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Inspire Success

Providing hints, tips and ideas that help you maintain high performing workplaces that are customer focussed and free of conflict

Maximise Your Competitive Edge - With Your People

Rae Phillips - Monday, May 23, 2016
Get ahead of the rest! Focus on what is really important in your business...

What a challenge we have at the moment to keep working away in our businesses, providing excellent service to our customers; to be spending some strategic time looking at our product or service and determining what customers in this changing economy are looking to buy; AND trying to differentiate ourselves from other businesses in our market.

I think if you focus on the unique experience you provide for your people, they will do the rest for you. By building on employee confidence, they will become your raving fans, and sell to existing and potential customers. People coming to your business will feel the attitude and passion for your business and want to spend more time around you and your people. All of this equates to more dollars spent and more profit for your business.

So what can you do to maximise your people as your competitive edge?

1. Provide a unique experience 
  • How are you different from all the other employers? Do you provide a different environment or philosophy? Maybe you have a unique approach to your people management? 
  • EVP – the employee value proposition is what they are interested in – what’s in it for them? 
  • Do you offer flexible work practices; can they start later or finish earlier to allow them to do the other things that are important to them? 
  • Are you involved in the local community, or do you have a charity-giving program? Do you only use green products or have a carbon neutral scheme? Generation Y employees especially see this as a real positive. 

2. Forget your old paradigms! 
  • One of the hallmarks of a creative company is a willingness to listen to everyone within the business and pay close attention to their ideas and suggestions. 
  • Be flexible and open to new ways of thinking or doing things, your staff or customers can have the best way of doing things in this new environment. It might be a new product or service – keep your options open. 
  • Respect is not automatic. Gen Y staff wont give you the credit just because you are the boss – you have to earn their respect. Treat them as you want to be treated, enjoy them for who they are. (Oh – and get over it! They will soon be the majority of the workforce and it is you who must change the way you think for your business to benefit.) 

3. Be open and honest!
  • Front line employees in customer service, delivery, purchasing, operations, and sales often have powerful money saving or customer building ideas at their fingertips. Give them the forum to share them. 
  • One on one review’s should happen for 30minutes every 3 months. Your daily informal catch ups should not stop, but save some focused time for each of your people where you listen and tell them how much they mean to the success of the business. 
  • Make your staff and customer experience as good as it can be. Don’t just satisfy them – make them raving fans! 
  • Commit to a development plan, not just professional but also personal or fitness or spiritual – whatever is important to each of your people. 
  • If you need to reduce costs in your business, tell your people in advance. Consider some of the many options available before you reduce your head count. Don’t let this be a surprise, respect and support is borne from honesty. 
  • Lasting relationships are built in hard times – this is true for your staff and your customers. 

Don’t underestimate the value of your people being your competitive edge. As always, your customers experience of your product or service is your best advertisement. Your people will be remembered long after the experience of buying your product or service.

Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about making HR SIMPLE - no matter what size your business is. Contact Inspire Success for further information hr@inspire-success.com or 1300620 100

End of Financial Year Must Dos

Rae Phillips - Friday, May 06, 2016
Given that the financial year is almost at an end, here are our TOP 4 people related processes for you to get started on:

1. Employee Details 
Now is the perfect time to issue new employee details forms to all your people and get them to update addresses, email addresses, phone numbers and emergency contacts. It's helpful for when you are sending out payment summaries, but also to ensure nothing has slipped through the cracks.

Here is one we prepared earlier to help you get started - EMPLOYEE DETAILS FORM

2. Your Workplace Policies. 
Having clear and legally correct workplace policies (such as workplace bullying policies, drug and alcohol policies and e-mail and internet usage policies) can help you guide the behaviour of your employees and help you avoid being held liable under various types of legislation. It is essential that you review and update your policies on a regular basis. 
At this time of the year, send out any policies that have been updated and get a fresh declaration signed that shows your people know your policies and have signed to say they understand and have read them. Here's an example of one we use - POLICY DECLARATION

3. Your Awards, Agreements and Employment Contracts. 
Are you sure that all of your employment agreements and contracts are 100% up-to-date? Have you made amendments since the most recent changes to the Fair Work Act? To avoid liability to your business, it is imperative that your awards, agreements and employment contracts are legally correct. 

Contracts that are limited tenure and tied to the financial year will need to be rewritten now. Get to work on it now so you don't inadvertently miss them.

Need a hand with updating your policies, contracts and agreements? Contact us for more information. 

4. Your WHS Procedures. 
Make it a priority to review all your WHS procedures at the beginning of each year and check they are running smoothly. You could even consider conducting a few drill tests to make sure your employees are completely clear about what to do in an emergency situation. 

Need help ensuring your business's WHS practices are up-to-date? Contact us for more information. 

Did I raise something here that could make your life simpler? Call Inspire Success on 1300 620 100 or email hr@inspire-success.com for more information.

How to deal with Unacceptable Workplace Behaviour

Rae Phillips - Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Workplace misconduct relates to deliberate or careless acts of unacceptable behaviour by an employee and it can disrupt productivity and cause lasting damage to your business. It needs to be addressed quickly.

  1. The first thing you can do to try and avoid acts of misconduct from occurring in your workplace is to clearly outline the standard of behaviour and performance you expect from your employees.
  2. This means implementing concise workplace policies as well as disciplinary guidelines to assist managers in dealing with difficult employees.
  3. You also need to be prepared to investigate allegations of misconduct fairly as to minimise any legal risks.
  4. Finally, you need to be 100% certain that misconduct is serious enough before you decide that it warrants disciplinary action or dismissal.

If you don’t have sufficient evidence, you could have a fight on your hands.

So here are the key considerations:
      • Get your workplace policies in order;
      • Develop discipline management guidelines;
      • Investigate allegations of misconduct;
      • Avoid legal implications when dismissing for misconduct; and
      • Know when misconduct warrants summary dismissal

Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about making HR SIMPLE - no matter what size your business is. Contact Inspire Success for further information hr@inspire-success.com or 1300620 100

Employee information you must have on file

Rae Phillips - Saturday, January 30, 2016

Employers who engage employees under relevant Commonwealth workplace laws are required to make and keep accurate and complete records for all of their employees (e.g. time worked and wages paid) and issue pay slips to each employee.

These record-keeping and pay slip obligations are designed to ensure that employees receive their correct wages and entitlements. So what should you collect and keep to ensure you are meeting your obligations and your employees are getting the information they need?

Have a comprehensive Starter Pack when new team members come on board.

They should include:

  • Employee details forms with name, address, emergency contact details, bank details, right to work authority;
  • Tax declaration form;
  • Super choice form and relevant attachments;
  • Fair Work Information Statement (and acknowledgement of receipt);
  • Employee contract (and a sign off form);
  • Relevant workplace policies (if they are pre employment policies).

Have a process where you regularly update information. Here are some ideas that work for us:

  • In January, review your employment contract and send updates to existing staff;
  • In March, conduct your own personnel files audit to check that you have recent copies of everything
  • In June, send out your employee details forms so you get up to date addresses to send Payment Summaries;
  • In September, check that all staff have signed off on all policies and make a list for the review in December;
  • In December, after reviewing your workplace policies, get the team together and update everyone on the changes and get their sign off.

You can keep this information in paper form or digitally. Personally for our business, digitally works since we operate from remote workplaces and can all update our information ourselves online.

Our criteria for an online system are that they:
  • Are based in the cloud;
  • Are updated as legislation changes by Australian lawyers;
  • Provide compliant templates for employment letters, workplace policies and processes;
  • Allow for sharing of information or escalation of workflows as required;
  • Allow for employee self service for updating details; and
  • Can scale up as your business grows.

For paper based systems, we suggest that you:
  • Have only one person who is accessing the files and updating them;
  • That person is responsible for keeping the files secure and organised;
  • There is a regular process of internal audit to keep up to date;
  • All records are kept for at least 7 years.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has a really useful website we recommend you are familiar with.


Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about making HR SIMPLE - no matter what size your business is. Contact Inspire Success for further information hr@inspire-success.com or 1300620 100.

Key workplace policies for your business

Rae Phillips - Saturday, January 23, 2016
Workplace policies are there to help you guide workplace behaviour and protect your business. In many cases there is legislation underpinning policy so they can be overwhelming and confusing. But we believe that policies should not be implemented just for the sake of it. At all time we try to keep the policy suite of our clients SIMPLE. 
There have been many times when we have been asked, so what are the basic policies we should have in place? This is a difficult question because it depends on the size and complexity of your business, your industry and culture and what you are trying to achieve. 

Having said that, here are the ones that make up our Top Ten workplace policies:

1. Appropriate Workplace Behaviour Policy
2. Code of Conduct
3. Computer Usage and Social Media
4. Dispute and Grievance Resolution Policy
5. Exit Policy
6. Leave Policy
7. Performance Management Policy
8. Recruitment and Selection Policy
9. Training and Professional Development Policy
10. Work Health and Safety Policy


Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about making HR SIMPLE - no matter what size your business is. Contact Inspire Success for further information hr@inspire-success.com or 1300620 100.

What should be in employment contracts

Rae Phillips - Saturday, January 16, 2016

Lets keep this simple - the purpose of an employment contract is to document the work agreement between the employer and the employee. It can be in writing or verbal.

Having a written employment agreement ensures that expectations are clear before the work begins. It doesn't need to be a War and Peace document, but it does need to include certain things.

In general, all national system employers must provide 10 minimum entitlements to full-time and part-time employees and this should be referenced in the contract. These minimum entitlements are called the National Employment Standards (NES). You can visit the National Employment Standards page to find out more. 

The Top Ten things to include in your employment contracts are:

  1. The name of the Employer;
  2. The title of the job to be performed by the Employee;
  3. The commencement date of employment;
  4. The basis of the employment - full time, part time, fixed-term or casual;
  5. The amount of the employee’s remuneration and how it is made up;
  6. The amount of notice that is required to be given by both Employer and Employee to end the employment relationship;
  7. A provision clarifying the status of company policies - are they part of the contract or things that the Employer has a discretion;
  8. A provision to include the 5 Allowable Matters to be included in an over-award salary;
  9. Acknowledgement that the employee has a legal right to work in Australia;
  10. A signed offer from the Employer and a signed acknowledgement of acceptance by the Employee.


Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about making HR SIMPLE - no matter what size your business is. Contact Inspire Success for further information hr@inspire-success.com or 1300620 100

The Final Step.....Reference Checking

Rae Phillips - Sunday, September 20, 2015

At a recent training session I sat with a group of HR professionals where we discussed the importance of reference checking and how references can really add value and be the final step of your recruitment process. However, the concern voiced around the table was that often we don't get the information we need because we don't ask the right questions; and we set ourselves up for problems because we are asking completely the wrong questions!

Reference checking is a very important part of the recruitment process and should be a key step in your hiring process. In fact a decision to hire a new employee should not be finalised until after the reference checking is completed. A reference check is not a fishing expedition or a friendly chat or a chance to network ....it is a structured and important part of the recruitment process.

Some problems with how reference checks are being done include:

1. Someone 'who knows someone' makes contact and has a 'quiet chat' about the applicant. This sets us up for all sorts of privacy and discrimination issues!

2. The wrong questions are ask

ed. This often means that discriminatory questions are asked or questions not relevant to the role and the business are asked.

3. We don't have a list of key recruiting criteria that we are working with. This means that we don't focus on what we need to be achieved in this role. We miss the opportunity to ask deep questions about WHAT the applicant did, WHEN they did it, HOW WELL they did it, WHO they did it with/for.

4. The applicant provides mates for us to call rather than the previous manager/employer. This is a problem, because it is inapropriate for us just to make a call to the previous employer without their permission, so we suggest having a very straight conversation with the applicant about who you want to talk to and what previous role.


All of the above points are important and must be tackled but point 4 is certainly one that we at Inspire Success have seen happen a number of times and can really remove the value this step can add. A survey by Balance Recruitment in 2012 revealed 4% of employees have used a fake referee. According to Balance Recruitment, which conducted a survey of nearly 1000 workers in the IT and finance sectors, 39% of referees are personal friends, suggesting references are often biased. In addition to the prevalence of overly-positive references, 4% of the workers surveyed admitted to providing a fake referee.

Reference - http://www.workplaceinfo.com.au/recruitment/problems-and-challenges/alarming-number-of-fake-it-references

Verify, a background check firm, wrote an article discussing that as many as 75% of CVs contain an inaccuracy. Some are fairly minor in nature, while others are serious mistruths and designed to tailor the CV to a specific job or to mask aspects of their background that are less favourable. “A candidate’s resume is their marketing tool to gain employment and hence they use it to portrait themselves in the best light possible,” Greg Newton from background-search firm Verify said.
According to Verify, the most common omissions or embellishments include:

1. Leaving out positions which are less flattering to their application
2. Modifying job titles to a higher level position than they had in reality e.g Executive when they were an Officer
3. Listing qualifications that were only commenced and not yet completed

Newton said every demographic is prone to the practice. “As a generalisation, the more mature applicants tend to leave out jobs early in their career and list qualifications not necessarily completed. Younger applicants are more prone to embellish their responsibilities,” Newton commented.
Full article reference - http://www.mpdpeople.com.au/2012/09/three-quarters-of-applicants-have-already-lied-to-you/

Reference checking is your way of confirming what was said in interview and what is on a candidate’s CV. So how do you improve your reference checking practice:

1. The Right Referee:
Often a candidate will provide you with two or three names for reference and these referees may be associates of the candidate rather than having managed the candidate. Be specific with the candidate about who you want to contact for reference. In some cases it can be valuable to check references from a 360 approach - Executives (one over one); Direct Manager; Peers; Direct reports; Clients and customers.

2. Competence based Reference Checking:
Often companies don’t use reference checks to assess competencies. The ideal recruitment process would include screening, interviews, testing and reference checking– and all of these stages well prepared and planned. By clearly defining key competencies for your open position and recruitment and then developing structured reference checking around these, the candidate’s competence can be identified and validated throughout the recruitment process.

3. The right person taking the reference:
Whether it's an external recruiter, the HR Manager or Direct Manager it is important that the same person does all the reference checks so the validity of the reference check will be variable. Also, the person taking the reference must have been involved throughout the full recruitment and understand the competencies that are important. They must also probe at reference stage if it is necessary, identify any inconsistencies and uncover any reservations (if any).

It is very important in reference checking that you have a business-related reason for asking for and using the information. Ask only questions that you can ask an applicant. Also, get the candidate’s permission to contact their referees before you action. Finally, remember that reference checking must comply with the Equal Employment Opportunity and Privacy Act. Reference checks are completed in confidence and only stakeholders involved in the recruitment process will have access to this information.

At Inspire Success we believe that past performance is often the best predictor of future performance, the best way to verify an applicant’s background and job suitability is to conduct a thorough reference check. Inspire Success are specialists in Recruitment and Selection and have vast experience  working with employers throughout recruitment processes for positions of all levels. 

Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about making HR SIMPLE - no matter what size your business is. Contact Inspire Success for further information hr@inspire-success.com or 1300620 100

The Small Business Fair Dismissal Code

Rae Phillips - Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Small Business Fair Dismissal Code applies to small business employers with fewer than 15 full time equivalent employees and is there to ensure that any termination follows a fair process.

This is what we know about small business' and dismissal:

  • Employees working in a small business cannot make a claim for unfair dismissal in the first 12 months following their engagement;
  • If an employee is dismissed after this period and the employer has followed the Code (and can provide evidence) then the dismissal should be deemed to be fair;
  • Employees who have been dismissed because of a business downturn or their position is no longer needed cannot bring a claim for unfair dismissal. (However, the redundancy needs to be genuine and filling the position with a new employee or changing the name of the role is not a genuine redundancy).
  • It is fair for an employer to dismiss an employee without notice or warning when the employer believes on reasonable grounds that the employee’s conduct is sufficiently serious to justify immediate dismissal. (Although for this to work for you, your business will need relevant policies and the employees must have been trained in the detail)

If those points don't apply, then this is what we know:

  • In other cases, the small business employer must give the employee a reason why he or she is at risk of being dismissed. The reason must be a valid reason based on the employee’s conduct or capacity to do the job.
  • The employee must be warned verbally or preferably in writing, that he or she risks being dismissed if there is no improvement.
  • The small business employer must provide the employee with an opportunity to respond to the warning and give the employee a reasonable chance to rectify the problem, having regard to the employee’s response.
  • Rectifying the problem might involve the employer providing additional training and ensuring the employee knows the employer’s job expectations.

So  as is usually the situation, it is always best to follow a fair process, and in this case - use the form provided for us by the legislators.

Small Business Fair Dismissal Code Checklist

Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about making HR SIMPLE - no matter what size your business is. Contact Inspire Success for further information hr@inspire-success.com or 1300620 100

Social Media and your People Policies

Rae Phillips - Friday, September 18, 2015

People around the world are members of at least one social network. We have a permanent online presence where we create profiles, share photos, share our thoughts with friends and spend hours just catching up with what friends are doing with their life. 

As a business owner you might have nightmarish visions of your employees wasting hours on Facebook and Twitter etc. While most employers are willing to close an eye to the occasional quick browse and update, they are more concerned about those who abuse the system.

Social media is the use of web based and mobile technologies for social interaction. eg Linked in, Facebook, You Tube and Twitter, although there are many others.

Social media can be great!
We can use it to widen our business circle of contacts and advertising for free; it can can help our business remain in touch with customers and is very useful for social networking; Costs are low; In recruitment it is a useful tool for finding and attracting talent. 

But there can be big issues!

1. The main concern for organizations is not social networking sites per se but the people using them. Users’ actions are often based on impulse and not a genuine awareness of what they are doing.

2. Productivity is generally the main problem employers have with social media and the distractions it causes. When unacceptable amounts of time are being spent on these sites it is costly and can lower the morale of those who are not engaging. 

3. Although updates to social networking sites may not take up huge amounts of bandwidth, the availability of video links posted on these sites (or links taking users to sites like YouTube) creates problems for IT administrators. There is a cost to Internet browsing, especially where high levels of bandwidth are required. 

4. A comment made by an employee on social media or their actions on a social network might breach their duties to preserve confidentiality or faithfully serve their employer. For example, 

(a) a UK case involved a recruitment consultant who copied client e-mail addresses, resigned and then used Linked-In to invite them to be part of his network. He did this so he could solicit them for his own business. The Court agreed that e-mail addresses were confidential; even though once the clients accepted his invitation they ceased to be confidential. By collating them for use post-employment, the employee was breaching his duty to faithfully serve his employer, and he ought to be restrained from taking advantage of his wrongdoing.
(b) Recently, FWA dealt with a case where an employee published a blog disparaging his employer's investigation into sexual harassment and e-mail misuse. FWA ruled that the publication justified his dismissal because it was publicly accessible through a Google search and attacked the integrity of the management of the employer. This could easily be you, or me or someone we know!

So how do your small businesses remain relevant but also protect your risk?
You need to be pro-active in protecting yourself and assess whether the risk of allowing your employees to use social networking sites at work is acceptable or not. As we see it, we have four options:-

1. Block the internet
2. Allow employees to use the internet but manage what sites they can look at
3. Restrict access – allow access at lunch, before work hours and after work hours or block certain sites
4. Let them go for it carte blanche, trust that they won’t do anything they shouldn’t.

Could any of these apply at your place? Which one are you applying right now? How's that working for you?

What ever you decide, there are some things you must do:

1. Educate staff on what social media is and what they are permitted and not permitted to access. Often employees don’t fully understand what they can and can’t share on these sites. Educating them on proper use is key and also ensuring they understand the security issues that can result in what they do online.

2. Set internet usage policies – have all employees sign policies related to the use of internet at work, access to social networking sites and what they are allowed to do while employees at your business. Train your supervisors and make sure they are coaching the team.

3. Monitoring web activity is important and employees should be aware that their actions on the internet and in email are being monitored and that failure to adhere to company policy can result in disciplinary action and / or dismissal. Work with your IT team or provider to make sure the technical side of things is addressed.

Social media marketing can help small businesses boost sales and is useful for sharing information with a broad audience. As technology develops more and more, it is important for businesses to take advantage of all of the new things being offered that will help them to grow the business. The advances in social media are so fast paced, it is important to stay connected on a regular basis so new opportunities are not missed.

The one thing that is certain is that social media is here to stay. There are great benefits but potentially great problems for businesses. As we see more lawsuits arising from social media and employees, we are certain to see companies using more scrutiny and policies in relation to social media in the workplace.


Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about making HR SIMPLE - no matter what size your business is. Contact Inspire Success for further information hr@inspire-success.com or 1300620 100

Top 10 tips to minimise risk at your work party

Rae Phillips - Monday, September 07, 2015

End of year parties are getting booked, soon it will be time to share the details with your employees. You want your team to enjoy themselves and the party to be a relaxed and enjoyable get together. However, a relaxed and sociable environment mixed with alcohol means that there is an increased chance of risky and/or inappropriate behaviour, which you will be held liable for, even if the event is not held on work premises..


 

Follow our top 10 tips to make sure you can have some fun together, celebrate the end of a year and get ready to welcome in a new one together.  

The obligations of employers serving alcohol falling into four key areas:

  • Duty of care - encompassing a common law duty to provide a safe workplace;
  • Sexual harassment - while not isolated to functions, this is "obviously an area that is exacerbated by drug and alcohol taking", and is the biggest area of risk at end-of-year celebrations, Connolly says;
  • Workplace health and safety - "Under WHS legislation an employer has very serious and primary obligations to ensure the health and safety of employees (and others), and excessive consumption of alcohol and/or drug taking can have a direct impact upon that obligation"; and
  • Workers' compensation - "If there's an incident at a work function, it will be work related and workers' compensation will be applicable, which has a direct impact upon premiums but most importantly the expense, cost and time of having to rehabilitate an injured worker."


In most legal contexts, the Christmas party (same rules apply for any work function) will be considered as part of the 'workplace' even when not on the work premises. As such, all the duties and obligations of the employer that apply in the office/workplace continue to apply for the duration of the function or party.

Here are our top 10 tips to minimise risk at your work party:

  1. Ensure all your HR and Work, health and safety policies are up to date – with particular focus on discrimination, bullying, harassment, workplace behaviour, alcohol and drug use. Ensure you have a clear grievance resolution procedure in the event that there is an incident at the party. Circulate these policies now!, discuss them at weekly team meetings, ensure the messages of these policies are clearly understood by all employees and any questions they may have answered. This will ensure your employees know what is expected of them in terms of behaviour at all times;
  2. If you are using an offsite venue make sure you go and have a look and conduct a safety check (you are looking for clear emergency exits, fire equipment, lighting etc);
  3. While alcohol is usually the norm at parties, have non-alcoholic drinks available also. Provide plenty of water so employees consuming alcohol can slow down the pace if required. When supplying/serving alcohol ensure normal responsible service of alcohol standards are adhered to;
  4. Do not allow any types of drinking games, high alcohol consumption prizes etc;
  5. Food and plenty of it should be provided at the party;
  6. Let your employees clearly know the start and finish times;
  7. Consider providing transportation for employees after the party ends, like a mini-bus or Cabcharge vouchers (or at least inform employees of transport options available). Providing transportation is not obligatory for employers but can be a very effective risk minimisation measure;
  8. Ensure responsible managers clearly understand substance abuse and alcohol policies and that they know to step in should any situation get out of control;
  9. Check your insurance covers work party activities;
  10. Clearly advise employees beforehand that any festivities continuing after the work party conclusion time are not endorsed by the employer and are on the employees’ own time.


With organisation and good preparation, you can ensure that it is a happy, safe and incident-free holiday season. Enjoy!

Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about making HR SIMPLE - no matter what size your business is. Contact Inspire Success for further information hr@inspire-success.com or 1300620 100



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