You can’t outsource TRUST!

You can’t outsource TRUST!

The recent report on the National Workplace Wellbeing Survey 2020 by The Wellbeing Lab in conjunction with the Australian Human Resources Institute asked a couple of questions that we want to explore. The first was : “Do your workers feel psychologically safe enough to talk honestly with each other about their wellbeing?” So what does “psychologically safe” mean? According to Wikipedia: “Psychological safety is being able to show and employ one’s self without fear of negative consequences of self-image, status or career (Kahn 1990, p. 708).[1] It is “a condition in which you feel (1) included, (2) safe to learn, (3) safe to contribute, and (4) safe to challenge the status quo- all without fear of being embarrassed, marginalized or punished in some way.”(Timothy R Clark, 2019)[2] It can also be defined as a shared belief that the team is safe for interpersonal risk taking.[3] In psychologically safe teams, team members feel accepted and respected. It is also the most studied enabling condition in group dynamics and team learning research.” Given that definition, it should come as no surprise that, according to the survey results:

  • People who are prepared to talk about their wellbeing challenges first go to someone they trust who is most commonly a friend or family member outside work (ie the people they have the closest relationships with).
  • For those who would raise it with someone at work, it is most commonly a team member or their manager (ie the people they have the closest relationships with at work).
  • Conversely, outsourced support (EAP Programs) and institutional support (HR Departments) are the least likely places that people will go for wellbeing support (each of those was reported as the place people would go to in less than 3.5%  of respondents).

This just reinforces the fact that a key ingredient of psychological safety is trust and you can’t outsource that. When you think of it in those terms, it is easy to understand why the results are what they are. People are most likely to speak with people whom they know and trust. Perhaps that is also why so few people would go to HR or EAP – because they don’t know them well enough to trust them? That leads us to their second question: Do your workers feel psychologically safe enough to talk honestly with each other about their wellbeing?” The challenge for any organisation is to do two things:

  1. Enable a psychologically safe work culture and environment where people will open up about any challenges that they are having with confidence and feeling supported and
  2. Equip and empower line managers and people generally to provide caring and practical wellbeing support to individuals, with teams and across the organisation as a whole.

For larger organisations, the repositioning of HR Departments to be focused on building strong, trusted and valued relationships with people across the organisation should be a priority. For smaller businesses, look for an external HR consultant who brings that wellbeing capability and the trust factor along with the rest of the HR toolkit that you might need for process and compliance. All of this is consistent with another piece of advice from the report: “Caring for workers’ wellbeing requires diverse and sustained support at the levels of ‘me’ (workers), ‘we’ (teams) and ‘us’ (whole workplace) to create a thriving workplace environment.” Of course, all organisations need external specialist supports and networks that can assist in helping employees with their support needs in relation to wellbeing. Having access to professional and community supports with medical and allied services, counselling and psychological support services at a practical level for the organisation and its people is important. Our Better Workplace Projects and our EngageMentality Coaching Programs both have employee voice and trust/integrity as central pillars of the employment relationship. If you would like to explore how we can assist in building a psychologically safe culture based on trust and wellbeing, please do not hesitate to contact us. [contact-form][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Phone’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Your enquiry’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form] [/av_textblock]

The sky is NOT falling on casual employment

The sky is NOT falling on casual employment

The recent decision of the Full Bench of the Federal Court in Workpac v Rossato has seemingly sent shockwaves through industry with many claiming that it is the end of casual employment as we know it. Back in January 2019, we wrote a blog on the subject of managing casual employment in light of a previous decision of the Federal Court (Workpac V Skene) and legislation by the federal government in response to that decision plus the insertion of casual conversion provisions in many modern awards – you can access that blog here. This latest decision adds one new dimension in that it steps around the government’s legislative response on a technicality – the Full Court found that providing a casual loading in lieu of paid leave entitlements did not satisfy a claim for the actual paid leave entitlements (ie in both payment and time off). However, the key issue at the centre of all of this is “what is a casual employee?” In both Workpac cases, the employees were engaged on fixed back to back rosters which had been set up as much as twelve months in advance for total periods of continuous employment of two and a half years or more. The Courts found in each case that those are not the characteristics of casual employment and that you don’t make someone casual just by calling them casual. It is difficult to reasonably argue with that view. We also need to have regard to the particular circumstances of those cases where people had worked on labour hire for the same host on a fixed fly in fly out roster for a couple of years. These decisions have significant ramifications for labour hire firms and their clients but not so much for those employers with true casuals. What it does mean is that employers have to categorise people according to the true nature of the employment relationship. If it is continuing employment with a forward commitment and a regular and systematic pattern of hours of work, it is, according to the court decision, not casual employment. So, what do you do if you have employees who are nominally engaged as casuals but have worked for you for some time and will continue to do so on a regular and systematic pattern of hours of work? #1 Action Ignore all of those legal and other advisors who are telling you to disrupt your people’s lives by regularly varying their hours to avoid a regular and systematic pattern of hours of work that might create an exposure. That is just a sure way to lose good people and not a smart business decision. Instead, consider what the real employment relationship is with each of your people and recognise that contractually – if they are not really a casual, offer them conversion to full-time or part-time. You may well find that some will prefer to keep the casual loading rather than convert in any case. #2 Action Ensure that you understand and apply the casual conversion provisions in the relevant award or enterprise agreement. We encourage you to do that proactively by advising casual employees in writing of their options in relation to conversion to full-time or part-time or remaining as a casual, telling them what each of those options mean for them and giving them the choice. They don’t become eligible until they have been with you for 6 or 12 months depending on the award. If the employee isn’t covered by an instrument that has a casual conversion provision, just apply the same principles so that everyone is treated equally and you can demonstrate that you are ensuring fairness in your employment arrangements. #3 Action Review your casual employment contracts and, if you don’t have any, get some. They should deal properly with the following items:

  • The amount of the casual loading component in the rate of pay should be clearly and separately identified from the ordinary time rate on which it is based.
  • The benefits (eg paid leave entitlements, paid public holidays, notice of termination and redundancy) that are compensated for and set off by the casual loading should be detailed. If the Award is not explicit about that, ensure that the contract is.
  • You might also need to protect against double dipping by having what is called a “claw back clause” so that, in the event that a casual employee should be deemed not to be a casual and to therefore have a valid claim to any of those benefits, that cost can be set off against casual loading already paid during the entitlement period.
  • There should be a provision regarding casual conversion to full-time or part-time employment as reflected in the relevant award and requiring an employee election at the appropriate time as requested by the employer.
  • There shouldn’t be any provision which would be inconsistent with the concept of casual employment eg providing a notice period for termination which is longer than a day.

If you take people on seasonally and normally employ them as casuals, that is OK as long as you comply with the casual conversion provisions in modern awards. Equally, there is nothing to stop you from employing them on a full-time or part-time basis as temporary employees who get paid leave entitlements, paid public holidays and notice of termination rather than a 25% casual loading. If you need any assistance in addressing the issue in your business, please feel free to contact us for assistance below. [contact-form][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Phone ‘ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Your question’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form] [/av_textblock]