Opportunity knocks!

Opportunity knocks!

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Opportunity knocks!

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So you have new positive duties to eliminate sexual harassment and to eliminate or control psychosocial hazards, right?

And people are telling you that this is another layer of compliance and risk that you have to negotiate as a business owner or manager or find yourself in hot water, right?

What if I told you that, if you really do value and want to care for your people, this is a great opportunity…..to validate what you are doing right as well as to identify ways that you can do it better?

Like most “compliance questions”, it is about your mindset – are your people assets to be cared for or risks to be managed?

What would it look like if we flipped it?

Let’s revisit a few of the psychosocial hazards in Safe Work Australia’s “Model code for managing psychosocial hazards” and picture them as strengths:

  1. The work demands on our people are reasonable physically, psychologically and emotionally
  2. Our people have reasonable control over their jobs
  3. Our people are well supported.
  4. Our people are clear about the roles that they play in our organisation.
  5. People believe that we manage and communicate change effectively.
  6. People believe that they are properly and appropriately recognised and rewarded for the contributions that they make.

And so on for the rest of the psychosocial hazards. 

When you look at them in that way, how many of those statements do you think might be true in your organisation?

Where do you see that there might be opportunities for improvement?

Changing the language can make a real difference to how you look at the subject matter can’t it? 

And guess what – when you see this as an opportunity knocking, you will find it is actually the best way to manage the risks.

How can we help 

We have been encouraging and helping organisations to adopt a positive mindset to improving workplace culture, communications and people practices for many years so, for us, the new positive duty stuff just adds some context to what we have already been doing with our clients. It is nothing new for us and it needn’t be especially challenging for you with the right guidance and support. 

So for us it is just business as usual with a few more tools in the toolkit. 

Need help?

  • Give us a call on 1300 108 488 or email enquiries@ridgelinehr.com.au to arrange your free first consultation to see how we can help with advice and support on this or any other HR matter

CONTACT US

Ridgeline Human Resources Pty Ltd
ABN : 24 091 644 094

enquiries@ridgelinehr.com.au

6 Ellesmere Ave, Croydon Victoria 3136

1300 108 488

PARTNER LINKS

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Because it is PEOPLE BUSINESS

Because it is PEOPLE BUSINESS

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Because it is PEOPLE BUSINESS

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A few months ago, I attended a business breakfast where the owner of a HR consulting business was presenting on the HR essentials that she believed every business needs to nail the HR stuff.

What was put forward was a holy triumvirate consisting of an employee handbook, position descriptions and employment contracts – put them in place and you are covered was the message that she gave. Could it really be that simple?

These are all useful tools and they are all in my toolkit but they are just tools – they aren’t solutions.

So my answer to that question is a resounding “no, it is far from that simple!”.

Over the years, I have spoken with lots of HR practitioners who told me that they can write policies and procedures and employment contracts and job descriptions. When I put on my SMB owner’s hat and ask them why I would want more paperwork, many struggle to answer the question.

You see the problem is that, in the corporate world, these types of document are often seen as solutions rather than what they really are – just tools. The thinking is that we just do a new policy, run an education program to tell people what the new rules are and we have covered things off – problem solved! No it isn’t and this is one of the reasons why the new positive duties to eliminate sexual harassment and psychosocial hazards have been introduced.

SMBs are all about people and relationships – sure you need some process but it is mostly about how a small team works together (provided of course that you give them the right tools to work with).

SMB owners aren’t commonly experts on employment law or relationship management or mental health and well-being or neuroscience and this is the stuff that they really need help with ie it is PEOPLE BUSINESS and quite a range of it.

What should you as an SMB owner be looking for in a HR consultant?

Here are my thoughts – someone who:

  • Knows their stuff when it comes to Fair Work and other employment laws and modern awards and legal due process and
  • Exercises curiosity with emotional intelligence and excellent listening skills to really understand issues and perspectives and
  • Is creative in tailoring the right solutions for the situation, the team and the business and
  • Has the flexibility to wear different hats (eg as a coach or consultant or contractor or counsellor) as appropriate to the situation and
  • Acts with integrity and earns the trust of the business owner and team members and
  • Acts with kindness and compassion to help and support people and
  • Has an established network of quality employment lawyers and other specialists to help with specific issues and
  • Has a sense of humour and enjoys a bit of fun along the way. 

If your HR Consultant ticks all of those boxes, you have a good one.

If they don’t, perhaps you should give us a call on 1300 108 488 to see how we might be able to help you better with your PEOPLE BUSINESS. 

 

 

CONTACT US

Ridgeline Human Resources Pty Ltd
ABN : 24 091 644 094

enquiries@ridgelinehr.com.au

6 Ellesmere Ave, Croydon Victoria 3136

1300 108 488

PARTNER LINKS

Smilsafe

TELL US WHAT YOU NEED HELP WITH

Is it time to revive “the e2 initiative”?

Is it time to revive “the e2 initiative”?

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Is it time to revive “the e2 initiative”?

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The “e2 initiative” was a project undertaken by Ridgeline HR Practice Leader, Peter Maguire in association with two quite different organisations that he worked with over a decade ago.

Investors in People Australia was the Australian licensee for Investors in People, a standard of excellence in leadership and development of people originally developed in the UK in the early 1990s. Investors in People is still going strong in the UK and in some other parts of the world albeit that it has never really taken off in Australia.  For further information on Investors in People, see https://www.investorsinpeople.com/. Peter was an accredited Investors in People Specialist who advised and assessed organisations using the Investors in People Standard.

The Australian Institute of Employment Rights (which was created in the WorkChoices era) works to promote the recognition and implementation of employment rights in a cooperative industrial relations framework based on the principles of. the International Labour Organisation.  In 2007, the Institute released The Australian Charter of Employment Rights which sets out 10 fundamental principles on which fair and balanced workplace laws and relationships should be based. There is an accompanying Australian Standard of Employment Rights which provides more detail on how organisations can implement those 10 principles in their workplaces. For further information on The Australian Institute of Employment Rights and its work and publications, go to https://www.aierights.com.au/. Peter was one of the leads for advising and assessing organisations against the Australian Standard of Employment Rights.

What was the “e2 initiative”?

The initiative brought together the two standards – the Investors in People Standard as the measure of “effectiveness” of an organisation and The Australian Standard of Employment Rights as the measure of the “ethics” of an organisation.

The equation:                      ethics x effectiveness (e2) = employee engagement (e2)

The premise for developing the program was that there was a clear disconnect between what we knew then to be best practices in leadership and management of people and what was happening with workplace laws and organisational behaviours and cultures in our workplaces.

The concept was that by bringing the two instruments together we could influence the development of more harmonious workplace relations environments which would also have the dual benefits of improving employee engagement and productivity.

There was also the potential for organisations which implemented the two standards effectively in their workplaces to achieve accreditations as an Investor in People and as an Ethical Employer. 

Are things different today?

In some ways, yes and, in others, no.

LIke then when we were not long into the Fair Work era, we are going through a period of significant legislative change in workplace relations pursuant to the election of a Labor government after years under conservative governments.

Like then, we still have regular reports of large organisations underpaying wages and entitlements and in many cases they are simultaneously harvesting record profits.

We have had inquiry after inquiry making findings of culpable corporate misconduct in so many different jurisdictions.

We also still have peak bodies for unions and employers being openly combative when it comes to any proposed changes to employment rights and workplace relations laws. 

Like today, leadership experts were urging our managers to be accountable, be compassionate, be engaging, be vulnerable and be collaborative. On the other hand, they were being told to  manage risk, reduce costs and maximise profits and they were being rewarded for that. It was the latter that provided organisations’ policy settings.

So there is a lot that really hasn’t changed much at all.

The advent of positive duties

The penny has dropped that the traditional compliance/risk management model as applied by most organisations doesn’t work. 

The positive duties that organisations must now meet in relation to elimination of sexual harassment and psychosocial hazards have been introduced for that reason – it isn’t just about changing policies, it is about bringing about real changes in behaviour – by individuals and work groups and organisations and everyone whom we interact with in the course of the work that each of us do. We all have a role to play in that.

That was exactly what the “e2 initiative” was about – changing workplace behaviours in partnership with all of the people in a workplace.

Need help?

Interested in exploring ways in which we might be able to help you to deal with your new positive duties? Give us a call on 1300 108 488 to arrange your free first consultation to see how we can help with advice and support on this or any other HR matter. 

 

CONTACT US

Ridgeline Human Resources Pty Ltd
ABN : 24 091 644 094

enquiries@ridgelinehr.com.au

6 Ellesmere Ave, Croydon Victoria 3136

1300 108 488

PARTNER LINKS

Smilsafe

TELL US WHAT YOU NEED HELP WITH

Psychosocial hazard #14 – Conflict or poor workplace relationships and interactions

Psychosocial hazard #14 – Conflict or poor workplace relationships and interactions

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Psychosocial hazard #14 – Conflict or poor workplace relationships and interactions

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The final psychosocial hazard that is listed in Safe Work Australia’s Model Code of Practice on Managing Psychosocial Hazards at Work is “conflict or poor workplace relationships or interactions”.

Why is conflict or poor workplace relationships or interactions a psychosocial hazard?

This hazard involves poor workplace relationships or interpersonal conflict between colleagues or with other businesses, clients or customers.

It may involve frequent disagreements, disparaging or rude comments, from one person or multiple people. A worker can be both the subject and the source of the behaviour. It could also be inappropriately excluding a worker from work-related activities. 

Some questions that you might ask to assess whether there are any  psychosocial hazards related to conflict or poor workplace relationships and interactions in your workplace include:

  • Is the workplace one where staff are encouraged to compete with each other and so they don’t support each other?
  • Is there a culture where swearing, name calling, being rude or spreading rumours are commonplace and not addressed appropriately?
  • Are there managers or customers who make unreasonable demands on workers and who are critical or complain when they don’t get what they want?
  • Is the leadership team dysfunctional and not respected by the workers?
  • Does the workplace lack the policies and procedures and the training that are needed to set appropriate standards of behaviour and to effectively deal with any incidences of disrespectful or unsatisfactory conduct?
  • Are changes made to work processes, systems or resources without consulting the affected workers?
  • Do you have managers who micro manage people who don’t need that level of supervision to do their jobs?
  • Is there a lack of defined work processes and clarity of roles and interdependencies between workers?

This list is not exhaustive and while we have based these posts on the model code produced by Safe Work Australia, there can be differences in the specific details for each State or Territory. So you need to check that in the jurisdiction in which your workplace lies.

Need help?

Give us a call on 1300 108 488 to arrange your free first consultation to see how we can help with advice and support on this or any other HR matter.

CONTACT US

Ridgeline Human Resources Pty Ltd
ABN : 24 091 644 094

enquiries@ridgelinehr.com.au

6 Ellesmere Ave, Croydon Victoria 3136

1300 108 488

PARTNER LINKS

Smilsafe

TELL US WHAT YOU NEED HELP WITH

Supporting women experiencing family and domestic violence

Supporting women experiencing family and domestic violence

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Supporting women experiencing family and domestic violence

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Today is the “International day for the elimination of violence against women”.

So it is an opportune time to refresh on what we all (and particularly we men) can do to influence reductions in both the incidence and effects of family and domestic violence on women.

According to Our Watch, a not for profit established by the Victorian and Federal Governments in 2013 to lead the fight against violence against women, “Violence against women is any act of gender-based violence that causes or could cause physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of harm or coercion, in public or in private life.”

They quote some concerning statistics – in Australia:

  • 2 in 5 women (39%) have experienced violence since the age of 15.
  • On average, one woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner.
  • In the year 2021/22, 5606 women (average of 15 women/day) were hospitalised due to family and domestic violence.
  • 1 in 2 women (53%) has experienced sexual harassment in their lifetime.
  • The perpetrators of sexual violence and harassment are predominantly men.

That is why we have to do something about this terrible situation.

The real challenge

I recently had a conversation with an employer of close on 100 people in relation to the positive duties that apply to the elimination of sexual harassment and psychosocial hazards. His view was that people’s private lives are none of his business and employers should not be expected to pry into employee’s private affairs. He really doesn’t want to know.

If we are really going to properly support women who are experiencing family and domestic violence, we need to know and we need to create workplace environments that are safe for women to let us know and to ask for help……and we need to give that help.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has published the “Small Business Employer Guide to Family and Domestic Violence”. 

This states:

“It’s critical that small business employers can recognise the signs of family and domestic violence, so they can help employees get the support they need.

Behaviours that may signal a person is experiencing family and domestic violence include:
` excessive or unexplained absences or lateness
` a sudden or sustained drop in productivity
` unexplained injuries
` social withdrawal
` frequent or unusual work breaks, or unusual start and finish times
` anxiety or fearfulness
` appearing distracted, depressed or overly jumpy
` lack of concentration or difficultymaking decisions
` inability to take work-related trips
` personal calls, texts or visits that cause the employee distress.

If a manager or co-worker suspects that an employee may be experiencing family and domestic violence, it’s appropriate for them to raise their concerns with the employee.

While they’re not counsellors, it’s important they feel equipped to raise their concerns to support their employee or co-worker.”

So the message is clear – we should care about our employee’s wellbeing and we should be asking questions if we see that something’s not quite right whether that is from causes at or outside work. 

Legal obligations

The Federal Government has introduced a couple of significant legal changes in the past year, namely:

  • A new National Employment Standard providing people experiencing family and domestic violence with 10 days of paid family and domestic violence leave per annum (this is a standard entitlement for all employees whether engaged on a full-time, part-time or casual basis) – read more on this here; and
  • A positive duty on Persons Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) to eliminate workplace sexual harassment, sex discrimination and sex-based harassment – read more on this here

Additionally, sexual harassment is one of the psychosocial hazards in respect of which States and Territories are legislating positive duties on PCBUs to eliminate from workplaces. If someone is experiencing family and domestic violence, this can have a huge impact on their physical, emotional and mental health. Part of the support that an employer can provide is ensuring that work doesn’t aggravate any such condition that an employee might have as a result of experiencing family or domestic violence. 

Please also note that, in Victoria, there has been a positive duty on employers to prevent sexual harassment for a number of years under equal opportunity legislation. Further information is accessible here.

The Respect@Work toolkit.

The Federal Government/the Australian Human Rights Commission has set up a website (https://www.respectatwork.gov.au/) in support of the new positive duty to eliminate sexual harassment etc that was legislated last year.

This website includes lots of resources for organisations to use in developing policies, procedures and practices with respect to the prevention of sexual harassment in workplaces which are suitable for large organisations, Boards of Directors for large organisations but are not very practical for small businesses.

Our HEART approach

We believe that there are essentially 5 elements to a positive duty approach was presented in our HEART model:

HONESTY – Take a good hard look at what is really happening in your organisation with an open mind and a curious mindset.

ENGAGEMENT – Harness the passion and collective wisdom of your people to shape and drive the agenda for change.

ACCOUNTABILITY – Build and deploy the plans, processes and systems to hold everyone responsible for playing their part.

REVIEW – Recognise that this is a journey and not an event. Set goals, monitor vigilantly, celebrate milestones, learn and grow.

TRUST –  Provide a psychologically safe workplace where people speak up without fear and actions show that they are listened to.

How we can help

Whether you need to develop or review policies or procedures or you need a cultural assessment done or you want to run some educational sessions or you need help in facilitating communication and consultation processes or you need someone to support you  with an employee who is experiencing family or domestic violence, we can help.

Call us

  • Give us a call on 1300 108 488 to arrange your free first consultation to see how we can help with advice and support on this or any other HR matter

CONTACT US

Ridgeline Human Resources Pty Ltd
ABN : 24 091 644 094

enquiries@ridgelinehr.com.au

6 Ellesmere Ave, Croydon Victoria 3136

1300 108 488

PARTNER LINKS

Smilsafe

TELL US WHAT YOU NEED HELP WITH

Helping with your positive duties

Helping with your positive duties

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Helping with your positive duties

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All organisations have to meet their new positive duties to eliminate sexual harassment and to eliminate or control psychosocial hazards.

Relevant authorities have published codes or guidelines which set out what organisations are supposed to do to meet these positive duties and the reality is that, if we are to be seen to be compliant, we need to do what they say.

But they are really complex and designed with large organisations in mind, ones which have their own WHS and HRM people and systems and resources to manage these obligations.

For smaller businesses, a much simpler approach is needed and that is achievable with the right partner. Here is how we would go about that.

What does good compliance look like?

There are consultants out there who will tell you that, if you put in place the documentation – like employment contracts, position descriptions, employee handbooks, policies and procedures – you will be able to demonstrate your compliance.

Sorry but that just goes part of the way and can actually create risks if you have them on paper but don’t actiually manage people issues in accordance with them.

20 years ago, I developed our 4C compliance model because compliance involves a lot more than just having a document.

This is what good compliance looks like:

C1: Commitment: leadership makes a positive statement of intent like in a policy or a values statement or a purpose statement, etc

C2: Capability: the organisation provides the resources – the people, systems, tools and processes – that are necessary to give life to the commitment

C3: Competency: the organisation provides people with the skills, knowledge, tools and time to apply the resources properly to deliver the desired outcomes

C4: Culture: the commitment is demonstrated in practice through the applied capability of the organisation and the competency of its people to deliver consistent high performance and in ongoing measurement and continuous improvement.

How are you tracking against our 4C model?

Goalposts have shifted

Our friends at the Michelle McQuaid Group came up with the very simple and appropriate message that we need to shift from “a culture of compliance” to  “a culture of care” if we are going to properly address the mental health and wellbeing challenges in our workplaces and meet our are positive duty to eliminate or control psychosocial hazards.

They are right and there are good reasons for that.

The traditional approach to risk management has been to have a policy, tell people about it and act on any complaints or incidents that arise. That doesn’t work for many reasons but there are two in particular that I want to point to:

  1. This approach relies on people making a complaint and most victims and bystanders don’t do that; and
  2. It isn’t effective in addressing the underlying behaviours or factors that are creating the problem.

We believe that we have always had a duty to protect our people from psychosocial hazards including sexual harassment in line with the general duty to protect people from the risk of illness or injury at work.

What is happening now is that organisations are being told that they have an explicit duty to proactively assess their organisations for risk arising from psychosocial hazards and then eliminate or control/minimise any that they find through a systematic and engaging/consultative approach with their people.

Relationships are key

The underlying challenge is to create psychologically safe workplaces where there is trust and positive relationships between management and workers and other stakeholders and everyone is required to comply with the rules of behaviour – not just nominally follow the policies.

There is of course a need for formal and proper processes and policies and procedures etc but we need to think of them as tools supporting positive relationships rather than just as risk management tools. A core message coming through is that we have to get back to treating people as human beings rather than as human resources.

That is why positive relationships are so essential to creating the required “culture of care”.

How can we help

The image at the head of this article gives you an idea of the various ways in which we might be able to assist.

We have the benefit of having competencies in both workplace relations law and positive leadership, two essential ingredients to navigating this new positive duty.

We can simplify the processes set out in the guidelines to accommodate the needs of smaller businesses who do not have the resources to be able to manage and we can adapt them to suit the particular circumstances and settings of the business.

For HR/People and Culture practitioners who are struggling with what the new positive duties mean for what they should be doing and how they should be doing it, we can provide positive duty coaching  to help you make the necessary adjustments.

Need help?

  • Give us a call on 1300 108 488 to arrange your free first consultation to see how we can help with advice and support on this or any other HR matter

CONTACT US

Ridgeline Human Resources Pty Ltd
ABN : 24 091 644 094

enquiries@ridgelinehr.com.au

6 Ellesmere Ave, Croydon Victoria 3136

1300 108 488

PARTNER LINKS

Smilsafe

TELL US WHAT YOU NEED HELP WITH