplace, would you say?

Gavin Altus: Yeah, I think it’s really interesting how you position a product because, does a 15-minute sexual harassment course change someone from what we read about in the media to not being one to harass or discriminate overnight? Well, I’m the first to say that’s a no. So, it’s less about the actual training element and more about the education process. If an employee is coming into our business, we’d like to educate them that we take things like harassment, bullying, discrimination quite seriously. So, here’s some training that helps you identify it, report it, and help the organization resolve it if that should happen. So, what this is very much about in that cultural change is not just a standalone training element, but it’s training with policies, encouraging people to put their hand up and have a conversation and feel safe to do so. And so that whole broader element of making people feel safe at work and that they’re being taken seriously is what we’re about. And, yes, there’s an important undertone too, to the compliance elements of this.

Rachael Jones: And do you think that your compliance system has been imperative in workplaces as many people have started to work from home over the last couple of years?

Gavin Altus: Yeah. I think it’s fascinating because the amount of businesses that have now gone to online training and policy sign off as a result of COVID. We sit here most grateful that in our particular case, our business has grown in the last 12 to 18 months. We provide a safe spot for our employees. We provide a really important service to our clients, and very much the COVID, the working from home has driven that as well, for which we feel quite blessed. And we’ll continue to add modules as we have, moved beyond compliance to onboarding, leave management. And we’ve seen the performance module become more apparent because people are working from home, how we’re having these conversations around performance. So, I think it’s become whilst accepted, e-learning is a part of business over the years. I think it’s become more of a requirement for many more business during these times.

Rachael Jones: Well, Gavin, it’s been great to chat to you today. It’ll be very interesting to watch your company go from strength to strength as time goes on. Thank you so much for your time today.

Gavin Altus: Thanks very much for having Sentrient. It’s all about “smiles, not frowns”. So, thanks very much. Bye.

Rachael Jones: I love that. And with that, I’ll sign off for now. Watch this space for more. Till then that stay apprised and invest wise with Kalkine.