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]

Positive People Practices #1 – Positive PDs

Positive People Practices  This is the first in a series of blogs on various tools that you can use to assist in leading and managing people and practical ways in which you can use them. First cab off the rank is the Position Description. https://youtu.be/qWJdKzF6usg #1: Positive PDs with 6 purposes The Position Description (PD) has been around for decades and can be found in lots of different forms if you have a look around. Have you ever asked yourself: “Why do we have PDs? What is the point of them?” That is a very good question and it can elicit a lot of different answers. The reality (something that very few businesses understand, let alone appreciate) is that the PD is arguably the most powerful multi-functional tool in your people management toolkit if it is properly structured and used. So what can you do with PDs? Here are the 6 powerful purposes:

  1. Compliance satisfaction: every employer has statutory obligations under workplace health and safety legislation to provide employees with proper instruction, supervision and training in their duties. A properly constructed PD (supported by functional communication processes) provides documentary evidence of compliance.
  2. Recruitment effectiveness: when you are looking for a new employee, you want to get the optimal return on the investment in the recruitment and selection process. This starts with giving candidates a clear understanding of the role. Added to that, you want to have a clear understanding of the attributes that you are looking for so as to gear the campaign accordingly. A well-rounded PD does this and provides the foundation for designing the selection process to thoroughly explore the required and desired attributes for the role and make an informed and evidence-based selection decision.
  3. Targeted development: understanding the skills and attributes required to be successful in a role is key to targeting training and development activity starting with onboarding and progressing right through the employment lifecycle. This is an important component of a PD that helps in the making of effective learning and development plans and activities as well as in succession planning.
  4. Structured performance management: the starting point for any performance plan should be a review of the employee’s performance against the functions performed and the outcomes expected in a role. This is central to having a proper evidence-based performance management process that is both substantively and procedurally fair (legally and in practice). It also enables balanced feedback for positive conversations about strengths and achievements as well as improvement opportunities. The detail on functions and outcomes in PDs is an essential ingredient for achieving these outcomes.
  5. Relationship optimisation: in any role, there are relationships that are important to the success of the incumbent – people who this person relies on for certain things and others who rely on this person for specific things. These can be managers or peers or subordinates or others in process chains. The better that those relationships work, the more effective (and happier) people individually and collectively will be. PDs that identify key relationships and performance outcomes provide a great basis for managing those relationships through shared understanding of and commitment to the partnerships and interdependencies involved.
  6. Better employee engagement: study after study tells us that some of the key factors in employee engagement are that people have meaning and purpose in their work and that they have clarity about their role and performance expectations. PDs structured in the right way and actively used as the multi-functional tool that they can be (as per 1-5 above) clearly support those critical engagement factors

So there is the business case – now what? What should the PD include? Before we get to the contents, let’s talk about language. If you want to have positive conversations with people, use positive language that supports emotional connection of the employee with the organisation and its goals and engagement of the employee with the role that they are employed in. Next let’s consider strategic alignment and there is a very simple and proven formula for enabling this and that is Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle Approach.

  • Why?     State the purpose and the performance outcomes required of the role
  • How?     What are the enablers of good performance – qualifications required, skills and attributes needed, key relationships, etc
  • What?   A list of the duties that the incumbent performs

Tips for developing the PD  Step 1: Draw up a table or spreadsheet with 4 columns headed:

  1. Functions
  2. Attributes
  3. Relationships
  4. Outcomes

Step 2: Make a list of all of the functions that the role performs Step 3: For each function, consider what attributes (skiils/knowledge or other qualities) are required to perform the function well and list these attributes in the second column Step 4: For each function, consider what relationships are involved in performance of the tasks involved – list the interdependencies (what the incumbent relies on someone else for and what others rely on the incumbent for) Step 5: Again for each function and taking into account all of the information in the first 3 columns, identify what the required performance outcomes are and list these in the fourth column You now have a comprehensive PD which, used properly, gives you that multi-faceted tool with which all 6 of the purposes set out above can be satisfied. Need a hand? Give Peter Maguire a hoy on 0438 533 311 or at peter@ridgelinehr.com.au [/av_textblock]

National wellbeing survey delivers a wake up call for employers

National wellbeing survey delivers a wake up call for employers

The Wellbeing Lab 2020 Workplace Report, the third of its kind produced by the Wellbeing Lab in conjunction with The Australian Human Resources Institute, is out, this year with a follow up piece on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of the key findings were not all that surprising for example:

  • That people who experience struggle and stress can be more resilient and better able to look after their own wellbeing
  • That struggle is a part of life and normalising struggle in workplace conversations is important for supporting people’s wellbeing
  • That one size does not fit all and workplaces need a diverse approach with different ways of supporting wellbeing and not just an EAP

On the other hand, some findings were a real wakeup call:

  • Over a third of workplaces are providing no support for people’s wellbeing.
  • The most popular form of support offered by workplaces is EAPs (Employee Assistance Programs) but, wait for it…….EAPS were also seen as the least effective. In fact, just 3.3% of people said that the EAP is who they would ask for help when struggling.
  • Workers are most likely to ask someone outside work for help. Within the workplace, it would likely be a team member or their boss but, wait for it again…….they were least likely to go to HR for help (just 3.2%) just marginally behind the EAP (3.3%). Notably both of these numbers halved from the previous year’s survey.

So, based on these findings, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to say that the primary investments that most organisations are making in wellbeing (HR & EAP) are delivering the least return in wellbeing impact, would it? Interestingly and, from our perspective, not surprisingly, the survey found that wellbeing coaching (offered in less than 10% of workplaces) was seen as the most effective form of wellbeing support. There is a shift happening with organisations rebranding HR as “People and Culture” to provide at least an appearance of being more human-centred. However, the change from the corporate norm of a culture based on shareholder return, risk management, data analysis and process control to one which is truly centred on people is massive. At the core of that is enlightened and vulnerable leadership from the very top of the organisation, building quality relationships based on trust at all levels and across the whole of the organisation (business/teams/people) all underpinned by a common purpose and value set that is a lived experience every day. That includes how organisations, managers, teams and people manage wellbeing as a key element of managing the performance and development of the organisation and its people. So, the challenges are for the whole of the organisation and not just HR. They require a fundamentally different way of thinking and behaving and different skillsets and mindsets across the board, starting from the Board and including those working in the field of HR. How can we help? The report talks about there being 3 levels at which wellbeing needs to be worked on:

  • “Me” – our EngageMentality Performance Development process deals specifically with wellbeing
  • “We” – our EngageMentality Team Coaching process fosters team support for each other with an emphasis on positive relationships
  • “Us” – our Better Workplace Projects use a positive psychology approach to transform workplace culture and worker experience

So, the report is in – what are you going to do about it? You can access the Wellbeing Lab 2020 Workplace Report here. [/av_textblock]

COVID-19 changes to Hospitality Award

 The Fair Work Commission has approved changes to the Hospitality Industry (General) Award 2010 to provide greater flexibility in working arrangements during the COVID-19 pandemic. These changes provide relief from some of the more restrictive provisions of the award with respect to hours of work and annual leave for the period from 24 March 2020 to 30 June 2020. The objectives are to help businesses through this difficult period and to maintain jobs. The key changes are:

  1. An employee’s full-time or part-time hours can be adjusted at the direction of the employer to between 60% and 100% of their normal ordinary working hours over the course of a week or over the course of a roster cycle (eg for a full-time employee, that is anywhere from 22.8 to 38 ordinary hours per week)
  2. Before making that direction, the employer must consult employees in line with award provisions on consultation related to changes in hours of work and, if the employee is a member of United Voice, consult United Voice as the employee’s representative union.
  3. An employer and an employee may agree to the employee taking twice as much annual leave at half the rate of pay for all or part of any period of annual leave.
  4. an employer may, subject to considering an employees’ personal circumstances, direct the employee to take annual leave with 24 hours’ notice.

While any arrangement under this clause is operating, an employee continues to accrue entitlements (paid leave and termination entitlements) on the basis of their pre-existing employment contract and normal hours of work. An employee would also be entitled to a payment for any public holiday that they would have been entitled to under their pre-existing employment arrangement. See Schedule L (at the very end) of the Award. [/av_textblock]

What to do about COVID-19 if your people have to be there?

What to do about COVID-19 if your people have to be there?

With the advent of COVID-19, we are seeing lots of businesses look at continuing operations by having their people work remotely. But what can you do if, for example, you run a manufacturing business or a construction business or a warehouse or any other business where the only way is for people to attend the workplace? There are some simple and practical things that you can do to reduce the risk of infection of your people and to keep the business running. Here are a few thoughts:

  1. Of course, you are going to educate your people about COVID-19 and what everyone’s obligations are especially in the observance of good hygiene practice in regularly washing hands with soap or an alcohol-based hand rub and in coughing and sneezing into a tissue or the elbow joint.
  2. Of course, you are going to make sure that there is an adequate supply of soap or hand rub in the workplace and ideally tissues as well to make sure people have what they need to do that.
  3. The World Health Organisation recommends a minimum space of 1 metre from a person who coughs/sneezes – when you look at peoples’ work stations, are they at least 1 metre apart? If so, great, if not, what can you do about that?
  4. If you look at workflows in the place, are there points where people come within 1 metre of each other? If not, great and, if so, what can you do about that?
  5. What sorts of meetings and gatherings do you have? What purpose do they serve? Are they really necessary? Could you achieve the purpose in another way eg through a video conference or other electronic means?
  6. If the face to face meeting is necessary, can you conduct it in a way where people maintain that 1 metre space between each other by spreading out? Perhaps you can hold the meeting own another space which better enables people to spread out?
  7. Do your meal facilities have adequate space for people to maintain  that 1 metre spacing? perhaps you can stagger tea breaks and meal breaks to reduce congestion in those facilities?
  8. If you want to go a step further, clean all surfaces with an antiseptic surface spray before and after each break.
  9. Do you require people to clock or sign on and off at a common physical point? Can you modify that arrangement so that people maintain the space between them? Or can you record attendance electronically so there is no need to get close to each other?
  10. Do people travel together in vehicles to worksites or other places? Can the trip be replaced by another means eg have a video conference in stead of meeting? If not, can people travel separately or with less people together?

These are just a few ideas that can help to protect your people and to help them to feel safe at work. No doubt there are others that might help. Guess who is likely to know best? Your people – so why don’t you share this blog with them and ask them for their ideas on how you can all get through this difficult time together. [/av_textblock]