If people are your greatest asset (as is so often said to be the case), why is it that so few organisations actually put people at the centre of their business strategy and activity?
Why? Because for the past thirty years, Australian businesses have generally been focused on risk management and process control and more recently metrics as the drivers for managing people.
The philosophy has been about efficient process, delegation of responsibility, compliance and consequences for non-compliance.
But that is hardly engaging, is it? And, while you certainly need to have efficient processes and appropriate policies in any business, it won’t really deliver a high performance culture, will it?
So what can you do differently?
Use the relationships between people in your business as the driver for improvements.
You do this by understanding and getting buy in to the inter-dependencies between people and here are a few examples:
- When you have someone new start, identify the key people that this new starter will interact with in their role and introduce them to what these relationships look like by getting them to ask three questions of each of these people: What is your role? What do you rely on me for? What do I rely on you for? That will help the new person to settle in so much faster and effectively because they understand where they fit in the relationship sense.
- When you set up a project, map the inter-dependencies between project team members and other stakeholders by answering those same 3 questions. That is a great aid to project planning and execution.
- When you are resolving conflict between people, explore the inter-dependencies (ie what do I rely on you for and what do you rely on me for). Then determine what is working well and celebrate it and identify what can be improved and commit to a plan together to deliver those improvements. By focusing on the professional inter-dependencies and partnering in the improvement plan, you move beyond the blame game to effective shared solutions.
These are just a few of the ways that we leverage the power of positive relationships in Helping PEOPLE in BUSINESS.
We recently launched our new Better Workplace Projects and we are getting terrific feedback on the impact like:
“The session was excellent – great buy in from everyone and really positive feedback afterwards.”
“The team and I loved the session and felt very positive and inspired”.
Why are they having this impact?
It’s fresh thinking for old challenges!
We look at what drives people engagement and high performance through a positive psychology lens where the focus is on how we use our strengths to improve rather than just how we fix the problems.
We also reinvent the performance management process to provide a positive and continuous development experience that gets people engaged, aligned and accountable.
In our interactive Better Workplace Project Introductory Workshops, we introduce you to the best practice models that underpin the methodology and have an open conversation with you about how these might be used to address the people and culture challenges and opportunities and deliver high performance in your organisation.
For a small investment of $800 plus GST and a couple of hours of your time, we can help you to get started or step up on that journey to a Better Workplace.
Our Better Workplace Project Introductory Workshops are delivered by our Practice Leader, Peter Maguire, who has consulted to hundreds of organisations on people and culture strategy and practice. Peter has an extraordinary breadth of experience with clients in public, private and NFP sectors and in a wide range of industry and people culture settings. He is also a former Investors in People Assessor and has presented internationally on HRM best practices.
Over the past few months, there has been a succession of changes in provisions of modern awards and the Fair Work Act relative to family and domestic violence. In this article, our aim is to provide you with a sense of how they come together and what that means in terms of your legal obligations and how to manage those.
Early this year, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) released a report “Family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia 2018” which told us that:
Family and domestic violence is the most significant social and welfare issue that we have in Australia and we can all do something about that.
Introduction of “Leave to deal with family and domestic violence” in modern awards
The significance of this issue is such that the Fair Work Commission deemed it necessary to insert “Leave to deal with family and domestic violence” provisions in all modern awards. In essence, this provides an entitlement of up to 5 days of unpaid leave per annum for employees regardless of their employment status ie whether they are full-time, part-time or casual, they are entitled to the full 5 days each year.
An employee may take unpaid leave to deal with family and domestic violence if the employee:
(a) is experiencing family and domestic violence; and
(b) needs to do something to deal with the impact of the family and domestic violence and it is impractical for the employee to do that thing outside their ordinary hours of work.
That leave entitlement for award-covered employees came into effect on 1 August 2018.
Extension of entitlement to non-award employees
On 12 December 2018, the Fair Work Amendment (Family and Domestic Violence Leave) Act 2018 took effect and essentially extended the modern award entitlement effective from that date.
So effectively that means that all employees now have access to this entitlement as follows:
Entitlement to unpaid leave
An employee is entitled to 5 days’ unpaid leave to deal with family and domestic violence, as follows:
(a) the leave is available in full at the start of each 12 month period of the employee’s employment; and
(b) the leave does not accumulate from year to year; and
(c) is available in full to part-time and casual employees.
- For existing award-covered employees and those who are subject to an agreement that incorporates the award, the entitlement takes effect from 1 August 2018
- For award-covered employees and those who are subject to an agreement that incorporates the award and who commenced employment after 1 August 2018, the entitlement takes effect from their date of commencement.
- For existing non-award employees and those who are subject to an enterprise agreement that doesn’t incorporate an award, the entitlement takes effect from 1 December 2018.
- For non-award employees and those who are subject to an enterprise agreement that doesn’t incorporate an award and who commenced employment after 1 December 2018, the entitlement takes effect from their date of commencement.
- All employee have the entitlement to 5 days per annum regardless of their employment status ie whether full-time, part-time or casual.
Interaction with new rules on Flexible Working Arrangements
We recently reported on these new rules.
Two of the categories of workers who have entitlements under these rules are:
- employees experiencing family or domestic violence; and
- employees caring for family members experiencing family or domestic violence.
Accordingly, we can expect that eligible employees like these might well seek both leave to deal with family and domestic violence and flexible working arrangements. Alternatively, because the leave is unpaid, people might be more likely to seek flexibility in working arrangements that allow them to maintain their income while varying their hours of work to meet their personal or family needs.
If these matters cannot be resolved at workplace level, they may well end up in the Fair Work Commission via the disputes resolution clause in a modern award or enterprise agreement.
Additionally, while these rules on flexible working arrangements technically apply only to award covered employees, it should be expected that they would be regarded as a procedural and fairness benchmark for dealing with requests from non-award employees.
Care should be taken to ensure that any workplace policies on any of the above are reviewed to reflect current minimum standards and benchmarks.
We will publish an article soon on what employers can do to genuinely and positively influence the incidence and impact of family and domestic violence and why you should be doing that. Stay tuned!
October is Mental Health Month and World Mental Health Day is on October 10, a day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy.
This a great opportunity for businesses to get proactive in dealing with a major challenge for Australian society and every business – the impact of mental illness.
A recent Pricewaterhouse Coopers report identified that ignoring it costs Australian businesses around $10.9 billion a year in lost productivity. And with poor mental health likely to affect one in five employees, by taking action the benefits can be profound.
PwC discovered that on average, across all businesses, for every one dollar invested in mental health initiatives, there’s a return of $2.30 and reports showed that in many industries the returns were even greater.
Source: Heads Up
So what that says is that working on improving people’s mental wellbeing at work will generate great returns for business owners. That means that looking after your people is not just the right thing to do but also the smart thing to do.
So what are you going to do to get started on the mental health improvement journey?
There are lots of resources at Heads Up, the website of the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance.
Mental Health Australia which is leading the campaign for World Mental Health Day also has useful information and materials to promote mental health in the workplace – see https://1010.org.au/.
This is an area where Ridgeline HR is committed to making a difference through our Better Workplace Projects, a key component of which is creating mentally healthy work environments.
This post is one way that we can help to raise awareness of the issue and encourage employers to be proactive and tackle mental health in your workplaces.
In essence, they are whatever you need them to be. Here are some different elements of better workplaces that we might include in a “Better Workplace Project” depending on client needs, preferences and budget:
- A Respectful Workplace: implementing a values-based approach to behavioural standards that are to be applied across the business and addressing legal requirements relative to bullying, harassment, discrimination, gender inequality and related unsatisfactory behaviours.
- An Aligned Workplace: providing clear direction to employees on organizational goals and structures and what they translate into in terms of the roles and performance expectations of teams and individual employees.
- A Safe and Healthy Workplace: developing and implementing a risk management and employee engagement strategy that helps to improve the wellbeing of people in the areas of physical, emotional and mental health as well as addressing legislative requirements in relation to workplace health and safety.
- A Connected Workplace: developing and implementing consultation and communication processes that ensure effective employee voice and timely and constructive communications between people across the business as well as better informing management decision making.
- An Engaging Workplace: developing and implementing performance feedback and development processes that are timely, balanced and friendly whereby each employee has a performance and development plan of their own. Managers meet with them regularly to review progress against the plan, provide positive feedback on achievements and guidance and encouragement with areas for development.
- A Sustainable Workplace: equipping and coaching leaders to maintain the impetus focused on constantly reviewing workplace policies and practices and identifying and harnessing opportunities for continuous improvement.
If you are interested in making your business a “Better Workplace”, give us a call on 0438 533 311 to see how we can help.
Today is the official RUOK day, that day once a year when the spotlight is shone on mental health and what we can all do to support those doing it tough on the mental health front.
Those 4 simple steps can make such a difference:
- Ask RUOK?
- Encourage action
- Check in
And please here are 4 things that you don’t want to do:
- Don’t tell me to cheer up.
- Don’t be judgmental, telling me what my problem is.
- Don’t be instructional, telling me what I must do.
- Don’t give up on me – just being there helps.
20% of people have mental health challenges so the odds are that 1 in 5 people in your workplace do too.
In our Better Workplace Projects, we help employers and employees to develop high performing, caring and supportive workplaces where peoples’ wellbeing is a priority because it is both the morally right and the commercially smart thing to do.
We want you to “Make every day RUOK Day” but also to reduce the incidence of mental health problems by having a great place to work. Don’t let your workplace be a contributing factor to Australia’s mental health challenge.
These are some of the tools that we use in our Better Workplace Projects.
Give me a call on 0438 533 311 if you would like to learn more about how we might help.
I have read a number of stories in the media and on social media about sacked employees successfully prosecuting unfair dismissal claims even though the Fair Work Commission found that there was justification for the sacking.
This happens a lot (even to large employers) and it is because, according to the law, it is not just about whether the sacking is justified (substantive fairness), it is also about how the sacking takes place (procedural fairness).
So, here are some tips on due process (ie what you need to do to demonstrate procedural fairness):
- Properly investigate matters ensuring that you have evidence to present as underpinning the allegations of underperformance or misconduct.
- Advise the employee that you will be meeting with them at a date/time/place to discuss significant issues regarding their work performance and that they have the opportunity to have a support person present.
- Have a management representative present at the meeting (especially if the employee is likely to be contentious) to act as a witness to proceedings and to sign off on meeting notes as a true and accurate record.
- Present the employee with the allegations and the specific evidence/examples of occurrences in detail to respond to. Note, in circumstances where the allegations are particularly serious or complex or could have serious consequences (eg termination of employment), it can be appropriate to provide advice of these in advance of the meeting to allow the employee the opportunity to obtain advice.
- Consider what the employee has had to say and determine what you believe the facts to be based on that response (on the balance of probabilities) and other evidence and what course of action needs to be taken eg if new information is presented that would warrant further investigation, adjourn the meeting to undertake the investigation or, if that is not necessary, determine what course of action is appropriate in the circumstances.
- If additional investigation was necessary, present the findings and associated evidence back to the employee when you re-adjourn, repeating steps 4 and 5.
- Once the investigation is completed and the employee has had the opportunity to respond to all of the evidence, make a final determination as to what the facts of the matter are “on the balance of probabilities” and what the appropriate action to take in the circumstances would be.
- Advise the employee of your findings and the action that you propose to take, asking the employee if they can provide any reason as to why you should not take that action. One of the things that needs to be considered is the question of the severity of the impact this action would have on the employee having regard to their personal circumstances (eg terminating a mature age worker with little prospect of alternative employment and a low level of financial sustainability could have serious consequences for that person and the FWC has been taking such matters into consideration in relation to the harshness of the penalty).
- Having heard and considered what the employee has had to say, advise them of the action that you have decided to take, having considered everything that has been presented in the process.
- Confirm the outcome in writing including, if a warning is involved, what the performance improvement expectations are and what the consequences are if those expectations are not met including advice of a reasonable period for review and implement it.
This should all be underpinned by a clear and practical written disciplinary procedure which is provided to everyone and is followed religiously without exception. Those responsible for investigating concerns and complaints and initiating disciplinary action all require training and access to professional advice.
There could also be circumstances where it would be appropriate to stand the employee in question down with pay if termination of employment appeared to be a likely outcome and/or if the continued presence of the employee in the workplace would interfere with the proper or efficient conduct of the investigation.
Have a look at our article on substantive fairness as well for as simple approach as you will find for determining what action is justified – “The 3 tents test”
And for small businesses with less than 15 employees, the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code provides a checklist for you to follow: Small-Business-Fair-Dismissal-Code-2011.
Following the type of process that we have set out in this article won’t guarantee that you won’t still get an unfair dismissal claim from a terminated employee. However it will help you to defend that claim and minimise the cost of settlement.
It also sends a really positive message to your employees that you understand your legal obligations and that you will give your people a fair go and honour those obligations.
Sacking someone is not an easy thing to do and, for most managers, it isn’t something that you do often so don’t be afraid to call out for help. A small investment can make a world of difference to the outcome.
Note: We are not qualified lawyers and this article does not constitute legal advice. It is intended to provide inexperienced employers and managers without access to professional workplace relations advice with some tips on the sorts of things that they need to take into account procedurally in dealing with matters of this sort. We are of course able to assist with developing the right procedures for your business, training your managers and supervisors and providing professional advice and support as needed.