Customer Story

Michael Hill International is putting the spark back in HR

The retail industry is challenged by labour shortages, supply chain issues, and more. Here's how Michael Hill International is modernising their operations for tomorrow.
  • Modernising operations and labor planning

  • Improving management of multi-country compliance

  • Leveraging real-time data for strategic decisions


World-renowned jewellery brand Michael Hill International was founded in 1979 by Sir Michael Hill and his wife Christine. Now, Michael Hill has more than 300 stores in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. The Michael Hill International brand remains committed to making jewellery with a focus on quality, responsibility, and authenticity.


Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

The retail sector finds itself in a pivotal moment, wrestling with a number of hurdles, including changing consumer behaviours, complex supply chain issues, digital disruption, and persistent labour shortages. These challenges are not only shaping the retail landscape, they also have a profound impact on retail companies’ sustainability.

In a recent Dayforce webinar, “Retail Spotlight: Key priorities for today and beyond,” we had the unique opportunity to delve into these pressing concerns. Providing their invaluable insights was a panel of industry experts including Michael Hill International's Chief People Officer, Joanne Matthews.

With decades of experience in the retail industry, Michael Hill understands the intricacies and obstacles native to this sector all too well. Matthews took us through Michael Hill’s journey of modernising its HR function, highlighting the transformative power of workforce management technology.

Bringing the spark back to HR

Michael Hill has been on what Matthews describes as “a transformative journey.” Over the past four years, a new CEO and fresh executive perspectives have reshaped their strategic initiatives.

“Our new emphasis is on growth. Of course, we have our brick-and-mortar stores, but digital transformation has really been key,” Matthews said.

Along with this organisation-wide transformation was a shift in the way they manage the HR function, moving from a transactional approach to one that aligns strategically with the business objectives.

The tech-driven turnaround

Technology has played a pivotal role in this transformation. Michael Hill chose Dayforce, initially implementing Workforce Management before branching out to more expansive capabilities.

“The original business case was around labour savings, but we soon started looking at how to move it forward and bring in other modules.”

The business has now rolled out Performance, Learning, and Onboarding modules as well as integrated payroll. This has helped not only streamline processes but also provide a better experience for their team members.

The integrated capabilities of Dayforce have not only enhanced everyday operations but have also proven to be an asset during times of business expansion and restructuring. One example Matthews highlighted was during Michael Hill's acquisition of Bevilles.

“Certainly, the technology made things a lot easier for us. On our first pay run, we delivered. If we had to do that process manually, there would have been a lot of double keying and uploading data and the accuracy wouldn’t be where it was.”

Key takeaways from Michael Hill’s transformation

Navigating this transformation hasn't been a straightforward journey — like any major organisational shift, it came with its share of invaluable lessons.

  • Executive endorsement sets the tone: Michael Hill’s leadership was deeply committed to moving from a transactional HR model to a strategic one, signifying the cornerstone for all upcoming initiatives.
  • Clear direction from the get-go: The transformation was not just a tech change, but had clearly defined objectives aimed at aligning HR with the business strategy and driving labour efficiencies.
  • Data is more than numbers: Michael Hill didn’t just collect data; they used it to make informed decisions across the organisation, thereby turning data into a valuable strategic resource.
  • Capability building isn’t an afterthought: Michael Hill concentrated on developing in-house skills and resources, ensuring they were not solely dependent on external vendors for successful implementation.
  • Tech choices aligned with goals: Michael Hill carefully selected HR technologies such as Dayforce that aligned with their strategic objectives, ensuring that technology served their vision rather than driving it.
  • The devil is in the user details: The company didn’t just implement technology. They involved end-users, especially from their retail stores, during initial phases to ensure the solution was functional and practical.
  • Compliance isn’t optional: Operating in multiple countries meant navigating complex labour laws, making compliance not just a checkbox but a key driver in the transformation.
  • Continuous improvement is continuous success: Michael Hill saw the transformation as an ongoing process that required iteration, learning, and adaptation, rather than a one-off change.

A future built on “loving the system”

Michael Hill is not just “launching and leaving” their HR technologies. As Matthews puts it, they are in the “loving phase,” continuously adapting and improving their systems.

In a retail world bombarded by challenges, Michael Hill serves as a glowing example of how thoughtful, data-driven HR transformation can offer a shining path forward.

As talent takes centre stage in the retail industry, learn how talent intelligence can transform your business. Access our on-demand webinar to discover the tools and tactics that are shaping retail today.

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