Ditch the bus and get a boat

One of the most repeated lines about developing high performing teams is the often misquoted Jim Collins line about “getting the right people on the bus”.

I attended a workshop the other day where this line was used and then one of the participants in the workshop told a story that said so much more about teamwork and high performance than the bus analogy ever could.

So what’s wrong with “the bus”? Whenever I hear this, the image I see is one of one person in charge (the driver) and everyone else just sitting there doing nothing other than being there. To me, it arguably depicts presenteeism (being there but not productively).

The counterpoint in this workshop was a story of a yachting crew in a race where they were all in tune on the team strategy. They were all aligned with what tactics they would deploy in different scenarios that might arise in the race and they trusted each other to do their bit as and when the particular scenario presented.

An approach that I prefer is to replace the bus with a rowing rig where everyone has to stroke in time and the cox (ie our business leader) is calling out the stroke keeping people informed on what is required at each stage of the race. Everyone is making a contribution here.

So, do yourself a favour – ditch the bus and get a boat if you want to give your people the right picture about what good leadership and teamwork looks like.

Is good financial advice better for morale than a pay rise?

Smart employers understand that anything that they are able to do affordably to help their employees handle all of the pressures which go with living in a modern world has spin off benefits in employee wellbeing and productivity. One of those significant pressures is financial insecurity.

This article provided courtesy of our friends at FMD Financial tells us why and what you can do about it. 

Research shows 46% of employees worry about their finances and that worry can stop them achieving at work and feeling positive about their job. It’s a statistic that is motivating employers to take action. Improving financial wellbeing among staff was the top employer initiative for just 30% of companies in 2014. That figure has now jumped to 56% according to AON Hewitt’s 2016 Hot Topics in Retirement and Financial Wellbeing research.

Companies like RAA in South Australia are leading the charge. Senior Manager, Pay and Benefits, Tatjana Bergen, says providing employees with access to qualified financial advisers who build an ongoing relationship with the organisation and its employees is an important part of their commitment to supporting the financial wellbeing of staff. “FMD adviser, Dan Arcadiou, is regularly on site to meet with employees and FMD have developed a dedicated online survey our staff can access via the Intranet to get a better understanding of their financial situation at any time.”

It seems there is both a bottom line benefit and a moral imperative to boost financial wellbeing among employees. Eighty-five per cent of Australian employers say they’re focused on financial wellbeing because it’s the right thing to do, but almost as many (80%) are motivated by the desire to improve employee engagement.  Yet barriers to seeking financial advice remain. Employers may not know a good financial adviser or how to evaluate one. And recent scandals among big bank advisers have understandably put many business and HR leaders off taking that first step.  Experts agree people need to be empowered to take control of their financial wellbeing just as they do with maintaining a healthy lifestyle through a good diet and exercise. Fitness programs, fruit boxes and gym passes have long been a part of Australian workplaces, so why not high quality financial advice tools and qualified financial advisers?

As professional work continues to become more flexible but also more uncertain, good financial planning is becoming crucial to the growing contract workforce. Contingent workforce specialists Entity Solutionshave partnered with FMD to offer their workforce access to quality advice to help them plan for the future. CEO Neil Merola says “It’s key to ensure every independent professional has the opportunity to protect their lifestyle and where possible, maximise their income.”  With evidence suggesting many professionals are unprepared for maintaining their lifestyle in an uncertain job market, now is the  time to help employees take greater control of thier financial futures.

Talk to us about running an advice clinic at your workplace to give employees access to a reputable financial health check. Or if you have questions about your financial wellbeing, complete our quick and easy online financial health checkor book a free 1 hour consultationwith a qualified adviser.

Check them out at https://www.fmd.com.au

 

Fair Work Commission awards 3.5% wage increase

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has handed down its decision on the 2017/18 Annual Wage Review, increasing the National Minimum Wage and award rates by 3.5% with effect from 1 July 2018.

This is about half what the ACTU claimed and twice what AiG offered so it was pretty well what we expected to be the outcome.

In last year’s decision, the FWC flagged the likelihood of a significant increase this year because of the fact that the lowest paid workers on award rates were still at risk of poverty. That is one of the reasons why the ACTU continues to press for a “living wage” which would be significantly higher than the National Minimum Wage and will remain on the ACTU agenda for some time to come.

The FWC has some empathy for the ACTU’s position in this regard but has to balance that with the ability of employers to manage a larger wage increase than that which it has awarded in each of the last two Annual Wage Reviews (3.3% and 3.5% respectively). We don’t expect that trend to change much in the foreseeable future.

The new national minimum wage for an adult employee will be $719.20 per week or $18.93 per hour from 1 July 2018.

The FWC will now embark on variations to award rates and allowances, all of which should be updated on their website (www.fwc.gov.au) over the next few weeks.

Employers need to apply this decision in one of the following ways:

  1. If the employee is covered by an award or an enterprise agreement and is being paid at award rates, increase the employee’s wage to the new award rate (ie by 3.5%);
  2. If the employee is covered by an award or an enterprise agreement and is being paid at above award rates, the employer can absorb the increase in award rates against that over award payment unless there is an enterprise agreement or contract of employment which provides for increases in wages in line with Annual Wage Reviews (in which case, wages would be increased by 3.5%);
  3. If the employee is paid on a salaried basis (whether expressed weekly, fortnightly, monthly, annually or otherwise), review the salary to ensure that it remains above award, having regard to all of the monetary benefits payable under the relevant award in respect of all hours worked under the contract of employment;
  4. If the employee is not covered by an award or enterprise agreement and is therefore subject to the national minimum wage, ensure that the employee’s remuneration provides at least that national minimum wage for all hours worked regardless of how it is structured.

Failure to provide employees with compliant levels of remuneration can result in severe penalties of up to $630,000 per offence for a corporation and $126,000 per offence for an individual. Claims for underpayment can be made retrospectively for up to 6 years.

If you need assistance with understanding what this decision means for your business, contact us using the form below for a free first consultation from us.

How mature are your HR practices?

Questions are often asked about the value of HR to an organisation and the level of influence that the HR function has on overall business direction and decision-making.

More recently, with the disclosures of corporate malpractice and unethical executive conduct in the finance industry in particular, there are significant questions about the culture of the organisations concerned and, by extension, as the culture custodians, where were HR in all of this.

The truth is that HR can look very different in different organisations and is more often than not reflective in style of the mindset of senior management. Is the focus compliance or is it about real employee engagement? Is it about risk management and enforcement or is it about leadership and values-based behaviour? Or is it just a processing function administering operational procedures and conflict transactions?

Where does HR sit on the scale of maturity in your organisation?

Back in 2005,we developed a maturity model based on our experience in dealing with hundreds of organisations and this 4C model is a core part of our consulting and coaching offerings. While in our consulting, we focus on “People and Culture”, you can apply the methodology to any business function.

Here is what it looks like:

C1 = Commitment: this is the ground floor, the point at which an organisation makes a specific commitment through a vision statement or a values statement or a set of goals in a business plan or a policy statement or a contract which sets out an obligation that the business commits to.

C2 = Capability: this involves the organisation investing in the resources needed to give life to the commitment including the right people, processes, tools and equipment.

C3 = Competency: here the organisation has invested in the learning and support that people need to effectively play their part in utilising the resources and they are delivering good outcomes in the area of the commitment.

C4 = Culture: where the commitment has been fully embedded in everyday activity in practice, people believe it and they are consistently delivering high performance outcomes.

A lot of the organisations that we have worked with in our compliance activities are at C1 to C2 level and a significant number are quite limited in the breadth or range of commitments that they have made in real terms. Managing people is an ongoing challenge for these businesses.

Then there are the others who aspire to be employers of choice and really get the connection between employee engagement and wellbeing and high performance. With the right leadership, a positive mindset and values driven behaviours, those aspirations can be realised. Our 4C framework provides a simple and effective roadmap for getting there.

If you look at the people and culture practices in your organisation, where do you sit on the 4C scale?

6 tips on effective communication

Why is it that, whenever you conduct an employee survey or business diagnostic, communication comes up as one of the key areas for improvement?

In part, it is because we are human and we each deliver and receive and interpret information in our own individual way.

In part, it can be because, as business owners and managers, we are technically competent in what our businesses do but we are not necessarily trained or skilled in communication techniques.

In part, it is also because, in any business, the timely and accurate flow of the right information to the right people is critical for getting work done efficiently and optimising job satisfaction for the people involved.

In part, it can be because we don’t think through the actions that we are taking or changes that we are implementing by consciously considering who is affected and needs to be communicated with.

And, in part, it can be because in the everyday hurly burly of running a business, we can forget to communicate or have trouble listening to others who have something to say that is significant for them.

So what can you do to improve communications in your business?

  1. Project positivity from the top.
  • Be honest and transparent
  • Be clear about the purpose
  • Set good practice standards in policies (not just consequences for breaches)
  • Ensure that all of your managers/leaders believe the message and “sing from the same hymn book”
  • Be timely
  • Be responsive
  • Celebrate successes
  1. Define the audience on 3 levels

Tailor your message to people to take account of:

  • Whole of business communications (what everyone needs to know)
  • What particular teams might need to know about the impact for them and
  • What individuals need to know about the impact for them

Consider other stakeholders as well eg customers, suppliers, contractors, etc and what you need to tell them if they are (potentially) affected in some way

  1. Build it into project management
  • Identify stakeholders in each project up front
  • Identify key points and messages to be given in the project
  • Build these communications into the project plan
  • Make sure it happens
  • Review the effectiveness of communications as part of the review process on project completion.
  • Learn from that and continuously improve
  1. Validate understanding

This is about ensuring that the people concerned “get the message” and know what it means for them. It is really just a question of asking them what it means for them, ensuring they understand and observing what is happening in practice

  1. Give your people genuine voice

This is probably the improvement opportunity that comes up most often in employee surveys and there are lots of options such as:

  • Set up a staff consultative committee or representative workplace improvement team
  • Do regular employee surveys to get people’s views and spot check progress
  • Have a publicly committed to improvement plan for people and culture
  • Ensure that you have trusted and effective grievance and suggestions processes in place
  • Give people regular and balanced feedback about how they are going
  1. Make sure you have the capability

Continuously work on your communication processes and skills as a core business competency that impacts critically on all aspects of running a business.

If you don’t have the strengths internally, look externally to get help in communications design, positive policy writing and coaching for people in your business who play key roles in communications.

The spin offs are higher efficiency, happier people and a more profitable business.

Ridgeline HR offers a variety of coaching, consulting and contracting services to assist businesses with consultation and communication requirements and enquiries can be directed to Peter Maguire on 0438 533 311 or email pmaguire@ridgelinehr.com.au.  

 

FWO audit finds over 40% of employers not compliant

The Fair Work Ombudsman has just released its latest audit report on campaigns run in the Dandenong and Warrnambool – Otway Ranges regions.

In the Dandenong campaign, 253 businesses in Dandenong, Dandenong South, Keysborough, Noble Park and Springvale were audited with the following findings:

  • 42% were not compliant on some count
  • 26% were not paying their employees correctly
  • 23% were not compliant with payslip and record keeping requirements
  • $428,676 in underpaid wages was recovered for 185 employees from 46 businesses

In the Warrnambool – Otway Ranges campaign, 251 businesses in Camperdown, Colac and Warrnambool were audited with findings of:

  • 41% were not compliant on some count
  • 28% were not paying their employees correctly
  • 21% were not compliant with payslip and record keeping requirements
  • $195,656 in underpaid wages was recovered for 200 employees from 48 businesses.

Across the two campaigns, the Fair Work Ombudsman issued 56 notices of various sorts including 15 infringement notices which can involve on-the-spot fines of up to $6,300 per offence.

Businesses that commit serious offences can be up for prosecution and penalties of up to $630,000 per offence for a corporation and $126,000 per offence for an individual.

If you haven’t verified that your business is compliant with Fair Work requirements, you should get professional advice from a competent workplace relations advisor.

That is something that we can help you with.

Ridgeline HR’s Peter Maguire is visiting Warrnambool on 18 – 19 April 2018 to present a briefing to local members of the Civil Contractors Federation on Fair Work and other compliance requirements for employers. He can be contacted on 0438 533 311 by any employer in the area looking for assistance of this sort.

Ridgeline HR in Warrnambool with CCF on 19 April 2018

Ridgeline HR Practice Leader, Peter Maguire, will be visiting Warrnambool on 19 April 2018 to provide local members and guests of the Civil Contractors Federation with an update on important workplace relations changes and the Code for Tendering and Performance of Building Work 2016 and some tips on how to get better people engagement and performance.

Further details and booking arrangements are in the flyer below.

Warrnambool Regional Dinner – 19 April 2018

How many hats?

I was recently asked whether I considered myself a coach, a mentor or a consultant or a contractor.

That made me think about exactly what I do when I work with a client and I reached the conclusion that, in point of fact, depending on the client’s needs and capabilities, at a given point in time, I can be any one of those. For example:

  • I am a coach when I am introducing the client to good people management practice and teaching them how to do that.
  • I am a mentor when I am listening to the client talk about their aspirations and challenges and I am providing feedback and guidance on how to deal with them effectively.
  • I am a consultant when I am using my diagnostic and analytical capabilities to understand the issues and my creative talents to design bespoke solutions.
  • I am a contractor when the client just needs me to do something for them like servicing a function for a period of time or implementing pre-designed policies and processes

Added to that:

  • I am an educator when I run training sessions.
  • I am a reporter when I let people know about developments in the world of compliance and HR generally.
  • I am an influencer when I am writing blogs or presenting on good people practice.
  • I am a networker when I connect people to develop relationships that can add value (because I am not an expert in everything).

So that’s 8 hats that I might wear in different situations and I must always be ready to swap hats when it is apparent that the client needs a different me to the one they have been using. That adaptability has been a cornerstone of our successful business which is celebrating its 18th birthday.

Happy birthday, Ridgeline HR!

 

Is an enterprise agreement right for your business?

It is now over 25 years since enterprise bargaining became an option in the Australian industrial relations system, first introduced via the Prices and Incomes Accord between first the Hawke and then the Keating Governments and the ACTU.

Unfortunately, over the years, unions and employers with unionised workplaces have dominated the enterprise bargaining space and there are few examples of genuine change delivering benefits for both employers and their people. They have really been just about negotiation of over award pay and conditions.

That is why many corporates are stepping away from enterprise agreements now – they don’t see them as offering productivity and flexibility benefits, notwithstanding the fact that they don’t see modern awards as positive alternatives either.

So why would any employer want to have an enterprise agreement today?

Ridgeline HR Practice Leader, Peter Maguire, who has been involved in enterprise bargaining since the early 1990s, offers some options for you to consider:

  1. “The first enterprise agreement that I negotiated was nominally about pay and conditions but what it was really about for me was enshrining a requirement that any matter requiring a vote by employees had to be by secret ballot. Why? Because the women who made up most of the workforce were intimidated by a small group of males backed by male hierarchy in the union and the blokes would hold sway if the vote was just by a show of hands. The union said the agreement wouldn’t get up – the secret ballot delivered an 87% approval by employees. We gave the women their voice and they backed us and that was a significant cultural change for them and the business.”
  2. “25 years ago, I participated in the process that developed the so called skills based classification structures that grace our modern awards today. The reality is that those structures were primarily the product of  industrial relations negotiations so they were mostly flawed from the outset. The world of work has also changed dramatically since then and it should be no surprise that they are not a great fit with the skill sets and talent hierarchies that exist in lots of businesses today. So, if your business is paying your people significantly above award, why wouldn’t you put in place the classification and pay structure that makes sense for your business and your people in today’s world.”
  3. “There are some award provisions that are just wrong. For example, the Building and Construction General On-site Award has an Industry Specific Redundancy Provision that gives employees who leave after their first year ‘other than for reasons of misconduct or refusal of duty’ a redundancy payment of up to 8 weeks’ pay. In the civil construction industry that means that a Plant Operator or Labourer or Traffic Controller would receive that benefit if they resign or are sacked on other grounds eg performance grounds. Other staff in civil construction such as engineers, administrative people, truck drivers etc don’t get those benefits. That is just not right or fair and can be addressed by including the National Employment Standard on redundancy for all employees regardless of business size and employee occupation.”
  4.  “The pay structures in some awards are extremely complex with a combination of base rates, allowances, penalty rates and loadings and, in some cases, specific clauses on annualisation of salaries all of which can be hard for small business owners to get their heads around. An enterprise agreement can help to make that all a lot simpler by redefining how all of that works in simple and easily understood terms and in the context of normal business operations. For example, you might typically work a 40  hour or 45 hour or 50 hour week and would like to be able to just pay a flat rate or an annual salary for doing that. That can be done in an enterprise agreement by striking flat rates that factor in all of monetary award rates, loadings and allowances with a caveat that, if you go outside the prescribed arrangement, there are extras that come into play and they are defined in the agreement as the exception rather than the rule. This ensures that your people are still better off overall and you know just what you need to do to safeguard that outcome and stay compliant.” 
  5. “Principals in supply chains and head contractors on major projects like to be assured that they will not be subject to operational disruptions caused by protected industrial action. That assurance can come from the delivery partners or sub-contractors having their own current enterprise agreements and this provides a resultant advantage when your business is bidding competitively for work.”
  6. “Enterprise agreements sit in the public domain on the Fair Work Commission’s website and so serve as both a demonstration of your business’s compliance with workplace laws and your value proposition as an employer. This sends positive messages to both the labour market and the regulator. ” 

So perhaps there are some benefits to having an enterprise agreement after all.

If you would like to explore the opportunities that enterprise agreements offer, give us a call.

 

New labour hire licensing laws

Queensland and South Australia now have new labour hire licensing laws and Victoria has a like bill currently before the Parliament.

Features of the Queensland legislation include:

  • labour hire providers to be licensed to operate in Queensland
  • persons who engage labour hire providers to only engage licensed providers
  • labour hire licensees to satisfy fit and proper person test to establish that they are capable of providing labour hire services in compliance with all relevant laws
  • the labour hire business is financially viable.
  • licensees must provide six monthly reports on labour hire and associated activities including accommodation, and in relation to compliance with relevant laws
  • strong penalties for breach of obligations
  • establishing a labour hire licensing compliance unit with a field services inspectorate with responsibility for awareness, monitoring and enforcement functions.

The South Australian legislation and the Victorian bill have similar provisions.

There is also a push for complementary federal legislation.

Any business operating in the labour hire sector needs to ensure that they are compliant with all of their legal obligations as an employer and that they satisfy the fit and proper person test to be eligible for licensing.

Any business that uses labour hire services needs to verify the compliance of their labour hire provider(s) and that they are appropriately licensed in accordance with the legislation.

Ridgeline HR can assist both labour hire businesses and users of labour hire services with workplace relations compliance assessments.