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Inspire Success has been acquired

Rae Phillips - Monday, May 15, 2017
Greetings from Rae Phillips – Owner of Inspire Success Pty Ltd

Inspire Success has been supporting their clients across various industries with HR solutions since the year 2000 and we have taken pride to ensure a high level of support is maintained to meet or exceed your expectations. During this time I have built strong business relationships and we have succeeded in delivering HR solutions that have benefited your company.

Since my family and I are continuing our South American adventure indefinitely, I am making contact to let you know that I am stepping away from the business.

In doing so, my focus has been on ensuring that any new company taking on the responsibility of servicing Inspire Success clients has the same values, business knowledge and a support structure in place to not only meet your ongoing HR needs but also help grow your organisation by maximising the potential in your employees.

I am pleased to announce that Master Image Aust. Pty Ltd trading as Standard Candle HR and Inspire Success have reached an agreement for Standard Candle HR to support existing Inspire Success clients with their ongoing HR related requirements. This agreement will take effect from July 1, 2017. Standard Candle HR has undertaken to provide services and invoice Inspire Success clients effective from this date.

In the meantime if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via email raephillips@inspire-success.com


Standard Candle HR has been providing HR products and service solutions to their clients since 2013. Director, Jan Marsden might be a familiar name to you as Jan has been an Inspire Success HR Principle Advisor for 3 years now.

Jan has held various Senior Management roles over the last 14 years and those Inspire Success clients Jan has supported in the past can attest to her HR knowledge and willingness to support with sound advice in challenging workplace situations.

Jan has created her company built on integrity and trust with an emphasis on best HR practices. Standard Candle’s support structure will ensure that Inspire Success clients receive the highest levels of assistance available.

You can see Standard Candle’s HR products and services at; www.standardcandlehr.com.au

Our aim now is to ensure a seamless transition. Other than the need to set up new supplier account details from within your finance area, it will be business as usual.

Current terms, conditions and contracts will be honoured and your existing Advisor will continue to be your contact for day to day HR support.

I know that Standard Candle HR Representatives are looking forward to meeting with you to discuss how this arrangement may be of greater benefit to your organisation.

Jan can be contacted on either 0402 272222 or jan@standardcandlehr.com.au

To your business success!

What sort of Leader are you?

Rae Phillips - Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Think about the great leaders you know. How do they Inspire Success?
Some that we know are able to attract the best people, retain them and keep them engaged in their business for improved performance. They lead organisations that rally their people together to achieve outcomes way above the competition!

Whether you are a business owner, CEO, Managing Director or the People Specialist, you are in the position to make a difference in this ever changing economic environment.

A thriving, recession proof company values their employees. Other companies will follow the traditional approach of laying off staff. Some very talented people will be let go by your competitors and there is no better time to add their skills and experience to your team. They can bring some much needed, fresh thinking and ideas to your business.

At the same time, the morale in your team will remain high, as they won't feel threatened by impending layoffs. Leave those concerns to your competitors!

Think about how you make a positive customer experience. Front line employees in customer service, delivery, purchasing, operations, and sales often have powerful money saving ideas at their fingertips. Feeling valued and trusted adds to our peoples feelings of belonging at work.

Now is the time to do something differently.

Why not be the one leading the pack out of this ever changing economic environment?
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

Public Holidays Christmas 2016

Rae Phillips - Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Sunday 25 December - Christmas Day
Monday 26 December - Boxing Day
Tuesday 27 December - Additional Day**
Sunday 1 January - New Year's Day
Monday 2 January - Additional Day**


** applies as Christmas Day and New Year's Day fall on a weekend

Have a look at this guide from the Fair Work Ombudsman about Requesting and Refusing to Work on Public Holidays

Don't forget if you need help working out how this applies at your place, get in touch 1300 620 100 or hr@inspire-success.com 

Getting Staff to Work: Reducing Absenteeism

Rae Phillips - Monday, November 14, 2016

It seems that absenteeism is causing a lot of stress for many of us – not only because employees who are consistently absent or late to work cause headaches, but they also impact on our bottom line!

Here are our top 5 tips for reducing absenteeism at your place:

1. Set standards of attendance
Start right at the start –your induction and your leave policy should outline what you expect if they are going to be late or are not able to get to work. For example employees should;

  • tell their manager they will be absent;
  • phone their manager within a certain time-frame to advise why they are unable to make it to work, the nature of their illness and when they expect to return;
  • know that they will be contacted if you haven’t heard from them about why they are absent; and
  • provide certain evidence that they are unfit for work i.e. a medical certificate or statutory declaration, in a certain way and within a certain time-frame.

2. Keep an eye on why people are absent

Collect information on patterns of absence, regardless of how many employees you have. Only with these statistics are you going to know if you have an issue in your workplace. Keeping an eye on these trends can assist you to:
  • identify if you have a problem with absence at your workplace;
  • determine what type of absence usually occurs in your workplace i.e. is it mainly Monday morning ’sickies’ or cases of longer-term sickness?; and
  • highlight patterns in absence levels. For example, are absence levels higher in one particular team or at a specific time of year?

3. Conduct return to work interviews

For longer term absences, a return to work interview allows you to determine whether the employee is able to return to their duties and if modifications to their duties are required. It also assists you to determine if there is enough reason for disciplinary action. The focus on their absence gives notice to the employee that it hasn’t been noticed. Of course this will depend on the employee’s absence record, and any patterns.


4. Promote opportunities for flexible work
We know it is a legislated requirement, but why not be a trail blazer and help employees achieve a balance between their work, family and lifestyle commitments? There are lots of statistics that show that work-life balance reduces absenteeism. Just looking at your workplace and the roles differently might unearth a few opportunities to work flexibly that you didn’t know existed.

5. Make the job as good as it can be
Research suggests our people spend only 20%, or one day each week, doing tasks for which they have a genuine aptitude. Of course they are busy all the time. You can add real value and unearth strategies to engage and fulfil your staff by identifying roadblocks and helping remove them. In your informal discussions ask, "How can I help make your job more fulfilling, engaging and productive?"

These conversations with your people have economic benefits. All investments yield a return. How can you get your staff to work?

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


Shut downs and being on call over the holiday season

Rae Phillips - Thursday, November 10, 2016

 

Does your business shut down over Christmas and New Year period? Many Modern Awards have clauses which allow the employer tell their employees to take annual leave when they shut down their business for a day or more. Employees do have an entitlement to public holidays during shutdown periods. You can ask your employees to take paid annual leave during a shut down if:

  • The relevant award or agreement allows it, or
  • Your business is not covered by an award or agreement.

If an employee does not have enough leave you can discuss with them the option of them taking unpaid leave or annual leave in advance. 

While Christmas can be a quiet time for many businesses you may want to keep things ticking without the need for employees to be on site for the full working day. Or you may need to have things in place so that if an emergency /incident occurs there is a procedure in place to manage it. A good way around this is to have employees on call. Taking advantage of technology can make this a handy option nowadays. Having your on call employees organised in advance of the Christmas shut down period means that any calls that come in can be managed quickly and efficiently without an employee having to sit in the office all day. If required, having employees on call ensures the best customer service for your clients.

How to pay employees on call:

A call-out allowance is payable to employees who are rostered to be on call. It is best to refer to the relevant award/agreement for the amount of the allowance. Fair Work Australia refer to it as an “Availability for Duty” rate. Where an employee is on availability duty, the employee must be paid availability for duty allowance of a % of the weekly standard rate per week and if required to work must be paid at the appropriate rate for actual time worked. Availability duty means that the employee concerned must be available to the employer by means of telephone at any time the employee is receiving the availability for duty allowance.

Further information on “availability for duty” allowances are available from Fair Work Australia or contact Inspire Success and we can advise you. 

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 - Thursday, November 10, 2016

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;
  • 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


3 things you can do to reduce your employment costs

Rae Phillips - Wednesday, November 09, 2016
Are you coming in to a challenging cash flow period at this time of the year? Is your biggest expense your staff? Are you thinking about restructuring your business and reducing your head count? Did you know you can implement some innovative cost saving ideas before you do that?

Businesses wanting to survive and thrive in the new year recognise that losing staff now means they lose their competitive edge in the future. There are simple things you can do now that really make a difference to your bottom line.
Here are 3 things businesses are implementing NOW to reduce their people costs:
1. Review your staffing mix.
Do you need to have everyone set up as permanent? Why not consider a mixture of casual, part time, full time, limit term contracts and trainees? Does anyone want to take unpaid leave? You could save 20% of your wages cost by changing your 5 day workers to 4 days! 2. Reduce your liability.
Keep salaries down and look for compelling alternatives to pay rises. Considering the alternative, staff are often prepared to negotiate. Limit salary increases and paid overtime. Defer or reduce bonus payments. Keep annual and long service leave accruals to the allowable minimums. 3. Focus on Retention.
What is unique about your workplace? Why should your team stay and help you succeed? Offer work practices that are flexible for both of you. Rework superannuation salary sacrifice arrangements to assist with their cash flow. You could reduce your wages cost by 10% if you work on 9 day fortnights for a fixed period! Make it easy for your people to get on with work during this time. Talk to them more than you ever have before. Lasting relationships are built in hard times – this is true for your staff, your suppliers and your customers!

I challenge you to look from a different perspective and implement one or some of these strategies to prepare your business and team for great times to come. No one wants to let staff go, why not give these ideas a try before you get to that point?
NB: there are legal issues associated with changing employees terms and conditions. It is critical you research and plan before having conversations like this with your people. Contact Inspire Success on hr@inspire-success.com or 1300 620 100 to talk through your situation.  

Benefits of Outsourcing your HR

Rae Phillips - Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Small business owners might think that outsourcing HR functions only benefits large companies. The perception is that outsourcing is designed to help only these larger operations streamline their business functions and cut down on costs. Of course, usually in a small business, someone has been handed the HR Hat - either by default or because they may have administrative responsibilities. But in today’s economy, there is an increasing need for small businesses to consider the financial and other potential practical benefits of outsourcing human resource functions to a trusted provider.

Some of the advantages of small business HR outsourcing may include:

1. The ability to focus on business productivity: Instead of spending time handling routine administrative tasks, employers can focus on more strategic functions of the business that can have greater rates of return.

2. An enterprise-class solution: Small businesses may be able to enjoy enterprise-class benefits from HR outsourcing, which can help them save costs and compete more effectively with other small businesses and their larger counterparts.

3. Access to latest technology at a manageable cost: Growing enterprises may have minimal resources to invest in infrastructure and state-of-the-art equipment to run their businesses. With an outside expert running some of the functions, businesses may enjoy better technological systems without necessarily having to own them. This may help cut down on their operating costs.

4. Help with compliance: This is one area where many small businesses struggle to keep up, especially with the changing laws pertaining to hiring and firing, insurance and bullying claims, work health and safety and payroll, penalty and overtime requirements. The greatest challenge is that failure to comply can lead to serious financial consequences. Outsourcing HR functions to a trusted provider can help business owners understand and take action to comply with these laws and regulations.

When you’re ready to outsource HR functions, consider a company’s experience, “How long have they provided these services, and for how many businesses?”, their financial stability, “Is their financial information a matter of public record?”, and do they offer personal service, “Can I work with an HR professional on-site?”, "Can I call them only when I need them?"

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 

Is Work Making YOU Stressed?

Rae Phillips - Monday, September 12, 2016
Stress in the Workplace

Unlike other health hazards in the workplace, stress may not be easy to detect. Managers may see it as a potential problem but have so many other responsibilities they 'push it under the carpet'. It could be a major stressor for them!

Likewise staff may worry that they cant fix the problem or that it is a failure to cope on their part.

Either could lead to a breakdown in the communications vital to the support and maintenance of good teamwork, potentially setting your business up for accidents and injuries, workers compensation claims, complaints from customers and costs attributed to high staff turnover.

Be aware of these signs:

  • An increase in overall sickness absence – especially frequent short absences 
  • Poor work performance – less output, lower quality of work, poor decision making, poor timekeeping, increased occurrence of accidents 
  • Relationships at work – poor relationships with colleagues and clients, bullying, harassment, conflict 
  • Employee attitude and behaviour – poor timekeeping, loss of motivation or commitment, working long hours but with decreasing effectiveness 

While each individual’s response to stressors is unique, some common symptoms are obvious.


Behavioural – withdrawal, hostility, eating disorders, increasing use of coffee, alcohol, drugs or tobacco, poor concentration, poor judgement, loss of creativity, making more mistakes, being too busy to relax, absenteeism;

Emotional – loss of confidence, lack of self esteem, anxiety, frustration, anger, apathy, worry or anxiety, depression;

Physical – difficulties in sleeping, frequent and unspecified aches and pains, digestive problems, exhaustion, nausea, lowered resistance to minor illnesses.

Displaying some of these symptoms does not automatically indicate that a person is experiencing stress, but they do point to such a possibility.

Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about implementing practical solutions that help create high performing workplaces which are customer focussed and free of conflict - no matter what size your business is. Contact us at Inspire Success for further information hr@inspire-success.com


Mental health in the Workplace

Rae Phillips - Thursday, September 08, 2016

More than one million Australians experience depression each year, with depression currently the leading cause of non-fatal disability. Despite this, depression is not always well managed by organisations and stigma and a lack of awareness can be barriers to seeking help. Did you know that each year undiagnosed depression in the workplace costs $4.3 billion in lost productivity and this excludes work cover / insurance claims, part-time or casual employees, retrenchment, recruitment and training. Workplace stress is a significant risk factor for developing depression

On average, every full-time employee with untreated depression costs an organisation $9,665 per year.  In addition to absenteeism, depression accounts for more than 12 million days of reduced productivity each year.  Around 50 per cent of people with depression don't get help for it  but research shows that implementation of early diagnosis and intervention programs can result in a five-fold return on investment as a result of increased employee productivity.  Increased awareness about depression and understanding the relationship between mental health and the workplace is more important than ever.  The momentum in Australia to address these issues is growing.

Beyond Blue recently reported key results of a training needs analysis conducted in order to identify the learning needs of organisational leaders in relation to managing mental health, particularly depression, in the workplace. Their respondents were Managers/Leaders, Learning and Development and Human Resource Professionals from a variety of industries within public, private and not-for-profit sectors. Experience with depression in the workplace was common amongst their respondents, with 68 percent reporting that they had worked with, or managed, someone who was experiencing depression. Some respondents indicated the situation was related to relationship problems, with the major workplace issue being work performance.  Only 14 percent of the Managers/Leaders reported participating in specific training related to managing mental health in the workplace. They reported that the most useful part of this training was information about identifying mental illnesses, information about services and resources and workplace strategies for responding to mental illness at work.

What is clear from this information is that the following is now essential for businesses:-   

  • Leaders must promote and support good mental health in the workplace, have preventative strategies in place and develop policies and procedures around how to address mental health issues with their staff
  • There must be an understanding of the impact of working conditions on mental health
  • They must be able to identify signs and symptoms of mental health problems and
  • Have the training / knowledge to be able manage workplace mental health problems and have effective treatment approaches to common mental health problems


On RUOK day, please reflect on your team's mental health and ask them Are You Okay?

Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about implementing practical solutions that help create high performing workplaces which are customer focussed and free of conflict - no matter what size your business is. Contact us at Inspire Success for further information hr@inspire-success.com

The Top 10 Hiring Mistakes

Rae Phillips - Thursday, August 25, 2016
The Top 10 Hiring Mistakes - Inspire Success Newsletter Over the years, we have had the good fortune to work with many people to find new talent to join their team. Some of those experiences have been very positive and some have been at the other end of the scale! 

When the recruitment process doesn't result in a fantastic new member joining the team, there are usually basic mistakes happening. Sometimes one or more at the same time! 

Have you ever made a hiring mistake, that in hindsight makes you cringe? 

Here are what we see as the Top 10 hiring mistakes:


1. Failing to analyse the vacancy and plan the recruitment; 
2. Not having key recruiting criteria (KRC); 
3. Prioritising technical skills over cultural fit; 
4. Taking the best of a bad bunch in the absence of someone who meets the KRC; 
5. Not doing background checks; 
6. Not providing an effective induction; 
7. Only considering internal applicants or not considering them at all; 
8. Not conducting rigorous behavioural interviews; 
9. Not asking for help when you need it; 
10. Not realising this is a marketing exercise for your business. 

So what do you ABSOLUTELY need? Here are the Recruitment Basics


If there were 3 things that could help you get the most from your recruitment and selection activities, we think they are:

1. Have a Recruitment Policy

Having a set of guidelines for how recruitment gets done at your place will make each of your efforts more focussed, more cost effective and more successful! Have a look at 'this one we prepared earlier' to get an idea of how you can set yours up, and don't forget to make sure that all people involved in recruitment understand your guidelines.

2. Key Recruiting Criteria (KRC)

Your KRC sets you up for success and can be used for so many things! Keeping your recruitment on track is obvious, but also to help with evaluation and selection, the onboarding process, for identifying training needs and for performance feedback! Have a look at this one so you know what we mean.

3. Standard Questions

Behavioural interviews are really asking 'tell me how/when/why you did this...'. Having a standard list of questions for each role is ideal, but if that is going to stretch you, at least have a collection that make sense in your workplace and can be used across the whole business. Here is an example of what I mean.

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

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

Health and Safety policies and procedures – why are they important?

Rae Phillips - Saturday, September 05, 2015

Your work, health and safety policies and procedures are very important and it’s critical they are up to date, have been shared with and discussed with your employees. They demonstrate that your business is WHS compliant and also guide the future action of your employees. 

What policies and procedures you have in place will depend on the nature of your business. For example some companies would require a chemical management policy while others would not have a need. Professional advice will help you identify what policies and procedures are important for you.  Here are some examples: 

  • WHS Policy
  • Communication and Consultation policy
  •  WHS Responsibilities
  •  Hazard identification
  •  Drug and Alcohol policy
  •  Risk assessment
  •  Contractor safety
  •  Fatigue management
  • Mental Health Policy
  •  Vehicle Safety
  • Injury Management
  • Workplace Bullying
  • Return to Work
  • Evacuation Procedures
  • Manual Handling
  • Personal Protective Equipment


Best practice would have you developing the policies, sharing with your workers, training everyone in the content and conducting regular safety related meetings. 

WHS policies and procedures should be communicated to all workers - including employees, contractors, volunteers and visitors. Anyone who performs work at your business premises should be aware of the policies and procedures which exist in the interests of workplace health and safety - to fail in providing this information will set your business up for failure.

Here is an example of a self assessment you can use to see where you are at with Work Health & Safety at your place. Then you can decide what policies you need to help guide the behaviour of your workers and visitors. Let us know if you find it helpful.

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

Workplace Bullying - Understanding the Impacts

Rae Phillips - Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Did you know that a recent study by Queensland's Griffith University has found that bullying in the workplace now affects at least one in four Australian employees in one way or another - either because they're being bullied themselves, or because they have witnessed a co-worker being bullied. Bullying in the workplace can cause huge problems for your business and is fast becoming one of the biggest issues facing Australian employers. Therefore it is essential you as an employer understand what workplace bullying is, the effects it can have on your business and what you need to do to prevent it .

What is workplace bullying:

Bullying and harassment in the workplace can take many different forms. Bullying includes abuse, physical or verbal violence, humiliation and undermining someone's confidence. Bullying behaviour can include:

  • competent staff being criticised, having responsibilities removed or being given trivial tasks to do
  • shouting at staff
  • persistently picking on people in front of others or in private
  • blocking promotion
  • regularly and deliberately ignoring or excluding individuals from work activities
  • setting a person up to fail by overloading them with work or setting impossible deadlines
  • consistently attacking a member of staff in terms of their professional or personal standing
  • regularly making fun of  the same person


What are the costs to you as an employer:

Bullying in the workplace increases incidences of absenteeism, stress leave and staff turnover and thus reduces employee efficiency and productivity levels. Bullying has a flow on effect - it can break down teams, contribute to the failure of projects, increase the workload of other staff members, damage your business's reputation and generally destroy employee trust and confidence in your management.

Not too long ago, a former senior executive of Berlei lingerie lodged a $9 million unlawful dismissal claim against Berlei's parent company Pacific Brands, alleging bullying and discrimination. Also, a senior sales consultant with IBM lodged a complaint with the Human Rights Commission seeking $1.1m in damages, claiming IBM failed to take action to stop her being sexually harassed and bullied by her male supervisor for two years. And don't forget the David Jones sexual harassment and bullying case - initially launched at $37 million!

It's now more important than ever that you are doing everything in your power to prevent bullying occurring in your workplace.

What are the steps you can take to help prevent bullying in your workplace:

  1. Develop a workplace bullying and harassment policy. The policy should define exactly what bullying and harassment is, how you expect your employees to behave, what employees should do if they feel they are being bullied and what action you will take if an allegation of bullying is made. All employees need a copy, supervisors need to be trained and you should discuss it regularly.
  2. Make sure you encourage respectful and courteous behaviour in the workplace. Take action against bullying and discrimination showing you do not support it and promote the principles of dignity and respect.
  3. Make sure you understand what constitutes bullying - and make sure everyone else in your workplace does too. Your employees need to know exactly what is acceptable behaviour and what isn't. 
  4. Respond as soon as possible to any evidence of inappropriate bullying behaviour. You need to show your employees that you are serious about tackling bullying in the workplace. 
  5. Monitor your workplace for any bullying constantly. You need to keep an eye out for warning signs, like employees taking excess amounts of leave or becoming withdrawn or looking stressed. 
  6. Train your supervisors and managers about your workplace bullying policy. You should also encourage them to address any problem behaviour as soon as possible, regardless of whether or not a formal complaint has been filed.
  7. Provide information about workplace policies and procedures on bullying prevention to all employees (including casual and labour hire workers) when you induct them. You could also consider introducing a buddy system for young and new workers.


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.

 

When is a direction "lawful and reasonable"?

Rae Phillips - Monday, August 31, 2015
Employers that require information about an employee's medical condition can direct them to attend a medical examination, but must take care to ensure the direction is "lawful and reasonable" an employment lawyer warns.

Employers often receive medical certificates that leave prolonged absences unexplained, and are useless when it comes to determining an employee's fitness for work, says Shannon Chapman, a senior associate at Ashurst.

Ideally, simply requesting the information they need from the employee will result in voluntary provision of further details of their condition, how long they're likely to be off work, and when they're likely to return.

But there are times when that doesn't work. 

  1. If requests for further information fail, an employer's first option is to request that the employee attend a medical examination, and the employee can consent to do so. 
  2. The second option is to rely on an express right in the employee's contract of employment, but express rights clauses within contracts are not all that common. 
  3. A third and also rare possibility is to rely on a legislative requirement for the employee to be assessed, but in many cases, the only option employers have is to provide "a lawful and reasonable direction" that the employee attend a medical examination. 

"If the direction is in fact lawful and reasonable, then the employee has a duty to comply... and failure to do so can result in various consequences, including in some circumstances termination of employment," Chapman says.

"The key issue is of course whether or not the direction is lawful and reasonable", she says, and this will depend on the circumstances.

Four factors that will weigh in an employer's favour include when:

  1. the employer is dealing with a lengthy unexplained absence for which no medical certificates at all have been provided;
  2. medical certificates are vague or lacking necessary details – "You may not even know exactly what is wrong with the employee, what their restrictions are [and] what they can and can't do";
  3. the employer has received zero or insufficient information about the employee's prognosis, for example to determine whether might be able to perform restricted duties; and
  4. the medical evidence is conflicting. "Sometimes an employee will present medical evidence which says that they're unfit for work and at the same time they might present some evidence that says they're fit for work with particular restrictions, and when you've got a situation like that it's particularly difficult for you to understand and know what the true position actually is."

Lessons from case law

Circumstances where an employee's absence affects the employer's ability to plan and manage its business can also support a direction to attend an examination, Chapman says.

"If the person sits within a key work group and you need to be able to assess whether you've got that key skill going forward... it might also be reasonable."

In the case of AIPA v Qantas, for example, the employer threatened to discipline a worker for failing to provide information about his prognosis and return to work plans.

Hearing his adverse action claim, the Federal Court found that Qantas did not intend to interfere with the employee's workplace rights, but requested the information to enable it to plan its roster and staffing levels.

Further, the Court ruled that when it is necessary for employers to meet their work health and safety obligations, they have an implied right to require employees to provide medical evidence to confirm they are fit for work. They can also require employees to attend a medical examination, provided the request is on reasonable terms, to confirm their fitness.

It said the direction given to the employee fell reasonably within the scope of his contract of service and was not unlawful.

A caution on psychiatric exams

Chapman notes that in some cases where a worker has a physical injury, employers have been known to direct them to attend a psychiatric examination, as a way to get around the physical restrictions. "I'd recommend exercising some extreme caution if you're thinking about doing that," she warns.

"There have been cases where employers have relied on evidence to that effect to then dismiss someone, and that decision has then been overturned.

"If that occurs, it's quite likely that decision would be challenged unless you've got some reasonable and legitimate basis to say that you require the employee to be assessed by a psychologist or psychiatrist."

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.

Are you setting your new Leaders up for success?

Rae Phillips - Saturday, August 15, 2015

We all know that it is a good idea to promote from within. So you’ve promoted one of your Stars to their first leadership position but you are worried. If they don’t work out or take too long to get up to speed then all eyes will be on you! So what can you do to ensure your budding leaders get the best possible start to their new role?

A comprehensive induction program designed specifically for new leaders is what you need, and it should be in addition to your existing Induction.

What you want to happen is a change in thinking. They will go in thinking like team members and come out with the knowledge, skills and attitude they need to start being team leaders. Whether you do this as a group event or create a way that individuals can work through it alone, it is vital that you offer new leader induction when they are first appointed.

Your New Leader program should cover off these key areas:

  • the corporate strategy to help them understand the big picture
  • the leadership philosophy of the organisation
  • how their team fits into the organisation
  • the expectations for their role as a leader
  • the reporting requirements they must now meet
  • the relevant policies, procedures and practices
  • relevant, current leadership initiatives and issues
  • other leaders they will be working with
  • ways to get to know their team

This is also a good time to introduce them to senior leaders, directors or owners of the organisation. Even if they have been working with you for a while they might not have met all the people who run it. If you want them to really feel like a member of the leadership team this step is a symbolic, but important one.

We recommend that this is a formal process. You want them to know that they have support and that you recognise this is an important transition for them.

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 1300 620 100.

Are Family Responsibilities Playing Havoc With Workplace Productivity?

Rae Phillips - Friday, August 14, 2015
According to an Australian Bureau of Statistics survey of families, 29 per cent of employed parents had difficulty managing work and caring for children.

And more than 30% of workplace absenteeism can be attributed to family issues.

Does that sound right for your workplace?

Managing work and family life affects not only family functioning but also workplace performance. Not surprisingly, studies reveal that family responsibilities affect business productivity and competitiveness.

And of course ‘family responsibilities’ aren't isolated to just raising kids.

So your need measures in place to help your employees balance work and family. This makes life easier for them and intelligent business sense.

There are many options – and obligations – when it comes to managing staff with family responsibilities. We have outlined a few that we think are important:

  • Parental Leave Policy 
  • Flexible Working Arrangements Policy 
  • Working from Home Workplace Health and Safety Checklist

It is important to have good systems to manage these flexible arrangements. It's not just a nice idea, you are required by law to provide them.

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 1300 620 100


The dangers of misinterpreting doctors advice

Rae Phillips - Wednesday, August 12, 2015
An organisation unlawfully discriminated against an employee when it acted on an HR manager's misinterpretion of advice about the worker's medical condition, a court has found.

The probation and parole officer, who had worked for Corrective Services NSW since 2001, was on sick leave at various times after being diagnosed with Crohns disease in 2009 and Idiopathic Hypersomnolence in 2011, and had her duties informally adjusted.

In 2011 the department told the officer her secondment as an intelligence analyst within the the department's Corrections Intelligence Group was to end, partly because she needed regular access to a bathroom, so was unable to travel for more than 30 minutes. She was told she would be medically retired unless she was found fit to return her former position.

Hearing the worker's disability discrimination claim in the Federal Circuit Court, Judge Nick Nicholls said the "sole basis" for the decision to end her secondment was a "factually incorrect" interpretation of her medical practitioner's advice, which actually specified that she could take trips longer than 30 minutes if she was able to plan for a bathroom break along the way.

The worker's line manager, who was also an HR manager, was found to be the source of the decision.

The judge said there was no evidence that any of the worker's managers or supervisors turned their minds to the inherent requirements of the parole position and the reasonable adjustments that could be made to accommodate her.

Instead of attempting to implement her doctor's advice they continued to require her to take leave. This conduct exacerbated the worker's psychological condition and contributed to her difficulties, which included depression, suicidal thoughts, insecurity, bankruptcy and humiliation.

"On the evidence, CSNSW's conduct in relation to [the worker], and its dealings with her during this period, was characterised by various misunderstandings, assumptions without foundation, an unclear, or lack, of understanding of relevant obligations, and an attitude of presumption, if not a failure to bring an open mind to the resolution of various matters.

"An example of this latter characteristic is [a supervisor's] 'decision' as early as August 2010 that the only option... was that she should be medically retired. All of these elements amounted to CSNSW not attempting to implement reasonable adjustments to assist [the worker], as required by the [Disability Discrimination Act]."

Instead, the judge said CSNSW's primary focus was on "dealing with a person whom they saw had an illness which necessitated long, disruptive and unplanned absences from work which impacted on the efficiency of the work of the office, and impacted on other staff".

While the judge acknowledged that the employer faced some difficult issues, he said these did not exclude its "failed" responsibility to achieve a balance by providing reasonable adjustments.

These failures in making reasonable adjustments and the employer's lack of fairness in its communications with the officer were exacerbated by putting her "on extended leave and recreational leave, and without notification or consultation, sick leave... and then leave without pay."

Judge Nicholls said CSNSW "acted arbitrarily and capriciously" in this regard, with its "unexplained failure to act in good faith" also giving rise to a finding that it acted unreasonably.

He ruled that CSNSW breached the Disability Discrimination Act, the employment contract and its own published policies in treating the worker less favourably as a result of her disability.

He ordered the Department to re-credit her leave entitlements and pay compensation for loss or damage suffered, including $75,000 for pain and suffering and breach of contract, and $98,863 plus interest for loss of wages, leave entitlements, superannuation, psychologist costs and loss of promotion opportunities.

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.

Thanks to HR Daily for this article.

Are you guilty of sham contracting?

Rae Phillips - Wednesday, August 12, 2015
The misclassification of employees as contractors has become more than some dry matter of employment law lately.

First there was ABC's Four Corners investigation into the conditions for some migrant workers, which discovered that many workers who arrive in Australia are wrongly treated as contractors, underpaid and subjected to dangerous conditions.

Then there was the Victorian Government's announcement that it would establish an inquiry into labour hire and sham contracting, and the ACTU's call to establish a national register of labour hire firms.

Meanwhile, a subsidiary of Roy Morgan Research could be going all the way to the High Court of Australia to settle its contractor woes.

Linkhill was hit with a whopping $300,000 penalty for underpaying 10 contractors who a Federal Circuit Court ruled were actually employees. However, it argues that it was making generous over-award payments to the workers that would have otherwise covered employee entitlements, and that prosecutors misrepresented its arrangements.

This is all at the sharp end of sham contracting (or in Linkhill's case, the awfully expensive end). But businesses hire people to carry out work every day, from secretaries to cleaners to IT professionals – and their legal status will vary. What are the essential criteria to cover your back?

A 'sham' independent contractor arrangement is made when one or both parties know, or ought to reasonably know, that it is not a true independent contractor arrangement and you are liable under the Fair Work Act for civil penalties if you:

  • misrepresent an employment relationship as an independent contractor relationship to an employee;
  • dismiss or threaten to dismiss an employee in order to re-hire them as an independent contractor in a job that is the same (or substantially the same), or;
  • make a false statement to a current or former employee in order to influence them to perform the same work as an independent contractor.

Employee and contractor: the key distinctions

You can defend yourself against a penalty for sham contracting if you genuinely didn't know a relationship was that of employer and employee, not of independent contractor and principal.

But that gets you nowhere if a court or tribunal finds you've been reckless about facts that would have put a reasonable person in your position on notice – even if the sham contracting wasn't intentional.

So how do you avoid walking blindfolded into misrepresenting an employment relationship?

These are some of the key indicators that the Fair Work Ombudsman and the courts would expect a reasonable person to have mind to:
  • The level of control over the working relationship (do you control how, where and when a worker's work is performed?)
  • Tax arrangements (do you deduct PAYG income tax yourself from the worker's remuneration or is this left up to the worker themselves?)
  • How the worker is paid (Use an IT professional as an example. Are they paid periodic wages or salary to keep your computer systems ticking over, or do they come in to complete certain tasks for your business that they later invoice for?)
  • How equipment is supplied (Are you supplying the tools and equipment used, or does the worker provide and maintain their own significant tools and equipment to do the work?)
  • How the relationship looks 'from the outside' (Does the worker act as a representative of your business when he or she is working, under your own branding and goodwill? Or do they have a separate place of work, create their own goodwill, and advertise their services independently of you?)
  • Note that no single one of these indicators will clearly determine a worker's status. Employers (and employees!) can attempt to arrange their taxes to unlawfully claim an independent contractor relationship.

And an experienced, specialist worker who you don't need to exercise much control or supervision over will still in many cases be classified as an employee.

If your contractual arrangements with a worker are ever examined, it will involve taking a look at the whole working relationship - not just the written agreements, but the substantial terms and conditions on which work is performed day-to-day.

That means that you should doing the same. Many "employee or contractor" tests will be straightforward, but a few can be complex.

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.

Thanks to Portner Press and their workplace bulletin for the content of this article.




When is performance management bullying?

Rae Phillips - Wednesday, August 12, 2015

According to the legislation, unreasonable performance management of a worker may amount to bullying if it is repeated and creates a risk to health and safety.

If your employee is subject to unreasonable performance management they may apply for an order from the Fair Work Commission (FWC) under the Fair Work Act's anti-bullying powers, requiring this to stop.

Whether performance management is bullying depends on whether a reasonable person, having regard to the circumstances applying at the time, would consider performance management to be unreasonable.

Remember - reasonable performance management carried out in a reasonable manner is not bullying. Performance management may not be reasonable if not justified.


The FWC will not second-guess the employer's judgement as to whether poor work performance justified formal performance management.

It is enough for there to be "evident and intelligible justification (for taking management action) which a reasonable person would not consider unreasonable in all the circumstances."

But to be reasonable, the management action must be lawful. And it must not be 'irrational, absurd or ridiculous'.

By way of example, performance management that involves threats, humiliation, shouting, sarcasm, victimisation, terrorising, singling-out, abuse, belittling, bad faith, harassment, isolation, freezing-out, ostracism, innuendo, rumour-mongering and disrespect will be unreasonable.

Using performance management techniques as a means to achieve and justify a predetermined outcome of termination of employment will also be unreasonable.

Whatever the reasons, you should be aware of the impact of performance management on the worker, particularly if their emotional state or poor psychological health magnifies the impact.

However, bear in mind that the unreasonableness of the action is not judged by the worker's perception of it – and that performance management that is not perfect or ideal, or involve an unreasonable step, may still be reasonable.

If you don't follow your own procedures and policies regarding performance management, this too may point to unreasonableness.

Here are some example of performance management bullying claims:

In AB [2015] a case worker consultant with the Salvation Army claimed her performance management was bullying. The worker had been employed for 9 years to assist job seekers find employment.

The profile of the employee's clients had changed over time, with an increasing proportion of more challenging cases. This was part of her role and she received additional training. However, the employee objected to the number of high-need cases on safety grounds, and claimed her subsequent performance management was unreasonable.

The FWC noted a historical failure of the employer to assess individual work performance. This meant the introduction of individual performance management after several years was a significant change for the worker.

Additionally, the work intensity had increased as the organisation was required to deliver more efficient service. This led to a significant turnover of staff and adjustment difficulties for the worker.

However the FWC ruled the manner in which these changes were introduced and administered was not unreasonable. The employee's safety concerns were not substantiated and the resulting performance management was not unreasonable.

In Applicant v General Manager & Company [2014] an employee of a major national company alleged that a manager's aggressive tone and behaviour in a meeting had amounted to bullying.

The FWC ruled the fact an employee reacts badly to management action does not make the action unreasonable. In this case the general manager forcefully communicating in both words and body language was reasonable management action in all the circumstances. The FWC member stated:

"It is to be expected that people, including managers, will from time to time get upset and angry and will express that upset and anger. Just because a person reacts badly to behaviour or perceives behaviour in a particular way does not necessarily make it unreasonable."

Is your performance management process reasonable?

Although none of these bullying claims were successful, all three highlighted the inherent risks of performance management processes which are inconsistently enforced, or not well-documented.

For you to achieve reasonable performance management in your business you should make sure you have these systems in place:

  • performance management policy;
  • using performance improvement plan;
  • line management training on offering constructive feedback and the appropriate use of performance management tools;
  • position descriptions; and
  • grievance procedures coupled with independent workplace investigations.

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.

Thanks to Portner Press and their workplace bulletin for the content of this article.

Managing Performance at your Place

Rae Phillips - Monday, August 10, 2015
We are just starting a brand new (financial year) in one of the most challenging times ever. Many of us have had to change the structure of our business, lay off staff and rethink our priorities. 

We have people in our organisations that we trust with the vision for our business and we are working hard to maintain productivity levels and customer satisfaction results. What can we do to make sure we keep our people fired up and excited? 

My previous newsletters have talked about many of the environmental and cultural things you can do in your workplace. But key to the business success is an effective performance management process.

So what should it include? I have 15 questions for you to consider how your business could benefit from improved performance and productivity from your people.

· Do you have a documented performance review process?
· Does the system apply to everyone?
· Is everyone trained in the use of the system?
· Are reviews undertaken regularly - 30 mins every 3 months?
· Does your system promote for continuous informal feedback?
· Are your position descriptions used as the basis for the review?
· Is the tool clear and simple to understand?
· Does it have objective measures, set down during the probation period and agreed by the employee?
· Are there qualitative and quantitative measures?
· Are poor performers easily identified?
· Are they managed swiftly – to improve or leave?
· Are there action plans for all under performers?
· Do you address managers with poor management skills?
· Are employees with poor communication and people skills never promoted to management roles?

It is good business practice to set up an effective performance management system; it helps improve the performance and productivity of individuals and teams. And that can only be good for the profit at your place!

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.

7 Steps to Prevent Bullying in Your Workplace

Rae Phillips - Thursday, June 25, 2015
What are the steps you can take to help prevent bullying in your workplace:

1. Develop a workplace bullying and harassment policy (if you haven't already). The policy should define exactly what bullying and harassment is, how you expect your employees to behave, what employees should do if they feel they are being bullied and what action you will take if an allegation of bullying is made. Ensure that all your employees have a copy of this policy and discuss it regularly.

2. Make sure you encourage respectful and courteous behaviour in the workplace. Take action against bullying and discrimination showing you do not support it and promote the principles of dignity and respect.

3. Make sure you understand what constitutes bullying - and make sure everyone else in your workplace does too. Your employees need to know exactly what is acceptable behaviour and what isn't.

4. Respond as soon as possible to any evidence of inappropriate bullying behaviour. You need to show your employees that you are serious about tackling bullying in the workplace.

5. Monitor your workplace for any bullying constantly. You need to keep an eye out for warning signs, like employees taking excess amounts of leave or becoming withdrawn or looking stressed.

6. Train your supervisors and managers about your workplace bullying policy. You should also encourage them to address any problem behaviour as soon as possible, regardless of whether or not a formal complaint has been filed.

7. Provide training, information about workplace policies and procedures on bullying prevention to all employees (including casual and labour hire workers) when you induct them. You could also consider introducing a buddy system for young and new workers


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.


10 Questions to ask yourself about your Workplace Policies

Rae Phillips - Friday, May 29, 2015
When developing or reviewing a workplace policy, ask yourself the following questions to ensure that your policy includes everything it needs to:


  1. What is the policy’s purpose?
  2. What is the scope of the policy, i.e. what activities does it cover and who does it apply to?
  3. Are there any related policies or procedures that exist or are being developed? (If so, reference them.)
  4. What behaviour is acceptable under the policy? What examples and definitions can you include?
  5. What behaviour is unacceptable under the policy?
  6. Is any behaviour relating to the policy against the law? (If so, reference the related legislation and make it clear that legal action could be taken against any employee who engages in that behaviour. Don’t forget to mention any employee behaviour that you, as the employer, could be vicariously liable for.)
  7. What disciplinary action or performance management procedures will an employee face if they breach the policy?
  8. Who should employees contact with enquiries or complaints relating to the policy?
  9. Who has authorised the development of the policy?
  10. Are there any circumstances in which it will not be possible to follow the policy – if so, how will you respond?



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.

How to be SuperStream Compliant

Rae Phillips - Thursday, May 28, 2015
Be sure to be SuperStream compliant. 

If you’re an employer that has 20 or more employees, you should have started making contributions using SuperStream from July 1, 2014. You have until June 30, 2015, to ensure you’ve changed over. 

For small business employers, with 19 or fewer employees, your SuperStream soft-start begins on July 1, 2015, with one year to make the complete change.

This Employer Checklist makes a great guide to begin changing your super process, while the ATO’s SuperStream website provides plenty of information.

And don't forget that you should pay off whatever super contributions you owe prior to EOFY!

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.

FWC rules on how leave must be accrued

Rae Phillips - Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Looking at the Fair Work Act’s rules and requirements on leave for too long could give you double vision! On the one hand, the law says that an employee’s entitlement to paid annual leave accrues progressively during a year of service, according to their ordinary hours of work.

On the other hand, the National Employment Standards, the absolute bottom line of your employer obligations, talks about annual and personal/carer’s leave in terms of weeks and days. So what happens if your employees work long or unusual shifts? If an employee takes leave on a day where they would have usually worked 10 hours, is that a day’s less leave – or is it 10 hours’ less leave

The decision, RACV Road Party Service Ltd v Australian Municipal, Administrative, Clerical and Services Union (2015), confirmed that for the purposes of paid leave entitlements under the National Employment Standards, any references to a ‘week’ or ‘day’ of paid leave are understood to be an entitlement to be absent for 7 days or 24 hours respectively.

How the case came about
RACV, Victoria’s largest roadside assistance organisation, was in dispute with the Australian Municipal, Administrative, Clerical and Services Union (ASU) about proposed alterations to its enterprise agreement with employees. Specifically, the ASU wanted to maintain the agreement’s current system of deducting 7.6 hours for a day’s leave, regardless of the actual length of the shift worked. RACV wanted to deduct the actual rostered ordinary hours from the employee’s entitlement. 

Due to the RACV’s roster system, the length of shifts on rostered working days varied but was always more than 7.6 hours. So, for example, if an employee took a day’s leave on a day when they would have otherwise worked 10 hours, RACV wanted 10 hours to be deducted from that employee’s accrued leave.

What did the FWC decide?

RACV argued that because the Fair Work Act says that annual and personal/carer’s leave accrue progressively according to the ordinary hours of work, leave should be deducted on the ordinary hours of work. The FWC rejected the employer’s argument. It held that the National Employment Standards (NES) statutory provisions of the Fair Work Act do not express the annual leave entitlement itself in terms of an employee’s hours of work, but instead refer to days and weeks.

Additionally, they do not provide that annual leave when taken is to be debited by reference to ordinary hours of work.

According to the FWC, a week is not the simple aggregation of ordinary hours which an employee would have otherwise been rostered to perform during a seven day period, and should instead be given its ordinary meaning. Likewise, a day off work for annual leave is to be treated as a single day for the purpose of the NES leave entitlement, regardless of the hours that the employee was rostered to work on that day.

So what does this mean in practice?

This means that if a shift worker (as the employees in this case were) works 38 hours in four days in a week over the course of a year, they are still entitled under the NES to take a five week holiday or access 10 days of carer’s leave.

The reduction in an employee’s accrued NES entitlement to annual leave or personal/carer’s leave when the employee takes a day off work does not change depending upon the number of ordinary hours that would have been worked that day.

Any accrued entitlement is simply reduced by the amount of leave taken. If a week of leave is taken, the accrual of leave is reduced by a week, and if a day is taken, the accrual is reduced by a day.

Similarly, if an employee is granted 4 weeks’ annual leave it does not matter that one or more of those weeks would have contained a rostered day off-duty had the employee been at work and not on leave. The employee should still be paid his ordinary pay in respect of those four weeks.

The situation was different under the Workplace Relations Act which applied until 1 July 2009. Under the WR Act the entitlement arose in hours accruing with each four week period of leave.

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.

Thanks to Portner Press and the Workplace Bulletin for this article

Managing Workplace Misconduct

Rae Phillips - Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Workplace misconduct relates to deliberate or careless acts of unacceptable behaviour by an employee and Serious misconduct can disrupt productivity and cause lasting damage to your business.


We all know that you need to nip it in the bud swiftly but at the same time, you need to be careful not to jump the gun!


The first thing you can do to try and avoid acts of misconduct from occurring in your workplace is clearly outline the standard of behaviour and performance you expect from your employees.

This means implementing concise workplace policies as well as disciplinary guidelines to assist managers in dealing with difficult employees.

You also need to be prepared to investigate allegations of misconduct fairly as to minimise any legal risks.

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!

Tips:

  • Clearly outline the standard of behaviour and performance in your workplace policies;
  • Make sure everyone knows about the policies;
  • Investigate if there is a complaint.

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.

Recognition goes to www.tribunalclaim.com for use of their image.


Which incentives are best for boosting productivity

Rae Phillips - Monday, May 25, 2015
An academic has found which types of pay have the biggest positive effect on employee motivation and productivity.

Professor Andrew Pendleton, from Durham University Business School in the UK, recently co-authored a paper on employee incentives, which set out to find which rewards had the greatest impact on company performance.

Based on the UK's national workplace survey, the research found that individual performance pay, or payment by results, is "not very effective", but neither is group payment by results.

Rather, "if you combine schemes, and particularly combining individual performance pay with profit sharing, the effect on productivity is greater than the sum of the individual effects of the two schemes", Pendleton says.

"There's a kind of multiplier effect. The argument... is that individual payment by results, although it can have strong incentive effects, there's often also some negative effects as well."

This is because people can be incentivised to focus on only one part of the job, and that might be to the detriment of relationships with their colleagues, or teamwork, Pendleton told HR Daily.

"We argue that adding something like profit sharing, which encourages teamwork, softens the negative effects of the individual payment by results. The good points of one scheme cancel out the bad points of another payment scheme."

Australian changes good for employers

Pendleton, who was in Australia last week to address a conference on the topic of employee share schemes, says proposed legislative changes that make it easier for organisations to offer share options to employees will help improve productivity and retention.

He says Australia has "a way to go" to catch up with best practice in countries such as the USA and UK, and outlined two types of schemes that have proven successful in the UK.

The first, Sharesave, or Save As You Earn (SAYE), gives employees an option to buy shares at their current value at some point in the future, and they enter a savings scheme to generate the money to exercise the options at that time.

When they get to that point – usually after three-to-five years – they can either just take their money out of the savings scheme; they can exercise the options, acquire shares and immediately sell them (usually making a gain); or they can use their savings to exercise the options and hold the shares.

Under the second type of scheme – a share incentive plan – employees can be granted free shares by their employer, or they can elect to purchase shares out of their pre-tax salary.

Productivity benefits

There's "quite a lot of evidence now" from the UK and USA that companies with employee share schemes perform better than otherwise similar companies without them, Pendleton says.

These companies typically have higher productivity, for a number of reasons, he says.

"One is that the research evidence shows that companies with share schemes have lower employee turnover, so they save on hiring and separation costs. And there's also some emerging evidence that companies with share schemes are more likely to do more training of their employees, so they're generating better quality employees."

How to encourage participation

Pendleton says not everyone wants to participate in these types of schemes – generally only about 25–30 per cent of employees take part.

Participation is lowest among the youngest employees but increases as they get older, before plateauing when workers are about 55 years of age.

Similarly, salary level has a big influence on scheme participation, where "the more you earn, the more likely you are to join", Pendleton says.

But aside from the individual characteristics affecting participation, employers can influence involvement.

"The message that comes out pretty clearly is that the more communications a company does, the more likely people are to participate. That figures: the more information companies are pumping out to employees, the more employees come to trust the company and trust the scheme and feel they know what they're getting into," Pendleton says.

And using communication to raise participation among younger workers helps create more financially stable employees – Pendleton has found that for many young workers these schemes are their only form of savings, and about 50 per cent say that if the scheme wasn't there, "they would spend the money rather than saving it".

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.

Coalitions budget changes to the paid parental leave scheme

Rae Phillips - Monday, May 25, 2015
What the Coalition’s budget changes mean for your business’s paid parental leave scheme

There was a significant change to paid parental leave (PPL) announced in this month’s Federal Budget but it wont affect everyone.

The changes that Treasurer Joe Hockey announced will certainly affect employees – but for better or worse, they’re not actually changing your administrative obligations under paid parental leave.

The key issue is that access to the public PPL scheme is changing.

Currently, mothers earning up to $150,000 per annum receive $11,500 of taxpayer-funded paid parental leave. This is equivalent to 18 weeks at the national minimum wage rate.

Some businesses top this scheme up by paying an additional amount of paid parental leave to their employees. The government isn't happy with this 'double dipping' and has changed the entitlements accordingly. 

This means that entitlement to the public PPL scheme will be reduced, or cut off entirely, depending on what an employee already receives from her employer.

Here's how it works:

  • If you have no employee PPL scheme of your own, then nothing much changes. Your employees will go on parental leave, and receive their public PPL entitlement of 18 weeks’ leave as usual.
  • If you have an employee PPL scheme of your own that is less generous than the $11,500 the government provides, then the government will only ‘top up’ what the employee receives to a maximum of $11,500.
  • And if your employee PPL scheme matches or is more generous than the government’s scheme, then your employees will not be able to access the government entitlement at all.

It is estimated that some 80,000 female employees will lose some or all of their Commonwealth leave payments under the changes. It’s also estimated to save the government nearly $1 billion over the next four years, and changes would take affect from 1 July 2016.

Here at Inspire Success, we estimate that many employers will make changes to their PPL schemes, or not increase their schemes as they had intended. What will your business do?

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.

4 Ways To Innovate Your Hiring Process in 2015

Rae Phillips - Saturday, January 17, 2015
The rapid adoption of cloud computing, social media connectivity and always-on mobile access continue to fundamentally change how businesses and individuals interact. With the newer paradigms becoming more prevalent and mainstream, many industries are realizing that traditional hiring methods are quickly becoming irrelevant and ineffective. Employers must get creative and innovative with their recruitment activities. 
 
But there is something else, in this time of a skills shortage, we must understand the perspective of the talent. The talented employees, the ones we all want, understand and fully utilize these fast paced times. They know there is a talent shortage. They are willing to accept a new challenging job offer quickly. They look for opportunities to learn and grow. They understand their value to a prospective employer.

Here are our 4 Tops Tips to innovate your recruitment activities in 2015.


1. Get involved with Mobile and Social Recruiting

We exist in a world of constant social connectivity. With the multiple popular social media platforms available and constant access to mobile devices, people are always in close contact. Tapping into this medium is necessary to maximize the effectiveness of your hiring process and implementing recruiting software that uses a social recruiting component is an effective way to use this tool to your advantage. Creating an employee hiring process compatible with mobile recruiting opens up access to a global talent pool. Increase your exposure to quality hires and ensure that your business is considering the best people for the job.

2. Introduce an Employee Referral Reward Program

Our existing employees are valuable resources when it comes to prospective new hires. Existing staff members have already bought into the company’s values and goals, making it likely that they will only refer people that also fit. Implementing an employee referral reward program will provide an incentive for actively connecting with talent that can contribute to the overall aspirations of your business and its brand.

3. Get serious with your employee marketing and develop your Brand as an Employer

We know there is a talent shortage. The market is competitive, making it imperative that we to sell ourselves as a company. Competing for the best candidates revolves around creating an employer brand and this includes considering what it means to work at your place. Talented candidates want to hear about the mission of the job vacancy in the organization.
In order for employer branding to be effective, the hiring process needs to be a coordinated effort. Recruitment efforts should not be performed merely to fill or replace a position, but rather, should involve seeking the newest valuable member of your team.

4. Review outdated Recruiting Methods

The innovation of the recruitment process has to focus on 4 key success areas: mission of the job vacancy, key opportunities and tasks, simplicity of the process (including quick decision making) and human interaction during the hiring procedure. The old fashioned job description is useful; however, in its current form it is not the best tool for the recruitment of the talent. The talent wants to change the organization, bring a new product to the market. The talent understands that there are mission critical tasks, but they don’t want to be bored by a long list of duties and responsibilities. The innovative job description should show that there is freedom in how the work is done.

The key responsibilities should include the key tasks, which will lead to success. The talent doesn’t have to read and hear details. A talented candidate can speak about the high level plan during the interview and develop the detail when they come on board. The recruitment process has to be quick and uncomplicated. We introduce many additional steps to make sure that we hire the best talent, however when change is happening so fast, we must move quickly! At the moment we usually hire the most patient candidate.

Don’t involve so many people in the decision making process. The recruiter and the hiring manager should be responsible. The hiring manager has to bring challenging tasks as part of the process which justify their decision.

Finally, the automated recruitment process was introduced to make the process quicker. But talent doesn’t want to receive automated emails about the progress of their application! Recruiters should become human beings again. In these changing times, an innovative recruitment process is about a human touch.

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.

Australian Public Holidays - Christmas 2014

Rae Phillips - Saturday, December 06, 2014

Upcoming National Public Holidays


Holiday Date
Christmas Day Thursday 25 December 2014
Boxing Day Friday 26 December 2014
New Year's Day Thursday 1 January 2015
Australia Day  Monday 26 January 2015

Preparing for a New Year

Rae Phillips - Friday, December 05, 2014
Given that a new year is just around the corner, what better time is there to make some business resolutions?

Here's a good one to start you off - a new year the perfect time for you to review your workplace practices and make sure they're legally correct and up-to-date.

Here are some aspects of your business practices you must review at the beginning of each year:

1. Your Workplace Policies.
Remember, 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.

2. Your Awards, Agreements and Employment Contracts.
Are you sure that all of your employment agreements and contracts are 100% up-to-date? Remember, amendments may still need to be made as a result of the new Fair Work Act. To avoid liability, it is imperative that your awards, agreements and employment contracts are legally correct.

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

3. 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.

Call Inspire Success on 1300 620 100 for more information.

Creating Raving Fans

Rae Phillips - Thursday, September 04, 2014
We all know that our Customers are the heart of our business, and it is critical that they are happy with the products or services we provide. I’d like to introduce you to a new concept to help you provide service beyond their expectations, to create life-long customers and improve your business’ performance.

“Raving Fans” is a book written by Ken Blanchard, released in 1993. The concept behind creating Raving Fan customers is simply to figure out what the vision for your business is, check your vision against that of your customer, and then deliver against that vision plus 1%.

Read more about Raving Fans

Simply put, as the owner of a business, you have the power to either turn people toward your business or turn them away.

When your vision is in place for how you want to interact with customers—deliver against that plus 1% improvement every day. The great thing about vision is that it changes with time, customer needs, market needs, and personal or professional needs. Adjust it as you need to, but continue to deliver the core of what you started when you realigned yourself to create true “Raving Fans” customers.

Raving Fan customers won’t even think about going anywhere but to you, and they will tell everyone about how great your offer is.

I’d like to add another element to this. If you create Raving Fan Staff, just imagine how many more sales people you have out there talking about your business! And then imagine the experience your customers are having when they work with your business!

So what are you doing to inspire and excite your people? Think about the environment they are in; the work they do; where they want to be.

Empower, listen, praise, support, guide, and help your people win at work and personally. Lead at a higher level. Lead your people to greatness as you create a high performing business that makes life better for everyone.

To survive in business —you need Raving Fan customers. And to get them, you need Raving Fan Staff!

Making your place a Great Place to Work

Rae Phillips - Wednesday, September 03, 2014

What is a Great Workplace? 

What the employee wants

Having a list of special deals, discounts or benefits for your employees is not going to make a great workplace. We believe that it is the daily experiences and relationships that guide the employee perspective. 

Without doubt though, the key to the relationships is TRUST. So the employees need to trust the people they work for, be proud of the work they do and like the people they work with each day.

Our experience and many many years of employee engagement surveys show that trust is the defining principle of great workplaces — created by the credibility of the Leaders, the respect with which employees feel they are treated, and the extent to which employees expect to be treated fairly. Pride and a real connection other team mates are also important.

What the employer is looking for


It isn't rocket science is it? As employers, we want to meet the goals we have for our business. We want to do this with our employees who are focussed on giving their very best and who work together as a team to deliver great service to our customers. 

Great workplaces achieve organisational goals by listening to their people, inspiring them and by keeping in contact. They have employees who give their personal best because they are recognised individually and as part of a team, they grow in their roles and as people. And they work together as a team because they feel part of the business, celebrating and commiserating together.

Is this an issue at your place? Contact Inspire Success for a no obligation chat about the situation

Top 10 Tips for Motivating your People

Rae Phillips - Wednesday, September 03, 2014
Everyone is motivated by different needs but generally when people feel good about themselves, the work they do, and the organisation they work for, it is much easier to gain their cooperation. As a manager or owner, you have a fantastic opportunity to make a difference to how your people see their work with your business.
Here are my

Top 10 Ways to Motivate your People

– which will lead to improved performance, productivity and profit for your business.

1. Outline the job responsibilities and expectations

2. Ask what your people want from their work
3. Consider each employees situation
4. Treat them as individuals – but always recognise the team
5. Use flexibility wisely
6. Put money in its place
7. Involve staff in the decision making process
8. Get involved in their development
9. Make the hard calls
10. Recognise that motivation isn’t always the answer

Almost all employees want to do interesting work, secure a good salary and earn recognition for their contributions. But motivating employees takes more than money and an occasional “thank-you.” It requires a strategy tailored to each worker’s needs.


1.
Outline job responsibilities and expectations. Make certain that team members know exactly what is expected of them and how their performance will be evaluated. Maintain high standards. By involving team members in establishing high standards of performance, you will build their pride and self-confidence. It has been shown time and again that setting high standards at the start improves staff retention and customer feedback.

TOP TIP: set up a comprehensive and practical induction process so that their Onboarding experience is positive. Check back after one week and one month to make sure that all is still okay.


2.
Ask what they want out of work. Just knowing that their boss is interested in their goals will make them feel better about their jobs. It can be difficult to get a quick and accurate answer to this question, however. Some workers may say that they want to work on a prestigious project, for example, only to discover once they have been assigned to the project that it isn’t what they expected. Maintain an 'open-door' policy. Be approachable, available, and interested, not distant.

TOP TIP: have a communications system that allows you to sit formally with your people every 3 months for just 30 minutes. Give them opportunity to tell you why they are still with you, what needs to change and you should give feedback on what is working well and where the development needs are.


3.
Consider each employee’s situation (age and career / life stage). There are exceptions to every generalization, of course, but workers nearing the end of their careers are often less focused on the next promotion than those who are just starting to climb the corporate ladder. Younger workers may also be less accustomed than older ones to waiting patiently in a job they don’t find interesting. Engineers are likely to be motivated by working on cutting-edge projects. On the other hand, sales professionals tend to use money as a way to measure how well they’re doing.

TOP TIP: your communications system is key here. Find out what is important to them and where you can, tailor their remuneration or recognition to suit them. Take their ideas on board and make changes where you can.


4.
Treat them as individuals – but always recognise the team. Always treat people with respect. Be thoughtful and considerate of the person you are dealing with. Pinpoint each employee’s personality. Give recognition. Give appropriate praise and recognition for a job well done. Some people love public praise; others are mortified by it and would much prefer a sincere, in-person “thank-you.” Make sure you take this into account if you are planning a ceremony to give awards or other recognition. Be aware of the morale level of your team. Be sensitive to changes in morale. Know when and why it goes up or down. Develop a caring attitude. A good manager trains, develops, counsels, guides, and supports their team and be sure to listen. Always listen to and try to understand what people are really saying.

TOP TIP: use your 30 minutes every 3 months to provide feedback on their performance. Give very specific examples of where things are going well, or where a customer has made a positive comment and then also show examples of where improvement is required – comparing to the standards.


5.
Use flexibility wisely. Allowing employees to telecommute some of the time or to set their own office hours can have big benefits. It makes employees’ lives more manageable — and it shows them that they are trusted. Still, as with other motivators, one size does not fit all. Some jobs simply can’t be done effectively outside the office. And some workers actually like going in to the office to escape the distractions of home or to preserve a line between home and work. Ask for suggestions. Be sure to invite new ideas from team members concerning work. Be willing to put good ideas into action by making changes.

TOP TIP: have standards set on how people work from home, or remotely. Conduct a ‘home office’ check to show your people how important safety is and that working from home is ‘still working’. Ensure that all equipment is signed off on a register and there are policies for use of equipment.


6.
Put money in its place. How well does money motivate workers? The answer isn’t simple. An employee who demands a raise might really be unhappy because his or her suggestions are being ignored, for example. And surveys and experts offer different answers about how important money is, depending on how the question is phrased. Money has been described as “a baseline”: too little of it can make workers feel unappreciated and resentful. You don’t want compensation working against you as a motivator - employees don’t want to feel like their boss is taking advantage of them. However, motivation to work hard rarely comes solely from money. If your employees are being paid fair salaries and still seem unwilling to go the extra mile, throwing more money at them is unlikely to be the answer.

TOP TIP: have a transparent salary review process – when salaries will be reviewed, how increases will be determined, what – if any connection there is with a performance review. Be consistent and don’t deviate!


7.
Involve team members in the decision-making process. Give them a share in decision making. If not deciding what is to be done, then how it is to be done, or when or in what way, by whom. Let their participation increase over time. Keep them informed about changes that can directly affect them such as policy changes, procedure or rule changes, product information changes, and performance changes. As you become more confident that they are making decisions as you would, hand over a little more!

TOP TIP: be consistent in the way you make decisions. Your people will learn from how you handle situations and slowly but surely have the confidence and competence to take on more. Give them feedback on their progress – and never get emotional if they make a decision you wouldn’t have!


8.
Get involved in their development. When you ask your people what kind of work they enjoy, also find out about what they’re hoping to do in the future. Giving them opportunities to build the skills and make the connections they need to get ahead in their careers will build loyalty and motivation. It can be very important to keep learning new skills on the job. With people changing jobs more often than they used to and companies no longer promising long-term employment, younger workers in particular realize that continuing to learn is the way to stay employable. With an aging population in Australia, we need to look for ways of tapping into the vast knowledge of older workers, in a way that inspires and excites them too.

TOP TIP: include personal and professional development in your 30 minutes every 3 months. This coupled with a clear training and professional development policy will reinforce what training is considered the employees responsibility and where the employer is prepared to help – in on the job training, with time off or with costs.


9.
Make the hard calls. Leaving non performers in the team can be one of the easiest ways to get the rest of the team off side. Employees with a bad attitude, who waste time, who are not punctual and reliable cause huge issues for morale and productivity. Issues should not be bundled up and delivered all at once – poor performance or poor attitudes need to be addressed immediately. Have performance discussions without delay and set the staff up for success – if they take the lead and improve, or if you help them to leave, your team will see that you are decisive and have shown true leadership.

TOP TIP: having standards for every position allows you to give feedback when they are not being met. Your 30minutes every 3 months allows you to give this feedback very directly before it goes off the rails. Use a very clear performance management policy and grievance or dispute procedure to show all employees what happens when the standards are not met.


10.
Recognize that motivation isn’t always the answer. If your motivation efforts aren’t working, it may not be your fault. Not everyone can be motivated for a particular job or at a specific time. If an employee would really rather be doing something else, it may be best to encourage him or her to pursue something new. Remember that we are all motivated by different factors; find out what these are for each of your team and you will be on the way to creating a environment within which they can do their best work.

TOP TIP: applying some or all of our Top Tips will get you well on the way to setting up a motivating environment. Employees must bring their own motivation, however, so knowing when to stop trying can save much time, effort and money.


      Is this something that could help at your business? Inspire Success helps businesses get their systems right, right from the start. We specialise in setting up systems and providing support in an outsourced model. You only get us when you need us! 

      Give us a call on 1300 620 100 for a no obligation chat about your situation, or email hr@inspire-success.com

Conducting a Staff Survey

Rae Phillips - Wednesday, September 03, 2014
Surveying your staff - what do they really think?

At the start of a new (financial) year, many people, personally or professionally, spend time reflecting on the past year - the things that went well and the areas that they could improve. This can also be an important element to your people strategy - what were your staff happy with and what ideas do they have to improve their work environment or the business?


This is even more critical with workplace legislation changing and new and different systems being introduced. How do we do this so that staff are not anxious or nervous?

When managed well, staff surveys can assist in increasing staff retention rates, lowering absenteeism, improving productivity, enhancing customer relations, and increasing profitability. When staff survey results are acted on, it can reinforce to employees that their input is valued by the organisation and help improve morale and loyalty - all valuable outcomes in today's candidate-short market.

The staff survey process often presents a number of challenges; high costs, a time consuming process, poor response rates, and administrative challenges around producing quality reports and charts. So how do we overcome these hurdles to implement an effective employee feedback program?

·         Conduct the staff survey using a mixed methodology of online and traditional paper based approaches. Online surveys save money and respondent time and paper surveys are essential in meeting hard-to-reach groups who don’t have access to the Internet.

·         Market the staff survey internally via email, notice boards or the Intranet and promote the benefits of taking part to increase response rates.

·         Make sure you have buy-in from team leaders and that they own the results. Appoint a staff survey coordinator who will liaise closely with your senior team.

·         Protect and communicate the anonymity of the employees’ responses and you are more likely to receive honest feedback. Using a 3rd party to conduct and manage the staff survey can assure the employees of confidentiality.

·         I have found that using a third party to conduct your staff survey also increases response rates, provides objectivity in the report and more quality in questionnaire design.

·         Communicate the results to your workforce whether they are positive or negative. This should be done quickly to show you’re being serious and then get them involved in working out what the actions will be.

·         It’s not enough to just conduct staff survey! You and your senior team needs to make sure you act on the results and communicate your actions to their employees. A positive plan of action needs to be put into place to address some of the key issues.

·         Finally run the staff survey at the same time every six months or so to gauge the difference in satisfaction levels and highlight any problems. Together with performance reviews, team workshops and exit interviews, this can build a picture of staff satisfaction and ensure that you retain your most valuable resource – your employees.


      Is this something that could help at your business? Inspire Success helps businesses get their systems right, right from the start. We specialise in setting up systems and providing support in an outsourced model. You only get us when you need us! 

      Give us a call on 1300 620 100 for a no obligation chat about your situation, or email hr@inspire-success.com


Getting HR Right in your Start-up

Rae Phillips - Friday, August 15, 2014

We see a lot of owners going into business without a clear understanding of the value and importance of the human resources strategy. It seems that most startups believe that HR only manages day-to-day activities and administrative duties that they, or other employees, could possibly manage on their own. Additionally, hiring an HR specialist is not viewed as cost effective. It is difficult for startups to justify hiring a non-revenue generating employee at an early stage.

As a result, the owner and their teams are burdened with tasks that take time away from core business, which ends up with a strained workforce, inefficiency, a high attrition rate, and possibly even legal ramifications. This is not the way to set yourself up to success!

Having someone who is completely focussed on the people plan will do wonders for getting your startup off the ground. HR is important for any company, particularly those in the crucial developmental stages. Why is it so essential? Below are just a few reasons why your business needs HR:

1. HR Supports Your Company’s Brand

It is imperative that you establish a supportive network of individuals with whom you trust. To add value to your company an HR specialist will need to understand the ins and outs of you and your company. One of their purposes is to support the attainment of your overall strategic business plan and objectives.

An HR Advisor can help you create and maintain a cohesive work environment from day one. They will ensure your employees embrace your company’s philosophy, strategy, and purpose and that anyone hired will be a good fit. 

2. Attract Great Talent With A Dedicated HR Department

When you have only a handful of spots to fill, you need to be sure you are selecting the right person for each job. Every person on your team plays a pivotal role in getting your business off the ground. They all contribute to its growth and development and in the end its success.

To ensure this, you need a HR Advisor who can focus on recruiting the perfect individual for each position when or before the need arises. This task is made all the more challenging when the company is a startup, not only do you have to find the right people, you have to inspire them to commit to a company that is not yet established and secure.

3. You’ll See Better Retention

As your company grows, employees need to be kept happy, engaged, and productive. You want to keep good people around you. This will reduce recruitment and training time and cost.

During periods of growth, inevitable challenges and conflicts will arise. An HR Advisor is trained to identify, resolve, and restore employee relations matters. They also work with the operational teams to set up feedback mechanisms, incentive programs, salary reviews,internal promotions and leave.

4. HR Can Help Sustain And Improve Your Company

A HR Advisor should be tasked with developing a suite of policies and processes to help things function at the business. They can also work with the operational teams to create structure with standard operating procedures. Even with a small team, organization goes a long way. Additionally, the more your company expands, the more the business model must be able to work without the owner.

5. Compliance Is the Framework

Right from the start, owners need to be aware of the laws in place that  affect the business and their employees. As the company grows, the more confusing legislation related to employees and workplaces can be. These requirements are not optional, they must be set up and managed effectively. 

With out a HR Advisor to lead this process, ongoing issues could cause distraction in the business, impact productivity and result in payments to employees or fines.


Is this something that could help at your business? Inspire Success helps startup businesses get their systems right, right from the start. We specialise in setting up systems and providing support in an outsourced model. You only get us when you need us! 

Give us a call on 1300 620 100 for a no obligation chat about your situation, or email hr@inspire-success.com



3 Steps to the Easiest Ever Induction

Rae Phillips - Thursday, July 31, 2014
Did you know that the first 4 weeks of employment are when our new starters are deciding whether they are staying or not? This is the time to make sure we set them up for success and make the most of the money we have already spent on recruitment.

If you include at least these 3 steps to your induction, we believe you are on your way to building a positive employment relationship with your new starter and will have a much better level of engagement (read higher productivity, less conflict, less complaints, easier work for you!):

1. Deliver on what you promised
2. Set the standards up front
3. Follow up at regular intervals

Setting employees up for success in a new role requires planning and action. There are times that things won’t go according to the plan, but the system should be flexible enough to allow for this, and help it get back on track.

1. Deliver on what you promised.

Your recruitment systems should help here – what did you agree to in the interview? The letter of offer needs to be clear on what the job role is, what the pay is, when they start and how it will be reviewed.
Try to have this set up before the new starter arrives – it shows organisation in the business if their tools and workspace are ready, there is a name-badge and PPE, a handbook ready and an email address all sorted.
If you can, send the letter of engagement, personal details form, super and tax forms out in advance (we call this the starter pack). If this is completed at home and sent back in, you can set them up in payroll in advance and ensure there are no issues in getting that first pay. And if you pay monthly and they just miss the pay run – show them some flexibility by organising an end of month manual pay so they don’t have to wait 6 weeks!

TOP TIP: Have a checklist that you use to prepare for new starters, but that doubles as their checklist during Induction.

2. Set the standards up front.

You should have a standard checklist that is used by you or your key personnel so that you know every new employee gets exactly the same information. This checklist should include information on the company history and your service expectations, the focus of the division or department (this helps them understand how their position fits into the big picture) and very specific details like hours of work, where to park, uniforms, safety, timesheets, calling in sick etc.
Make certain that the checklist has a link to the position description so that the key personnel can work through the PD, letting the new starter know exactly what is expected of them and how their performance will be evaluated. Maintaining high standards during the Onboarding period will ensure that they continue.
By involving team members in establishing high standards of performance, you will build their pride and self-confidence. It has been shown time and again that setting high standards at the start improves staff retention and customer feedback.

TOP TIP: Your position description should be general enough that the employees understand the scope of their work, but specific enough that you can explain the standards (quality, quantity and time) you expect.

3. Follow up at regular intervals.

Specify on your checklist that there will be a weekly catch up, with a 6 weekly performance review mid probation. These catch ups should be casual, but structured, using the checklists as a guide.
Ask lots of questions, go over the information they have learned, ‘test’ that they have understood it and check to see where there are still gaps. During this time you should be listening for underlying problems with what the employees expected and what they are experiencing.
The 6 weekly probation review is a formal opportunity to provide feedback on their take-up of the new role, where they are going well and where there are performance issues. Document this discussion using a review form that you can go back to if necessary.

TOP TIP: These follow ups will work best if they are two way discussions. Ask the employee how things are going, listen to their response and then give your feedback. Resist the urge to jump in first.

Is this something that could be helpful at your place? Inspire Success is all about Practical, Stress Free, Timely Human Resources - no matter what size your business is. 

Contact us for further information hr@inspire-success.com.

ANNUAL WAGE REVIEW DECISION 2014

Rae Phillips - Wednesday, June 11, 2014
The Fair Work Commission yesterday handed down its 2014 Annual Wage Review Decision, which can be summarised as follows:

All Modern Award rates of pay are to be increased by 3%, effective from the first full pay period commencing on or after Tuesday 1 July 2014.

This wage increase can be absorbed into any existing over award payments (check the absorption clause in your Modern Awards - usually this is in clause 2.2 or there about).

The default casual loading for Award free casual employees will increase from 24% to 25%, effective from the first full pay period commencing on or after Tuesday 1 July 2014.

Is this something you need some advice on? Contact one of our Advisors on 1300 620 100 or hr@inspire-success.com

The High Income Threshold is Higher

Rae Phillips - Wednesday, June 11, 2014
From 1 July 2014, the High Income Threshold will increase to $133,179. 
 
Here are the key implications for those of you who have high income earners in your business:

  • Employees who earn more than the threshold are ineligible for compensation or reinstatement pursuant to the unfair dismissal rules unless they are covered by a modern award or an enterprise agreement;

  • When calculating total earnings, you should include wages, agreed monetary value of non-monetary benefits (such as extra superannuation), and amounts dealt with on the employee’s behalf (such as a salary sacrifice arrangement);

  • You shouldn't include amounts which cannot be determined in advance (for example, a bonus) or allowances paid to employees that are not used on work-related expenses.

In the past Employers have been caught out because they assumed that all amounts paid to employees counted toward the threshold, or because they thought that the seniority of employees excluded them from the unfair dismissal jurisdiction.

There are some hints and tips to setting up the high income earners contract of employment, and we recommend always using a professional to do this.

Is this something that could be an issue at your workplace? Get in contact with the Advisors at Inspire Success - 1300 620 100 or hr@inspire-success.com

Your TOP THREE Work Health and Safety questions answered

Rae Phillips - Monday, May 12, 2014
1. How do I know if my business is WHS compliant?

Individual state health and safety legislation and the WHS Act impose obligations on businesses to:
1. Provide a safe place to work
2. Provide safe systems of work and
3. Consult with employees about safety

There are also secondary duties to:
1. Identify hazards
2. Manage risks and
3. Implement and monitor control measures

To ensure your business is carrying out these essential duties your business could require an audit and will require ongoing inspections and management reviews. All Managers within a business must know and understand their legal duties and ensure they are carrying them out correctly.

An audit is a documented process where the health and safety systems, policies and procedures in the workplace are reviewed. The audit will determine whether your policies, procedures and systems etc comply with legislative requirements and best practice in health and safety. An audit can be completed by an external provider or an employee who is appropriately trained. An inspection is an actual examination of your workplace for hazards and could involve a walk around your workplace or a formal planned inspection. An inspection can be carried out by senior management, management, a health and safety representative, your health and safety committee or an employee. Your inspections should be frequent and should be monitored. Your audits should be checked regularly also to ensure the requirements are being met continuously.

2. Who has health and safety duties in relation to first aid?

A person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) has the primary duty under the WHS Act to ensure (so far as is reasonably practicable) that workers and other persons are not exposed to health and safety risks arising from the business or undertaking.
The WHS Regulations place specific obligations on a person conducting a business or undertaking in relation to first aid, including requirements to:
  • provide first aid equipment and ensure each worker at the workplace has access to the equipment;
  • ensure access to facilities for the administration of first aid;
  • ensure that an adequate number of workers are trained to administer first aid at the workplace or that workers have access to an adequate number of other people who have been trained to administer first aid.
A person conducting a business or undertaking may not need to provide first aid equipment or facilities if these are already provided by another duty holder at the workplace and they are adequate and easily accessible at the times that the workers carry out work.

Officers, such as company directors, have a duty to exercise due diligence to ensure that the business or undertaking complies with the WHS Act and Regulations. This includes taking reasonable steps to ensure that the business or undertaking has and uses appropriate resources and processes to eliminate or minimise risks to health and safety.

Workers have a duty to take reasonable care for their own health and safety and must not adversely affect the health and safety of other persons. Workers must comply with any reasonable instruction and cooperate with any reasonable policy or procedure relating to health and safety at the workplace, such as procedures for first aid and for reporting injuries and illnesses.

One of the regulations (42) under the new act states that when considering how to provide first aid, a person conducting a business or undertaking must consider all relevant matters including:
  • the nature of the work being carried out at the workplace;
  • the nature of the hazards at the workplace;
  • the size, location and nature of the workplace;
  • the number and composition of the workers at the workplace.

3. What obligations does my company have to vehicles owned by the company and to vehicles owned by employees and driven in the process of carrying out their duties?


Both private and company owned cars will be considered ‘plant’ within the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. This means that the company is under an obligation to provide and maintain the vehicles so that employees are not exposed to hazards.

Some good practices would include checking vehicles annually and asking employees to sign a declaration confirming they have their vehicles maintained regularly. Ensure your employees receive any refresher driving training courses as required.  

Inspire Success can help you to complete a WHS Audit and provide you with important recommendations and guidance to ensure your business is WHS compliant.


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

Take a look at our HR Compliance Essentials Online Training Course for Work Health & Safety


Improving Employee Communications

Rae Phillips - Monday, May 12, 2014
Internal communications includes all communication within a business. It could be oral or written, face to face or virtual, one-on-one or in groups and of course via social media. Today there are a plethora of techniques and technologies used to communicate, both up/down and side-to-side within an organization.

Whereas the ‘top-down’, employer-driven communication is great for setting a communication agenda or discussion point, it is the peer-to-peer employee communications that often determines the tone of the business. As you may have experienced in the past, employees are given a message and then informally discuss with each other their views and opinions, out of earshot of ‘the boss’. Smart organizations recognise that employees will always talk with each other and to others, so it is better to set the agenda and informal discussion points than have them dictated by uninformed staff.

We know that communicating more effectively with employees is a useful and powerful way of improving greater ‘engagement’ – but what can you do? 

Smart businesses realize that in environments where employees are able to move from one employer to another with relative ease, it is in the company’s best interests to retain the smarter and more productive employees; doing all they can to communicate with them, inform them, influence them and entering into some sort of psychological contract with them is a wise move.  

Think about how you recruit, what messages do you send to potential new employees? What about at induction, how do you help them come on board quickly , with support from the business and their team mates? How do you follow up how they are settling in? How are you checking that any issues have been addressed? What do you do when someone is not performing to your expectations? And how do you exit your people - are they leaving with dignity regardless of whether the decision was theirs or not?

Successful employers recognise that an unhappy and trapped employee is a potential liability. Of  great concern are the findings that just under half of all employees who left their employer did so because of a bad experience, such as being passed over for promotion, because of ongoing unresolved issues or their direct manager. How can your human resources structure and systems support your  internal communications?

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

Practical implications of the Bullying legislation changes

Rae Phillips - Sunday, April 27, 2014


By now, everyone should know that from 1 January 2014, employees and other workers are able to make a new type of claim to the Fair Work Commission (the Commission) to make bullying at work stop. And if you don't, there will be no excuses!

We know that employers have always had an obligation to provide a workplace that is free from bullying, but this is the first time the Fair Work Commission has had any responsibility for resolving these matters. So you need to know and understand the implications of these changes and make sure you are taking steps to protect your business.

Bullying at work

I am not going to define it, but you should already know that bullying at work occurs when:

  • a person or a group of people repeatedly behaves unreasonably towards a worker or a group of workers at work and
  • the behaviour creates a risk to health and safety.

It may involve any of the following types of behaviour:

  • aggressive or intimidating conduct;
  • belittling or humiliating comments;
  • spreading malicious rumours;
  • teasing, practical jokes or ‘initiation ceremonies’;
  • exclusion from work-related events;
  • unreasonable work expectations, including too much or too little work, or work below or beyond a worker’s skill level;
  • displaying offensive material; and/or
  • pressure to behave in an inappropriate manner.

Although bullying requires repetitive behaviour, even a one off incident of this type of behaviour towards a person because of a protected attribute, such as sex, age, disability or race may breach anti-discrimination legislation.

Employers obligations

If you do NOTHING ELSE, you must include having a bullying and harassment policy in place that clearly sets out what you expect in terms of behaviour. Regardless of the size of your business, we suggest that your should include conducting bullying and harassment training on a regular basis to ensure workers know and understand the policy.

Do these basics
  • Have a clear policy;
  • Provide this to all employees through a workshop where everyone has a chance to ask questions;
  • The definition of employee has changed, now you should include contractors, volunteers and anyone else who comes to your workplace;
  • Get your existing team to sign off on their understanding and willingness to work in the appropriate way;
  • As new people come on board make sure the policy is part of your pre-employment policies and they attend a training session to understand it really well;
  • All supervisors or leaders must have training on what to do if someone brings a complaint or issue to them;
  • Repeat all of this on a regular basis - maybe 6 or 12 monthly depending on the size and turnover of your business;
  • Immediately action any complaint or issue that is bought to you or your team - don't think it will go away - it will only get worse.

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

Train people well enough that they can leave Treat them well enough that they dont want to

Rae Phillips - Saturday, April 26, 2014
Photo

Inspire Success and the Central Coast Teleworking Strategy

Rae Phillips - Thursday, April 24, 2014
Following last months launch of the Central Coast Teleworking Strategy and the regions commitment of creating 1,000,000 teleworking days on the Coast by 2020, Inspire Success and the way we work was showcased.

Rae called in from Santiago and Terri provided a face to face presence talking about how we use teleworking to make things happen. This video shows the entire strategy launch, our section runs from 23.34mins.

http://vimeo.com/92048977



4 steps for managing your independent contractor risks

Rae Phillips - Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Do you engage independent contractors at your place? For many of us, this is a perfect way to access skills and knowledge you need in the business on a short term basis. There are also risks - here are 4 steps for managing your independent contractor risks.

1.  Consider the relationship 

Before engaging any independent contractors,you need to consider the type of relationship you want to create. 

Ask yourself, why am I engaging this particular employee? What type of work will they be doing? What role are they filling? What gap are they plugging? How long do you need them for? Do I need someone with specialised skills or knowledge? And, can we do the work in-house?


2. Draft the contract carefully

It is critical that you get advice on what  the independent contractors contract should – and shouldn't – contain.


The contract must reflect the relationship with the worker and the organisation and be clear about the expectations, roles, and interaction that they will have. It must also be clear that the worker is not a direct employee.

3. Know your obligations 

There are often obligations that apply to workers even though they're not employees. For example, the work health and safety laws, which apply in all states bar WA and Victoria extend health and safety obligations beyond the traditional employee/employer relationships to all workers onsite.

4. Keep an eye on things 

When the work arrangements are in place, you must regularly check that the relationship is still the one you intended to create, and hasn't changed over time. 

Many of the issues we see in this situation is that the nature of the relationship changes over time, this could mean that you have an independent contractor working with you who can be deemed as an employee. 

The implications of getting independent contractor arrangements wrong are far reaching. You can very easily become vicariously liable if a person who you consider to be an independent contractor was found to be an employee and then have a range of entitlements that you may have to pay out. There's penalties that can be imposed [and] tax implications. It's far and wide.

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

Our favourite ways to introduce flexible work practices

Rae Phillips - Saturday, April 12, 2014

Improving employee engagement will improve productivity and profit at your place. One of the things we can do to help is to make sure our workplaces provide flexibility. Flexibility at work means different things to different people, so have a look at this list of our favourites:

Job-share: When two or more people share the responsibilities, hours, salary and benefits of one full-time job.

Part-time: When an employee works less than full-time capacity and has reasonably predictable hours of work. They receive the same entitlements as a full-time employee but on a pro rata basis.

Employee-choice rostering: This allows employees to elect or choose shifts on a permanent or rotating basis that best suits their caring responsibilities.

Working from home: Involves employees working away from the office, usually at home. It can occur on a full-time, part-time, temporary or permanent basis.

Flexible working hours: When a set number of hours per week or month are determined with flexibility about when they are achieved.

Hours’ bank: Additional hours may be worked and stored in a ‘bank’ for quieter periods.

Annualised working hours: Involves rearranging the hours that staff work throughout the year to meet seasonal or fluctuating workloads. These hours are paid at a standardised weekly rate, even though the hours actually worked may vary during the year.

Compressed workweek: Usually involves working full-time hours over fewer days. For example, 3 38 hour x 5 day week may be worked over 4 days.

Seasonal start and finish time: Usually applicable to outdoors industries – summer work starts at dawn and finishes early while winter work starts later.

Purchased annual leave: Enables an employee to purchase additional leave during the course of the year. That means an employee would receive an additional 4 weeks’ paid leave per year as the employee’s 48-week salary is paid over 52 weeks. This can also work on 2- or 6-week purchase plan.

Extended unpaid leave: When an employee has exhausted their leave entitlements but still requires more time off. Additional leave days are granted without pay or loss of job and are usually for short periods.

Make up time: Where time away from work is made up at another time, usually within close proximity to the occurrence. No pay changes occur as a result

Change travel and overnight stays: When travel is reduced or timings changed to accommodate employee requirements, e.g. they do not have to travel during school holidays.

Sabbaticals: This is an extended period away from work to pursue study or other development activities. Some employers pay employees while on sabbatical, while others do not pay but allow the time away.

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


Thanks to 

Charles Power of the 

Employment Law Practical Handbook for many of these ideas.

Finding the right talent for your place

Rae Phillips - Saturday, March 22, 2014

Recruitment can be expensive and time consuming but choosing the right employees for your organisation is essential for your success. Recruiting the wrong people for your organisation can lead to increased staff turnover, increased costs for the organisation, and lowering of morale in your existing workforce. 

Therefore, your recruitment and selection processes need to be efficient and well managed. Here, we look at recruitment and selection from the start - deciding on the recruitment criteria, where to advertise, what questions to ask and then selection through evaluation forms.

Let’s look at each of these in a little more detail.

1. Create a position description for the role:  This is the most critical part of your recruitment and selection process!

Here you evaluate the need for the position so that you don't recruit just for the sake of it. What do you really need the role to do? Why not ask the others in the team? Get a list of tasks drawn up and then group them into areas of responsibility.

Ask the team to highlight the tasks that are done daily, weekly, monthly. Cross check them with other roles so that there is support but not double ups.

How are you going to measure if the person in the role does a good job? What will the key results areas be? Quality - how well the job is done; Quantity - how many of the gadgets are made; Time - how long it takes to get the job done.

At this point, decide who in the team can help you with the interview process. A peer in the interview helps to settle the candidate and gives a different perspective to yours.

2. Identify the key recruitment criteria:- .

Now that you know what needs to be done, we need to work out what skills, knowledge, attitudes and aptitudes are needed for the position. What is essential for the role (a qualification, previous work on the same type of machine, ability to work weekends) and what is nice to have (previous experience, additional training.)

The key recruitment criteria are actually your ideal person specification. If you get everything on the list, your spec has been filled, that's why its important to decide what you are prepared to 'miss out' on if necessary. You can always train for skills and knowledge, but a bad attitude is always a bad attitude.

3. Decide where to advertise:

There are a lot of options open to you when advertising, but the key is always to remember who your audience are. Where does your ideal candidate look for work? If the answer is in the newspaper on Saturdays, then advertise there - but there are many other options that are quicker, cost less and are more effective. Here are some ideas. Remember, to find good people in this employment environment you have to stand out and be innovative:

ONLINE - look for industry or regional job boards. Google the role name and see where similar positions are advertised, get some hints from there.

OFFLINE - try the places people go to get relevant qualifications, or where they hang out. Put signs up, create postcards with the vacancy on them and hand them out.

4. Develop the Interview Questions:

If you interview without a standard set of questions you are setting yourself up for failure. You cant compare candidates fairly if you ask them different questions or they experience a different type of interview. You also cant provide evidence for your recruitment decisions if you dont make notes for each part of the process.

Take the key recruitment criteria you started with and form questions relating to each one. Your first interview would include some questions that allow the candidate to demonstrate (or not!) their skills and experience in each of these recruitment criteria. Behaviourally based questions are the best way to make this assessment (Tell me about a time when…). The second interview would include questions that enable you to explore these areas further or allow someone else in the team to get involved and give feedback on how they would fit in.

5. Create your Evaluation process:

Evaluation should also be developed around the recruitment criteria to ensure that you are getting feedback from the interviewers and referees that is consistent with the areas that are most important to you in the role. An evaluation form for each candidate allows you to score how well they rated in each of the criteria and end up with a number. Its much easier to make objective decisions when you have a score to bring you back!

For example, if technical skills are important these can be verified through interview questions, reference checking, and/or through skill testing. Psychometric testing is another option that you may choose to use and have aligned with your key recruiting criteria. 

The beauty of this approach is that once the candidate is employed, they can see the relevance of the selection process to the position they now hold, as evidenced by the position description that they will receive. It closes the loop on the recruitment life cycle and then sets up the performance management process for the employee as they progress in their new role.

These 5 steps are critical to creating your bespoke recruitment process, designed specifically to attract and select great applicants into your business.

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 

From Clerk to The Strategic Management of Productivity and Culture

Rae Phillips - Wednesday, December 11, 2013

I just had a look at the Workplace Forecast Survey which has been conducted by the SHRM for a decade, providing insights to the trends in the US relating to workplace issues for human resources and business professionals. As one of these so called HR professionals, I find it interesting that the past couple of years has shown issues that are recurring and are not only issues for the US.

HR’s emerging role in an increasingly competitive and complex business environment.

Overwhelmingly, the workplace issues are relevant to us in Australia and relate to a more competitive business landscape and the rise of emerging economies; the impact of information and communication technologies and a more complex legal environment, with regular changes to the laws relating to employee rights and employer legal compliance. In addition, problems with finding skilled workers, the aging workforce and a greater demand for work life balance are not only issues in the US, but face us in our small, medium or large businesses in Australia and other countries around the world.

These issues are huge! How does a HR professional provide support to the business to address them? I started reflecting to when I started in this profession more than 20 years ago, when the core HR function was generally payroll and following up forms, and aside from those skills, the key recruiting criteria for HR staff were generally more aligned with the soft skills – making sure that the employees had someone to go to if they had a problem. Wow has it changed!

Ruing the DAY!

Over those years, I think it is interesting to see how the HR role has evolved. I remember during the start of the 1980’s when business was good and lunches were long, when everyone smoked (and drank, in my industry!) at work. The way to a promotion was to work long, hard hours, with little or no regard for penalties or overtime. In the late 1980’s we all hit a road block with the changing economy, the removal of the Training Guarantee and the float of the Aussie dollar, and had to provide support to the leaders in the business to downsize. Where did we cut? The middle of course! And hasn’t that proven to be one the biggest mistakes we made? For the past 15 years many of our businesses have struggled with inexperienced managers who just never got the support and leadership they needed during that time.

In hindsight, I would challenge any of my peers to suggest that we had the skills needed at the time to provide the right advice – just in time or strategic. We were in our roles because we could manage a payroll and were incredibly organised, not because we could ask insightful questions of the boss to assist (him) to make the right decisions for the business, that would help get it out of the current problems and then into a good position in the future.

So where have we moved to now?

As a member of AHRI, we have access to their myriad of resources and their information aligns with the SHRM and other reading I have done.

From what I see, the key skills required of HR professionals now relate to Change Management and developing Organisational Culture. There is no way you can now pick someone, off the workplace floor, so to speak, and give them the HR role. HR Professional means at least one degree, often double, post graduate study, often a Masters and regular top up training to keep up to date. The role has evolved into one of strategic business partner, and if your business doesn’t think of it this way, then there are many dangers lurking – you are wasting money on recruitment, on exit, setting your business up for all sorts of fines and penalties and most of all, not allowing your business or your people to grow to its/their full potential.

The businesses I see that truly do have a partnership approach have a sharp HR professional who is able to demonstrate significant value to the business. They understand the business, the industry and its ebbs and flows and have moved the function from administrative to strategic, helping the leader to shape the business and prepare for acquisitions.

Working with Skills Shortages in Multigenerational Workforces

 Around the world there are now more multigenerational workforces than ever before. On top of that, our workforces are multicultural and moving globally more than ever. It is a challenging task to support operational teams in their leadership and management of these teams, understanding the engagement element of work and how technology can underpin this.

As you know, technology now is cheaper than ever, easy to use and providing high performing solutions to so many businesses. For the HR professional of today, this has necessitated a review of most workplace functions and an analysis of what new roles and skills are required. This applies to all types of business, it is not only the problem of the big corporates – all business should be looking at how they can improve their competitiveness through technology and doing things differently. Your people are a big part of this.

So what about the Recruiting Piece?

Years ago, we would pay a fortune to put an ad in the paper, receive hundreds of applications by mail, sort them manually, call them to see if they would accept what you were paying and get them in for a free trial. This was carte blanche across industries and businesses. (We have seen that some businesses are still trying it on, but it doesn’t continue for long!)

Hasn’t this landscape changed? In our experience now, it is rare to use print media, those costs now reduced by 90%, we use many varied modes (mostly online) to source applicants and we are able to use technology to assist in the review and shortlisting process. There are now many more difficulties finding the right person, and because of the skills shortage, the process can take much longer. But I like to look at this from a different perspective. Instead of buying into this war for talent, and having to compete with salaries, sign on bonuses and the like, why not look at yourself as an employer? Focus on the reasons why someone would want to work at your place – build your employment brand, and offer compelling reasons to work with you. And there’s something else for the HR professional – be a marketer!

The ELEPHANT in the Human Resources Room....

What about retention I hear you ask? I see that more and more business is getting the whole concept around building a good place to work and making it easier for your people to want to stay.

What worries me here is that the pendulum is shifting in many industries to over compensating and providing too much to employees who just end up with higher expectations. The more you give the more they expect right? Don’t get me wrong, I agree that retention of your key employees is critical in maintaining balance in your team, keeping IP within your business, achieving outcomes for stakeholders and reducing costs relating to recruitment and training, but I would counter that we have to return to a position where employees and employers must regain an equal share of the responsibility for the employment relationship.

It is about meeting Profitability and Expectations within your Culture

A commercially sensible, mature HR Professional is critical in working with the operational teams to setting the expectations. This information is then used as part of the induction and on-boarding process to bring people into the team and the work quickly, without mistakes or accidents and in a way that the customer does not see a chink in the supply chain.

So now you are in the market for a sharp, highly educated and well-rounded HR Professional right? They understand how the current and potential economies will impact on your business and planning; they are switched on to the changing legal frameworks relating to work and workplaces and they look for ways that they can build the performance of the business, deliver on the priorities of and reduce the stress for the Boss and the senior team.

Moving forward 

We wonder how the HR role will further evolve? With our ongoing climate of change, we can only imagine that skills to assist in building, energising and engaging workplaces to adapt, will always be something that is critical. Our challenge will be finding those people to help our businesses!



Public Holidays and Penalties Christmas 2013

Rae Phillips - Wednesday, December 11, 2013


As an employee or employer, you need to know your entitlements and obligations for public holidays during the festive season. The following days are public holidays under the National Employment Standards:

  • Wednesday 25 December (Christmas Day)
  • Thursday 26 December (Boxing Day)
  • Wednesday 1 January (New Year’s Day).

Note: in South Australia part-day public holidays have been declared from 7pm - midnight on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

What do employees get on public holidays?

Casual employees aren’t entitled to be paid for a day off for a public holiday. Part-time and full-time employees who get the public holiday off are generally entitled to be paid their base rate of pay for the hours they would have ordinarily worked. For more information go to What employees get to make sure you understand your rights and obligations.

What’s the rate of pay for working on a public holiday?

Some employees are entitled to be paid a higher rate (penalty rates) when they work on a public holiday. Whether or not an employee is entitled to penalty rates depends on a number of things, including the industry and the job. Visit Finding the right pay for tools to help you calculate minimum wages and penalty rates.

Shop trading hours

It’s quite common for there to be restrictions on trading on some public holidays, such as Good Friday or Christmas. This is regulated by each state - see Shop trading hours on public holidays to find out where you can get more information

If you need help with any of this, contact the Fair Work Ombudsman or Inspire Success.

Thanks to the Fair Work Ombudsman for this information

Cyber bullying: Don't underestimate your obligations

Rae Phillips - Friday, October 04, 2013

When an employee is the victim of cyber bullying or abusive phone calls that originate outside of their employment, an employer shouldn't simply dismiss the affair as a "personal" problem, according to Ashurst lawyer Taboka Finn.

Finn says that if an employee is being stalked or abused via their work email address or phone line, an employer should be concerned, regardless of who the perpetrator is.

"The problem is, because it's somebody external to the workplace, an employer might conceive of the issue as a private matter or unrelated to the workplace."

Particularly if the perpetrator is known to police, and has no past or present connection with the workplace (for example as a client or employee) it might be tempting to consider it a police matter and stay out of it.

But an employer's duty to provide a working environment that is safe and without risks would still apply, she says.

Employers' health and safety obligations to employees are "interpreted and conceived broadly" by the law, Finn explains.

"They include things like, not just physical harm but emotional and psychosocial hazards, so I really think it's more prudent to treat this kind of situation as a workplace situation," she says.

"Employers should be aware that providing a work email and a computer system and access to the internet does have risks."

Email, online forums and social networks can all be used to harass employees, she notes.

When to involve the police

If harassment escalates to threatening or stalking "it may step into the criminal sphere", Finn says.

There are some grey areas in deciding when to involve the police, but if threats are made and the employer knows about it, action is required.

"If there are threats and the person believes those are legitimate or true or have some feeling that they might happen, then that's not a grey area anymore; that's a police area," she says.

"I suppose the grey area would be more if somebody's just emailing calling you a 'dumb bitch' all the time - it's not really a criminal issue but it still can raise other OHS aspects for employers, because they've also got a duty to look after their employees' health and wellbeing.

"Your domestic violence and your family violence situations are where it gets a bit murky, because there's a tendency to perceive them as private," Finn says.

"I think, as a general rule of thumb, if you know about it, you should take appropriate action.

"With family violence situations there's going to be more of a level of sensitivity, you've got to respect your employees' privacy - but at the same time, the same rules apply: don't ignore it, act swiftly, act appropriately, make sure support mechanisms are in place, and where appropriate, refer it on to the police."

Even if an employee begs their employer to stay out of it, the employer might want to think twice, she says.

"You've got a duty to monitor your employees' health and wellbeing. So long as you're complying with that obligation and doing what you can to make sure your systems aren't being used to make it worse, I guess there's no obligation to report to the police." But if the situation involves serious threats of violence, it might be prudent to report it anyway.

"If it were serious threats to violence, that exposes you... if somebody is physically assaulted or seriously injured physically, you could be liable if that's a result of your non-compliance with OHS obligations."

The employer might be able to prove they were asked to stay out of it, but "I don't think it would get you very far", Finn says.

Once the police are involved, employers should follow their lead. But they shouldn't consider the problem solved.

"Continue to be mindful of [your] usual obligations... make sure you monitor your employees' health and wellbeing, and take steps to support [them].

"This doesn't mean employers should be intensely questioning or monitoring everything that the employee does," Finn adds.

"I think that would be taking it too far. Some of these matters are personal and people want to keep it out of the workplace and that's their right."

Prevention of this kind of stalking or harassment is problematic - "because we all use email so much, it's hard to control all external factors" - so the real issue is keeping an eye on things and being willing to take action if problems arise, Finn says.

Even so, employers should at least ensure that workers connected to the internet are aware of the risks presented by email, online forums and the like.

If problems arise, employers might be able to assist a worker practically by blocking certain emails or changing their contact details.

"It's also important to provide access to support for employees who have been harassed or received inappropriate emails," for example, via an EAP, Finn says.

It goes without saying that taking action against someone who is a victim of external harassment - for example, sacking them under the guise of poor performance to get rid of the problem - would be a mistake, and could lead to legal action, she adds.

"I certainly think victimising a person for having this kind of situation arise in the workplace would be inappropriate."

(May 2013, hrdaily)


Is this an issue at your place? Contact Inspire Success for a no obligation chat about the situation

Your staff know what bullying is, but do they know what it's not?

Rae Phillips - Friday, October 04, 2013

Recent changes to the Fair Work Act provide further motivation for employers to ensure their staff know what bullying is - and what it's not, according to Workplace Solutions director Fay Calderone.

Starting on 1 January 2014, workers who believe they have been bullied at work will be able to apply directly to the Fair Work Commission for assistance.

The FWC must start to deal with the matter within 14 days of receiving the complaint by informing itself of the matter, holding a conference, or holding a hearing.

If it is satisfied a worker has been bullied at work and there's a risk this will continue, the FWC can make any order it considers appropriate to stop the bullying, for example requiring individuals or groups to stop specified behaviours, or commencing regular monitoring of the employer's actions.

"The Fair Work Commission, in making orders or considering the matter, must take into account the employer's internal dispute procedures and the outcomes of any management of the dispute internally," Calderone notes.

For this reason, "it is now more important than ever" for employers to have up-to-date, comprehensive grievance and investigation procedures that are "meticulously" followed.

"If you can demonstrate that you've got those procedures, that they're rock solid and the employer has meticulously complied with them, and the outcome was appropriate in the circumstances, you may prevent the matter escalating further."

At present, employees who wish to seek orders during the course of their employment have to make an application in the Federal Court or Federal Circuit, and bear the cost of doing so even if they're successful, because it's largely a no-cost jurisdiction. As a result, very few do, Calderone says.

Under the new laws, she is concerned that employers will be "marched to the commission" much more frequently than they should be.

"On a day-to-day basis, advising employers, what I see is a lot of claims that fall very short of bullying and harassment causing a risk to work health and safety."

But from 1 January, employers will have to "front up" to the Commission to deal with all complaints.

Experienced HR professionals might be able to quickly and concisely present the employer's position to lay the matter to rest, but "you're still there, you're still in the Commission, much further into it than you would have been without these laws", Calderone says.

Even for senior HR professionals, approaching the Commission without legal support could be risky.

"It's not clear as yet how much of this will be dealt with on record or off record," Calderone explains.

"Fair Work must inform themselves of the matter - [so] hold a conference or hold a hearing.

"To the extent that it's on the record, it could be quite dangerous for employers to be acting in these sorts of matters on their own," she warns.

"There's usually a provision in the Work Health and Safety Act that says if a matter is being dealt with in any other jurisdiction, it can't be dealt with under the Work Health and Safety legislation, to basically stop forum shopping," Calderone adds.

"However, these new amendments specifically allow this in relation to bullying. There can be a matter in the Fair Work Commission, but separate matters under the Work Health and Safety Act."

The Fair Work Commission may also refer the matter to a work health and safety regulator.

This "raises the stakes" for employers to the extent that they could be dealing with an industrial dispute in the Commission that ultimately ends up with a work health and safety regulator, with harsh penalties attached.

"We are dealing with disputes during the course of employment rather than post-termination, and disputes that raise health and safety issues which may also be dealt with by the regulator. The Commission must also take into account investigations undertaken by the regulator and the outcome of those investigations, so there's significant crossover," she says.

Education is key

To discourage employees from making misguided claims in the first place, education is key.

"Employers should have very clear, comprehensive policies internally that say what is bullying and what is not bullying," Calderone says.

It's particularly important to educate staff about what actions fall short of bullying for the purposes of making a complaint - such as reasonable management action or an interpersonal conflict in the workplace.

Employers will also avoid unnecessary intervention if employees feel comfortable making internal grievance procedures their first port-of-call.

"[If employees] feel that their matter is very quickly being dealt with internally - openly, transparently [and] efficiently... clearly from a cultural or a psychological point of view there's less likelihood the employee's going to escalate that matter and go to the Fair Work Commission," she explains.

In light of the amendments, Calderone strongly recommends that employers review and update their:

  • counselling and disciplinary procedures - to ensure they are in a position to demonstrate "reasonable management action";
  • anti-bullying policies - and provide associated training to employees and managers in relation to these;
  • grievance, investigation and dispute resolution procedures - given that the Commission must, in making orders, take into account procedures available to workers to resolve disputes and any outcomes arising from those.


Family-friendly changes are in force now

Unlike the bullying amendments, family friendly changes to the Act have already taken affect.

Starting this month, HR managers need to ensure their systems, policies and procedures incorporate a number of extensions to existing flexible work requirements, Calderone says.

The family-friendly changes mean:

  • pregnant women can transfer to a safe job even if they haven't worked for their employer for 12 months (and if there is no safe job, they are entitled to unpaid leave even if they aren't entitled to paid parental leave);
  • employees can take special maternity leave without it reducing the amount of unpaid parental leave they can take;
  • couples can take up to eight weeks' unpaid parental leave at the same time (increasing from three weeks), and can take it in separate periods - for example, two periods of two weeks; and
  • more groups of employees now have the right to request flexible working arrangements, including employees with caring responsibilities, parents or guardians of children that are school age or younger, employees with disability, employees who are 55 years or older, and employees who are experiencing family violence or supporting a family or household member who is.

A positive change for employers is the provision of further guidance on the reasonable grounds upon which they can refuse flexible work requests, Calderone says.

"While they're entirely consistent with the grounds employers have been using, it's certainly more comforting to [reference] a bullet point in the legislation."

The legislation's non-exhaustive list of "reasonable business grounds" to refuse a flexible work request includes:

  • the new working arrangements would be too costly for the employer;
  • there is no capacity to change the working arrangements of other employees to accommodate the request;
  • it would be impractical to change the working arrangements of other employees or hire new employees;
  • new working arrangements would be likely to result in significant loss in efficiency/productivity; or
  • new working arrangements would be likely to result in significant negative impact on customer service.


Other upcoming changes

Other changes, not due to take effect until 1 January next year, relate to right of entry rules and roster consultation.

Changes to right of entry rules mean that interviews and discussions with employees must be held in an area that the business and permit holder agree to, Calderone says.

If no agreement can be reached, lunch rooms can be used.

Further, although permit holders must still comply with "reasonable requests" of the occupier of the premises to take a particular route, the occupier must refrain from intentionally hindering or obstructing a permit holder from exercising their rights under the Act, including the new rights set out above.

The changes also mean the Fair Work Commission will be able to deal with disputes about the frequency of visits, accommodation and transport arrangements.

Changes relating to rosters will require employers to "genuinely consult" with their employees when altering their regular roster and ordinary working hours.

When employers want to make a change they will need to:

  • give information to employees about the changes;
  • invite employees to air their views about how the changes will affect them; and
  • consider the employees' views.

Visit the Fair Work Amendment Bill 2013 homepage.

Sex discrimination amendments also passed

The Fair Work amendments follow the passage of the Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Bill, which legislates further protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people.

The legislation will establish, for the first time at the Federal level, protections against discrimination in areas such as accommodation and healthcare.

The new protections build upon the Government's reforms to 85 Commonwealth Acts, which removed discrimination against same-sex couples and their children.

(July 2013, hrdaily)

Is this an issue at your place? Contact Inspire Success for a no obligation chat about the situation.

 

Courts "responding well" to social media misconduct

Rae Phillips - Wednesday, October 02, 2013
Industrial tribunals have responded well to the challenges posed by social media misconduct, and employers shouldn't be afraid to take action in appropriate cases, says barrister Elizabeth Raper.

In grappling with the topic, courts have been "making sure they undertake a balanced exercise in terms of the need to sanction outside-work conduct, against the legitimate interests of those that are responsible for the conduct when it falls in the workplace, for which employers can be vicariously liable", Raper told the 20th Labour Law Conference in Sydney this week.

The main issue that has been brought into "stark relief" from Facebook cases in the industrial arena is the extent to which conduct outside of work can be the subject of sanction by an employer, she says. "So related to this issue is whether the conduct is private, and whether it's outside, therefore, the purview of employers."

She says social-media-related misconduct cases tend to fall into three categories:

•    crossing of "professional boundaries" via social media;
•    social media misconduct outside of work - for example making disparaging comments online, or harassing or intimidating co-workers; and

•    social media as a contemporaneous record of misconduct - for example where an employee claims to be sick, but posts photos from the party they're attending, or posts evidence online of misconduct that occurred in the workplace.

According to Raper, decisions to date reveal a similar evolution to that seen with sexual harassment cases in the 1980s, and email pornography cases in the 1990s. In all three areas, "courts have gained over time a greater understanding of the technology, and then have considered the misconduct in the light of the wider obligations of employers to protect their workforces".

Further, as with these earlier cases, "there's a lesson to be learned from all parties in terms of employers understanding what their rights and obligations are, and also employees working out, 'When does the conduct overstep the mark and can be the subject of sanction?'"

Out-of-hours misconduct

Employers struggle with the issue of sanctioning employees for misconduct outside of work, but there are some instructive decisions to guide their actions, Raper says.


The 1996 Federal Court decision in McManus v Scott-Charlton, for example, shows that "When considering the question of obeying lawful direction and the extent to which an employer can give a direction or sanction an employee for conduct outside of work, it was said rightly that when you're considering the conduct, it's about matters affecting work", she says.

Tribunals expect employers to provide "some legitimate level of supervision of the relationship of employees inter se... in order to protect the interests of an employer from adverse effects that can flow from employee misconduct", she says.

"So the cases in terms of dealing with misconduct generally reveal that derogatory comments on Facebook will give rise to sanction."

In determining whether sanctions are fair and warranted, an independent umpire will specifically consider "the extent to which the conduct has affected the employer's business, and whether the relationship of trust and confidence has been compromised", Raper notes.

In the case of O'Keefe v Good Guys, it was legitimate for an employer to sack a worker who said intimidating and damaging things about a colleague on Facebook from his home, she points out.

"In that decision Deputy President Swan quite rightly said, 'Let's see what the employee handbook says about being courteous and respectful. Let's deal with the issues about how an employee shouldn't behave. [And] putting aside whether there was a policy in place that dealt with Facebook or not, or email, or inappropriate outside-work conduct... let's deal with common sense that would dictate that one could not write and therefore publish insulting and threatening comments about another employee in the manner which occurred'.

"What the decisions reveal is that conduct on online socialising sites, just like conduct outside work, will be dealt with in the way that the tribunals have always dealt with misconduct."

Social media "not a private conversation at the pub"

Raper says she is often asked how "making derogatory comments on Facebook is any different from having a private conversation down at the pub on a Friday night, when you're just having a whinge".


"The difference is this: there's a wider audience; it can be on-sent to other people and out of context; it's often communicated to work colleagues; there's a permanent record; and it can be republished time and time again. By virtue of those things it's different from the old conversations that we used to deal with."

(15 August 2012, hrdaily)

Is this an issue at your place? Contact Inspire Success for a no obligation chat about the situation.

Termination of Employment in Australia: Best Practice Guide

Rae Phillips - Wednesday, October 02, 2013

The decision to dismiss an employee is an area of the employment relationship that requires an understanding of a wide range of legislative and other obligations of an employer. The decision is also a significant one in terms of the effect on the employee and the business. Not surprisingly, a significant amount of resources, time and effort needs to be devoted to the associated decisions and processes. Knowing the legal risks and obligations involved is essential.

WHAT OBLIGATIONS ARISE?

Unfair dismissal laws, which are set out in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act), apply to a large number of Australian employees and generally give those employees the broadest protection from having their employment terminated. Therefore a good starting point is to consider whether or not an employee is covered by unfair dismissal laws.

Who is covered by unfair dismissal laws?
Employees who are earning up to $123,300 excluding superannuation and incentive bonuses or payments (indexed for CPI each year) are covered by unfair dismissal laws. In addition, employees who are covered by awards or enterprise agreements made under the FW Act or its predecessor, irrespective of their earnings, will be covered by the unfair dismissal laws.

This is the case except for:

•    Certain casual employees
•    Employees who were dismissed during their first six months of employment (or 12 months in the case of stipulated small employers)
•    Employees engaged on a specified term contract if the ending of the employment is due to the contract not being renewed at its expiry

•    Certain employees engaged under traineeships.

KEY POINTS

If considering dismissing an employee, ask what obligations will impact upon the decision.

Comply with any unfair dismissal laws that apply and any workplace policies, industrial agreements or contractual provisions that may impact upon dismissal or discipline of employees.

Identify any payments the employee is entitled to on ending of the employment.

WHAT DO UNFAIR DISMISSAL LAWS REQUIRE?

Under unfair dismissal laws, an employer cannot dismiss an employee unless they have a valid reason connected with the employee's conduct, capacity or because of a genuine redundancy. In addition, if the dismissal is related to conduct or capacity, it may still be unfair if the employee is not notified of the reason for their dismissal, not given an adequate opportunity to respond to those reasons, not provided with a warning in certain circumstances, not allowed a support person to assist them in discussions about the hearing or if the dismissal was otherwise procedurally unfair.

A valid reason is one that is sound and defensible and related to the employment. Except for serious misconduct (eg theft), if dismissing an employee because of inadequate performance or misconduct, an employer may need to establish more than one incident of misconduct or poor performance to justify the dismissal. In addition, the existence of prior warnings about the employee's misconduct or poor performance will normally be necessary in the sense that the employee has been made aware that failure to improve their performance or conduct may jeopardise their ongoing employment.

In the case of the valid reason, employers need to establish the misconduct on the "balance of probabilities". A rigorous investigation of the circumstances is often a key element of satisfying that burden of proof. Employers need to ensure that they have sought and taken into account all relevant evidence and properly tested it and that, prior to any dismissal decision, they have given the employee an opportunity to respond to any allegations against them, including having given them sufficient detail of the matters that may form the basis for dismissal.

An employer should also take into account the employee's length of service, employment record and relevant personal circumstances before making the decision to dismiss.

REMEDIES UNDER UNFAIR DISMISSAL LAWS

A dismissal that is found to be unfair may lead to the employee being reinstated to the position that they were employed in prior to the dismissal or to another position on terms and conditions no less favourable than that position.

This may include an order that the employee be appointed to an associated entity of the employer that dismissed the employee. Where reinstatement is ordered, Fair Work Australia can also make an order that continuity of service of the employee is not broken by the dismissal and that they be compensated for any loss of pay suffered between the time of dismissal and reinstatement.

If Fair Work Australia considers that reinstatement is inappropriate, it may instead order payment of compensation to the employee up to a maximum of six months' pay (capped at a maximum of $61,650).

In determining the amount of compensation, Fair Work Australia must take all relevant circumstances into account, including the employee's length of service, the remuneration that the person would have received had they not been dismissed, efforts by the employer to mitigate any loss suffered, any remuneration earned by the employee since the dismissal, the effect of the order on the viability of the employer's enterprise and income reasonably likely to be earned by the person since the dismissal.

EMPLOYEE OBLIGATIONS

The common law imposes a number of obligations on employees, even when those obligations are not expressly stipulated in the employment contract or any industrial instruments. These obligations include the obligation of an employee to behave honestly, the requirement that the employee perform their work to the best of their ability, the obligation to act in the interests of the employer and the obligation to follow reasonable and lawful directions. Where those obligations are breached, an employer may, subject to applicable procedural issues, have the right to dismiss the employee, depending upon the nature and circumstances of the non-compliance. Dismissal of an employee is normally grounded on one of these types of implied duties.

Workplace policies about behaviour may also form a basis to dismiss an employee when there is a breach of the policies by the employee.

Conversely, an employer has obligations to its employees, including a duty to pay the employee an agreed or stipulated amount of remuneration and a duty to take care for the employee's safety. More recently, Australian courts have considered whether an employer is actually under an obligation to provide work to an employee rather than simply pay them the agreed or stipulated amount of remuneration. This is relevant when considering suspending an employee on full pay or if putting an employee on garden leave (that is, paying the employee but directing them not to perform any work).

Employers should also consider any obligations owed, either by the employer or the employee, in any written contract of employment.

DISCRIMINATION AND GENERAL PROTECTIONS

When dismissing an employee, employers also need to ensure that a reason for the dismissal (even if not the only reason) did not include certain protected attributes of that employee, set out under state and federal discrimination laws or under the general protections available under the FW Act, including:

•    Race, ethnicity, colour, natural extraction or social origin or religion
•    Age
•    Physical features or characteristics
•    Disability or impairment
•    Temporary absence due to illness or injury
•    Sex or sexual preference
•    Pregnancy, carer or family responsibilities, or parental or carer status
•    Marital status
•    Having a role as a union delegate or oh&s representative
•    Political opinion
•    Union membership or being involved in industrial activities

•    Making a complaint about occupational health and safety matters or conditions of employment.

A temporary absence is where the absence is not more than three consecutive months or three months in a 12 month period and where the employee is not on paid sick leave for the duration of the absence.

An employer may have a defence to dismissing an employee for some of the above reasons if it was an integral requirement of the job or the employee could not perform the inherent requirements of the position due to the attribute (usually this will only apply to a dismissal due to a disability or impairment).
Some categories of employees have additional protections, such as employees who have been injured at work, as they have additional protections under workers' compensation legislation.

It is also unlawful to terminate an employee's employment because they have exercised, or wish to exercise, what is known as a workplace right. An employer is prevented from dismissing employees because the employee:

•    Is able to or has participated in workplace processes or proceedings
•    Has the benefit of, or a responsibility under a workplace instrument or law

•    Is able to make, or has made, a complaint or inquiry to a body or person seeking compliance with a workplace law or instrument.

If a court or tribunal finds that a reason for an employee's dismissal is related to one of the above reasons, the dismissal is unlawful. Reinstatement is a possibility, as well as compensation of up to six months' pay (capped at $61,650, which is half of the high-income threshold amount) and a penalty of up to $33,000 imposed on the employer. Where a discrimination claim is made in a state or federal discrimination tribunal, compensation is not usually capped and while a penalty cannot be ordered, compensation can be ordered for pain and suffering or general damages as well as economic loss.

With discrimination or unlawful termination claims, an employee usually has to establish that they have been dismissed and that they have the protected attribute they allege was a reason to dismiss them. However, in practice, the burden of proof then falls on the employer to show that the dismissal was not motivated by any of the claimed discriminatory reasons. The best way for an employer to do this is to demonstrate the valid reason that it was motivated by. Failing to do so may lead the court or tribunal to infer that the discriminatory attribute alleged by the employee was a reason for the dismissal. So even if a valid reason and procedural fairness is not technically required, they will often be very important to demonstrate in order to defend a discrimination or breach of workplace rights claim.

SUSPENSION OF EMPLOYEE

Often when an employer is faced with information that suggests an employee may be guilty of serious misconduct, it is preferable that the employee in question is suspended while an investigation takes place. Taking this course is often advisable as if the employee has engaged in the alleged misconduct, it is prudent to remove the employee from the workplace.

An employer does not have a general right to suspend employees unless they are permitted to do so under a workplace agreement or where the employee is not covered by an industrial instrument or by an express written clause in the employment contract.

Typically, an employer will be able to suspend the employee pending an investigation into serious misconduct, provided that the employee is paid their normal remuneration during the suspension period. Suspension on full pay will normally be permitted, provided it is not for an unreasonable length of time.

Any investigation carried out by an employer, whether or not the employee is suspended, should always be undertaken without any unnecessary delay.

IMPLEMENTING THE DISMISSAL

Once a decision has been made to dismiss the employee, termination of the employment and the meeting leading up to it should be documented in writing. Unfair dismissal laws require that the employee be notified of the reasons for the dismissal. In any event, it is good practice to expressly state in writing the reasons for the dismissal, as well as the effective date of termination.

It is generally not good practice to be evasive or too general about the reasons for the dismissal (even if unfair dismissal laws do not apply) as it may raise questions about the reasons for dismissal, allowing courts or tribunals to draw an inference that discriminatory reasons outlined above may have been part of it.
Where a dismissal is due to serious and wilful misconduct, an employee is not entitled to notice of termination or to a payment in lieu of notice in most circumstances. However, where a dismissal is not related to serious and wilful misconduct, an employer needs to ensure that the employee receives the appropriate notice period or pay in lieu of notice. The employee will also need to be provided with any accrued entitlements that are payable on the ending of the employment, such as annual leave and long service leave.

Employers also need to consider any obligations or processes set out in workplace agreements or workplace policies that may impact upon the dismissal of an employee. For example, it is common for workplace agreements to stipulate disciplinary processes that are to be followed prior to dismissing an employee. Failure to comply with these may expose the employer to an unfair dismissal claim or breach of the workplace agreement. Employers should also note that injunctions may be ordered for breaches of enterprise agreements made under the FW Act.

NOTICE

The employee will be entitled to at least the minimum period of notice or payment in lieu of notice stipulated in the FW Act. The notice period depends upon the employee's length of service. Employers should also check any applicable workplace instrument in the event that the notice period is higher than the minimum in the FW Act, in which case the notice provisions in that workplace agreement should be complied with.

Employers also need to check whether an employee may be entitled to a higher period of notice in accordance with their contract of employment. Where the employee has a written employment contract that expressly stipulates the period of notice to apply on termination, and it is higher than any legislative or workplace agreement minimums, then that express notice provision in the contract must be provided.

In some cases, employees may be entitled to reasonable notice (which again may be far higher than any minimums in legislation or workplace agreements). This might be the case when, for example, there is no written contract of employment, the written contract of employment does not provide for notice of termination or where, since the written contract was agreed to, there have been substantial changes to the employee's position, which may render the express notice in the initial contract irrelevant.

Employers need to be careful about these issues as reasonable notice in some cases, particularly for senior employees, may be significantly more than standard minimums.
Employers who pay an amount in lieu of notice should be careful. Unless the contract of employment expressly allows it, it is a breach of the contract.

Any payment in lieu of notice should also properly consider whether it is calculated on base salary or may need to include other benefits in the employment contract.

REDUNDANCY

Where an employee's employment comes to an end because their position is redundant, the employee may be entitled to redundancy or severance pay in addition to any notice of termination or payment in lieu of notice. This entitlement may arise under the National Employment Standards in the FW Act, under an applicable award (including a modern award), workplace agreement, workplace policy or from the employee's contract. In the case of the employment contract, there may be an express provision entitling the employee to severance or redundancy pay or such a benefit may be implied or otherwise incorporated into the contract - for example, due to the existence of an applicable redundancy policy applying at the workplace.

An employer needs to provide the employee with the higher of any applicable redundancy pay entitlement in a written contract, workplace policy, under the FW Act or industrial instrument.

Employers should also keep in mind that in some cases, an employee is not entitled to redundancy or severance pay in the event that their position is made redundant - for example, if the employer has offered them or arranged suitable alternative employment. Employers need to carefully review the document that provides the redundancy pay entitlement to assess that issue.

Employers must also comply with any process or obligations set out in workplace agreements relating to consultation and exploring alternative positions in the case of genuine redundancies. Failure to do so may expose employers to a breach of those workplace agreements or to an unfair dismissal claim.

LEAVE ENTITLEMENTS, SUPERANNUATION AND TAXATION

An employee is also entitled to accrued statutory entitlements such as annual leave and long service leave (if the employee reaches the relevant length of service threshold). Employers should carefully consider the rate of pay that employees ought to receive for leave accruals on termination, particularly when there are non-cash components of remuneration. Also, superannuation payable on final entitlements, including leave and payments in lieu of notice, is likely to be different, as will the tax payable (which will also depend on whether the dismissal relates to redundancy or not).

Australian Consumer Law

When dismissing an employee, employers also need to consider any potential for an employee to raise claims about breaches of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) or misleading and deceptive conduct or misrepresentation. Typically these issues arise when an employee claims that they were promised certain benefits, which may not have been set out in any written agreements. For example, an employee may claim that they were promised certain bonuses, or that they were promised long-term or secure employment and that non-payment of these bonuses or dismissing them is in breach of those promises and constitutes misleading and deceptive conduct, misrepresentation or breach of the ACL by the employer.

Employers need to be careful to investigate whether any such promises may have been made, including at the time the employee was being recruited by the employer to commence employment.

RESTRAINTS OF TRADE AND CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION

Certain obligations on employees during their employment survive the ending of the employment, eg. non-disclosure or use of confidential information and restraint of trade clauses (provided, in the case of restraint clauses, that they are express terms of a written employment contract). After dismissing an employee, employers should consider how to best minimise the risks of employees breaching those obligations. Employers may need to consider taking specific steps to protect confidential information that the dismissed employee had access to or may have retained. Similarly, where an employee is the subject of a restraint, employers should give consideration to the best way to ensure that the employee maintains that obligation.

Employers should also be aware that if they dismiss an employee contrary to the express provisions of the contract of employment, including failing to give the required notice of termination or other termination benefits, a court may regard this as a repudiation of the employment contract by the employer. If that occurs, a court may also conclude that other clauses in the employment contract such as restraint of trade clauses are no longer enforceable by the employer as the employer's breach of the contract shows an intention that the employer no longer wishes to be bound by the terms of the contract. This highlights the need to ensure that the dismissal of any employee is carefully implemented.


(DLA Piper, 20 August 2013, http://www.mondaq.com)

Is this an issue at your place? Contact Inspire Success for a no obligation chat about the situation.


Take the dread out of giving employee feedback with these best practices

Rae Phillips - Wednesday, September 11, 2013
For some managers, giving employee feedback can be the toughest thing in the world to do. Often, it's because they're worried how the employee will react and also how their attitude and behaviours might negatively change going forward. Because employee feedback is such a dreaded task for some managers, they often avoid giving it all together. And the research tells us that's a bad thing.



  • Managers giving little or no feedback to their workers fail to engage 98% of them¹.
  • 79% of employees who quit their jobs cite a lack of appreciation as a key reason for leaving².
  • Organisations with effective feedback and recognition programs have significantly greater business and individual results³.

Okay, understood. Feedback is good. The question is, if it's so important, why do so many managers avoid giving it?

Are they worried about how employees will react (tears, anger, attitude change)? Do they lack the knowledge and tools to give effective feedback? Are they unsure about the best way to give feedback?

In this HR's BOLD THINKERS video series, seasoned HR professional and performance management expert Jamie Resker shares her simple model for requesting and giving effective feedback. Her technique helps eliminate defensiveness and drive employee development and high performance. By following her advice, managers and employees can take the dread out of performance conversations.

Watch the video now.

(23 July 2013, hrdaily)

Is this an issue at your place? Contact Inspire Success for a no obligation chat about the situation

How to build "bulletproof accountability" into L&D

Rae Phillips - Wednesday, July 31, 2013
The best way to grow and promote internal talent is to implement effective, high-quality training and development programs - but too many schemes lack the "bulletproof accountability" they need to justify the price tag, according to leadership experts.

Measuring the impact of leadership development programs, authored by the head of Right Management's Global Centre of Excellence, Dr Ric Roi, and KnowledgeAdvisors CEO Jeffrey Berk, says that when it comes to investing in leadership development programs, the stakes are high.

Not only are they among the most expensive learning programs; they also take key leaders away from their roles while they are in training and attract keen interest from C-suite personnel.

Ideally, a leadership development program will link to and inform nearly every aspect of talent management - from onboarding and performance management through to succession planning, the authors say.

Programs that leverage "robust and sophisticated measurement practices" - and allow overseers to provide meaningful reports on efficiency, effectiveness and outcomes - can not only justify investment, but foster continuous improvement.

The first step to ensuring measurable results is to determine the organisation's desired outcomes, the authors say.

"To develop measures of leadership development training that are practical, reasonable, and predictive, the learning organisation must know what measurement outcomes it hopes to achieve."

The "absolute minimum" goal should be quantified feedback on leadership development satisfaction and quality, they say.

Timely indicators of impact and effectiveness are also essential.

"Data must be provided while the program can still be modified and improved... Waiting until a year or two into the program dilutes the training organisation's credibility as a business partner."

Sponsors and the executive team should be given results at least quarterly. It's a matter of using plenty of quality data to say, "Here's how we're doing with this program you signed off on".

The measurement techniques employed should be world-class, credible, and scalable, the authors note.

"It is unnecessary and potentially harmful to the integrity of training leaders to make up their own measurement techniques," they warn.

Widely accepted, standardised techniques that can be adapted to any organisation's needs already exist and should be utilised.

Further, the results of training programs must be "data-driven" and tied directly to business outcomes.

"Savvy training leaders will build reports that mirror those used in the accounting field to make a strong business case rather than relying on emotion, hearsay, and ad hoc measurements."

Finally, there must be a sustainable measurement process for the long-term.

"Leadership development occurs constantly; it does not stop and start with training cycles. Being a good steward of leadership training means constantly working to apply measurement outcomes to future training."

The authors go on to offer 10 practical steps that will help organisations measure the impact of their programs:

1. Identify KPIs for leadership training
"Key performance indicators for any training program fall into three categories: business outcomes, effectiveness metrics, and efficiency metrics," the authors say.

KPIs for business outcomes might include direct report engagement, employee retention and leader performance ratings. Program effectiveness metrics could include delivery quality, knowledge gain and application to job. Efficiency metrics might include learning and development investment per participant, courses utilised and locations used.

2. Create "smart sheet" evaluations
"Smart sheet" evaluations don't just seek a participant's general reaction to a program, but instead delve into what they learned, anticipated or actual job impact, evidence of success and other more tangible benefits.

3. Build a communication plan
The communication plan should begin before the training starts, continue after its completion, and target two audiences. The program sponsor needs concise and clear communication on a regular basis to show what is being measured, how it is being measured, and what the outcomes are, while program participants need to know what to expect from the training and what they need to do to give back to the organisation as a result.

"A succinct communication plan also helps guide change management in development of leadership in the organisation and supports project management and improvement," the authors say.

4. Design the reports dashboard
The "reports dashboard" is a visual summary that can be displayed on a computer desktop to demonstrate business outcomes, efficiency and effectiveness.

It should be built around the program's key performance indicators and act as a "powerful tool" for engaging and communicating with senior management.

5. Provide executive reports, scorecards, and statements
Reports, scorecards, and statements need to be designed for company leaders who are outside of learning and development, and for learning and development leadership. Those designed for outside leaders, including program sponsors, must provide program metrics in standard business terms without jargon.

The authors say templates that can be appropriately scaled and even automatically generated are ideal. They should be produced at least quarterly.

6. Conduct capability assessments
A 180 or 360-degree capability assessment of participants in leadership development training can give them and their managers insight into the gaps in competencies that are specific to the learning program, and provide opportunities to address them.

7. Perform a test or certification within the program
Accountability and stewardship of leadership development training is enhanced when the program includes a test of basic, core skills that are specific to certain roles within the organisation. This can function as a kind of control measure.

"For program participants, tests or certifications help build confidence and provide constructive support for improvement," the authors say.

8. Gather sponsor satisfaction data
In addition to measuring participant satisfaction, the satisfaction level of key sponsors can be measured.

"For example, did the program sponsor see an observable difference in how leaders interacted with peers or direct reports? How satisfied was the program sponsor with the outcomes that the training organisation's communication plan told them to expect?"

9. Deploy on-the-job reinforcement
According to research conducted by KnowledgeAdvisors, more than 65 per cent of learning is not applied on the job. "Being accountable for learning dollars requires the learning organisation to measure on-the-job performance of capabilities directly linked to the training every quarter or six months," the authors say.

This identifies where learning is not being transferred onto the job and allows overseers to modify the training accordingly - or even terminate the program.

10. Conduct business impact exercises
"To be seen by the C-suite as accountable and providing stewardship, learning organisations must report the business impact of leadership development training.

"These reports do not need to be incredibly detailed or finely tuned. They need to be roughly reasonable to assess the impact of the training on specific business outcomes and be provided in a meaningful timeframe."

(30 July 2013, hrdaily)

7 Key Elements to Measuring Performance and Setting Targets

Rae Phillips - Wednesday, July 31, 2013

As your business grows, the number of people you employ is likely to increase. To keep on top of how your employees are doing, you need formal ways of measuring their performance and setting the targets they have been set. If you dont - how do they (or you) know if they are doing a good job?

Informal meetings and appraisals provide a very practical and direct way of monitoring and encouraging the progress of your people. The formal appraisal allows you to monitor employees’ development and get their feedback, set targets and plan their development needs. Many of our customers do this quarterly or bi-monthly and they find that while it takes planning, the meeting is a lot shorter than when they did them annually.

Appraisals can assist in driving up productivity and performance through setting employee targets and measuring progress towards achieving them. Regular staff meetings can also be a very useful way of keeping tabs on wider developments across your business. These meetings often give an early indicator of important concerns or developments that might otherwise take some time to come to your attention.

Here are the Seven Tips to remember when setting performance targets with employees;

1. Goals must align with your organization’s mission and strategy
2. They must be clear and easy to understand
3. They must be accepted and recognized as important by everyone who will have to implement them
4. Progress towards goals must be measurable
5. Goals must be framed in time, with clear beginning and ending points
6. They should be supported by rewards
7. They should be challenging, but achievable.

Progress

By evaluating an employee’s progress in terms of performance and development you are able to set new objectives and plan tasks effectively. First, examine the employee’s job description to ascertain whether roles or responsibilities have changed since the last appraisal. If you are making changes, ensure that these are in the best interests of the company and not just the employee.

Allow the employee to self assess. Let them know in advance that you will be talking about their progress and to review their position description against how they feel they have gone. This process makes it so much easier to have the conversation on the day - you are both on the same page.

Praise Successful Employees 

Bring up aspects of an employee’s performance that are worthy of praise. Encourage the employee to keep up their high standards and check that the employee has been rewarded sufficiently. Remember rewards are different to everyone - it could be as easy as a thank you or providing time off for a special family event. 

If an employee’s performance has fallen short of what is expected, consider the possible reasons for this. Constructive feedback is much better than ignoring the issue - don't leave it to get worse, that conversation is a lot harder!

Development

The next step in performance management is to check whether staff have the time to focus on development. It is important to ensure continuous development, so it may be worth shuffling resources if necessary. If development targets set at the last appraisal have been met, it shows you that the time and money spent developing staff is worthwhile. 

Its very important to ensure that the goals you set for your employees align with those of your Company. And you must make sure that your employees understand, accept and commit to those goals. The more you can involve your employees in setting goals for themselves and the group, the more committed to those goals they are likely to be. Write down the goals for your employees, and then revisit those goals on a regular basis – perhaps every three or six months, but at least once a year. 

The key to success is ensuring your employees recognize that achievement of their individual objectives advance the company’s overall objectives.

Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about implementing practical solutions that help create high performing workplaces which are customer focussed and free of conflict - no matter what size your business is. Contact Inspire Success for further information hr@inspire-success.com

The Employee Handbook

Rae Phillips - Tuesday, July 30, 2013

What is an employee handbook?

Starting a new job in a new company can be daunting for anyone. The induction and on-boarding process ensures the detailed introduction of a new employee to their new work environment and job and is a very important process. Good processes at this time will result in staff retention, job satisfaction, productivity and a reduction of any costs of staff turnover. 

Effective Induction processes means that new employees understand how your business works and start to feel welcome and comfortable early on in their new job, which results in them becoming a productive employee sooner. 

A lot of information can and should be provided during the new employee’s induction. This can be a little overwhelming and therefore a comprehensive and well-structured employee handbook is an excellent idea. 

It is particularly important for small and medium businesses, who may not have a human resources department to handle queries. An employee handbook is also a good way of helping new employees understand the values, key policies, benefits and expectations of your business.

What is in an employee handbook?

The handbook is a great way to communicate to your new employees and inform them about the policies within your business. It can then be used by employees as a reference (encourage employees to keep their handbook with them) and will help them on a number of topics -  in knowing the conditions of their employment, what is expected of them, where to find things, and who to ask if they have any further questions. 

A good employee handbook should contain the following:-

  • Introduction and welcome note from the Leader /s;
  • Company background;
  • Information on your corporate culture and approach to business;
  • Hours and conditions of work;
  • Training expected and opportunities;
  • Expectations around dress code, email/internet/mobile phone etc usage;
  • HR policies around bullying, sexual harassment, health, safety and the environment; holidays and leave; performance management; privacy; code of conduct, discipline and grievance procedures.

Why have an employee handbook?

The policies of your business should be discussed and distributed widely throughout the company and your employees well informed of them. Discuss them in your induction training and include them in your handbook to ensure they understand the policies of your business. 

It is an excellent way of documenting the expectations and obligations of both management and staff. 

Not only is the handbook used to share the policies and information of the company, it is a great way to advise on information your business is legally obligated to provide. This results in the boundaries, rules, expectations, rights and responsibilities of your company being known and understood by your team.

Finally, when you give a new employee a copy of the handbook make sure they sign an employee handbook declaration and acknowledgement form. This receipt acknowledges that the employee has read and understands the policies and guidelines presented in the handbook and how it applies to them in their work. This statement should contain a disclaimer that the employee understands that the contents are policies and guidelines, not a contract or implied contract with employees. 

Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about implementing practical solutions that help create high performing workplaces which are customer focussed and free of conflict - no matter what size your business is. Contact Inspire Success for further information hr@inspire-success.com

Significant dates for new employees

Rae Phillips - Monday, July 29, 2013

Significant dates for new employees

Now you have selected your new employee and provided them with their letter of offer, it is important to manage some critical dates. These include induction, probation and confirmation of the new employee. 

1. The induction should always include a standard check-list to ensure that everything is covered. It also helps in the case that it is not the same person conducting the induction each time - you can be sure that the same information is being imparted.

2. The very important probation period (generally the same as the relevant qualifying period) is a time for both the new employee and for you to see if things will likely work out. The length of time and the process that will be followed should be very clear to them.

3. Prior to the confirmation date, there should be a formal conversation with the employee and their supervisor to check that they are meeting the requirements of the role. Stepping outside of the probation period means moving into tighter workplace legislation, so we recommend using this time wisely.


1. An Effective Induction

Important date 1 is always the start date right? Not necessarily - before that the prospective employees are judging you and your business. It is critical that you get the process right during recruitment and selection because this will help you win them over, get a positive answer to your offer and have them arriving in a positive state of mind on day 1.

Before they start they should receive their letter of offer. On acceptance (and generally on day 1) they receive their starter pack with the signed letter, position description, employee details form, Fair Work Information Statement, taxation declaration form, super choice form, employee handbook and any company collateral. Give them a week to get the paperwork back to you completed fully and signed. 

Use the induction check-list to work through the safety, policy and service elements of your business that are important. Their employee handbook should be with them always to write notes and refer to people and details. At the end of each day and each week, meet with them to talk about their progress so far. Help them feel good about their progress, but also remind them where there is room for improvement.

2. Getting the Probation/Qualifying Period Right

The length of the probation period and the terms around it will be set out in the terms and conditions of employment and then be managed carefully. A ‘probation period’ is usually a three or six month period from their start date, where you assess the suitability of the employee for the role and the employee has the opportunity to settle in and to determine if the role meets their needs. 

A key thing to remember is the probationary period must be set in advance and must be reasonable. Three months can be suitable for some roles but for a more senior role you could have a probationary period of six months (as long as there are reasonable grounds for this). For a ‘small business’, i.e. less than 15 employees by head count and including associated entities (see s.383 of the Fair Work Act), the period can be increased to twelve months.  

During this period you should be validating your selection decision and making sure there is a good fit between the new employee and the role. There should be open communication between you and the new employee and some assistance given to them to settle in.  In essence, an employee on probation has been appointed but not yet confirmed in a permanent role. The purpose of a probationary period is to provide:

  • Time for induction / onboarding and training
  • An opportunity to assess the employee and their ability to perform in the job
  • Time to assess fit into your business

The benefits of a well managed probation period include;
  • allows the new employee settle into the workplace
  • provides a focus for you and the new employee on what knowledge and skills are required to be developed during probation for them to succeed in the job
  • provides some structure for the new employee on the key aspects of their job and the key people they will be interacting with
  • allows you to give and receive feedback on a new employee’s progress during probation.

If you are generally happy with the performance of your new employee but continue to have a few concerns at the end of their probationary period, then you can extend the probation via a review on or before the end of it. You will also need to provide information in writing, detailing the period of the extension and the areas which require improvement. Provided you act sensibly, you can let the person go if they are not working out without having to carry out the usual disciplinary procedures once an employee is confirmed.  

Review the new employee’s progress regularly and provide them with feedback so they know how they are progressing – either with praise or with explanations as to where improvement is required.  We think it is a good idea to do a Probation Review at the mid point of the probation period so that you can document progress and your plans for rectifying any issues.

Overall, the probationary period is an excellent tool to ensure that the new employee is performing in the way you want and is motivated, committed and happy working with you and your organisation. It allows you to be fair and highlight areas which require improvement, and it provides time and scope for the new employee to improve in those areas. The result should be that at the end of the period, the decision to continue or not is easy and clear for both parties.

2. Confirmation of appointment

As the probationary period nears its conclusion, you need to decide whether you wish to retain the new employee or not. If you do, then confirmation of appointment is the process used to end a probation period and appoint an employee permanently. 

Ideally, a letter is given to the employee confirming the date their probation period ended and affirming the details / conditions previously agreed upon of their employment. The letter states that the employee's performance has been satisfactory and it confirms the employee's appointment to the job. It is good practice to give your new employees a confirmation letter when they successfully complete their probation but it also provides affirmation to the employee that they are doing well in their role and have peace of mind that their job is now confirmed.

Alternately, if your decision is not to keep the employee, you will arrange a meeting and provide the details in writing. 

Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about implementing practical solutions that help create high performing workplaces which are customer focussed and free of conflict - no matter what size your business is. Contact Inspire Success for further information - hr@inspire-success.com

Providing a Fair Work Information Statement is not good enough!

Terri Blakesley - Friday, July 26, 2013
Providing a Fair Work Information Statement is not Enough - You need PROOF you did it!

From 1 January 2010 it became mandatory for an employer to provide an employee with a copy of the Fair Work Information Statement (FWIS). The statement needs to be provided before employment or as soon as practicable after commencement of employment. Providing the FWIS is one the 10 National Employment Standards (NES) - and there is no way around it! 

Don't do it and you risk fines of $33,000 per breach! 

In audits conducted by the Fair Work Ombudsman since the introduction of the Fair Work Act 2009, businesses have been asked to provide proof that an employee has received a copy of the FWIS from their employer. So not only must we provide it, we must show proof that we have.

Additionally, as provision of the FWIS is one of the NES, employees are able to make a claim against their employer for a breach of the NES if they have not received one. Keep this in mind when you are inducting your new employees!

It may also be worthwhile reviewing your standard induction processes to ensure you have a system in place to record the provision of the Fair Work Information Statement to your employees when they join your business. We recommend several things:

1. Make sure the FWIS is included with the starter pack on the first day AND that it is on the checklist;

2. Add a declaration to the bottom of the FWIS which your new starters sign, AND then copy it and place a copy on file;

3. Create a declaration which is an attachment to the FWIS which is signed AND kept on file;

4. And just to check that all existing employees have one - do a personnel file check and issue retrospectively IMMEDIATELY!

Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about implementing practical solutions that help create high performing workplaces which are customer focussed and free of conflict - no matter what size your business is. Contact Inspire Success for further information - hr@inspire-success.com

15 business reasons to target older female workers: Report

Rae Phillips - Thursday, June 27, 2013
HR professionals should develop a strong business case, and frame internal discussions about diversity in terms of workforce sustainability and inclusion, to avoid them being perceived as "special treatment for a special group", according to a new report.

Organisations stand to gain substantially from the greater participation of older women, but this is dependent on HR professionals being able to make the business case for harnessing the potential of this group, it says.

The report, Older Women Matter - Harnessing the talents of Australia's older female workforce, released this morning, assists HR professionals to make a business case for focusing on recruitment, engagement and retention of older women.

Published by Diversity Council Australia, the report sets out 15 benefits to businesses of attracting and retaining older female workers (defined as those over age 45), including:

  • Market share - organisations that align workforce and customer demographics will better understand changing market needs and demand, and therefore customer service and product development;
  • Retention - Workers aged 55+ are five times less likely to change jobs than those aged 20-24, and organisations stand to gain an average net benefit of $1956 per mature-age employee per year, via lower attrition, absenteeism and recruitment costs;
  • Productivity - Research shows workers aged 65+ have the highest productivity and motivation levels, and that workers aged 55+ perform at their best for seven hours out of eight per day (an achievement unmatched by workers in other age groups); and
  • Reputation - Research in the US has found that when a diversity complaint goes public, the company's share price drops within 24 hours, and when an organisation wins a diversity-related award, its share price rises within 10 days.

Practical strategies

The report also outlines seven key action areas for employers to address to better attract, engage, retain and transition older female workers.

At the sourcing stage, for example, employers should look to older female talent as a "first port of call", rather than make assumptions about their career and work goals, it says.

"Remember that your best talent may already be an older female worker within your organisation who is considering retiring/resigning due to lack of opportunity or flexibility," the authors say.

Employers should also educate recruiting staff to avoid "gendered ageism". This training should focus on valuing skills and experience gained outside the paid workforce (e.g. planning, organising, problem solving, public speaking and teamwork, gained through volunteering, household management and providing care); adopting an open mind to broken employment histories; considering whether on-the-job training will address any skills gaps; and being mindful of gendered ageist stereotypes.

With older women already employed, employers should ensure their career and development opportunities adequately respond to the desires of this group.

Research shows older women are highly motivated in this regard but often miss out on training opportunities because the employer perceives it will receive a lower return on its investment.

The report says employers should monitor their career mobility and L&D statistics to ensure older female workers have equivalent access to opportunities.

They should review career models and pathways to ensure they respond to different life stages, it adds. Deloitte, for example, uses a "career lattice" that gives employees different options for progression, taking into account their desired pace of work (accelerated to decelerated); workload (full to reduced); location (restricted to not restricted); and role (leader to individual contributor).

The report also sets out actions for employers to take to: cultivate a culture in which older women feel valued; mainstream flexible work; invest in health and wellbeing; focus on financial wellbeing; and tailor retirement transitions.

Click here to download a copy of the report.

(23 May 2013, hrdaily)

Does your recruitment strategy discourage key talent?

Rae Phillips - Thursday, June 27, 2013
Many employers are discouraging a key demographic of jobseekers from joining their ranks - and don't even realise they are doing it, says Adage managing director Heidi Holmes.

Holmes, whose job board is specifically aimed at attracting mature-aged candidates, says age discrimination and unconscious bias against older people in the workplace is widespread. However, some leaders who could be addressing the issue aren't even aware of it.

 


"Many leaders within organisations don't even know this is happening. One warning sign to look out for is a declining average age among staff. Also... if you're starting to see the same profile of candidates coming through, it could be a problem in your attraction methodology," she says.

The language used in job ads, for example, could be discouraging older people from applying.

Some ads actually use the word "young" to describe their workforce or the kind of person they're looking for, Holmes says. Others use phrases like "a dynamic workforce", which can be equally off-putting for older candidates.

"People often aren't even aware of this, [but that] can potentially make an older job-seeker think that they're looking for someone younger, so that can prevent diversity in your applicants coming through."

Aside from raising alarm bells from a risk-management point of view (Holmes says people are becoming increasingly aware of their rights in regard to age discrimination) this might mean the organisation's recruitment strategy is flawed.

External recruiters might be filtering out older applicants due to unconscious bias, for example.

"A lot of feedback I get from my jobseekers is they're not even making it through to the interview stage - a lot of filtering is occurring at the application level - so there is an issue around attracting these people, but where they're being attracted they're often being filtered out.

"You can figure out how old someone is, potentially, by what year they finished university, which should be on their resume, and also how far their work experience goes back. If they're putting something from the '80s in their work experience they're probably well over 40."

This is no reason to dismiss an application - but could be a reason to consider it.

Research conducted by the Australian Employers Convention in 2001 found older workers deliver an average net benefit of $1,956 per year to their employer compared to the rest of the workforce - a result of increased retention, lower rates of absenteeism, decreased costs of recruitment and greater investment returns on training, Holmes says.

And statistics show that mature-aged workers stay with an organisation 2.4 times longer than their younger counterparts.

"They really value job security [and] are loyal workers... for some it's not even about career progression - job security is a very high motivator. So if you've got an issue around turnover, this might be a talent pool to look at.

In contrast, Gen-Y workers often leave a job within two years. "If you're spending money on training people, that starts to become a cost if you've got turnover under that two-year period.

"That's definitely one area where return on investment is made. Also, you don't necessarily need to spend money on training for this demographic because they've had 20-plus years of employment so you're going to benefit from their work and life experience."

It follows that mature-aged workers can also help to fill skill shortages. "Where you might be after a specific skill set, this is another talent pool that often gets ignored, but there's a vast amount of experience there," Holmes says.

She adds that the notion that older workers will cost more as a result is a common myth. "It comes back to job security and for this audience, a lot have faced long-term unemployment, so they have readjusted their expectations.

"The other area that businesses have started to look at this is the whole strategy around reflecting your customer base in your workforce," Holmes says.

"For instance, if you think about retail banking, who are the customers walking into a retail bank these days? You could make the generalisation that it's probably going to be someone of an older demographic. Who do they want to see standing behind the counter looking after their money?"

Another benefit of hiring mature-aged workers having a more diverse workforce. "There are benefits of having an intergenerational employee base, because you get the benefits of reverse mentoring opportunities", where older workers share knowledge with younger workers and vice versa, Holmes says.

Common misconceptions

One of the most common misconceptions about older workers is around IT and engagement online, Holmes says.

Because of their work ethic, older workers are less likely to spend less time on social media at work, but that doesn't mean they don't use it at home.

"When you think about it, this demographic has spent their whole career with technology... and have had to evolve and keep up with changes.

"There's this assumption that they haven't adapted, which is just not true. They've had to adapt, throughout their careers, all the time. And it's often held against them even though it's not relevant to the job description.

"In Australia there's over two million people over the age of 50 on Facebook so they are very much there, but from a marketing perspective they're often miscommunicated to online or ignored online."

Another myth is that "you can't teach an old dog new tricks", when in fact reluctance to learn is more likely to spring from personality than age, she says.

Are your recruiters part of the problem?

Organisations seeking to address a lack of older workers in their ranks should start by educating their recruiters, Holmes says.

"That's where we believe a lot of the discrimination occurs, at the recruiter level, not the employer level.

"If you don't get buy-in from them you're still going to get the filtering out happening. You need to have a conversation with the whole team and get them to buy into the process, you need to explain [the benefits]."

Holmes says using specialist mature-age job boards, "where you can go direct to the source and show that you've got a commitment to actually being an age-friendly employer", can also help.

"A lot of older workers have disengaged from the mass market approach because after 400 applications and no response, why would you continue to bother? Job seekers on our site know they can come to our site and the jobs posted on our site by employers who specifically want to hire mature-aged workers."

"The average age of our jobseeker is 51," she adds. "They've got another 15 years working ahead of them. That's often another misconception - that we're talking about elderly people... but we're not."

(18 October 2012, hrdaily)

Proposed anti-bullying laws now delayed

Rae Phillips - Thursday, June 27, 2013
The proposal to give the Fair Work Commission anti-bullying powers has been put on the back-burner after the Coalition withdrew its support this week, according to media reports.

 

 

Fairfax Media learnt this week that Shadow Minister forWorkplace Relations, Eric Abetz had sent a letter to the government flagging Coalition amendments to the Fair Work Amendment Bill 2013 that would strike out the section dealing with bullying.

‘While the Coalition supports measures to stop bullying, the provisions contained within this bill required significant amendment and should be excised until such time as such changes have occurred,’ Senator Abetz wrote.

Ahead of resumption of debate on the Bill in the Lower House today, the government circulated proposed amendments to axe the union right-of-entry changes and delay the start date of the new anti-bullying provisions until 1 January 2014.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Labor hopes this compromise can help it secure broad political support to pass the Bill, which also encourages penalty rates and expands the right of employees to ask for flexible work arrangements.

Anti-bullying provisions

The Bill, which was introduced by the government in March, contains amendments that would enable a worker who reasonably believes that he/she has been bullied at work to apply to the Fair Work Commission (FWC) for an order to stop the bullying from continuing. The FWC would then be required to initiate work on an application for an order to stop bullying within 14 days of the application being made, before making any order it deems suitable to stop the conduct.

The government has argued that the Commission’s anti-bullying role would give people an avenue to have a problem resolved in a practical and quick way before it can spiral out of control. In last month’s budget, it was announced that the Commission would an extra $21 million over four years to perform its new function.

In addition, the legislation includes a codified definition of workplace bullying, which will refer to ‘repeated, unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker or a group of workers that creates a risk to health and safety’. However, it will not refer to ‘reasonable management action carried out in a reasonable manner’.

These amendments are part of the government’s response to Workplace Bullying — ‘We just want it to stop’, a report released in November 2012 by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Employment after it conducted a national inquiry into workplace bullying at the government’s behest.

The Coalition’s stance

In its Policy to Improve the Fair Work Laws, released last month, the Coalition indicated that it would support the anti-bullying provisions of the Bill, but only if they were amended to prevent the Commission being ‘swamped’ by claims and to ensure union officials who engage in workplace bullying are held to account. It explained:

‘Labor’s [proposal] will cause the Fair Work Commission to be swamped with claims that may be capable of otherwise being easily resolved. This is because the [proposal] does not require a worker to seek help before going to the … Commission.

Further, many of the more serious cases of bullying have involved unions and their relationships with managers, employers and workers. To protect unions and allow them to go about unchecked, Labor has deliberately excluded them from coverage of their proposed changes.’


The Coalition recommended a requirement for workers to take ‘reasonable steps’ to resolve their concerns before elevating them to a proceeding before the commission. Namely, a worker would have to seek preliminary help and impartial advice from an independent regulator, but if their concerns thereafter remain unresolved they would be free to make a claim to the Commission.

In addition, it said Labor’s proposal must be expanded to include union officials and their conduct towards managers, employers and workers.

The Minister for Workplace Relations, Bill Shorten, has released a statement on his website accusing the Coalition of ‘backflipping’ on its conditional support for the anti-bullying provisions.  This was proof, he said, that the Opposition had been crying ‘crocodile tears’ for the victims of bullying.
 
‘The Liberal Party’s policy [to improve the Fair Work Laws] is not yet one month old and not worth the paper it’s written on,’ he added.

However, Senator Abetz is reported to have said that while the Coalition supports action on bullying, it was concerned the provisions were a ‘rush job’.

(6 June 2013, WorkplaceInfo)

Minimum wages increased by 2.6%

Rae Phillips - Thursday, June 27, 2013
The Fair Work Commission’s Minimum Wage Panel has handed down its Annual Wage Decision for 2013 which takes effect from the first full pay period on or after 1 July 2013.
The increase in the superannuation guarantee levy, rising unemployment, the effect of the carbon tax on inflation and easing GDP growth were significant factors taken into consideration in arriving at the decision for a 2.6% increase.
 
Summary of the Decision
 
  • The 2.6% increase raises the adult National Minimum Wage to $622.20 per week (an increase of $15.80 per week) and to $16.37 per hour (an increase of $0.41 per hour).
  • Award rates were also increased by 2.6% at all classification levels, with weekly wages rounded to the nearest $0.10.
  • The National Minimum Wage for employees under training arrangements, juniors and employees with a disability has also been increased by 2.6%.
  • The minimum weekly payment for employees on the Supported Wage System (currently $76) has not been increased by this decision but can be expected to be increased before the 1 July operative date.
  • The casual loading for award free employees increases from 23% to 24% from the 1 July operative date.
 
What categories of employees are covered by this decision?
 
  • This decision applies to all employers whose operations or employees are covered by modern awards, enterprise awards and NAPSAs (pre-reform State awards), all transitional APCSs, and award free employees.
  • This decision also applies to employers that pay under enterprise agreements. Employers will need to ensure that the base wages paid under the agreement do not fall below the new applicable minimum wages from the 1 July operative date.
  • The decision also applies to State public sector employees and employers for the purposes of Paid Parental Leave instalments (“PPL instalments”) under the Federal Government’s Paid Parental Leave scheme.
 
What does this mean for your business?
 
  • Care should be taken to ensure compliance with the new minimum wages payable from the 1 July operative date.
  • This increase may be absorbed into any existing over award payments paid under either an award or agreement (care should be taken to check the absorption clause in the relevant instrument and to ensure that the over payment is not already directed towards other purposes).

If you are paying transitional rates of pay under a modern award, an employee’s new minimum rate of pay will be affected by the addition or subtraction of 20% of the transitional amount from the modern award rate of pay. Transition will finish on 1 July 2014, after which time the modern awards will apply in full. Further advice should be sought on correctly calculating the new transitional rates of pay from the 1 July operative date.

Gender equality reporting period starts next month - are you ready?

Rae Phillips - Friday, March 29, 2013
The indicators employers need to report against under the Workplace Gender Equality Act include information that many organisations don't yet capture, and might have to create systems for, according to Ashurst lawyers Michael Tamvakologos and Melissa Bulat.

The first reporting period under the Act (1 April 2013 to 31 March 2014) will require all non-public-sector employers with 100 or more employees to submit a written, public report on six "gender equality indicators" (GEIs) by 31 May 2014.

The GEIs employers must report on are:

1.    Gender composition of the workforce - such as data by gender on the employment status and "occupational category" of staff, and strategies or policies that support gender equality, like targeted recruitment, retention or development programs;

2.    Gender composition of governing bodies - such as details of any targets or strategies the employer has in relation to the gender composition of a governing body;

3.    Equal remuneration between women and men - such as remuneration data by gender and occupational category, and details of any gender pay equity strategies the employer has;

4.    Availability and utility of employment terms, conditions and practices relating to flexible working arrangements - such as the proportion of the workforce that has access to employer-funded paid parental leave for primary and secondary carers, and data by gender and manager/non-manager on the availability of flexible work arrangements;

5.    Consultation with employees on issues concerning gender equality in the workplace - such as information about the categories of employees consulted on gender equality; and

6.    Sex-based harassment and discrimination - such as details of any sex-based harassment and discrimination prevention strategies and policies.
Every year the Minister for the Status of Women will outline exactly which details should be reported on under each GEI. The Workplace Gender Equality (Matters in relation to Gender Equality Indicators) Instrument 2013 outlines requirements for the upcoming period.

"A failure to comply with the reporting requirements or, from 1 April 2014, the new minimum standards, could lead to public naming of employers or affect an organisation's ability to win government work," Tamvakologos and Bulat warn in their alert on the topic.

After lodging their report, the Act requires employers to notify staff and shareholders as soon as practicable. Staff and shareholders must also be told how they can access a copy, and advised that they can pass on comments to the employer or the Agency.
Consultation "a principal object" of the Act
According to the Agency, fostering workplace consultation between employers and employees on issues concerning gender equality in the workplace is "a principal object" of the Act, and should be a critical component of all gender equality strategies.

GEI 5 requires employers to report on consultation with the workplace on gender equality matters, including the mode of consultation and the categories of employees consulted.

Consultation should help employers to identify gender equality issues in the workplace, and enable employees to participate in decisions and to share responsibility for action, the Agency says.

It identifies three levels of consultation that indicate a "progressive approach" to using it as a means of identifying and addressing gender equality issues in the workplace.

First, starting out: issues are raised in employee meetings, by consultative committees, in exit interviews, and in employee surveys.

Second, moving forward: consultation occurs via task groups, employee surveys, focus groups, diversity committees, and performance management programs.

Third, leading the way: consultation extends to one-on-one interviews, employee surveys, women's network meetings, 360-degree feedback findings, and diversity summits.

"Organisations that are focused on improving productivity and impacting the bottom-line use meetings of employees and managers to share information and discuss issues of concern," the Agency says.

"Where all meeting members are encouraged to participate actively through input into meeting agenda items, contributing to meeting discussion [and] rotating the meeting leader role, issues of concern can be raised and addressed, including issues which impact on gender equality in the workplace."

The Agency says that minutes of these meetings should include issues raised, recommended actions and progress towards outcomes.

A subsequent review of the minutes should indicate:
•    what issues relevant to gender equality were raised in meetings;
•    what action was taken to address them; and
•    what issues still need to be actioned.

(www.hrdaily.com.au, 19 March 2013 7:24am)

How to keep your team motivated all year round

Rae Phillips - Monday, December 10, 2012
Investing in your employees statistically results in a higher quality of work from them. Pouring resources into developing employee satisfaction, a sense of worth, and creating the right work environment has a crucial impact on your bottom line: happy employees are productive ones. Here’s how to keep your team motivated all year round.  
Be Visible

You need to demonstrate your own commitment to the company if you are expecting it from your employees. Walk around the office and talk to people- show your face so that they know you are available to listen to whatever it is they have to say. Offer to make the coffee or pick up pastries from the bakery. Be present to prove that you care, and you’ll see the difference in how your colleagues respond to you, and your business.

Give rewards

This doesn’t always have to be financial- although it helps. In simply recognising the achievements and dedication of your key players you can boost morale. Promote staff with a title change or different responsibilities when they prove themselves, and send a company email announcing it. Paying attention when your workforce go the extra mile lets them know that nothing they contribute goes unnoticed.

Team Meetings

This can be a ten-minute check-in daily, or a weekly breakfast meeting to talk about the week. It can be quarterly staff drinks or an annual Summer BBQ. Whatever it is, keep your team talking with you. It gives everyone an opportunity to informally contribute to the business, and invest emotionally. If employees feel listened to, they add value. Simple.

Promote Intrapreneurship

Employees will flourish if they are invested in a project they have to deliver on, and the highest levels of empowerment and engagement will develop if the assignment is their own idea. By having workers identify what needs to be done and then allowing them the creative space to execute it in the way they see fit, you are demonstrating that you trust them- and that will be rewarded with only the best results.

Make the team a family

Give staff an opportunity to bond- without you. Organise think tanks, collaborations, book swaps or info-exchanges: anything them gets them talking about their role within the business and how that fits with the work of others. We all need to feel part of something bigger than just ourselves, so in facilitating this kind of unmonitored inter-employee dialogue you’re giving your employees a wider context for their work. This helps them to recognise their value in the functionality of the company as a whole, and that’s priceless.

Take a look at your own attitude

Assess the impact of your own attitude and behaviour on the motivation of your staff. Are you smiling when you talk? Giving as much praise as constructive feedback? Dressing smartly, looking fresh-faced, taking pride in your appearance and investing in your wellbeing? Most communication is non-verbal, so take a look at the silent signs you’re giving to your workers about the approach you have to your own job: your team will absolutely being following suit.

 
(This post is from Milestone Operations, a U.K.-based recruitment company specialising in HGV jobs that motivate, stimulate, and reward.)

 

Get 2013 off to a productive start

Rae Phillips - Thursday, November 29, 2012

Getting organized and being productive are often on our New Year’s resolution lists. Productive people ensure their time is spent working towards their goals. They prioritize what must be done to reach them, recognizing when an activity ultimately delays their success. Being productive means steering clear of distractions and not succumbing to procrastination. Here are some tips to help you get 2013 off to a productive start and make the most of your time every day at work.

  1. Set goals – setting goals at the start of the year is important and tracking the progress you make towards your goal ensures you keep on track. Setting goals keeps you focused and motivated. By considering whether the things you do are carrying you closer to meeting your goals, you’ll be able to focus on genuine productivity.
  2. Manage time and improve your time management skills. Time management requires discipline but gives you a greater degree of control over what you do during the day.  Good time management makes you more efficient and can make improvements to your life at work and at home.
  3. Get organised – make a to do list, keep track of due dates and long term reminders, manage interruptions and work on one task at a time are some ways to help get your organised. Being overwhelmed by a lack of time, space or energy won’t allow you to set goals. Breaking the process down and being organised at every step will see you setting goals in next to no time.
  4. Keep meetings to the set time – schedule meetings for a set time, ensure the meetings start on time and don’t go over the time allocated  
  5. Manage your inbox – email is essential for businesses but managing your inbox can be hugely time consuming.  It is important to think about how you organize, reply to and even think about your emails. Some tips include setting a time frame on how long you spend on email every day, act upon an email with a response, save it or delete it, prioritise/use folders for emails, have a separate account for personal and work email and unsubscribe from excess email subscriptions. Email is a fantastic tool when managed well but does take some work to get them under control
  6. Manage time on mobile phone –The use of smartphones is on the rise and this means we can now use our phones for a lot more than calls and text messages. We can now check emails, use the internet, open documents, work on different software etc. On the plus their usage can help increase your productivity, you are accessible 24/7, you never miss emails, messages or updates. The downside of this is the risk of burnout and constant distraction. It’s important to manage the time spent on them and not be completely dependent on it.
  7. Stamp out stress – stress has many causes including long hours, heavy workload, job insecurity and work conflicts. If stress is excessive and going on for some time it can lead to physical and mental ill health. Learn about methods to prevent and reduce your  job stress
  8. Go paperless - Get things done efficiently (and save the environment) by going paperless in 2013. Going paperless can save money, reduce clutter, save space, keep your data safe and allow documentation and information sharing. Just ensure you back up the information and documents!
  9. Be productive while working on your PC – are your systems out of date, slow or problematic – improve your PC systems to increase your productivity. Upgrading your systems (when required) enhances security and helps increase productivity and decrease costs
  10. Have fun - finally, all the above mentioned tips are meant to make you productive enough to take time out now and then, and enjoy time away from your desk.  Getting to know your team/colleagues and enjoying social events with them can help to make people more motivated. And what better way than the upcoming Christmas parties...Have fun!


Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about implementing practical solutions that help create high performing workplaces which are customer focussed and free of conflict - no matter what size your business is. Contact Rae Phillips at Inspire Success for further information raephillips@inspire-success.com
 

Reducing stress in 2013

Rae Phillips - Thursday, November 29, 2012
With employees working long hours and a focus being put on maximising the efforts of the workforce pressure is inevitably felt, pressure which we all call stress. For those whose work week has been stretched to the limit work life imbalance is created and work eats into personal time. Sacrifices are made to keep the wheels churning at work. Here we look at stress management tips in the workplace for the individual and the business owner ...

Some stress can be a positive thing.... stress can be a motivator, some of us enjoy working under pressure or feel we work best when we have some pressure or stress. However, when stress is having a negative effect on your wellbeing it’s time to look at ways to get the balance back. Finding ways to manage workplace stress is not about making huge changes to every aspect of your work life or rethinking career ambitions. Stress management requires focus on the one thing that’s always within your control: you.

Tips on managing job stress:

  • Take care of yourself – when stress is adversely impacting your health or interfering with how you do at work or on your personal life it’s time to make changes. When you take care of yourself you are stronger and more resilient to stress. Even small changes can give you back control and make you feel happier and more energetic. Changes can include small but positive lifestyle choices and ensuring you stick to them – an exercise class, yoga, meditation, listening to music, a weekend away etc whatever helps you unwind, enjoy it. It’s a very important way to improve your physical and emotional well-being.
  • Reduce job stress by prioritizing and organizing – create a balanced schedule, don’t over commit and plan regular breaks. If you have too much on your plate list what “must” be done and what “should” be done and push the to do items that are not essential to the bottom of the list. Take breaks during the day to clear your mind. Stepping away from work to briefly relax and recharge will help you be more, not less, productive.
  • Reduce job stress by breaking bad habits – resist being perfect, reduce clutter, rule out negative thinking. No project, decision or person is perfect so don’t set unrealistic goals or expectations of yourself. Aim to do you very best and be happy that you have done that. Reduce the clutter, tidy your desk, file documents, get your emails organised and stick to your to-do list and cross off items as achieved. These will all help you to feel less overwhelmed every day. Focus only on the things you have control over and don’t stress or worry about the things out of your control.
  • Connect with others at work – listen to your colleagues, communicate with them, enjoy some social time with colleagues after work hours. Being part of a supportive team can really help relieve stress and make you happier in the workplace.

 

Reducing stress of your employees:

Happy people are more engaged with their work, build better relationships with colleagues and clients, have less sick days and tend to remain in a role longer. It's in your best interest to keep stress levels in the workplace to a minimum. Managers/ leaders can act as positive role models, especially in times of high stress. If you can remain calm in stressful work situations, it is much easier for your employees to also remain calm. Here are our top three tips to reduce stress in your workplace:

1. Improve communication

  • Share information with employees to reduce uncertainty about their jobs, questions, futures
  • Clearly define employees’ roles and responsibilities
  • Make communication friendly and efficient

 

2. Consult with your employees
 
  • Give your employees opportunities to be involved in decisions that affect their jobs
  • Ensure your team’s workload is suitable to their abilities and resources
  • Avoid unrealistic deadlines
  • Show that your employees are valued
  • Offer rewards and incentives
  • Praise good work performance, both verbally and officially, one example would be having an employee of the month award
  • Provide opportunities for career development
  • Promote a work culture that gives employees more control over their work. 

 

3. Have a friendly social climate

  • Provide opportunities for social interaction among your employees
  • Establish a zero-tolerance policy for harassment
  • Make management actions consistent with organizational values.

 

You can also see our previous article on tips for managing stress in the workplace.

Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about implementing practical solutions that help create high performing workplaces which are customer focussed and free of conflict - no matter what size your business is. Contact Rae Phillips at Inspire Success for further information raephillips@inspire-success.com

Telework Week November 12-16 2012

Rae Phillips - Friday, October 26, 2012
The Australian Government is declaring 12–16 November 2012 as National Telework Week and is encouraging businesses, not-for-profits and government agencies to commit to participating. Telework offers a range of benefits to both employers and employees. Employers find it easier to attract staff from outside of their local areas. They find they are less likely to lose teleworkers, who appreciate the benefits of telework and are often more productive than their office counterparts. Telework provides employers with a way to save on office costs and increase business continuity during disasters and crises. Meanwhile, teleworking employees typically report a better work/life balance, reduced cost and stress from less daily commuting and better job satisfaction.

For more information see:  http://www.nbn.gov.au/files/2012/02/DBCDE_factsheet_Telework_Week_web.pdf

Recruitment....think outside the Box

Rae Phillips - Friday, October 26, 2012

Finding the best candidate is never easy in recruitment. Advertising, recruitment agencies, job boards all are methods you are familiar with and no doubt have had success with them. But, in today’s economy, more and more companies are realising the power of employee referrals. Referrals can be a very effective way to attract quality candidates and is a lot lower in cost than other recruitment methods used.


Are employee referrals a big part of your recruiting success?

  

Well, they should be. It means that everyone in your company can be involved in your recruitment process. Having an employee referral program is a great way of getting employees involved and offering them a reward if the referral is hired. It must be well organised and structured and in touch with your employees. Employee referrals can provide strong candidates because employees know your company culture and have an idea about what employees work successfully in your company. Employee referrals also reflect on the referring employee who wants to be positively regarded in your company.

SEVEN POINTS TO REMEMBER WHEN USING A REFERRAL PROGRAM IN YOUR COMPANY:

  • Make sure your employees know about the program and are involved: launch the program, advertise internally and discuss it frequently.  Ask your employees their opinion on the employee referral program. Get clear direction on how they want to refer candidates so the process can be made easy.
  • Make it easy to refer someone: make sure that the referral program has a structure that is easy to understand and manage (any forms easy to fill and understand etc)
  • Senior Management Buy-In – Once you define a structure and communicate with all employees, it is then up to the leaders within the business to drive it, not HR. Therefore they should lead by example, start to refer people themselves and share success stories always.
  • Offer a bonus or reward for each successful referral: take time to decide what the bonus/reward will be for a successful referral – one that turns into a hire.  Ensure the bonus/reward is provided at an agreed date (x amount of time after hire) and stick to this time – don’t let it go late or the validity of the program will suffer.  Management should praise those involved in team meetings. Create a good feeling in your company about successful referring.
  • Provide feedback to referring employees: don’t be afraid to tell referring employees if a particular referral was not strong —it gives them a chance to be more successful in making future referrals
  • Respond to the referred applicant promptly: ensure you respond to referred applicants asap
  • Social Media - Referral through social media such as LinkedIn, Twitter networks are a great way of attracting the right talent.  You know your workplace better than anyone else. So, use social media to show why your company and company culture is inviting and progresses the careers of its employees.
Every company will achieve different results and find different things work them around referring, but you can’t ignore that referrals can be very successful and should be part of your company recruitment strategy!

Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about implementing practical solutions that help create high performing workplaces which are customer focussed and free of conflict - no matter what size your business is. Contact Inspire Success for further information raephillips@inspire-success.com


Work, Health and Safety

Rae Phillips - Friday, October 26, 2012
There are changes occurring to workers compensation and key dates are as below.

17th September 2012 – the seriously injured workers – permanent impairment of more than 30% as a result of injury - will move onto a revised scheme and begin receiving increased benefits

1st October 2012 – workers who make a claim on or after this date will be covered by new legislative provisions. Their weekly benefits will be calculated on their actual pre-injury earnings and will be subject to new step down provisions which occur at 13 weeks (not 26 weeks). The Work Cover Independent Review Officer (WIRO) will commence from 1st October – their role is to review decisions about benefits and work capacity

1st January 2013 – All workers injured before October 1st (other than the seriously injured workers who previously transferred) will begin to transition to new arrangements.

New forms and procedures have been released recently. There will be further changes around claims for injuries being finalised between now and 1st January 2013.

What the changes mean

There will be greater focus on returning to work and more attention paid to work capacity.

Under the changes:
  • weekly payments are linked to return to work, with more benefits during the first 13 weeks (when 80 per cent of injured workers return to work) and thereafter if the employee works for at least 15 hours a week
  • WorkCover NSW inspectors have additional powers to enforce the employer’s obligation to provide the employee with reasonable suitable duties for their return to work.
Benefits for new claims are now based more closely on the employee’s real earnings prior to injury – incorporating overtime and shift allowance in the initial 52 weeks of weekly payments.
  • For the first 13 weeks of a claim, the employee will receive up to 95 per cent of your pre-injury earnings
  • In weeks 14–130, their benefits will be made up to 95 per cent of their pre-injury average weekly earnings if they return to work for at least 15 hours a week. Otherwise, they will receive up to 80 per cent
  • After 130 weeks, if they have capacity to work but are not working at least 15 hours a week and earning at least $155 per week then their benefits will cease. If they are working at least 15 hours and earning at least $155, or have no capacity to work, their benefits will continue
  • For most workers, weekly payments are limited to five years from the date of their claim (or when they reach retirement age, if that is sooner – at which stage they may receive commonwealth benefits
  • If employees were claiming prior to these reforms, from 1 January 2013 a ‘transitional amount’ (which is significantly higher than the old statutory rate) will be used as their deemed pre-injury earnings.
Useful factsheet at following site but we will keep you updated on changes:
http://www.workcover.nsw.gov.au/formspublications/publications/Documents/wc-changes-fact-sheet-workers-3828.pdf


Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about implementing practical solutions that help create high performing workplaces which are customer focussed and free of conflict - no matter what size your business is. Contact Inspire Success for further information raephillips@inspire-success.com

Penalties...

Rae Phillips - Friday, September 28, 2012
As you are aware new work health and safety laws commenced in New South Wales, Queensland, the Australian Capital Territory, the Commonwealth and the Northern Territory on 1 January 2012. We have given an overview of hazard identification and risk management and how important they both are. To reinforce the point we will have a look next at what the penalties are for breaches.

Under the WHS Legislation there are significant penalties for the breach of WHS duties by employers which include fines up to $3 million and imprisonment up to 5 years for the most serious breaches.  If you fail to comply with WHS legislation you put yourself, your organisation and your employees at RISK and PENALTIES are high as outlined in the following table:

Duty Holder
Category 1
Reckless Conduct which exposes an individual to risk of death/ serious injury/illness
Category 2
Breach High Risk – failure to comply with WHS duty resulting in exposure of an individual to risk of death/serious injury/illness
Category 3
Duty Breach. Failure to comply with a health & safety duty, eg. not providing training, information, supervision or instruction to employees which would protect them from risks to their health and safety at work
Individual Worker/ Other person at workplace
$300,000 or 5 years imprisonment
$150,000
$50,000
Individual PCBUs or Officers
$600,000 or 5 years imprisonment
$300,000
$100,000
Body Corporate or Government Body
$3,000,000
$1,500,000
$500,00

Inspire Success are working with clients to complete WHS audits, compiling the results of this audit and can then have the WHS policies, checklists and forms customised and back to you in SEVEN DAYS. Contact Inspire Success for further information - raephillips@inspire-success.com.

WHS – Hazards and Risk Management

Rae Phillips - Friday, September 28, 2012
Some terms you will hear a great deal of under the WHS Act 2011 are hazards and risk management. A hazard is any situation, substance, activity, event or environment that could potentially cause injury or ill health. Identifying hazards is the first step of the risk management process. Methods of identifying hazards include; safety inspections, audits, job safety analyses, employees recognising hazards, incidents, analysis of new equipment, process or material etc

Hazard identification should be proactive – the law expects you to be proactive in identifying and controlling hazards before any harm/injury occurs. If you have identified a number of hazards STOP and prioritise. Look at the hazards and decide which has the highest risk and give that priority to eliminate it or minimise it before moving on to the next riskiest hazard.

The most common hazards in workplaces  include:
  • Work environment hazards – poor ventilation, slippery floor surfaces;
  • Machinery and equipment related hazards;
  • Heat and fire;
  • Electricity;
  • Hazardous substances – toxic chemicals;
  • Biological waste;
  • Fumes, dust, smoke;
  • Working at heights;
  • Confined spaces;
  • Physical stress and over exertion;
  • Psychological stress from bullying, conflict, harassment, lack of support work overload.
A risk assessment is the assessment of the hazard identified. What is assessed is the consequence expected from an incident linked to the hazard and the likelihood of that incident happening. The possible consequences of the hazard would be fatality, disability, lost time injury, medical treatment injury or first aid injury. The likelihood could be common, known to have occurred, could occur, not likely to occur or almost impossible. It is important that a qualified person is carrying out the risk assessment – someone that understands the work process. At times it may be necessary to get a third party qualified WHS consultant to complete the risk assessment. It is important to remember that you can’t eliminate every risk – if a risk is not foreseeable then it would be impossible to control it. However if the risk is foreseeable you must minimise that risk or remove it completely. The duty to provide a safe workplace is inflexible.

Under the WHS 2011 Act the PCBU and Officers must always be quick to perceive any hazard, must always consider risks and must implement suitable controls.

Is this something that could be an issue at your place?


Inspire Success is all about implementing practical solutions that help create high performing workplaces which are customer focussed and free of conflict - no matter what size your business is. Contact Inspire Success for further information - raephillips@inspire-success.com.

Legislative scales changes

Rae Phillips - Monday, September 10, 2012
Do you know the changes to some legislative scales which were effective from 1st July 2012?
The changes to legislative scales include:-
  • the unfair dismissal high income threshold and compensation cap;
  • the general protections filing fee;
  • the employment termination payment tax offset; and
  • the tax-free part of genuine redundancy payments and early retirement scheme payments.

Unfair Dismissal High Income Threshold and Compensation Cap

From 1 July 2012, the unfair dismissal high income threshold increased from $118,100 to $123,300 while the maximum compensation rose from $59,050 to $61,650 (Further information in last month’s newsletter).

General Protections filing fee

From 1 July 2012, the filing fee for a General Protections matter increased to $64.20. This is the filing fee when making a general protections dispute application.

Employment Termination Payment tax offset

As part of the 2012-13 Budget, the government announced it is revising the way that employment termination payments (ETPs) are taxed. From 1 July 2012 there will be an additional $180,000 non-indexed whole of income cap based on an individual's yearly taxable income that will work in addition to the existing ETP cap rules on some employment termination payments.

An individual will receive an ETP cap, being the lesser of either:
  •      the existing lifetime benefit ETP cap ($175,000 in 2012-13); or
  •      the $180,000 'whole of income' cap.
The $180,000 will be reduced by other taxable income (excluding the employment termination payment in question) that the individual may receive in that income year.
The $180,000 whole of income cap will not apply to:
  • genuine redundancy payment;
  • early retirement scheme payment;
  • invalidity payments;
  • compensation received due to a genuine employment related dispute relating to personal injury, harassment, discrimination or unfair dismissal;
  • death benefit payments.

Tax-free part of genuine redundancy payments and early retirement scheme payments

A bona fide redundancy payment is a payment made to an employee who is dismissed because the job they were doing is made redundant. An approved early retirement scheme is a scheme that an employer puts into place to encourage certain groups of employees to retire early or resign. To get the special tax rates, the Commissioner of Taxation must approve the scheme.
The tax-free limit is a flat dollar amount plus an amount for each year of completed service in the employee’s period of employment with their employer. The new indexed limits are:-
  • 2012-2013 Base Limit: $8806 and for each year complete of service $4404
For more information see -  Fair Work Australia

Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about implementing practical solutions that help create high performing workplaces which are customer focussed and free of conflict - no matter what size your business is. Contact Inspire Success for further information raephillips@inspire-success.com

Changes to Parental Leave

Rae Phillips - Monday, September 10, 2012

Changes to Parental Leave Ahead

From 1 October 2012, there will be three changes to parental leave and related entitlements National Employment Standard in the Fair Work Act.

The three changes from 1st October 2012 are:
  1. You may let a pregnant employee start parental leave even earlier than 6 weeks before the expected date of birth of the child, but there is no obligation to do so;
  2. If an employee intends to take parental leave in association with the birth of a child but unfortunately the baby is still born or passes away after being born, the employer or the employee may cancel the leave by giving written notice requesting a return to work;
  3. Before you employ a parental leave replacement employee, you must notify the employee that the engagement to perform that work is temporary. You must also notify them of the rights of the employee they are replacing and that you have the right to cancel the leave if:
  • the pregnancy ends other than by the birth of a living child;
  • the child dies after birth; or
  • you require the employee taking unpaid parental leave to return to work because the employee ceases to have any responsibility for the care of the child.

Other changes ahead

The Paid Parental Leave scheme will soon be extended to dads with the Federal Government’s introduction of a two-week paternity leave payment.  From 1 January 2013, eligible working fathers and partners will receive a new payment, called dad and partner pay. Eligible fathers or partners will be able to receive two weeks of Dad and Partner pay at the minimum national wage, which is currently $606.40, during the first 12 months after the birth or adoption of the child. Unlike the existing paid parental leave scheme, where businesses receive funding from the Federal Government and then make the payments themselves, the government will distribute dad and partner payments through the Department of Human Services.
To be eligible for dad and partner pay, a claimant will need to meet the following requirements:
  • The “work test” – the person must have:
    - worked continuously for at least 10 of the 13 months prior to their nominated start date for dad and partner pay, with a break of no more than eight weeks between any two consecutive work days; and
    - undertaken at least 330 hours of paid work during the 10 month period (an average of around one day of paid work a week);
  • The “income test” – the person must have income of $150,000 or less, based on the dad or partner’s adjusted taxable income in the previous financial year before the nominated start date for dad and partner pay or the date of claim, whichever is the earlier;
  • The “Australian residency test” – the person must be an Australian resident;
  • Be providing care (whether this be primary care or joint care) for a child born or adopted on or after 1 January 2013; and
  • Not be working during the period the person receives the payment.
Here at Inspire Success, we think this is fantastic news. It means dads/partners can take some time off with their new child and signals to employers that a father's role in caring for a new baby is important.

Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about implementing practical solutions that help create high performing workplaces which are customer focussed and free of conflict - no matter what size your business is.
Contact Inspire Success for further information raephillips@inspire-success.com

Long service leave

Rae Phillips - Monday, September 10, 2012

Long service leave ......it doesn’t have to be seen as a negative.....

Long service leave is a period of paid leave for employees who have been working for the same business for a long period of time.

Long service leave generally:

•    is governed by state and territory laws;
•    can be taken after 10 years continuous service;
•    is paid at the employee’s ordinary rate of pay;
•    can‘t be cashed out;
•    is paid out to eligible employees upon termination of employment (minus any amount already taken); and
•    may apply to casual employees.

For example, in New South Wales employees, including casual employees are entitled to long service leave.  (Except those employees covered by a federal award or certified agreement which provides for long service leave, also it does not apply to employees covered by the Building & Construction Industry Long Service Payments Act 1986, or the Long Service Leave (Metalliferous Mining Industry) Act 1963)

While long-service leave is a statutory employee benefit provided to loyal, long-serving employees, many companies do very little to promote it because of the high cost and their fear of the inconvenience of extended leave. As a result employees are often hesitant to take their leave entitlement once they qualify. However, it is an entitlement for employees and with careful management doesn’t have to be a negative for your organisation.

Risks Associated with Leave Deferral

There may be risks to employee wellbeing, operational effectiveness and budget efficacy associated with not effectively managing leave. Both employees and employers should identify the risks associated with leave deferral, and develop suitable strategies to manage leave that will negate these risks. This is particularly important when an employee has accrued excess leave due to an inability or refusal to take leave on a regular basis. Risks can include:
•    increased sick leave claims
•    increased workers’ compensation claims
•    reduced productivity and quality of work
•    poor staff morale and negativity in the work environment
•    increased staff turnover

Long service leave must be taken by agreement by you and your employee. If you have a number of employees who have accrued large amounts of long service leave, it can result in quiet a large liability for your business. By directing your employees to take long service leave you can reduce long service leave liability. If you have employees that you are encouraging to take their long service leave you must take the following steps:-
  1. Give your employee notice (depending on state) of the date the leave will be taken - in NSW it is 1 month, VIC is 3 months, WA is 1 month and QLD is 3 months.
  2. You can agree with your employee that all of the long service leave is taken in one continuous period OR that is will be taken at an agreed later date OR that it is taken in 2, 3 or 4 separate periods depending on their length of long service leave.

Pro Rata Long Service Leave

In NSW if a person has been working for the same employer for 10 years they  are entitled to 2 months (8.67 weeks) paid leave, to be paid at their ordinary gross weekly wage under the NSW Long Service Leave Act 1955. The Act also provides for a pro-rata entitlement after five years, if the employee resigns as a result of:

•    illness,
•    incapacity or
•    domestic or other pressing necessity.

If an employee resigns for one of the above reasons they need to advise the employer in writing at the time of giving notice. The Act also provides for a pro-rata entitlement after five years, if an employee’s services have been terminated by the employer for any reason other than serious or wilful misconduct, or if the employee dies. If an employee ceases employment before 5 years service there is no entitlement for long service leave.

The Positives

Managing leave effectively allows employees to take leave while maintaining acceptable levels of service delivery and operational function. A successful leave management approach results in employee wellbeing and productivity being maintained and the accumulation of excessive leave liability prevented with both the employer and employee being involved in its management. Remember discussing openly in your organisation that an employee’s long-service leave is due may yield positives in terms of the perception of your organisation as a good place to work and an organisation that rewards loyalty and provides a long-term career path.

Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about implementing practical solutions that help create high performing workplaces which are customer focussed and free of conflict - no matter what size your business is.
Contact Inspire Success for further information raephillips@inspire-success.com

Individual Flexibility Agreements (IFAs)

Rae Phillips - Sunday, September 09, 2012
Your top three questions around Individual Flexibility Agreements (IFAs):

1.    What are IFA’s and when should I use one?
2.    What can be included in an IFA?
3.    What if an IFA is not properly made?

What are Individual Flexibility Agreements (IFA’s)?

Modern awards and enterprise agreements set out the minimum terms and conditions of employment. These are collective in nature and apply to a number of employees. They don’t take into account specific circumstances of individual employees and the employer.  Flexibility terms in Enterprise Agreements and Modern Awards allow Individual Flexibility Agreements (IFA’s) to be made (all modern awards and enterprise agreements must include a ‘flexibility term’).  A flexibility term allows the employer and employee to agree on an arrangement which varies the effect of the modern award or enterprise agreement with the result of meeting the genuine needs of the employer and that employee. As part of this flexibility agreement the employee being covered by this IFA must be better off overall on the IFA compared to the modern award or enterprise agreement that the IFA varies – the Better Off Overall Test (BOOT). IFA’s can provide benefits to both employers and employees. Individual flexibility arrangements can lead to greater job satisfaction and help attract and retain skilled and valuable staff. Flexibility in the workplace can also improve workplace productivity and efficiency by helping maintain a motivated workforce with reduced staff turnover and absenteeism. Examples of flexibility provisions are hours of work, overtime, penalty rates etc. An example of when you would use one – eg. you have an enterprise agreement for employees’ working hours to be 9am to 5pm with a flexibility term allowing IFAs to be made about hours within the Agreement.  If you had a request from an employee to change hours to 7am – 3pm you could make an IFA with that employee around hours but the enterprise agreement would still apply to that employee as if the enterprise agreement provided for ordinary working hours of between 7am – 3pm, the one agreed change being hours of work.

What can be included in an IFA?

Flexibility terms within modern awards will allow IFAs to vary the following:-
  • Working hours
  • Overtime rates
  • Penalty rates
  • Allowances
  • Leave loading
This means that the above can be varied by agreement between an employer and an individual employee provided that the employee is BETTER OFF under the IFA.  It is important to note that currently an IFA can only be made with an employee after the employee has begun employment ie an existing employee who is entitled to minimum award conditions under the relevant modern award. An employer cannot ask a prospective employee to agree to an IFA as a condition of employment.  
Under enterprise agreements an IFA can only vary those terms of the enterprise agreements that are set out in the flexibility term within the enterprise agreement. Examples include:-
  • Matters pertaining to the relationship between the employer and the employee
  • Matters pertaining to the relationship between the employer and a union covered by the agreement
  • Deductions from wages authorised by employees eg. salary sacrifice, extra superannuation

What if an IFA is not properly made?

Currently, IFAs do not need to be approved by Fair Work Australia. It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure it is made correctly and meets all the legislative requirements.  If an IFA is not made properly the terms of the IFA still continue to rule the employee’s terms of employment.  An employee can terminate an IFA if they believe they are being disadvantaged. They can also take action for compensation.  If the employer fails to ensure an IFA is properly made in accordance with the FW Act they may be liable to a penalty of up to $6600 for an individual or $33,000 for a corporate.

Inspire Success final tips on IFA’s:
  • An employee or an employer cannot be forced to enter into an IFA. It must be by agreement and a person cannot be treated adversely for refusing to enter an IFA;
  • Ensure the employee is better off overall under the IFA;
  • Once the IFA terms are agreed both the employer and employee sign the IFA and both keep a copy;
  • The IFA should include information about how the IFA may be terminated – up to 28 days notice currently;
  • An IFA made in accordance with a modern award or enterprise agreement will end when a new enterprise agreement begins to operate;
  • Be open when approached by employees and give the request consideration.
*****We will keep you up to date on any changes to IFA’s.

Currently, there is a panel reviewing the FWA and this panel have made recommendations around IFA’s under this review which are outlined below:-
  1. Allow the BOOT test to be applied so that an employee can trade off a monetary benefit due under an award or enterprise agreement for a non-monetary benefit.
  2. A requirement that you notify the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) in writing when you make an IFA and provide basic particulars in the notice.
  3. You can require an employee to give you 90 days’ notice of termination of an IFA (it is currently 28 days).
  4. You can make entering into an IFA a term of a job offer.
Inspire Success are specialists in Human Resource Management and have vast experience  working with employers to complete BOOTs and create IFA’s. Contact us on 1300 620 100.
 

Our Seven Important Considerations when going through Redundancy

Rae Phillips - Monday, August 06, 2012
1. Record keeping  - You should keep records of why the redundancy is occurring and all discussions with employees during the redundancy process. Any attempts made to re-deploy employees and employer attempts to look for alternate jobs should also be recorded. The personnel file should record that termination was due to redundancy.

2. Legal advice - If you are unsure when going through the process whether the circumstances are in fact classed a redundancy, you should seek employment / legal advice about it.

3. Comply with Agreements and Awards - Before carrying out a redundancy, you should consult their agreements and awards to ensure they comply with any and all requirements relating to redundancy.

4. Mandatory severance pay  - National system employers(employers covered by the Fair Work Act ) should be aware that the Act introduces mandatory severance pay for employees made redundant in workplaces that are not a 'small business employer' (as defined by the Act). An obligation to provide severance pay under the Act applies from 1 January 2010. Importantly, continuous service under the Act will only start to accrue from 1 January 2010, where an employee previously had no entitlement to severance pay as at 31 December 2009. Advice should be sought in relation to severance payments if you are unsure of your obligations under the Act.

5. Further considerations
 - When a redundancy occurs, you should be aware that you may have additional obligations under the Instruments which require notification and consultation with employees and the unions to which they belong. For example, where 15 or more employees will be terminated due to redundancy, employers must notify Centrelink of the redundancies prior to any termination.  If any of the employees is a member of a union, employers must also notify the unions prior to the termination of the employees.

6. Take care when selecting employees for redundancy in order to avoid potential discrimination claims.

7. An employer may wish to use a deed of release to protect itself against any claim from an employee where the employer provides severance pay over and above the amount required by the instruments.

What is a Redundancy?

Rae Phillips - Monday, August 06, 2012

Redundancy is the involuntary termination of the employee’s employment. Put simply, it occurs where an employee’s job is done away with which results in the employee’s employment being terminated. It is imperative that redundancy does not occur due to the employee’s performance and reasons usually are around economic conditions, business efficiency, or technological development.........read more on this topic

The Fair Work Act states “redundancy may happen when an employee is terminated because:

  • the job someone has been doing is replaced due to the employer introducing new technology (i.e. it can be done by a machine)
  • staff reduction for a particular task occurs due to a downturn in business
  • a merger or takeover happens and the position is no longer required
  • the business restructures or reorganises and the position is no longer required (this may include where tasks performed by a particular employee are distributed between several other employees)
  • of the insolvency or bankruptcy of the employer”.
Reference http://www.fairwork.gov.au/resources/fact-sheets/conditions-of-employment/pages/termination-of-employment-fact-sheet.aspx

Our TOP 9 steps to follow when managing resignations

Rae Phillips - Monday, August 06, 2012

Even the best employers / companies will have employees resign. It naturally causes disruption to the office and therefore having an exit policy or checklist is important so the procedure to follow when an employee is resigning is well documented and clear for all employees to follow. The policy allows you to set out a formal procedure and guidelines to ensure resignations are received and processed in a timely manner.  

  1. When an employee resigns verbally, ask them to put it in writing and then send them a letter confirming the details. Ensure all employees (permanent part-time and full time) give appropriate written notice of their intention to resign in accordance with the terms of their Award.  Ask the employee to submit a letter of resignation to their Manager/Supervisor. Other managerial and executive staff will be required to give notice in accordance with their employment agreement.  If the employee cannot or will not confirm in writing, issue a letter confirming that you accept the verbal resignation.
  2. Acknowledge the letter of resignation and advise your payroll team/person, IT and any other relevant parties. Announce the resignation to the team the employee works with / company and advise who will be taking on their role.
  3. Don’t take the resignation personally   - people change, they need to move on, they have changes in their personal lives etc. There are different reasons why employees resign. Keep things pleasant with the employee to ensure a smooth transition. 
  4. Keep employees involved up to the day they leave – ensure they wrap up loose ends and provide details about ongoing projects. Assign other employees to pick up the work of the departing employee. They will have a head start if they can work with the employee leaving to understand the challenges and details of their job. Additionally, if the employee resigning has customer contact responsibilities, they can provide an introduction to the person who will be picking up their responsibilities. Ideally you already have procedures of the role documented – if not ask the resigning employee to work on a manual with details of their work documented.
  5. The payroll staff must be advised so they can do a termination pay and ensure all outstanding expenses, cash advances, travel advances, and /or other advances are settled and that any holiday pay is finalised
  6. Have relevant paperwork templates – exit process form and exit interview. Ensure the exit process form is completed by their Manager and that an exit interview is arranged by HR / relevant person.
  7. Ensure employee has signed confidentiality agreement and discuss this with them before they leave their employment
  8. On final day get the employee’s security key/tag, car park pass, company credit card, cell phone, laptop etc back from them. Have an Exit Checklist and ensure the employee has signed it confirming they have returned the various items.
  9. Wish the employee well  - you just never know when that employee could end up as a client in the future.

How do you introduce a Mentoring Program?

Rae Phillips - Thursday, July 19, 2012

The process of mentoring involves a more experienced or more knowledgeable employee guiding a less experienced or less knowledgeable employee. It is not about answering questions on occasion but it is an ongoing relationship around learning and discussion. It involves regular communication, passing on of knowledge and supporting of the employees in their work, career and development. The communication is usually face-to-face and while it involves passing on of knowledge it is also important for the mentor to be encouraging and to share ideas and experiences. For mentoring to be successful it is important to create a structured mentoring plan. Both parties, the mentor and the mentee, need to think and plan for what they hope to achieve from the mentoring process and the actions they will take to accomplish this.

The mentor must listen to a mentee’s needs in order to respond appropriately and a mentee should listen to what the mentor is saying to them to learn from them. Mentors very often have their own mentors, and in turn their mentees might wish to become mentors themselves -  over time the benefits can be widely spread. Mentoring can be a short-term arrangement for a set reason (learning of a skill for example) or it can last many years.

Benefits include:-

  • Mentoring is more than advising a more junior employee, its about motivating the other employee to know their own goals, their strengths, their weaknesses and helping them to achieve or resolve each
  • Building a network of expertise to draw on can benefit your business greatly
  • Mentors can find the process very rewarding and it can help employees develop into more senior positions/managerial positions
  • Mentoring can improve employee satisfaction and retention
  • It can make your company more appealing to new employees
  • It is a great learning incentive and utilises your company’s resources

Considerations before you set up a mentoring program:-

  • Choosing the mentors carefully is essential. You want to ensure your mentors are those who want others to succeed and that they have a supportive type personality.
  • Clearly define what your objective is in starting a mentoring program so you structure the program to meet this objective eg developing leaders, teaching a new skill.
  • One factor that is vital to developing a program that fits with your company is to align the structure of your program with the culture of your company. If your company is formal, it might be best to have a formal process including set durations, formal application process etc. Process. If your company is informal, it might be better to match people up and provide them with some guidelines but run with it themselves after this
  • Ensure those involved in the mentoring program know what is involved and what is expected of them so they have a clear understanding
  • Show employees that those at the top believe in the mentoring program. Have the senior management involved and make it known that they think the program is important, encourage them to participate as mentors
  • Have a format in place so that those involved get the most out of the program and have realistic expectations.

 At the end of the mentoring program celebrate its success. Have those involved reflect on their learning. Make sure everyone in your organization knows that mentoring is taking place. Mentoring can be very beneficial for the development of employees and skills enhancement but it can also help your business in the induction of employees, with minority groups to help overcome barriers blocking their progress, in times of organisation change and to motivate better customer service (help with right attitude and motivate quality service).

We are all learning from others, it happens every day....setting up a structured mentoring program can only enhance this learning when its well set up with the right attitudes. It can help development leadership for your business’ future survival and prosperity.

Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about implementing practical solutions that help create high performing workplaces which are customer focussed and free of conflict - no matter what size your business is. Contact Inspire Success for further information raephillips@inspire-success.com

eLearning - Can this work at your place?

Rae Phillips - Thursday, July 19, 2012

E-learning refers to a wide range of applications and processes designed to deliver instruction, material and training through electronic means. Usually this means over the Web, however it also can include CD-ROM, video-conferencing, webinars, interactive simulations, case studies and collaborative learning. Terms you could hear when e-learning is being discussed are "online learning," "web-based training," and "computer-based training." E - Learning is continuing to develop and change to better meet the needs of tech-savvy generations.  Most people think of E-learning relating to computers and the Internet, but with technology continuously evolving electronic devices now also include phones and other hand-held communication devices.

There are many benefits of E-Learning and these include:-

  • Lower costs - e-learning can be more cost effective to deliver than classroom based training
  • Faster delivery and attendees can stop and start as they need to
  • More effective learning in a number of cases
  • Learners can go at their own pace, there is no slowing down in pace to suit different members of a group
  • It takes less time to start and wind up a learning session
  • There is less travel time to and from a training event
  • Learners learn what they need to learn, they can skip elements of a program they don’t need
  • E-learning is more environmentally friendly. Many e-learning courses present all learning content online, using non paper forms of communication such as email and web based tools
  • Employees who are offered continuing education classes may be more loyal to the company where they work. They see the company is interested in their personal growth and advancement and they will be more prone to want to utilize their additional skills to the benefit of the company.

If you decide that E-learning could benefit your company choose the subject of training carefully. E-learning is very suitable when delivering knowledge where as classroom training and on-the-job training is more suitable when that knowledge is being turned into a skill. Your employees’ computer competency is a hugely important factor – having strong enough skills to be able to use this type of training comfortably is a must. Employees must have good self-discipline for E-learning to be effective. While being able to work at your own pace can be an advantage for some employees, for others it could be a disadvantage.

Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about implementing practical solutions that help create high performing workplaces which are customer focussed and free of conflict - no matter what size your business is. Contact Rae Phillips at Inspire Success for further information raephillips@inspire-success.com

Our top 9 tips for staying healthy this winter and keeping those winter blues away

Rae Phillips - Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Winter blues can have a real impact on your workforce and jeopardize the overall performance of your team. They can certainly cause employees to suffer a lack of motivation and drive. But its not all doom and gloom. Follow our top nine tips this winter.....

The good news is that there are some tips and tricks you can use to help your employees get over those winter blues.

  1. Encourage healthy eating habits in your employees.  While you can’t control what type of lunch your employees are bringing from home each day, you can make healthier snacks available for them. If your employees take coffee breaks at work, then try to add fresh fruits, juice or cereal to the menu.
  2. During the winter, people go to work in the dark and come home in the dark. We are trapped indoors during those precious daylight hours. It’s a great idea to get more light into the office as light helps raise serotonin levels which helps improve symptoms of the winter blues. Use higher wattage and brighter light bulbs, clean the windows, even a desk lamp would help. If possible, ensure that a little sunlight can come through your glass windows or through the roof.
  3. Don’t stop the social events just because it is cold outside – have winter parties, celebrate winter birthdays, have after hours activities like bowling etc. Ensure that your office is fun to work in. Even though the pressures of work may be high, ensure that your office environment is a positive one
  4. Keep communicating with your employees on a daily basis in order to nip any problems in the bud.
  5. Make sure your employees take a proper lunch break. Employees should take their lunch break so that they can eat, relax and return to work fully energized. Don’t allow employees to eat at their desks or skip lunch. If possible, arrange a proper area where your employees can eat and relax for their break.
  6. Keep your office airy and warmnobody wants to work in a dark and dreary office. Keep it bright and ensure it has good airflow.
  7. Encourage your employees to get out of the office for a walk and a breath of fresh air on their lunch break.
  8.  Colds and flu are often spread by coughs and sneezes. Have disposable tissues around the office and encourage the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers
  9. Keep stress in check –Stress has a hugely negative impact on people’s bodies and minds, ensure stress levels are kept to a low in your employees.

    Good luck and stay warm!

Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about implementing practical solutions that help create high performing workplaces which are customer focussed and free of conflict - no matter what size your business is. Contact Inspire Success for further information raephillips@inspire-success.com

Working Yummy Mummies

Rae Phillips - Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Here at Inspire Success we are a team of professional Human Resource Consultants who also happen to be working mums. So many challenges face the working mum. Here we look at some recent survey results on the topic and an interesting initiative being used by a company in Australia currently to encourage its female employees back from maternity leave....

ONE in two women believe the federal government is failing mothers returning to the workforce, a survey by The Heat Group has found. The survey results were generated by  640 women participating in the Heat Group’s survey. The survey found 48 per cent rated government support for mothers going back to work as "inadequate", only one in four are confident the Australian government has a real grasp of the key issues affecting working mothers and 28 per cent of women believe their employers go "above and beyond" the legal requirements to support working mothers. A big consideration the survey found was the cost of childcare making it less cost effective for working mums to return to work.

Making headlines in April this year was a report that the company Insurance Australia Group is doubling the salary of new mothers in its workforce for the first six weeks back at work to entice them to return from maternity leave. It’s called the "welcome back payment", and will bring IAG's paid parental leave entitlement to a total of 20 weeks' full pay. With more than half of its employees being female, the company hopes the move will help retain good workers and attracts new ones. "We were finding that some women after having a child were dropping out of the system, which is not want we want," IAG chief executive Mike Wilkins said. “We found that women who were going on maternity leave were saying 'It's difficult for me to come back or if I do come back it's quite difficult to be back’ “. The chief executive says it is worth the cost to reduce the high turnover of staff "If we can also reduce some of the turnover that we've had, particularly in our middle management ranks, and get the opportunity to promote more people into senior ranks I think it will pay for itself," Mr Wilkins said. It is part of IAG's strategy to ensure one-third of its senior management positions are filled by women by 2015. "We're making good progress on that - we were at 25 per cent and now we're at about 28 per cent," Mr Wilkins said. "I'm not a believer in quotas . . . we're trying to encourage people with their careers and this is one great way to do that."

Research from workspace solutions provider Regus has shown that the percentage of firms intending to hire more working mothers has globally decreased by 20% and national by 14%, since the same time last year. The major findings in relation to Australia found that 41% of Australian companies anticipate hiring more part-time working mothers returning to work in the next two years, but that over a quarter (30%) are concerned about employing part-time returning mothers because they feel they may invest training in them only to find that they leave after a short time to have another child. Only 18% of Australian companies are concerned about employing part-time returning mothers because their skills may be out-of-date, but almost a third (32%) are concerned that they may not be able to offer the flexibility and commitment of other employees.

However, almost two thirds (63%) of Australian companies said that they valued part-time returning mothers because they offer skills and experience, which are difficult to find in the current market, and over half (54%) of Australian companies said that they valued them because they offer experience and skills without demanding top salaries. On the positive side, a majority of businesses (72% globally and 77% nationally) now believe that companies that ignore part-time returning mothers are missing out on a significant and valuable part of the employment pool.

The Diversity Council of Australia’s ‘Working for the Future’ research reveals parents and care-givers “are more likely to feel positive about their jobs, are less likely to want to leave and also make better managers”. Nareen Young, chief executive of DCA says that part-time working mothers “are often highly committed and productive workers because they value their working life and have learned to work in effective ways to get the job done in shorter hours”.

Often working mums face discrimination when applying for jobs and can find it difficult to get back in the working world after taking time off to raise their children. Stereotypical thoughts around them being less committed and flexible and lacking up-to-date skills can stand against them. This shouldn’t be the case. Working mums can be very loyal, highly organised and extremely productive. They may need flexible working arrangements in return but long term this will pay off for the employer. Its always important to keep an open mind.

Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about implementing practical solutions that help create high performing workplaces which are customer focussed and free of conflict - no matter what size your business is. Contact Inspire Success for further information raephillips@inspire-success.com

The Grey Workforce

Rae Phillips - Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A topic making headlines regularly these days is the mature worker in the workplace and in December 2011 AHRI conducted a survey into mature worker participation. The survey results were generated by over 1200 respondents. The survey uncovered some interesting information which included the following…..

“The findings reveal a mixed bag of data that includes half the sample of 1212 AHRI members reporting that the departure of older workers has caused loss of key knowledge and skills over the past year, and eight out of ten saying they would like to see steps taken to retain older workers. At the same time more than a third of respondents believe their organisation is biased against the employment of older workers” reference Peter Wilson AHRI President. 

The survey results show that the impact of the departure of older workers from the workplace has resulted in the loss of key knowledge or skills, and in some cases has caused the organisation to be less competitive. More than three quarters of respondents report retaining older workers as a necessary precaution against the sudden loss of essential knowledge and skills. However, while more than two-thirds of respondents believe the retention of older workers would benefit productivity, 26 per cent believe it would have no impact on productivity.

Given limited choices, respondents would prefer their organisation to source recruits from unemployed older workers (49 per cent), skilled immigrants (26 per cent), unemployed youth (13 per cent), unemployed Australians with a disability (7 per cent) and unemployed Australians from indigenous backgrounds (7 per cent). Nearly half of respondents believe their organisation would be disposed to support government initiatives to recruit a greater proportion of older workers. And yet nearly two-thirds of respondents oppose the idea of the government raising the retirement age to retain greater numbers of older workers.

More than eight out of ten respondents (83 per cent) would like to see steps taken within their organisation to retain older workers. Approximately one-third of respondents believe their organisation is biased to some extent against the employment of older workers. Only a little more than a third of respondents report being certain that negative perceptions in their workplace about older workers have no influence on recruitment decisions. Nearly two-thirds of respondents report their organisation does not distinguish between older and younger workers when deciding who to keep on the payroll.

The survey results highlight that in a tight labour market, the pool of candidates available to businesses when recruiting could be broadened to include more mature age workers who could bring substantial knowledge and experience to the table. The positive to come out of the survey was certainly that 83% of respondents wanted to see steps taken within their organisations to retain mature workers.

The finding comes as the Federal Government’s Jobs Bonuses scheme for mature aged workers is set to rollout from July 1. The scheme promises $1,000 to employers who provide a worker aged 50 or over with a job for at least three months.

The annual Australia’s Skills Gap survey, conducted by the Australian Institute of Management (AIM), conducted a survey of the workplace practices of more than 1,500 Australian organisations. It found that 77% of organisations have a gap in their workforce skills, yet few of these organisations are trying to fill the gap by utilising the experience of mature aged workers to mentor younger members of staff. Statistics from the report included just 3% of organisations with a skills gap use mature ages workers in mentoring or coaching roles; 21% of surveyed organisations had programs in place to access the skill sets of retirees or former long-term workers; of those organisations that have avoided a skills gap, the most nominated reason was ‘a strong commitment to training and development’;  for those organisations with a skills gap, ‘training and development’ was named as the number one solution to fix the problem.

The skills most lacking in Australian organisations from the results in the survey were:

  • Leadership
  • Process and project management skills
  • Technical and industry specific skills
  • Communication/interpersonal skills
  • Managerial


Overlooking older and experienced staff to fill a skills gap is a ‘blindspot’, according to Susan Heron, CEO, AIM. “There’s a huge upside for our nation’s skills hungry employers if they can better tap into the experience and capabilities of older Australians,” Heron said. “When you consider the many millions of dollars that Australian organisations have collectively invested over the years in developing the skills of mature aged people, it’s clear they should be seeking a greater return on their investment.”

“Mature aged Australians, whether they’re in the workforce or have retired in recent years, have a wealth of knowledge and job ‘know-how’ that can provide savvy employers with a competitive edge. Older Australians have also spent their whole careers developing a network of personal business contacts that can be used to advantage by an employer”. Heron added that “the skills crisis isn’t going anywhere and will be a long-term reality for Australian organisations because of the nation’s resources boom and ageing workforce”.

Its not a topic that is going to go away. With Australia’s ageing population we will see great numbers of mature aged workers available and wanting to remain in the workforce and employers having this pool of candidates at their fingertips...

The concerns employers have tend to be around the mature aged worker requiring training, their lacking in confidence around training requirements and the possibility of ill health. On the plus the benefits of mature aged worker include them being reliable and loyal, having diverse skills and a great work ethic. Also employers can take advantage of flexible working arrangements to meet peak workload demands. 

What is the practice at your company? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic

 

Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about implementing practical solutions that help create high performing workplaces which are customer focussed and free of conflict - no matter what size your business is. Contact Inspire Success for further information hr@inspire-success.com or 1300 620 100.

 

Inspire Success proud sponsor of Jobs on the Coast

Rae Phillips - Wednesday, May 16, 2012

JobsOnTheCoast.com.au is a focused job board, committed to employment and career opportunities on the Central Coast of New South Wales, Australia. This site provides local employers with the opportunity to advertise their vacancies for free and connect with skilled and experienced candidates, who want to work in this spectacular region. Inspire Success have proudly joined as the third main sponsor of JobsOnTheCoast.com.au.

JobsOnTheCoast.com.au is excited to have the support of Inspire Success, which is a recent recipient of a Central Coast Business Excellence Award. Similarly to JobsOnTheCoast.com.au, Inspire Success is dedicated to assisting business on the Central Coast and we are eager to form a partnership with a likeminded, local organisation.

Inspire Success are award winning Central Coast Human Resources specialists, who help business to implement effective people practices.

With Job Centre Australia, TAFE Central Coast Campuses and Inspire Success all on board, the website now has main sponsor representation in Employment Services, Training/Education and Human Resources.

As a Central Coast business with a track record of helping local businesses to manage their people processes and employment-related matters, Inspire Success are thrilled to partner with Jobs On The Coast. We recognise the benefits that Central Coast employers can offer and welcome the opportunity to support the continued growth of our business community through this initiative.” Rae Phillips Director - Inspire Success

Need help with your recruitment? Inspire Success can assist you from the beginning stages right through to making the offer to your new employee.....

Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about implementing practical solutions that help create high performing workplaces which are customer focussed and free of conflict - no matter what size your business is. Contact Inspire Success for further information raephillips@inspire-success.com

Are your employees happy? How can you find out……

Rae Phillips - Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Employee Opinion Surveys (EOS) have great potential to improve workplace environments and are often used to measure the success of organisational change. They can also assist to reduce absenteeism, prevent harassment and bullying and identify other work environment problem areas.

At Inspire Success we are often asked to help clients with their EOS, to find out if their employees are satisfied in their work, their environment, with organisational changes, with their remuneration etc What better way to hear from your employees by having an external party manage the process and allow employees keep their names confidential in their responses?

We have discussed many times in the newsletter that happy employees are more productive. To attract and keep the real stars, you need to create a work environment that makes employees want to give their best effort and perform at the highest levels. To do that, you need to keep your finger on the pulse of your team.

A satisfaction survey is a series of questions that you can ask your employees to answer which will inform you how they feel about or how they experience their work environment and culture. The questionnaire usually offers both questions that ask your employees to rate a particular aspect of the work environment and open ended questions that allow them to give their opinions. The majority of times the survey can be completed on line. Companies that take the time to really listen to their employees and understand their attitudes and opinions are typically far more successful in obtaining an engaged and motivated workforce.

In formulating your employee survey, you may want to consider the following high level topics:

  • Self-awareness and Motivation
  • Company Culture and Spirit
  • Management
  • Cooperation and Communication
  • Learning and Development Opportunities
  • Recognition and Reward
  • Overall perceptions of the Company for Improvement.

While it’s true that people need to feel as if they are fairly compensated; they also want to feel like they are a part of the company and that their ideas and suggestions are important. They also like to feel that they add value and assist in the growth of the company. Many management experts believe that the single greatest key to productivity is employee happiness. Happy employees are usually energetic and motivated. But, determining what makes workers happy can be tricky.

The belief that money is the source of employee happiness and retention is not true. While there is no question that money is important, management studies show that it does not buy employee satisfaction. While employees want to be fairly compensated for their efforts, they also want to be challenged and treated with respect. Findings from Aon Hewitt’s Employee Pay Perception study (over 37,500 employees were surveyed from 110 companies in Australia and New Zealand and workers were asked 40 questions) show that employers don’t have to increase pay to achieve a higher level of job satisfaction.

http://www.aon.com/thought-leadership/asiaconnect/Attachments/leadership-and-talent/Leadership-Talent_2010Nov_Money_Talks.pdf)

If you decide to use an EOS, you must be committed to making changes in your work environment based on employee responses to the survey.

Our Top 6 Tips when running an EOS:-

1. Commitment to the Process – If you use an EOS you must have the support and commitment of your management team. If management try and understand the results and act on them the process can be extremely rewarding.

2. Communication – Employee surveys are, by nature, perceived by managers as a threat, in that they ask questions about the quality of supervision. This makes it imperative that you establish and communicate clearly, from the beginning, why you’re doing the survey, what will happen to the results, and what you hope to gain from the EOS.

3. The Survey Itself – Don’t ask too many questions (or too little). Ensure your questions are relevant and can be understood or interpreted how you want them to be. Why not link it to another well known, national survey so that you can benchmark your results? Try the Mercer What’s Working Survey or Red Balloon’s Dream Employers.

4. Survey Administration - Face-to-face administration does yield a high participation level and the ability to answer any questions people may have about the survey. Administration via the Internet is faster and cheaper and can be done anonymously so employees may feel more comfortable. Whichever mode you choose, it is vital to ensure that everyone gets a consistent message about why the survey is being conducted.

5. Survey Data - When collating the results and deciding what to present to employees two things are important: (a) The data is relevant to who it is being shared with and is easy to understand (b) Sharing the results with your employees should be no longer than a month after completion of survey

6. Survey Frequency - Given that one of the major benefits of a survey process is the opportunity to measure results over time, you should periodically resurvey your employees.

Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about implementing practical solutions that help create high performing workplaces which are customer focussed and free of conflict - no matter what size your business is. Contact Rae Phillips at Inspire Success for further information raephillips@inspire-success.com

Risk Management Strategies

Rae Phillips - Thursday, April 26, 2012

In March 2012, one-third of NSW's communities were declared natural disaster zones as the worst flooding in decades threatened parts of the state. A large majority of New South Wales’ towns and cities are located on floodplains, both inland and coastal, that contain businesses both big and small. These are an integral part of the economy, providing employment, incomes, goods and services to their communities. The direct and indirect costs of flooding on commercial and industrial properties are significant for some businesses and can end in closure. In areas where businesses struggle to recover from floods, jobs and incomes can be lost, leading to social problems and reduced commercial viability. The average annual costs of flooding in NSW amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars. The improvement of business preparedness for floods is hugely important and with flood insurance generally unavailable HR and Business Managers/Owners have a big responsibility in having a disaster management plan ready and to have their risk management strategies up to date.

It is critical to have an effective emergency response plan. Emergencies may arise at anytime. They can develop from a number of causes including fire, chemical spills, gas leaks, bomb threats, structural faults, natural disasters and civil disturbances. Keeping your employees up to date with training and information so they know what to do when a crisis strikes is essential. Employees should know what to expect when a crisis/disaster hits and what steps to take. This should include remote working, relocating the business temporarily, reduced hours etc.

Your employees must understand

  1. What the crisis being faced is
  2. What steps to take
  3. Who to contact in the company

For businesses operating in disaster-prone regions it should be a priority to develop business continuity and emergency response plans so they are prepared to act quickly when a crisis or disaster occurs.

The plan should include:-

  • Strategies for business being disrupted and planning around disruptions to staff resources, services provided and buildings
  • Safety procedures, such as shut-downs and evacuations
  • Infrastructure to work remotely if the need arises
  • A crisis management team and safety officers who are up to date on the company’s policies and procedures and are able to clearly communicate steps to employees
  • An emergency contact system for employees to report their status and whereabouts • A series of evacuation exercises should be conducted in order to test the procedures.

Getting policies and procedures right is crucial when it comes to employee safety in a crisis and requires time, commitment and investment. Being prepared is the only way to reduce the impact of disasters / crisis. At least once a year your plan should be evaluated – contact information updated if necessary, first aid certificates/fire wardens certs checked, equipment checked, improvements made etc. Having your policies and procedures up to date will ensure resources are maximised and losses minimised if struck with a disaster or crisis.

"The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it." ~ Thucydides

Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about implementing practical solutions that help create high performing workplaces which are customer focussed and free of conflict - no matter what size your business is. Contact Inspire Success for further information raephillips@inspire-success.com

IT Security in the workplace - Our Top 8 tips to help keep your servers secure

Rae Phillips - Thursday, April 26, 2012

The final article on our IT security topics this month is around keeping your servers secure. While cloud computing is becoming more and more popular and replacing servers for some businesses, network servers still play a very valuable role in securing data and managing IT systems. The following are our top eight tips to keep your IT server secure:-

  1. Restrict Access – Nobody should have access to your IT server without authorisation. Therefore servers should either be locked away or in a secure area where they can only be seen by your staff
  2. Log in Security – Every server should have its own password and details should not be shared. Passwords should not be kept in same area as the server
  3. Firewalls – an internet firewall is essential – it can be a basic router or more sophisticated. Your server should sit behind the protection of the firewall
  4. Updating – This should be frequent – things are constantly changing and updating eg Microsoft have a regular update schedule where they release new security patches. Although having fully patched software does not mean your server is fully secure, it is very important to update your operating system and any other software running on it with the latest security patches. Hacking incidents still occur because hackers take advantage of un-patched servers and software.
  5. Backup - backup frequently to ensure data is kept in case of a failure or problem
  6. Log everything – every virus or breach of security should be logged to ensure everything happening on the network is being controlled
  7. Remote access – although not always practical when possible server administrators should login to web servers locally. If remote access is needed, you must make sure that the remote connection is secured properly. Using security tokens and other single sign on equipment and software is smart. Remote access should also be restricted to a specific number of IP’s and to specific accounts only. It is also very important not to use public computers or public networks to access corporate servers remotely, such as in internet café’s or public wireless networks.
  8. Help and Support - If you are running a server, you need competent IT support staff that understand security risks and how to alleviate them on servers and networks

And remember, a great way to keep your IT secure is to keep informed. Information and tips on software and operating systems being used can be found freely on the internet and can help you learn about new attacks and tools. Good luck…

Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about implementing practical solutions that help create high performing workplaces which are customer focussed and free of conflict - no matter what size your business is. Contact Inspire Success for further information

IT Security in the workplace -Our Top 7 tips to help keep your tablet computer secure

Rae Phillips - Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tablet computers or tablets as they are often called, are becoming more and more popular as the top choice for portable computers. Given most tablets connect to corporate and cloud servers, they are particularly dangerous if someone gets unauthorised access. The good news is that manufacturers use a lot of security features in their design of tablet computers and the use of locked own apps makes them less prone to viruses.  A tablet is bigger than a smartphone but typically much smaller and lighter than a laptop. Both smartphones and tablets are easily lost or stolen, with theft a particular concern when it comes to tablets due to their current "it" status. Here are our Top 7 Tips to keep your tablet computer secure:-

  1. Turn on passkeys – all tablet devices have passkeys so you can have a PIN number before logging on. On most of the systems you can set the tablet to wipe itself if the wrong pin is used too many times;
  2. Encryption – encryption is very important and on tablet computers its either set up automatically (on the Apple iPad for example) or is easy to enable on Windows and Google Android devices;
  3. Tracking and wiping – most mobile devices now come with built in tracking services that let you monitor where the tablet computer is. Many will allow you to wipe the tablet remotely if it has been lost or stolen;
  4. Keep the tablet  close at hand at all times - Don't leave your tablet computer even for a minute;
  5. Invest in a security cable - most portable computers come with a universal security slot that allows a reinforced steel security cable to be fitted. Whenever you sit down with the tablet computer for an extended period you can secure it to a table leg or similar that makes it difficult for a thief to steal it;
  6. Use a Smart Card - your tablet device may have come with a Smart Card, or you can buy one that fits into a card slot. Smart Card technology ensures that if somebody tries to turn on your tablet device and doesn't insert the card, the device won't complete the boot sequence;
  7. Communicate Employee Responsibility for the Tablet - a clearly written and communicated policy that states the employee's responsibility for the tablet computer can significantly reduce the risk of theft, if only by increasing the employee's risk awareness. While the details of employee responsibility and liability will vary greatly from company to company you should have a policy in place that spells out the risks of tablet computer theft, the responsibility of the user and the liability of the user.

Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about implementing practical solutions that help create high performing workplaces which are customer focussed and free of conflict - no matter what size your business is. Contact Inspire Success for further information raephillips@inspire-success.com

Pay increase for employees in SACS sector by FWA February 2012

Rae Phillips - Tuesday, March 13, 2012

On February 1st 2012 Fair Work Australia announced their decision to increase pay for private sector employees in social and community services. Pay rates of employees in the social, disability and community services (SACS) sector will be increased in order to achieve pay equity for the female employees. But, what does this mean for employers.

As a result of the FWA decision, up to 150,000 social and community service workers will receive pay increases of between 19% and 41% over eight years, which is the length of time of the transitional phasing arrangement. For a Level 2 graded employee the increase to the rate in the SACS Award will be 19%. This works out to be an extra $6324 per annum. A Level 8 graded employee will be entitled to a wage rate rise of 41%. This will mean a wage increase of $24,346 per annum. This decision is being estimated as costing the NSW State Government up to $1 billion over the next five years in funding.

While FWA’s decision affects those employees covered by the Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award (the SACS Award) in the social and community services sector and the crisis assistance and supported housing sector it is also likely to affect other industries in the future. In particular, other female dominated industries such as clerical, cleaning and nursing industries could be next to look for similar pay increases on the basis of historical industrial inequities.

The concerns are that the impact of these pay increases will be felt most heavily by non-government funded organisations who would then have to bear the brunt of the cost. This would then have some knock on effects such as a decrease in job security and result in retrenchment or reduction of available services despite the phasing in period. For example, the NSW Government has warned that having to fully fund the pay rise could lead to cuts to other government services and higher taxes.

Given Fair Work Australia's approach in this matter, it is expected that similar applications by unions will be made in respect of pay rates in other modern awards. In particular, other female dominated industries such as the clerical, cleaning and nursing industries will be likely union targets. The Australian Nursing Federation has already commented that the pay rises awarded could pave the way for aged-care nurses and staff to achieve pay equity.

The real impact of this FWA decision and action on employers and the economy remains to be seen but there can be little doubt that pay equity is now high on the industrial relations agenda and will likely remain there for quite some time to come.

For more information see Fair Work Australia’s website - http://www.fwa.gov.au/index.cfm?pagename=aboutbriefs&year=2012#010212

 

Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about implementing practical solutions that help create high performing workplaces which are customer focussed and free of conflict - no matter what size your business is. Contact Inspire Success for further information raephillips@inspire-success.com

Recruitment and Selection

Rae Phillips - Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Recruitment can be expensive and time consuming but choosing the right employees for your organisation is essential for your success. Recruiting the wrong people for your organisation can lead to increased staff turnover, increased costs for the organisation, and lowering of morale in your existing workforce. Therefore, your recruitment and selection processes need to be efficient and well managed. Here, we look at recruitment and selection from the beginning stages of choosing the recruitment criteria through the advertising, interview questions and finally selection through evaluation forms.
The stages in recruitment involve identifying the key recruitment criteria, using your position descriptions to create the advert used, having your interview questions prepared and having an interview process to include reference checking and evaluation forms. Let’s look at each of these in a little more detail.

  • Identifying the key recruitment criteria:- These are the steps that happen prior to selecting candidates. This is the planning of the recruitment and selection processes and analysing the open job to determine the recruitment and selection criteria and then developing the key selection criteria. In this stage you evaluate the need for the position, finalise the key selection criteria (essential and desirable), decide on the skills, knowledge, attitudes and aptitudes needed for the position, prepare the position description and plan the recruitment process (in house, external agency, referrals, headhunting, advertising etc). Often organisations use a standard set of questions that may have been used for some time and for several different positions. This can be both helpful and also constraining when recruiting for a position. While it is important to have standardised questions to assess a candidate’s fit with the team and/or the business, it is also important to ensure that some questions are targeted specifically to the requirements of the position. Developing a set of Key Recruiting Criteria and incorporating these criteria into your recruitment process can assist you greatly in this process.
  • Creating a position description for the role:- This involves reviewing the Key Result Areas (KRAs) for the role and these forming the basis of your recruitment criteria which then can be used in your advert. For example, if an administration role has the following 5 KRAs:


a. Time management
b. Intermediate MS Office suite skills
c. Customer service orientation
d. Business management support for senior managers
e. Diary management

Then the 5 recruitment criteria may look like this:

  • Ability to manage own time without close supervision
  • Intermediate MS Office suite skills
  • Capable of managing customer enquiries and complaints
  • Previous experience supporting a minimum of 2 senior managers, including generating reports
  • Ability to manage a diary in line with managers business priorities


These 5 recruitment criteria then form the basis of your assessment items. Your first interview would include some questions that enable the candidate to demonstrate (or not demonstrate!) their skills and experience in each of these recruitment criteria. Behaviourally based questions are the best way to make this assessment (Tell me about a time when…). The second interview would include questions that enable you to explore these areas further.

  • Evaluation forms and reference check forms:- These should also be developed around the recruitment criteria to ensure that you are getting feedback from the interviewers and referees that is consistent with the areas that are most important to you in the role. For example, if technical skills are important these can be verified through interview questions, reference checking, and/or through skill testing. Psychometric testing is another option that you may choose to use and have aligned with your key recruiting criteria. The beauty of this approach is that once the candidate is employed, they can see the relevance of the selection process to the position they now hold, as evidenced by the position description that they will receive. It closes the loop on the recruitment life cycle and then sets up the performance management process for the employee as they progress in their new role.

 

Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about implementing practical solutions that help create high performing workplaces which are customer focussed and free of conflict - no matter what size your business is. Contact Inspire Success for further information hr@inspire-success.com or 1300 620 100.

TOP 8 tips to help keep your company laptops secure

Rae Phillips - Friday, February 24, 2012

Laptops have the ability to store lots of data, email records and retain network settings like password and login details and so present some security concerns for companies. Unfortunately, the mobility, technology and information that make laptops so useful to employees and organizations also make them very valuable for thieves. If your laptop computer is stolen, or if someone gains access to your files while your back is turned, your company information, personal and financial data can be exposed.

Here are our TOP 8 tips to help keep your company laptops secure ........

  1. Enable start-up passwords so that the laptop won’t start unless the correct details are typed in. Use strong passwords and don’t write them down on a piece of paper and leave in your laptop bag
  2. Encrypt your data - If someone should get your laptop and gain access to your files, encryption can give you another layer of protection. You can choose to encrypt files and folders. Then, even if someone gains access to an important file, they can't decrypt it and see your information.
  3. Avoid conspicuous laptop bags -Laptop bags give away exactly what you're carrying. Try to avoid obvious carriers and use backpacks, briefcases or holdalls that are functional but don't make it obvious that you're carrying a computer. Usually these are more convenient for documents and other accessories when travelling
  4. Keep the laptop close at hand at all times - Don't leave your laptop even for a minute
  5. Invest in a security cable:- Most portable computers come with a universal security slot that allows a reinforced steel security cable to be fitted. Whenever you sit down with the laptop for an extended period you can secure the laptop to a table leg or similar that makes it difficult for a thief to steal it
  6. Don't carry important disks or booklets - Keeping backup drives, recovery disks and system manuals in the bag with the laptop makes it easier for thieves to sell and hackers to break into the system. Don't keep these items with the system and if you have to carry them, put them in another bag
  7. Disable password saving - it is very handy to have your computer saving website login details but this makes life easier for someone who steals it, turn off password saving so that sites don't automatically access your data
  8. Communicate Employee Responsibility for the Laptop - A clearly written and communicated policy that states the employee's responsibility for the laptop can significantly reduce the risk of theft, if only by increasing the employee's risk awareness. While the details of employee responsibility and liability will vary greatly from company to company you should have a policy in place that spells out the risks of laptop theft, the responsibility of the user and the liability of the user.
Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about implementing practical solutions that help create high performing workplaces which are customer focussed and free of conflict - no matter what size your business is. Contact Inspire Success for further information raephillips@inspire-success.com

Code of Conduct – what is the benefit to the business?

Rae Phillips - Friday, February 24, 2012

The code of conduct includes detail on compliance with laws and regulations (such as harassment and discrimination on the workplace), conflicts of interest, confidentiality and security matters, fairness and equity, contact with the public and media, values of the business and guidelines on general behaviour.

The benefits of a code of conduct include:-

  • Creating an agreed way of behaving and operating for the entire company;
  • Improved company performance when linked to the company’s business and strategic objectives;
  • Good company culture – employees know what is expected of them in terms of behaviour;
  • Good communication with employees having a framework to look up when faced with difficult decisions;
  • Having a set of values – having a sense of what the company values are and what the company stands for.

It also can enable your company to stand out from similar companies and show what your company values and believes in. The code of conduct applies to all employees, permanent and casual, and contractors. When someone joins your company they should review and understand and sign off on the code of conduct and therefore agree to comply with your guidelines.

If you have decided to implement a code of conduct in your company you will need to communicate the guidelines to all your team and provide them with training so they understand the expectations. The code should be practised and promoted by management to lead the way for your employees. Once set up the code of conduct should be part of the induction process and discussed with all new employees on joining. The code of conduct is part of your employee handbook and also very useful to keep on the company intranet so employees can access it any time they need to.

It is important to keep your code up to date and therefore it should be reviewed regularly (usually once or twice a year), adding any new policies that have been introduced to the company. Also if your company has grown or changed since the last review you may need to add a section e.g. selling products online, social media – you made need to add detail on acceptable behaviour around new changes.

Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about implementing practical solutions that help create high performing workplaces which are customer focussed and free of conflict - no matter what size your business is. Contact Inspire Success for further information raephillips@inspire-success.com

Key Processes for Employee Exit:

Rae Phillips - Friday, February 24, 2012

Having a clear process to follow during Employee Exits will ensure you protect your business and its assets, and help the Employee leave with dignity. It is also a great time to get feedback from them about their time at your place.

  1. Have a clear exit policy

    The purpose of an employee exit policy is to have a process in place when an employee is leaving your employment (resignation, retirement, end of contract etc) When an employee resigns from their position, they should submit a written letter of resignation to their immediate supervisor based on what their notice period is. This could be stated in the employee’s letter of engagement or (if no letter exists) be linked to the National Employment Standards notice table....  During the employee's notice period; they must continue to assume their normal responsibilities and should assist with a handover to the existing team or their replacement if in place.
  2. Conduct and Exit Interview

    An exit interview is often overlooked but is an extremely valuable organizational effectiveness tool. The purpose of exit interviews is to understand the employee’s perceptions and experiences and get feedback about the job the employee held, their work environment, and your place. A good exit interview system can help reduce turnover and increase employee satisfaction and commitment by addressing some of the things that people are leaving because of.

  3. Follow an Exit Checklist

    It is important to have a process in place and a set of steps to follow and ensure the list is completed when each employee finishes. This is extremely handy to ensure you don’t forget anything when the employee leaves. The best person to complete the checklist is usually the employee’s supervisor and should be done on the day they leave. The checklist can include the following (but is not limited to these items below):
  • Arrange for the employee to do a formal handover to someone within the business or at least document the procedures of their role explaining any complicated/important elements
  • Conduct an exit interview
  • Notify other employees that they are leaving
  • Collect any company property including their company laptop, Smartphone, company credit card, keys, security passes, parking pass, name badges and business identification, a uniform if the business owns it, any tools, electronic devices or other business property they have
  • Ask them to clean out their desk
  • Process all outstanding payroll, leave accrued and expenses. If they had a mobile phone account ensure this account is reconciled
  • Delete their computer access, have their files in network folders copied to the network, cancel their accounts. Remove them from the company intranet
  • Disable their building or property access
  • Remind them of confidentiality clauses in their letter of engagement
  • Ensure you have their current address and phone number is on file in case the they need to be contacted after they leave
  • Make sure they and their supervisor sign off on the checklist when it is done.

In the end, it is always nice to part on good terms, and you never know the person leaving your employment may become a client or refer business to you in the future.

We always say that it is best to help a departing employee leave with dignity – regardless of the reason they are leaving.

Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about implementing practical solutions that help create high performing workplaces which are customer focussed and free of conflict - no matter what size your business is. Contact Rae Phillips at Inspire Success for further information raephillips@inspire-success.com

What will OHS Harmonisation mean for you and your business?

Kate Cahill - Friday, January 20, 2012

What exactly will OHS Harmonisation mean for you and your business and what will the penalties and fines under the new laws be?

The purpose of the WHS Act 2011 is to harmonise existing Occupational Health and Safety legislation across Australia through the creation of uniform health and safety obligations. Our later article discusses which states will commence this new legislation from January 1st 2012 and which will be delayed.

While dates have been set for commencement it has been announced that businesses will be able to postpone implementing new occupational health and safety regulations by up to twelve months, if the regulations require them having to make significant changes and require a long period of time.

Federal Workplace Relations Minister Chris Evans has stated that Safe Work Australia has arrangements to assist businesses in the transition into the new system on January 1. Evans said the extension would be granted to businesses that have to fulfil the model regulations which subsequently would require the completion of several duties.

The new WHS Act 2011 seeks to:-

  • Protect workers and other persons against harm to their health, safety and welfare through the elimination or minimisation of risks arising from work or from specified types of substances or plant
  • Providing for fair and effective workplace representation, consultation, co-operation and issue resolution in relation to work health and safety
  • Promote the provision of advice, information, education and training in relation to work health and safety
  • Provide a framework for continuous improvement and application of higher standards of work health and safety

In this article we will focus on the increase in potential penalties and fines – under the new laws, companies face fines up to $3 million per offence, while individuals face fines of $600,000 or 5 years in jail.

What happens if a serious injury, illness or dangerous incident occurs?

Under the work health and safety laws, incidents such as fatalities, serious injuries and illnesses, and dangerous incidents must be notified to WorkCover immediately, and incident records must be kept for five years. 

If you are the person with management of control of the workplace, you must also preserve the incident scene until an inspector attends, or directs otherwise. Render assistance, if it is required, and allow police and ambulance officers to fulfil their functions.

If someone suffers an injury or illness where workers compensation is, or may be payable, contact your insurer within 48 hours. 

What is a serious injury or illness?

A serious injury or illness includes:-

  • an injury or illness that requires immediate treatment as an ‘in-patient in hospital’
  • amputation
  • serious head, eye or burn injuries
  • de-gloving or scalping
  • spinal injury
  • loss of bodily function
  • serious laceration
  • exposure to a substance, which requires medical treatment within 48 hours  

What is a dangerous incident?

A dangerous incident exposes someone to a serious risk, such as: 

  • the uncontrolled escape, spillage or leakage of a substance 
  • uncontrolled implosion, explosion or fire
  • electric shock
  • the uncontrolled escape of gas, steam or pressurised substance
  • falls from height of any machinery, equipment, substance or the like
  • damage to any plant that requires authorisation in accordance with the WHS Regulations (eg registrable plant) 
  • collapse, malfunction or damage to any authorised plant
  • the collapse of a structure or excavation (including shoring)
  • an inrush of water, mud or gas
  • the interruption of underground ventilation.  

How will you be penalised for breaching your duties?

 

Company

Officers

Workers

Category  1  Reckless Conduct

$3,000,000

$600,000 or 5 years imprisonment

$300,000 or 5 years imprisonment

Category 2
Breach of Primary Duty

$1,500,000

$300,000

$150,000

Category 3
Breach of Regulatory Duty

$500,000

$100,000

$50,000

What is reckless conduct?
A person engages in reckless conduct if they, without reasonable excuse, engage in conduct that exposes an individual under their duty of care to the risk of death or serious injury or illness.

What is breach of primary duty?
A breach of primary duty is when a person engages in actions or omissions that expose others to risk of serious injury/illness.

What is breach of regulatory duty?

A breach of regulatory duty is when a person fails to comply with a duty.  

 

Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about implementing practical solutions that help create high performing workplaces which are customer focussed and free of conflict - no matter what size your business is. Contact Rae Phillips at Inspire Success for further information raephillips@inspire-success.com

Employees working from home - Is it a good idea any more?

Kate Cahill - Friday, January 20, 2012

Last year, a Telstra employee made a successful workers' compensation claim against Telstra because she fell twice while working from home and claimed her injuries occurred in the course of her employment. Telstra were found liable to pay her workers compensation.

As a result of this and other similar cases, many employers have had concerns about allowing their employees work from home.  Working from home arrangements don’t have to be to be feared but the risks do need to be managed carefully.

Under NSW OH&S laws, the employer is expected to maintain a working environment, equipment and systems of work that are ‘safe and without risks to health’. That includes your employees working at home. The employees working from home should have the equipment they need just as if they were in the office – a chair, desk, computer, adequate lighting, clear access to exits, a first aid kit and knowledge of safe working procedures.

What do your responsibilities include?
• provide or maintain a working environment that is a safe and without risks to health
• provide or maintain equipment and systems of work that are safe and without risks to health
• provide the information, instruction, training and supervision necessary to ensure the health and safety at work of workers
• make arrangements for ensuring the safe use, handling, storage and transport of equipment and substances.

It is important to put in writing agreed procedures regarding working arrangements particularly regarding hours of work and access (eg. to check that the workplace is safe and that safe systems of work are in place, or to review systems and procedures following an accident).

A workplace assessment / risk assessment of the home environment is another step in identifying health and safety hazards, and deal with them. The person doing the assessment should focus on the part of the home which is used as a workplace - or you can give employees a checklist for self-audit rather than send someone in to tick the boxes.

This checklist – which confirms there is an appropriate desk, chair and lamp, for example, and that electrical cords have been tagged and tested – must be completed and handed back. The idea is that employees who want to work from home would need to complete a self-assessment form and sign up a document that frees you, the employer, from liability in the event of an OH&S issue.

Under NSW OH&S laws the following are some steps to follow when an employee requests working from home:-

  1. Establish whether the duties are suitable for work from home – if special equipment needs to be used or work procedures followed that are not appropriate for home then the job may not be suitable for being done at home;
  2. Establish what equipment will be necessary for the employee to safely work from home – ensure employee’s desk, chair and computer are suitable. Check if any other equipment is needed by the employee. NSW Regulations require that all places of work have a first aid kit. A basic (type C) kit is sufficient for most home-based work situations;
  3. Establish that the home working environment is healthy and safe – ensure there is sufficient lighting, exits are clear, there is a smoke detector, sufficient power points (ensure power points are not overloaded) and if an earth leakage protect device is required;
  4. Establish that the employee who will be working from home has the information and training necessary to do the work safely – ensure they have been trained on safe working procedures to prevent the occurrence of injuries;
  5. Establish agreed hours of work and communication procedures -Establish the days and hours on which work from home can be done and agree on procedures for recording work hours, including actual starting and finishing times (this is important for workers compensation purposes). It is also useful to establish the way in which performance will be monitored and assessed and to establish communication procedures to ensure that appropriate information is passed between the person working from home and his or her co-workers and management;
  6. Revise your workplace rehabilitation program – you may want to include a commitment to provision of suitable duties at the main workplace when this is necessary as a rehabilitation strategy, and to clarify arrangements for monitoring work from home rehabilitation programs.

It is important to monitor your employees working from home arrangements – things change, standards may drop so ensure there is open communication with these employees and a clear procedure where the employee reports any health and safety concerns or any incidents to you.

The Fair Work and Anti-Discrimination legislation allows employees to request flexible working arrangements in certain situations, so as an employer you need to have reasonable business grounds to refuse a request. If you do refuse a request inform your employee of the reasons and document these, keeping all records around this.

At Inspire Success, all our people work from home and we  use a home based work agreement to outline who is responsible for what and get the expectations clear from the start.

Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about implementing practical solutions that help create high performing workplaces which are customer focussed and free of conflict - no matter what size your business is. Contact Rae Phillips at Inspire Success for further information raephillips@inspire-success.com

 

IT Security in the Workplace – our TOP 12 Tips

Kate Cahill - Friday, January 20, 2012

For the next few months we will discuss a different safety topic for IT within your company. This month we look at the office desktop and the security issues to be mindful of.

We all know that IT security is extremely important, it is essential to protect your business from a data breach. Here are our TOP 12 tips to help keep your confidential information secure on office desktops.

  1. Every employee should have their own profile set up and all logins should be protected with strong passwords which need to be changed every 4-6 weeks;
  2. Every time employees leave their desk, they should log off. Screen savers should also be set to log users off after a few minutes of inactivity;
  3. Login details and passwords should not be written on pieces of paper and never written on a post it and stuck to computer screens;
  4. Educate staff about your IT security, keep up to date with what scams are happening currently in the computer world and let staff know what to be careful of and monitor this;
  5. All information on a business network should be saved to a central location to reduce risk;
  6. Have a good privacy policy and make protecting sensitive data a part of the company culture;
  7. Use a good firewall and a secure wireless connection;
  8. Keep anti-virus and anti-spy ware software up to date. Most small businesses have anti-virus and anti-spy ware software in place, but forget or neglect to make sure they have the latest versions or the latest updates, which can open the business up to all sorts of data security breaches;
  9. Keeping computers up-to-date individually is time consuming and can create inconsistencies in the business. Having a network server centralising the rollout of software patches and updates makes managing a network far easier;
  10. Make sure you and your employees only download applications that come from reliable sources. Because applications (e.g., games, mobile apps) may contain viruses, spy ware etc, it's important to know and trust the source of an application before downloading it;
  11. If you outsource any critical functions or store information offsite, ensure you vet third-party security practices such as cloud providers or ISPs. You are still responsible for that data and should ensure the third party is secure.;
  12. Have very specific policy developed around this area of your business. Set standards with new employees, check often and ensure that you follow your policy to the T.

Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about implementing practical solutions that help create high performing workplaces which are customer focussed and free of conflict - no matter what size your business is. Contact Rae Phillips at Inspire Success for further information raephillips@inspire-success.com

Legislation Update - The status of the Work Health and Safety Act in each state

Kate Cahill - Friday, January 20, 2012

The harmonisation of OHS laws across Australia is in process and is being introduced in order to standardise the state/territory based system we have in place at present. The Commonwealth and each state and territory government have agreed to harmonise their work health and safety laws, including Regulations and Codes of Practice, so that they are similar in each jurisdiction.

As you may have heard, the implementation of the new WHS Act is not going smoothly with some regions deciding to implement the new laws at different times rather than the date of 01/01/12 as had been planned for. This will make life difficult for some Australian businesses, in particular those who cross state borders who will be faced with complying with current OHS legislation and then the new legislation.

Update on status of WHS Act in States
ACT - Model law passed and expected to commence 1/1/12
NSW - Model law passed and expected to commence 1/1/12
VIC - No law before the parliament. VIC Government has confirmed that it will defer to 1/1/13
Tasmania – Have introduced model legislation to Parliament but date of commencement not confirmed
SA – WHS will be delayed
NT – Model law passed and expected to commence 1/1/2012
QLD – Model law passed and expected to commence 1/1/2012
WA -  WHS will be delayed

NSW has confirmed a 1 January 2012 commencement date for the WHS Act, and has approved $550,000 in training grants to get businesses up to speed with the new legislation. Queensland will continue with the 1 January 2012 commencement and has enacted 11 of the new Codes of Practice while amending 24 of its existing State codes. Commonwealth parliament passed the Work Health and Safety Bill 2011, which will cover employers under the Comcare scheme. The Commonwealth legislation will come into effect on 1 January 2012.

While harmonisation is delayed in some states it will happen and will affect your business. However, some businesses can delay the new laws by twelve months. Federal Workplace Relations, Minister Chris Evans, announced in November 2011 that Safe Work Australia has arrangements to help businesses move to the new system from January 1. "The transitional arrangements will apply to the model occupational health and safety regulations and provide delayed commencement of up to 12 months or more where the new laws result in a new or significantly different set of duties," Senator Evans said.

For more information on WHS legislation http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/Pages/default.aspx  Contact Inspire Success if you would like to discuss how this affects your business.

The Award Variation or Individual flexibility agreement:

Rae Phillips - Wednesday, November 30, 2011

If your employees are covered by a modern award, you are able to make an agreement with one or more of these employees to vary the application of modern award terms dealing with:

  • working hours and days;
  • overtime rates;
  • penalty rates; and
  • allowances and leave loading.

The flexibility agreement allows for variations to modern awards in order to meet the genuine needs of employers and individual employees while ensuring minimum entitlements and protections are not undermined.

Here are 5 things your award flexibility agreement must include to be considered legal:

  1. It must outline exactly what has been agreed to, and how the terms of employment have been varied.
  2. It must demonstrate how the agreement does not disadvantage the employee in their terms and conditions of employment.
  3. It must state the date that the agreement will commence.
  4. It must state that the agreement can be terminated by either party by giving 4 weeks written notice of termination.
  5. It must be signed and dated by both you and the employee.

It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that the employee is better off overall than if there was no award flexibility agreement. The employer’s ‘better off overall’ assessment will usually involve comparing the employee’s financial benefits under the flexibility agreement with the financial benefits under the applicable award or enterprise agreement. The employee’s personal circumstances and any non-financial benefits which are significant to the employee can also be considered.
After you have made an award flexibility agreement with an employee, you must keep a copy of it on file and also give a copy to the employee.

Remember, you cannot make the signing of an award flexibility agreement a condition of employment and you can only make an award flexibility agreement with an employee covered by a modern award. However you can't make an award flexibility agreement with an employee who is covered by an enterprise agreement.

For further information you can review the Fair Work Act website http://www.fairwork.gov.au/media-centre/latest-news/2011/06/pages/20110627-high-income-threshold-rises-to-118100.aspx  (Is this the right link?) Contact Inspire Success if you would like to discuss how this affects your business.

Reducing stress in 2012

Kate Cahill - Wednesday, November 30, 2011

With employees working long hours and a focus being put on maximising the efforts of the workforce pressure is inevitably felt, pressure which we all call stress. For those whose work week has been stretched to the limit work life imbalance is created and work eats into personal time. Sacrifices are made to keep the wheels churning at work. With results from surveys such as fivefootfour and redballoon showing us that a number of employees are not happy in the workplace it is important to ease the pressure cooker of stress at work. Here we look at stress management tips in the workplace for the individual and the business owner ...

Some stress can be a positive thing.... stress can be a motivator, some of us enjoy working under pressure or feel we work best when we have some pressure or stress. However, when stress is having a negative effect on your wellbeing it’s time to look at ways to get the balance back. Finding ways to manage workplace stress is not about making huge changes to every aspect of your work life or rethinking career ambitions. Stress management requires focus on the one thing that’s always within your control: you.

Tips on managing job stress:-

  • Take care of yourself – when stress is adversely impacting your health or interfering with how you do at work or on your personal life it’s time to make changes. When you take care of yourself you are stronger and more resilient to stress. Even small changes can give you back control and make you feel happier and more energetic. Changes can include small but positive lifestyle choices and ensuring you stick to them – an exercise class, yoga, meditation, listening to music, a weekend away etc whatever helps you unwind, enjoy it. It’s a very important way to improve your physical and emotional well-being.
  • Reduce job stress by prioritizing and organizing – create a balanced schedule, don’t over commit and plan regular breaks. If you have too much on your plate list what “must” be done and what “should” be done and push the to do items that are not essential to the bottom of the list. Take breaks during the day to clear your mind. Stepping away from work to briefly relax and recharge will help you be more, not less, productive.
  • Reduce job stress by breaking bad habits – resist being perfect, reduce clutter, rule out negative thinking. No project, decision or person is perfect so don’t set unrealistic goals or expectations of yourself. Aim to do you very best and be happy that you have done that. Reduce the clutter, tidy your desk, file documents, get your emails organised and stick to your to-do list and cross off items as achieved. These will all help you to feel less overwhelmed every day. Focus only on the things you have control over and don’t stress or worry about the things out of your control.
  • Connect with others at work – listen to your colleagues, communicate with them, enjoy some social time with colleagues after work hours. Being part of a supportive team can really help relieve stress and make you happier in the workplace.

Reducing stress of your employees:-

Happy people are more engaged with their work, build better relationships with colleagues and clients, have less sick days and tend to remain in a role longer. It's in your best interest to keep stress levels in the workplace to a minimum. Managers/ leaders can act as positive role models, especially in times of high stress. If you can remain calm in stressful work situations, it is much easier for your employees to also remain calm. Here are our top three tips to reduce stress in your workplace:-

Improve communication

  • Share information with employees to reduce uncertainty about their jobs, questions, futures
  • Clearly define employees’ roles and responsibilities
  • Make communication friendly and efficient

Consult with your employees

  • Give your employees opportunities to be involved in decisions that affect their jobs
  • Ensure your team’s workload is suitable to their abilities and resources
  • Avoid unrealistic deadlines
  • Show that your employees are valued
  • Offer rewards and incentives
  • Praise good work performance, both verbally and officially, one example would be having an employee of the month award
  • Provide opportunities for career development
  • Promote a work culture that gives employees more control over their work.

Have a friendly social climate

  • Provide opportunities for social interaction among your employees
  • Establish a zero-tolerance policy for harassment
  • Make management actions consistent with organizational values.

Also see our previous article on tips for managing stress in the workplace

Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about implementing practical solutions that help create high performing workplaces which are customer focussed and free of conflict - no matter what size your business is. Contact Rae Phillips at Inspire Success for further information raephillips@inspire-success.com

Get 2012 off to a Productive Start

Rae Phillips - Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Getting organized and being productive are often on our New Year’s resolution lists. Productive people ensure their time is spent working towards their goals. They prioritize what must be done to reach them, recognizing when an activity ultimately delays their success. Being productive means steering clear of distractions and not succumbing to procrastination. Here are some tips to help you get 2012 off to a productive start and make the most of your time every day at work.

  1. Set goals – setting goals at the start of the year is important and tracking the progress you make towards your goal ensures you keep on track. Setting goals keeps you focused and motivated. By considering whether the things you do are carrying you closer to meeting your goals, you’ll be able to focus on genuine productivity.
  2. Manage time and improve your time management skills. Time management requires discipline but gives you a greater degree of control over what you do during the day.  Good time management makes you more efficient and can make improvements to your life at work and at home.
  3. Get organised – make a to do list, keep track of due dates and long term reminders, manage interruptions and work on one task at a time are some ways to help get your organised. Being overwhelmed by a lack of time, space or energy won’t allow you to set goals. Breaking the process down and being organised at every step will see you setting goals in next to no time.
  4. Keep meetings to the set time – schedule meetings for a set time, ensure the meetings start on time and don’t go over the time allocated 
  5. Manage your inbox – email is essential for businesses but managing your inbox can be hugely time consuming.  It is important to think about how you organize, reply to and even think about your emails. Some tips include setting a time frame on how long you spend on email every day, act upon an email with a response, save it or delete it, prioritise/use folders for emails, have a separate account for personal and work email and unsubscribe from excess email subscriptions. Email is a fantastic tool when managed well but does take some work to get them under control
  6. Manage time on mobile phone –The use of smartphones is on the rise and this means we can now use our phones for a lot more than calls and text messages. We can now check emails, use the internet, open documents, work on different software etc. On the plus their usage can help increase your productivity, you are accessible 24/7, you never miss emails, messages or updates. The downside of this is the risk of burnout and constant distraction. It’s important to manage the time spent on them and not be completely dependent on it.
  7. Stamp out stress – stress has many causes including long hours, heavy workload, job insecurity and work conflicts. If stress is excessive and going on for some time it can lead to physical and mental ill health. Learn about methods to prevent and reduce your  job stress
  8. Go paperless - Get things done efficiently (and save the environment) by going paperless in 2012. Going paperless can save money, reduce clutter, save space, keep your data safe and allow documentation and information sharing. Just ensure you back up the information and documents!
  9. Be productive while working on your PC – are your systems out of date, slow or problematic – improve your PC systems to increase your productivity. Upgrading your systems (when required) enhances security and helps increase productivity and decrease costs
  10. Have fun - finally, all the above mentioned tips are meant to make you productive enough to take time out now and then, and enjoy time away from your desk.  Getting to know your team/colleagues and enjoying social events with them can help to make people more motivated. And what better way than the upcoming Christmas parties...Have fun!
Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about implementing practical solutions that help create high performing workplaces which are customer focussed and free of conflict - no matter what size your business is. Contact Rae Phillips at Inspire Success for further information raephillips@inspire-success.com

End of Year, tips for a productive and less stressful 2012

Kate Cahill - Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Are your employees happy.....

As 2011 comes to an end it is good for everyone to look back on the year that was. As a business owner it is very important to learn from the good times during the year, the accomplishments, the growth but also to look at any difficulties and challenges faced in the last 12 months and learn from them. A critical thing to monitor and be involved in is your organisation culture and to have a think about the general “feel” within your organisation as the year ends. As we have discussed in recent newsletters a happy workforce is a productive workforce. The surveys recently completed by fivefootfour and redballoon provide interesting reading on the happiness or unhappiness of Australian employees currently.

According to the fivefootfour survey the Australian workforce is largely unhappy. The report on the Australian workforce released by fivefootfour revealed some interesting results and certainly some food for thought. They wanted to look at how happy Australian employees are in work and the key things that motivate them.

The top 5 findings were:

  1. Only 54% of Australian workers are happy at work, 25% feel depressed most of the day once a week.
  2. 60% of the Australian workforce is bored.
  3. The three big issues behind workforce unhappiness are flexibility, creativity and the misrepresentation of Gen Y.
  4. 35% of Gen Y's will be looking for a new job in the next 12 months.
  5. The ideal workplace composition consists of a mix of employees motivated by the following 7 drivers:

*Flexibility and balance (27%).
*Knowledge for growth (23%).
*Ambition to progress (16%).
*Creativity and freedom (16%).
*Mentoring and learning (11%).
*Variety and momentum (4%).
*Collaboration and interaction (4%).

Workplaces stressors such as lack of work life balance and a lack of job satisfaction are taking a toll on the health and well being of Australian workers. The report also found that 25% of Australians feel ‘blue’ or depressed most of the day once a week and 49% once or twice a month; 60% of the Australian workforce is bored in their current job; and that creative thinkers are jumping ship.

Trudi Sampola, co-founder of fivefootfour, commented:- “Australian businesses need to get more flexible and start recognising the importance of understanding their employees’ values and motivations on an individual level,” says Trudi. While a flexible and engaging workplace is a priority for many employees, 78% of Australian workers want a job that allows them to think creatively.“Businesses that identify the creative thinkers within the team, and give them the opportunity to integrate this value into their role, will reap the rewards,” says Trudi. 35% of Gen Ys (who make up 23% of the Australian workforce) in the survey said that they are likely to look for a new job in the New Year.

Trudi points out the German workforce have more worklife balance and flexibility and as a result are more productive in her comments -“Germans are very clearly output focused versus placing a currency on the number of hours spent in the workplace. Australia needs to change the workplace game, less emphasis on clocking up the hours and more emphasis on getting the job done,” says Trudi.

The Insync Surveys (http://www.insyncsurveys.com.au ) and RedBalloon 2011 Dream Employers Survey (http://www.redballoon.com.au/corporate/articles/google-wins-again) attracted over 7100 responses from the general public. According to the results from this survey the top three drivers that make a Dream Employer in 2011 are:

  • pay, benefits and conditions (38 per cent) - up 11 percentage points from sixth position in 2010
  • work-life balance (37 per cent) - up nine percentage points from third position in 2010
  • culture (36 per cent) - down three percentage points from second position in 2010

This is a shift from last year when the top motivation was brand or company reputation, dropping from 41 per cent in 2010 to 27 per cent this year.

Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about implementing practical solutions that help create high performing workplaces which are customer focussed and free of conflict - no matter what size your business is. Contact Rae Phillips at Inspire Success for further information raephillips@inspire-success.com

High income threshold rises to $118,100

Kate Cahill - Thursday, November 17, 2011

The high income threshold increased from 1 July 2011, along with modern award and minimum wages. The high income threshold affects how a modern award applies to an employee, and affects their ability to access unfair dismissal.
From 1 July 2011:

  • the high income threshold increased to $118,100
  • the compensation limit under unfair dismissal increased to $59,050.

The high income threshold is indexed annually on 1 July.

Why is the high income threshold important?

The high income threshold affects three main entitlements:

  • employees who earn over the high income threshold, and who are not usually covered by a modern award or enterprise agreement, cannot make a claim for unfair dismissal
  • employees who have agreed to a written guarantee of annual earnings by their employer, that is more than the high income threshold, no longer receive their modern award entitlements. However, they are still entitled to unfair dismissal.
  • the maximum compensation payable for unfair dismissal is capped at either half the high income threshold, or the equivalent of six months of the dismissed employee’s wage, whichever is lower.

So, it is important to calculate exactly how much employees are earning from 1 July 2011. The increase in the high income threshold could mean a major change to an employee’s workplace entitlements.

What’s counted under the high income threshold?

To find out whether an employee is earning above this threshold, the following are included in any calculation:

  • wages
  • amounts applied or dealt with in any way on the employee's behalf or as the employee directs (e.g. superannuation top-ups, salary sacrifice)
  • the agreed monetary value of non-monetary benefits (e.g. personal use of a company car, mobile phone or laptop).

The following are not counted:

  • commissions, bonuses, overtime, and any other payment where the amount can’t be determined in advance
  • reimbursements
  • employer contributions to superannuation.

Employers and employees should review their wages to determine if the change affects them.
For further information you can review the Fair Work Act website
http://www.fairwork.gov.au/media-centre/latest-news/2011/06/pages/20110627-high-income-threshold-rises-to-118100.aspx  Contact Inspire Success if you would like to discuss how this affects your business.

360 Degree Feedback

Kate Cahill - Friday, November 11, 2011

What is 360 degree feedback

360 degree respondents can be the employee’s peers, supervisors, managers, team members, other staff members, customers, suppliers – anyone who can provide objective feedback on the employee. Sources should be chosen on factors such as their knowledge of the employee’s performance, the importance of their relationship with the employee and their ability to provide objective feedback and use examples to back up their opinions.  The process for identifying respondents should be clearly set out with employees having some opportunity to input. The feedback is typically provided on a form (paper or online) showing job skills/abilities/attitudinal/behavioural criteria and some sort of scoring or value judgement system. The employee should also assess themselves using the same feedback form. In order for the 360-degree feedback process to be effective, it is important that it be designed and used correctly. The confidentiality of everyone involved should be respected at all times and the feedback should be summarised and delivered to the employee by individuals trained in feedback techniques. Employees should always be offered support to act on feedback.

Why use 360 feedback:

360 feedback can help to identify strengths and development needs for the employee and also help managers by providing insights into their management and leadership role. 360 feedback can open up communications about performance because the process involves giving and receiving feedback from all directions in the organization. Understanding ourselves and how we interact with others helps us understand the impact we have on those around us. 

Companies typically use a 360 feedback system in one of two ways:

1. 360 feedback as a development tool to help employees recognize strengths and weaknesses and become more effective
When done properly, 360 feedback is highly effective as a development tool. Employees can gain insight into how others perceive them and have an opportunity to adjust behaviours and develop skills that will enable them to improve / excel at their jobs. It can tell you where the development is needed for your employees so you don’t end up wasting a huge amount of money on training that people don’t need.

2. 360 Feedback as a Performance Appraisal Tool
360 feedback focuses on behaviours and competencies more than on basic skills, job requirements, and performance objectives. These things are most appropriately addressed by an employee and his/her manager as part of the annual review and performance appraisal process. The 360 feedback can enhance your performance management system, by incorporating 360 feedback into a larger performance management process, but only with clear communication on how the 360 feedback will be used.

What does 360 Feedback measure

  • 360 feedback measures competencies – for example leadership, decision making, problem solving, customer service, motivation etc
  • 360 feedback can identify underlying attitudes and thinking patterns that drive behaviour  and even help resolve what is causing counter-productive actions
  • 360 reviews provide feedback on how others perceive an employee
  • 360 feedback addresses skills such as listening, planning, and goal-setting
  • A 360 evaluation can identify and measure areas such as customer service, teamwork, training needs, work environment and leadership effectiveness. The feedback can then be used to create development plans to increase capabilities and performance.
Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about implementing practical solutions that help create high performing workplaces which are customer focussed and free of conflict - no matter what size your business is. Contact Rae Phillips at Inspire Success for further information raephillips@inspire-success.com

Rewarding your employees – the Salary Review process

Kate Cahill - Friday, November 11, 2011

Rewarding and recognising your staff can be as simple as a pat on the back to a more structured salary review process. What is important is that your employees feel valued and know they are recognised for the contribution they make to your business.  While it is true that people often do not move jobs for money alone, the remuneration on offer can play a significant role, both in attracting a candidate to join your firm, or leading a current employee to “look around”. Here we look at the salary review process.....

Why do a salary review
You can keep your salary review and performance review separate but it does make sense to bring the two together and allows you to reward your high performing staff. If you are managing both processes it is best practice for the salary review to happen immediately after the performance appraisals. For those who manage these processes they believe that being paid appropriately is a form of recognition and sends a message to staff regarding how much they are valued. Whilst money is by no means the sole motivating factor at work, if you underpay, it is a definite de-motivator, and in this employment market this is likely to lead to staff moving to firms who will pay them the recognition they feel they deserve.

In general, salary reviews are about two things:

  1. How the employee performs their job.
  2. Where that employee fits relative to the external job market.

Getting the right information for your salary review
It’s important when managing a salary review to look at what the market is paying. You can get information from contacts in your network, from industry information gained through salary surveys from various organisations and from Human Resource and recruitment professionals. Finding out what it would cost to replace an employee in the current market is revealing and valuable information.

Salary reviews are an important process and require care and preparation in order to meet your employees’ expectations and ensure that the review is a valuable process. It is also important that full explanations are offered as to the reasons and criteria behind why salaries are reviewed. Not everyone may receive a salary increase or at least an increase at the level they were expecting, so it is important that their expectations are managed correctly by fully justifying and preparing prior to undertaking the review. Likewise, you may be in a position to offer someone a pay increase at a higher level than they were expecting. Here, it is important that you fully utilise this situation by praising and congratulating on excellent performance or contribution.
Although companies have different approaches to reviewing and remunerating employees, simple considerations can help you make the process become more effective:

Tips for your salary review process

  • Have a good understanding of the objectives of your performance and salary review processes prior to beginning e.g. to align your business and employee goals, to recognise and reward well performing employees etc
  • The process should be carefully planned and documented from beginning to end
  • Ensure all your Managers are trained in the process being used and understand how the review should be conducted. Have template documents that are used so that employees are all treated in the same way and so fairly
  • Ensure feedback and decisions are objective and based on your benchmarking criteria and that they are clear and easily understood by your Managers and employees
  • Make sure your rating system is fair and easy for employees to understand. Have each rating translate into what the raise in salary will be (if performance unsatisfactory then there would not be a raise)
  • Ensure pay is reviewed in line with the Modern Award rates of pay
Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about implementing practical solutions that help create high performing workplaces which are customer focussed and free of conflict - no matter what size your business is. Contact Rae Phillips at Inspire Success for further information raephillips@inspire-success.com

Retaining your staff without spending too much money!

Kate Cahill - Friday, November 11, 2011
Untitled Document

In recent newsletters we have discussed the importance of finding and employing the right employees, their induction and their probationary period. Hiring employees is just a start to creating a strong work force. Next, you have to keep them. High employee turnover costs you in time and productivity. Here we discuss ways to reward and retain those employees, the importance of showing employees why they should stay working for you and also how it can improve your reputation with future employees. Salary increases and bonuses are ways to reward and retain employees but in this article we will focus on non monetary ways for retaining that key talent in your business......

Why put so much effort into keeping them?

Retaining employees is a good measure of how healthy your business is. If you are losing key employees chances are that other employees are looking also.

There are a lot of benefits to retaining your employees and these include:-

  • Cost savings – the cost of staff turnover is very expensive as well as time consuming
  • Improved productivity – continued work efficiency and customer service. It also ensures a reliable knowledge base about your business processes, policies and procedures
  • Positive staff morale
  • Happy clients – clients have continued relationship with same staff members
  • Allows employees to build on their knowledge base and make career development
  • Positive culture for your business which is good for current employees and new recruits

Ways to reward and retain employees
It is important for your business to keep your employees motivated and engaged and in return retain them. As the saying goes; “A happy worker is a productive worker”.

Salary is not the only way to motivate staff. There are a number of non monetary ways to  help your staff feel important and rewarded and keep them motivated and happy. These include:-

  • Incentivise your employees – there are low and no-cost incentives you can use to make your staff feel valued e.g. an afternoon off, cinema tickets, breakfast morning etc
  • Meet your employees regularly to talk about their work, what motivates them, their professional development and discussing the long term vision for them with your business
  • Good quality supervision of employees – supervisors have an important role in the retention of employees. Its very important the supervisor does not make the employee feel undervalued. Examples of good supervision include providing feedback about performance, having regular meetings and being clear about work expectations.
  • Allow employees to offer ideas, have open communication and give feedback – let employees feel comfortable doing this and encourage their involvement
  • Having a fair and equitable company – treating employees equally is very important in retaining them
  • Giving employees the opportunities to learn and grow in their knowledge, skills and career -   coaching employees by Managers, attending seminars, training, conferences etc
  • Promoting from within whenever possible, having clear paths of advancement for employees

To retain staff you must make them feel rewarded, recognised and appreciated. It is good to be creative in (non monetary) ways of keeping employees happy and choose whatever works best for your business, even the simple act of saying “thank you” can go a long way…….

Is this something that could be an issue at your place? Inspire Success is all about implementing practical solutions that help create high performing workplaces which are customer focussed and free of conflict - no matter what size your business is. Contact Rae Phillips at Inspire Success for further information raephillips@inspire-success.com

Retaining your Key Talent

Rae Phillips - Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Selecting the people

The first step is to select the best candidate for the job – that can’t be too hard right? The Key Recruiting Criteria (KRC) are critical here. In selecting the candidate make sure you have a detailed interview process, testing if required and conduct reference checks. In the interview process your company’s missions, values and goals should be at the forefront and a positive image of the company presented at all times. It is also essential to offer a competitive remuneration package if you want to attract the best talent and retain them once they join.

While offering excellent benefits and competitive salaries is part of the recruitment process, delivering a great working environment is hugely important also.  Employees want to work in a positive environment, and showing them that you have that can go a long way towards gaining their interest in working for you.  Word spreads quickly, and if your company has a reputation as being a great place to work, you'll find that qualified applicants will want to work for your company. 

Work environment:

A positive work environment is important for employees’ mental and emotional health and can mean that employees take pride in their job activities and have loyalty to their work. Employees who are happy in the workplace will be more effective than those who are not. Aim to make yours a workplace where there is fun - (casual Fridays, work-life balance, having a social committee, celebration of birthdays and special events in employees’ lives etc) How will you recognize and celebrate your employees' accomplishments?  

Think about how you can engage your employees and make them feel that they are a vital part of the business, that their hard work is appreciated? Engaged employees usually express greater job satisfaction, are more productive, stay with the company longer, and are committed to the overall success of the business. Managers should also allow their employees to be involved in any decisions that directly affect their jobs.

Onboarding and ongoing training/development:

"The direction in which education starts a man, will determine his future life" - Plato, Greek Philosopher

when an employee joins your business, Onboarding (induction training) is very important and it should start in their first week and continue over the first month. Onboarding should include information on your company’s history, goals and values, health and safety and the company policies and procedures. If it is done well, the Onboarding process can engage and motivate new employees from day one.  Including a number of employees at different levels in the business will get good results with your people. Your people need to feel they are part of a team and that there is room for them to grow.

Once you have an established team, it is important to recognise that capabilities change and jobs evolve so getting the best from your team requires constant vigilance. keeping a focus on training is the key.  Not only will it help provide your people with better skills and abilities, but it will also help them feel as though you're invested in their interests.  By providing them with training and continued learning, you help your people feel as though they are advancing in their chosen careers.  Knowing that they'll receive this attention can help them feel a sense of pride in their work and a loyalty to your company.  You'll get more skilled workers who are more motivated to remain with you and contribute.  They will become your ‘raving fans

Employment Law Update

Rae Phillips - Wednesday, September 07, 2011

This month, Terri attended an employment law update and has provided useful information on the application of the Fair Work Act. Here, we cover some of the National Employment Standards (NES) and some important things to keep in mind. Terri also provides us with information on two changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Act..........

NES - Maximum hours:

                             Full time Contracts should state a maximum of 38 hours (‘plus reasonable additional hours’, if required). All existing contracts should be updated to reflect this figure (from the previous 40) in order to be deemed as compliant with the Fair Work Act.   

                             Remember you can change the maximum hours if you can show that the employee is better off overall

NES - Flexible Working Arrangements:     

                             Employees who apply for a flexible working arrangement must receive a written response to their application within 21 days from the employer. Employers must demonstrate that they have given proper and reasonable consideration to the request or they may be in breach of the Fair Work Act.

                             Providing flexibility for your people not only addresses compliance, you are likely to get it back too!

NES - Annual Leave Payout on Termination:        

                             Under the NES, 4 weeks annual leave is accrued at the base rate of pay, however a contract/award/industrial instrument may provide additional benefits to this. As a result, annual leave that is paid out on termination should be paid at the rate the employee would have received had they taken the leave (ie with the additional benefits that are included in their contract/award/industrial instrument).

NES - Notice of Termination:         

                             The scale for notice in the NES is 1-5 weeks. It is important to ensure that employees have a clause in their contract that requires them to give the period of notice or else they can resign without having to give any notice.

                             You can contract and provide for a greater period of notice, and it could benefit your business if a departing employee needs to stay a little longer!

Link to the Fair Work Act website for information on NES:-

http://www.fairwork.gov.au/leave/national-employment-standards/Pages/what-are-the-10-nes-entitlements.aspx

 

Work Health & Safety – Ignore this at your peril!

From 7 June 2011 there have been changes to two points in the NSW Act.

  1. The employer must now ensure the safety of employees and others as far as is reasonably practicable.
  2. Directors and managers were deemed guilty of breaching the OH&S Act if an employee was injured. Now the responsibility for these breaches stands with an officer of the company, as defined in the Corporations Act.

Managers must have knowledge of the risks within the business.

From 1 January 2012 the Model Work Health & Safety Act will take effect. This sees a move away from the employer/employee relationship to a more inclusive definition of those covered such as sole traders, and commercial associations. The former employer term is now referred to as a person conducting a business or undertaking. An employee can be an employee, apprentice, volunteer or anyone on site. There is an obligation to consult with all stakeholders on site. There is now the safety equivalent of a union delegate that can be appointed and this person can also be the union delegate so this can create some challenges for businesses.

There is now a statutory requirement for workers to take reasonable care for their own health and safety.

Link to website :-

http://www.legislation.nsw.gov.au/xref/inforce/?xref=Type%3Dact%20AND%20Year%3D2011%20AND%20no%3D11&nohits=y

Exit Interviews

Rae Phillips - Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Exit interviews can provide you with some difficult feedback to read but can help you to improve areas of your business and are not an opportunity to be missed. A well constructed exit interview process can provide invaluable insight, improve employee retention levels and help to improve employee satisfaction levels.

What is involved in exit interviews, what are the benefits are and what is important in the process.

What are exit interviews and what are the benefits of conducting them:-

An exit interview is an interview that is conducted with an employee when he or she leaves the company. They are used to gather information from departing employees to help the company improve working conditions, retain existing employees and identify problem areas within the organisation. One of the great aspects of exit interviews is that the departing employee often feels less concerned about the consequences of what they discuss and usually are willing to provide open and honest feedback about their reasons for leaving and their thoughts about what the company could do to improve.

The information from each interview can provide you with feedback on why employees are leaving, what they liked about their employment and what areas of the company need improvement. They can also help the company to improve working conditions and retain existing employees. Exit interviews are most effective when the data is compiled and tracked over time. Exit interviews are an excellent source of information for organization improvement. They are commonly performed in person with the departing employee.  Usually it will be the manager, the HR representative or a third party who conducts the exit interview when in person. Other s use written or online questionnaires to conduct exit interviews.

How to conduct an effective exit interview process:-

  1. Ensure the person asking the questions is 100% impartial about the departing employee and that the employee feels comfortable with the interviewer
  2. Create an environment in which the exiting employee is comfortable providing honest feedback. Assure the exiting employee that the feedback he or she provides will be combined with other employee feedback and presented to management in an aggregated format. This helps the employee comfortably participate in the exit interview
  3. Record the information in a centralized system and track it over time so it can be reported unifying results quarterly / bi-annually
  4. Have a standard exit interview questionnaire form so the same information is collected from each person and this ensures comparability throughout the company and across time
  5. Analyse the findings to identify consistent trends, patterns and themes and use the results to implement strategies to increase staff retention and increase employee satisfaction and commitment
  6. Have a well timed interview process so that the interview is not overlooked when employees resign suddenly or have short notice periods
  7. End the exit interview meeting on a positive note. Commit to using the information provided to improve your workplace. Wish your employee success in his or her new endeavor.

Independent Contractor or Employee?

Rae Phillips - Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Many of our customers engage workers in a range of ways, as employees (full time, part time, casual on a fixed term) or as contractors (invoicing them using their ABN or ACN.) Over time, and with changes to workplace legislation, this has become a little more difficult that usual, with a new focus on paying contractors superannuation in line with the Superannuation Guarantee Charge (SGC). Could this be an issue at your place? Might be worth doing some research or getting some advice!

In a recent decision (On Call Interpreters and Translators Agency Pty Ltd v Commissioner of Taxation (No 3) [2011] FCA 366), the Federal Court shed some further light on the question of how you determine whether an individual performing work is an independent contractor or an employee.

The case concerned an agency that contracted with interpreters and supplied them to clients such as hospitals and government departments. The Australian Taxation Office issued assessments that required the agency to make Superannuation Guarantee Charge (SGC) contributions for those workers. The Court had to determine whether in the eyes of the law the workers were employees or contractors.

The Court ruled that the question should be resolved by asking whether as a practical matter:
 

·         the person performed the work as an entrepreneur who owns and operates a business; and

  • in performing the work, the person worked in and for that person's business as a representative of that business and not of the business receiving the work.

Although the interpreters generally considered themselves as independent contractors, they did not generally use business names (although they had an ABN), they didn't poach clients, there was no goodwill attached to their "business", they did not advertise their services, the services were performed by them personally and they did not hold their own insurance.

Therefore, the Court held that the fact that the interpreters did not have any of these features meant they were employees. The Court also made some comments about the extension of the SGC obligation to a person who works under a contract that is wholly or principally for the labour of the person, namely that the worker must be a party to the contract. Therefore this extension does not pick up workers who provide their services through another entity, such as a service company.

A contract is considered to be wholly or principally for labour if more than half of the value of the contract is for labour.

The Court said that the purpose of the legislation was to extend the SGC obligation to contractors who sell their labour in "employment-like settings". The Court held that it included workers providing services under a contract for a given result or outcome.

Is this something that could be an issue at your place?
Inspire Success is all about implementing practical solutions that help create high performing workplaces which are customer focussed and free of conflict - no matter what size your business is. Contact Rae Phillips at Inspire Success for further information raephillips@inspire-success.com

www.inspire-success.com   p: 02 43561767

 

 

    

Annual Wage Review Decision

Rae Phillips - Wednesday, June 15, 2011
If you have a business using a Modern Award, Enterprise Agreement , NAPSA, transitional APCS or Award Free Employees, On the 3 June 2011, Fair Work Australia handed down its 2011 annual wage review decision.

All Modern Award Rates of pay are increased by 3.4% (or $19.40 per week) effective from the first full pay period commencing on or after 1 July 2011.

The Decision has increased the adult minimum wage by 3.4% to $589.30 per week (or $15.51 per hour). This decision applies to businesses utilising Modern Awards, Enterprise Awards and NAPSAs, all transitional APCSs and award free employees.

Paid Parental Leave for Business Owners

Rae Phillips - Sunday, April 17, 2011
Did you know that business owners may also be eligible for the government funded Paid Parental Leave scheme?

As a business owner, there are things you should know if you have employees that might access the scheme but the good news is that if you are self employed you may also be eligible.

The Paid Parental Leave scheme is a government funded payment for 18 weeks that can be taken any time within the first year following the birth or adoption of a baby. 

 In order to be eligible you need to meet the following criteria:
  • You must be an Australian resident
  • You must be the primary carer for a newborn or recently adopted child
  • You must meet the parental leave birth test before the child is born or adopted
  • You must have earned less than $150,000 (individual adjusted taxable income) in the financial year prior to the date of birth or date of claim, whichever comes first
  • You must be on leave or not working at the time you become the primary carer for the child
Under this scheme, as a business owner you are able to oversee the running of your business and still receive Paid Parental Leave. This means that you can manage ad hoc elements of your work to ensure your business is running smoothly, such as paying an account, but you must not participate in your day to day work at this time.  

You may also be eligible to receive the Baby Bonus, however you can only claim from one scheme, not both. It is wise to assess your personal situation and decide whether Paid Parental Leave or the Baby Bonus will provide you with the most beneficial outcome.  

If you would like more information please contact Inspire Success on 1300 620 100

OHS Harmonisation

Rae Phillips - Sunday, April 17, 2011
The harmonisation of OHS laws across Australia will be  introduced in order to standardise the state/territory based system we have in place at present. The introduction of the Model Work Health and Safety Bill aims to introduce consistent legislation between all states and territories in Australia and will come into effect in on 1 January 2012. For larger organisations with operations across Australia, compliance with the Model Work Health and Safety Bill will remove the complexity of multiple OHS legislative requirements. And for SMEs there are also changes that you will need to be aware of.

For businesses operating in NSW, the key changes will occur in the following areas:

Roles and responsibilities

  • the term person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) will replace the employer and cover more people
  • the term worker will replace employee and cover more people
  • the concept of officer will give some people more responsibilities
  • others in the workplace, such as visitors, will also have responsibilities
Person conducting a business or undertaking 
The basic responsibilities of a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) will be similar to the responsibilities of an employer as the legislation stands now. However, from 1 January 2012 the term will include the following groups in addition to employers:
  • sole traders
  • bodies corporate
  • unincorporated bodies
  • associations
  • partnerships
  • volunteer organisations with any employed workers 
Workers
Workers is the term that will be used in place of employees. This term has also been broadened to include the following groups in addition to employees:
  • labour hire staff
  • volunteers
  • apprentices
  • work experience
  • sub-contractors
  • contractors
Officers 
You will be an officer of a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) if you participate in making decisions (as opposed to just implementing them) that affect a substantial part of their business or undertaking. The term officer includes:
  • directors of a corporation
  • chief executive officers
  • members of boards of management of public authorities
  • managers of partnerships who are not partners
  • office holders of unincorporated bodies and associations
Others
Other people at a workplace, who are not classed as PCBUs, workers or officers, will also have responsibilities similar to the responsibilities of an employee under current legislation. These people may be visitors to a workplace.  

Consultation
This area will remain largely the same in that consultation will still occur via OHS committee or representative, or by another agreed method. However, consultation will be broadened to cover all workers.

Health and safety committees 

OHS committees may remain under the new work health and safety laws, in the form of health and safety committees (HSCs), whose role will be more general and may involve developing health and safety policies or supporting the work of health and safety representatives (HSRs).

If you are a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU), you will need to establish a committee within two months if five or more of your workers request one, or if a HSR (see below) requests one. If your workers do not wish to have a committee established, the obligation to consult with all workers remains.

Health and safety representatives   

Under the new work health and safety laws, health and safety representatives (HSRs) will replace OHS representatives, with their role remaining largely the same. However they will have a greater role to play in consultation as they are the main point of contact between the workers and the person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU).

PCBU’s must provide a HSR if workers request one however if workers do not wish to be represented by a HSR the obligation to consult with all workers remains. 

If you would like more information or assistance to prepare for the new OHS legislation please contact Inspire Success on 1300 620 100.

War on Talent

Rae Phillips - Tuesday, February 22, 2011
According to business analysts and commentators, our labour market displays chronic skills shortages. Human resource professionals channel much energy into strategies designed around attraction and retention of talent. The phrase "War on Talent" is freely bandied about.

The dynamics of the labour market are much more fluid and transient than they once were. The average lifespan of the CEO is under three years. So you could safely assume the majority of your employees will have a short tenure. The dynamic that is different within the small to medium enterprise sector is that the CEO is often Owner/Principal. There is a double bind – leaving the job role and selling the business often go hand in hand.

Rather than focusing your energy on retention strategies for your employees, you would be far better served going deeper into the employment dynamic and devoting your time, energy and financial investment into strategies designed to engage your staff in their work function.

At some point your talent will leave your business - that much seems certain. It is a question of when. Even if you are lucky enough to retain talented employees for longer periods the engagement, development and productivity is still relevant.

Regardless of tenure, your challenge as leader is how get your employee to "bloom" in the short time they are employed by you.

There are two perspectives on talent. Some consider employees, or human capital, an asset and others consider employees to be an overhead cost. Marcus Buckingham (www.tmbc.com) suggests your people may play to their strengths as little as 20% of their time. If this is true, then you definitely have your people as an overhead. If it is not true, ie. people are an asset, then your asset is under-performing. You are CEO of the enterprise and may also be Director and Proprietor. In any one of these stewardship roles it is your responsibility to manage your assets and the associated returns they generate.

This area of people and performance represents one area of your business that you can achieve quantum improvement. Very few small business proprietors can claim mastery in the realm of people and performance.
Here are some quick and easy strategies to realise tangible benefits:

Your people are assets – This is a great ideology from which to start. Assets may either appreciate or depreciate, and perform or not perform. Set performance expectations on a quarterly basis. The old annual performance review cycle is far too slow.

Offer to remove the clutter – Research suggests our people spend only 20%, or one day per week, doing tasks for which they have a genuine aptitude. For sure they are busy all the time. You can add real value and unearth strategies to engage and fulfil your staff by identifying roadblocks and helping remove them. In your informal discussions ask, "How can I help make your job more fulfilling, engaging and productive?"

Learning and development is an investment – The investment of your training dollar is either for remedial or developmental purposes. If it is remedial, it may highlight deficiencies in your recruitment practices. Remember the adage "hire slow, fire fast". When assessing any training/coaching programs for your staff, quantify the economic benefits. All investments yield a return on investment. What is yours?

Public Holidays Easter and ANZAC Day

Rae Phillips - Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Hows this for a coincidence - in 2011, both Easter Monday and ANZAC Day fall on Monday, 25 April!

The problem for those us with business in different states is that the states and territories have taken different approaches, by either substituting a day or declaring an additional day, and not all states declare the same holidays for Easter. There could be a real mess in dealing with the payment of penalties for that weekend.

Remember - the National Employment Standards (NES) entitle employees to take declared public holidays off and to be paid their base rate for the ordinary hours they would have worked on the day. The NES also entitle employees to reasonably refuse to work on a public holiday.

Penalty Rates
The applicable penalty rate for an employee undertaking work on a public holiday will be derived from the industrial instrument in your workplace. Where an employee is covered by a modern award, you should apply the transitional penalty rate. But you should check your modern award, because some also have additional provisions about public holidays.

Local Arrangements
For example, there is a common provision in modern awards which allows the employer and majority of employees to agree to substitute another day for a public holiday. This means that the substitute day is the public holiday for both the NES and the award’s penalties, but there may be special provisions in the award for specific public holidays.

For your information, here are the public holidays for that very busy looong weekend!

New South Wales
Friday, 22 April 2011 (Good Friday)
Saturday, 23 April 2011 (Easter Saturday)
Sunday, 24 April 2011 (Easter Sunday)
Monday, 25 April 2011 (ANZAC Day)
Tuesday, 26 April 2011 (Easter Monday) [substitute for Easter Monday]

Western Australia
Friday, 22 April 2011 (Good Friday)
Monday, 25 April 2011 (ANZAC DAY)
Tuesday, 26 April 2011 (Easter Monday) [Easter Monday moved to Tuesday, as ANZAC Day also falls on Monday]

Queensland
Friday, 22 April 2011 (Good Friday)
Saturday, 23 April 2011 (Easter Saturday)
Monday, 25 April 2011 (ANZAC Day)
Tuesday, 26 April 2011 (Easter Monday) [substitute for Easter Monday]

Victoria
Friday, 22 April 2011 (Good Friday)
Saturday, 23 April 2011 (Saturday before Easter Sunday)
Monday, 25 April 2011 (Easter Monday)
Tuesday, 26 April 2011 (ANZAC DAY) [substitute for Easter Monday]

South Australia
Friday, 22 April 2011 (Good Friday)
Saturday, 23 April 2011 (Easter Saturday)
Monday, 25 April 2011 (Easter Monday)
Monday, 25 April 2011 (ANZAC DAY)
Tuesday, 26 April 2011 (Easter Tuesday) [holiday declared by Proclamation as Easter Monday and ANZAC Day fall on the same day]

Tasmania
Friday, 22 April 2011 (Good Friday)
Monday, 25 April 2011 (Easter Monday)
Monday, 25 April 2011 (ANZAC DAY)
Tuesday, 26 April 2011 (Easter Tuesday) [restricted public holiday currently observed by certain awards/agreements and the State Public Service]

Northern Territory
Friday, 22 April 2011 (Good Friday)
Saturday, 23 April 2011 (Easter Saturday)
Monday, 25 April 2011 (Easter Monday)
Monday, 25 April 2011 (ANZAC DAY)
Tuesday, 26 April 2011 (additional public holiday in recognition of both ANZAC Day and Easter Monday falling on the same day)

Australian Capital Territory
Friday, 22 April 2011 (Good Friday)
Saturday, 23 April 2011 (Easter Saturday)
Monday, 25 April 2011 (Easter Monday)
Monday, 25 April 2011 (ANZAC DAY)
Tuesday, 26 April 2011 [In recognition of the congruence of Anzac Day and Easter Monday]

Please call Inspire Success on 02 4356 1767 if you need some clarity on your business’ situation.

Paid Parental Leave

Rae Phillips - Tuesday, February 22, 2011
The government's paid parental leave scheme, is a groundbreaking change for Australian business and workers. For the first time in Australian history, parental leave will be paid by law and funded by the Government.
 
Key Principles
While the urgency with which you need to understand paid parental leave will depend on whether or not you have staff who are looking to access the benefit, it is important to understand the employers rights and obligations. The main ones are:
  • The employer acts as paymaster in the scheme, receiving cash from the Government and passing this to the worker.
  • If you have an existing paid parental leave scheme in place, it must stay in place.
  • Employees can now take up to two years of parental leave, although it is unpaid after the first 18 weeks.
The scheme is for eligible working parents earning $150,000 who have given birth or adopted a child after January 1, 2011. Completely Government funded, it pays people at the rate of the minimum weekly wage of $569.90 a week for 18 weeks. Under the National Employment Standard, people can also apply to have 52 weeks off for parental leave, and then re-apply for another year. That is unpaid after the first 18 weeks.

Currently about 6,500 workers and about 1,000 businesses have registered for the scheme.

The Process
Under the scheme, an employee planning to take parental leave makes an application to Centrelink which then determines the eligibility of the employee and then notifies the employer. The Family Assistance Office pays the money to the employer who passes that on to the employee on leave, in effect turning the company into the Government's payroll clerk.

The Government's legislation prohibits companies from changing their existing schemes if they are written into contracts or enterprise agreements. There might be room to move if these schemes are part of a policy and not contractual. Nevertheless, the wording of that policy needs to be looked at carefully. You can either do it, or you can't.

Under the National Employment Standards, a select group of employees can apply for flexible work arrangements, something that would be critical for parents returning to work after time off looking after the baby. However, this is restricted to employees with a child under school age or who have a child with a disability. If their youngest child goes to school, they are not eligible. As with the parental leave scheme, this is new territory for Australian business.

Returning after Parental Leave
There is now an obligation on employers to consult with an employee if there are going to be any changes to their role upon their return. This means, for example, that if an employee is away on parental leave and the company plans to change their role, perhaps changing their responsibilities or even making the position redundant, the employer would be required to consult with that staff member first.

Opportunities
Many businesses are now using parental leave obligations to turn themselves into an employer of choice at a time when Australia's skills shortages are set to worsen as the world recovers from the global financial crisis. With talent now harder to find and retain, more are turning to family friendly policies to attract staff.

A new Mercer study has found that out of 284 organisations surveyed, 72% already offer some type of paid parental leave entitlement, with the median being 12 weeks of leave at full pay. It also found the education and research industry offers the highest amount of leave on average, at 23 weeks.

The next highest industries include energy and utilities, healthcare, federal and state governments and local governments.

Some employers plan to pay parental leave out of their own pockets for employees earning over $150,000. Other companies, have extended three weeks of payment to non-primary carers, the supporting partner. Some are even paying their employee the equivalent of a baby bonus on the birth of the child.

The Mercer survey also reveals that out of the 28% of businesses that haven’t introduced their own scheme, about 25% are considering doing so, on top of the government’s new scheme. Mercer says many are intending to offer the difference between the government’s scheme, (which is set at $570 per week), and the employer’s full salary.
This means that companies thinking of not adhering to their policies and reducing the parental leave benefits are doing so at their own peril. They risk losing quality staff.

Administration
Still, there is a cost to the scheme. Opposition small business spokesman Bruce Billson has introduced a private member's bill into Parliament to ensure the government pays the benefit directly to parents. This would reduce the compliance burden on companies. The legislation has been delayed until next year.

The problem is that businesses will not be compensated for the cost of administration. All businesses will need to have systems in place to make sure people are getting the payments. Someone in the organisation will have to take care of it. Someone has to pay for it. That might be the cost of doing business in a skills constrained market but nobody should pretend it is not a cost.

The Mercer study also raised another issue for employers, and that will be making sure they are actually complying with the government’s regulations regarding the new scheme. According to the survey, nearly 33% of organisations are unsure as to how the government scheme will integrate with their own.

Until July 1 businesses have the opportunity to integrate with the plan and start distributing payments, but after that date the employers must administer it all.

Businesses need to start thinking about those plans now, and start developing administration procedures for handling the payments, designating responsibilities, and so on. And should the business replace those employees who go on leave?

As always, continuity of businesses is a key issue. So how are businesses going to fill particular roles? What will they do to make sure the business continues to run?

So these challenges will be particularly true for SMEs and start-ups that do not have extensive human resources back up. For most Australian businesses, paid parental leave is uncharted territory.

Issues facing Flood affected employers

Rae Phillips - Friday, January 28, 2011
In the aftermath of the shocking natural disasters occurring all over Australia, there are 5 important issues employers should consider:

1.   Occupational Health and Safety.
Flood conditions bring additional health and safety risks that you may not have factored in to your standard OHS procedures. In an emergency situation, such as a flood, you should consider the following questions:
  • Is it safe for your employees to travel as part of their work?
  • Can your workplace be accessed safely?
  • Are there any other risks the emergency has posed to my workplace? (For example, has flooding damaged electrics or electrical appliances?)
After considering these questions, you must make sure that you don't place your employees in any situation that may pose a risk to their health and safety.

2.   Leave Entitlements.
Given the emergency nature of the floods, you may wish to consider granting your employees annual or long service leave.

You may also get requests from employees who want to cash out their annual or long service leave. To find out if you can do this, contact us.

Also, you must remember that under the National Employment Standards (NES), an employee who is a member of a recognised emergency management body can take unpaid leave to engage in an eligible community service activity. The duration of the absence allowed is not specified in the Fair Work Act, but it must be reasonable considering:
  • the time the employee is engaged in the activity;
  • reasonable travel time associated with the activity; and
  • reasonable rest time immediately following the activity.
3.   Employees working from home. If you have employees who are conducting their work from home as a result of the floods, you must remember that you are still responsible for their health and safety. You should also consider things such as insurance, confidentiality and the reimbursement of costs (for electricity etc.). If you don't yet have a working from home policy in place, then you should consider implementing one.

4.   Employee counselling. Many employees may be psychologically affected by the impact of the floods. As a result, you might like to consider offering your employees access to an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). If you don't have such a program in place already, visit www.eapaa.org.au to find out where your closest providers operate.

5. Standing down employees.
Businesses that can't operate as a result of the floods may have a right to stand down employees without pay. For example, if you are forced to temporarily close your business (due to safety reasons, power outages or because access to your premises has been cut off), you may be able to stand down your employees without pay.

Even if your industrial instrument or contracts of employment do not contain stand down provisions, you may rely on the stand down provisions in the Fair Work Act (sec. 524) if you are a national system employer.

This section of the FW Act provides that an employer can stand down employees without pay if they can prove that the workplace was closed for something they could not reasonably be held responsible for. Closing a workplace because it is flooded or because there is no access to it would be considered something an employer could not reasonably be held responsible for.

If you conduct a stand down in accordance with all the terms under the Fair Work Act, then you do not have to pay wages to your employees for the duration of the stand down. 

However, if your business is operating, but some of your employees are unable to attend work (i.e. because of road closures etc.), then the right to stand down your employees is not available. 



Remember, the fact that you have been financially disadvantaged as a result of the floods does not relieve you of your duty to pay wages to employees - you either need to pay employees or stand them down. There is no option not to pay wages because you cannot afford to do so.

Inspire Success is providing obligation free staffing support to any businesses affected by floods.

If your business has been affected by floods and need some advice or are wondering what your employer obligations are in this situation, please contact Inspire Success on 1300 620 100.


Inspire Success acknowledges Portner Press Pty Ltd for this article

FWA Small Business Definition

Rae Phillips - Friday, January 28, 2011
Important Reminder: New definition of small business in 2011



Today, I thought it would be a good time to remind you about an important change to the definition of a small business under the Fair Work Act.

From July 1 until December 31, 2010, a small business was defined as a business that employed less than 15 full-time equivalent staff. 

However, as of 1 January 2011, a small business is now defined as being a business that employs less than 15 employees on a head count basis.

In other words, a small business is now one that employs less than 15 employees in total (including part-time and casual employees). 

Make sure you take note of this important change. 





Please call Inspire Success on 02 4356 1767 if you need some more information.

Christmas 2010 Holidays

Rae Phillips - Monday, November 01, 2010

In 2010-2011 Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years’ Day all fall on a weekend and there are some details you need to be aware of.

New South Wales

Christmas Day

Saturday 25 Dec 2010

Public holiday rates

Boxing Day

Sunday 26 Dec 2010

Sunday penalty rates

Monday 27 Dec 2010

Transferred from Sunday 26 Dec 2010 – public holiday rates

Tuesday 28 Dec 2010

Additional holiday – public holiday rates

New Year’s Day

Saturday 1 Jan 2011 

Public Holiday rates

Monday 3 Jan 2011

Additional holiday – public holiday rates

*There are restricted trading hours during this time so you might need to check if you are permitted to trade on any of these days.
**Those of you who have business interstate – the situations are quite different, email me back and I will send you the details.
 

Additional Holiday
Where a day is declared an additional holiday, work on both the public holiday and the additional holiday attract holiday penalty rates e.g. Tuesday 28 December is an additional holiday in NSW so work on both Christmas Day and 28 December attract holiday penalty rates.  

Transferred Holidays
Where another date is substituted for a holiday then work on the substituted date attracts holiday penalties while the original date attracts appropriate rates for that day, e.g. in NSW, work on Sunday 26 December will attract normal Sunday rates and the holiday penalty rates apply to Monday 27 December.   

Making it work for your business
There is a provision in modern awards which allows the employer and a majority of employees to agree to substitute another day for a public holiday. If either the public holiday or the substitute day is worked, public holiday penalty rates must be paid. If both days are worked, one day at the election of the employee must be paid at public holiday penalty rates.  

Working out what to pay
An employees’ entitlement to a public holiday will be derived from the Fair Work Act, the relevant industrial instrument (Award or Agreement) or from relevant State law and the rates of pay applicable to an employee for work on a public holiday are derived from your Award or Agreement.    

Please call Inspire Success on 02 4356 1767 if you need some more information.

Best Practice Discipline & Counselling

Rae Phillips - Sunday, October 31, 2010
These notes are provided to give you a head start when you are managing poor performance or behavioural issues which result in the discipline of your people. It is our intention that with knowledge and a plan, you will assist your people to improve (if they can and desire to) or to assist them to leave the business with dignity. Good luck – let us know how you go!

General points
  • Examine the workforce profile for distribution of groups of employees across the organisation, consider what is the most appropriate way of evaluating their performance and behaviour.
  • Implement a consistent method of doing this; eg probation reviews, quarterly reviews, anniversary reviews, always using self assessments, formal and informal discussions. 
  • Make sure you train the staff that is assessing the performance and behaviour. 
  • Keep good records so you can justify your counselling discussions.
Setting Expectations
  • It is critical that your employees know what is expected of them. This can be done early by using up to date position descriptions during the Onboarding process and taking new starters through all relevant workplace policies.
  • Ensure that you are only assessing performance against the agreed (and current) position description and workplace policies. 
  • Ensure there are no unnecessarily restrictive English language qualifications on roles that do not require them. 
  • Be specific in your assessment. eg, does “needs improvement in communications skills refer to talking on the phone to customers, writing reports for management, instructing technical operators, inter-cultural skills or teamwork? 
  • All employees need to be advised how their performance will be assessed: probation reviews, quarterly reviews, anniversary reviews, always using self assessments. 
  • Let them know what the expectations are for improvement. Who is responsible, when will the improvement need to occur?
  • Employees should be made aware of your company grievance procedure. What do they do in the situation that they disagree with a performance or disciplinary counselling meeting? This should be clear and easily accessed.
The Counselling Session
  • Give comments with care. Focus on the performance or behaviour of the employee rather than them personally.
  • Avoid comparisons with other employees.
  • Show empathy - try and understand the employee’s perspective. Be prepared to step back from your position if something you didn’t know comes up.
  • Be a positive listener.
  • Advise the employee what has happened that you are not happy with. You should give reference to the tool that has set the standard (this could be the policy or the position description).
  • Be specific and compare current performance to expected performance or behaviour. Give examples.
  • Establish how and when to follow up on commitments for improvement. There should also be a date set to review.
  • Close on a friendly note, keeping the lines of communication open for future discussion.
Counselling Forms
  • Make sure that the language and length of the form (and process) is relevant to the performance of the job.
  • Do not include any invasive or irrelevant questions.
  • Predetermine to what use the information collected will be put and ensure no discrimination.
  • Ensure strict confidentiality.
Appropriate personal attributes for the reviewer
  • Praise for good performance.
  • Give examples of bad / unacceptable performance.
  • Criticise gently and constructively.
  • Be assertive, stick to the facts and be empathetic.
  • Use statements and questions to get more information.
  • Base the review on the typical performance for the entire period.
  • Base the review on accurate records.
  • Be prepared to ‘retreat’ if they have information which contradicts your perspective.
  • Don’t let salary or length of service affect the review.
  • Don’t let your personal feelings bias the review.

Fair Work Australia Reports

Rae Phillips - Friday, October 29, 2010
Figures from Fair Work Australia have revealed that three quarters of the unfair dismissal claims conciliated involved employers paying a financial settlement to former staff.

I have summarised the recent Fair Work Australia board report to the Senate Committee, as it relates to unfair dismissals, let me know what you think:

There has been a 35% increase in unfair dismissal claims under the Labor Government's Fair Work confirming that applications around termination of employment issues soared by over 63% to 13,054 in 2009-10, of which almost 10,000 were unfair dismissal cases (the others were adverse action and unlawful termination claims).

Previously released figures showed the number of claims in the 12 months to June 18 was 10,751, compared with 7,994 claims in 2008-09, when the Howard Government's WorkChoices rules were still in place.

In the first 11 months under the Fair Work Act, 83% of matters that were conciliated were resolved at conciliation, compared to a settlement rate of 75%. 196 unfair dismissal claims proceeded to a hearing, with 15 resulting in reinstatement, 35 resulting in a payment in lieu of reinstatement and 144 being dismissed

The figures show that of claims that were settled at conciliation with an employer payment, 28% of these were settled for less than $2,000 and 30% were settled for between $2,000 and $4,000. A further 3% of claims were settled for payments of between $20,000 and $40,000.

25% of cases are settled with no payment at all, and that most cases are settled for very little payment shows many cases are a "try on". For small businesses – this is down time that costs! On top of having to pay out settlements, small businesses are also having to meet the costs of legal services and simply not being able to run their business.

These figures also include claims lodged, but not progressed based on jurisdictional reasons – for instance, that the employer was a small business.

Hearings have become as much about whether the employer has followed the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code as about the dismissal itself. However, the Fair Dismissal Code checklist has been labelled “deficient” because it does not mention that employees have the right to have a support person present in a termination discussion.

So here are the keys to minimising your small business risks:

  1. Be fair – treat your employees the same, don’t have ‘one rule for some’, focus on the behaviour not the person;
  2. Be clear - set standards early, schedule regular performance discussions and provide feedback;
  3. Be concise - document all of your performance discussions, get into the habit of providing a copy so that employees are aware of your practice;
  4. Be systematic - follow the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code, but also provide the opportunity for the employee to bring a support person; 
  5. Be informed – an employee is still able to lodge an application for unfair dismissal which will be denied in your response on jurisdictional grounds.
  6. Be prepared – if you become involved in a claim, make a financial provision for a settlement at conciliation.
The reality is that under the Labor government, Fair Work Australia has been giving a substantially increased role compared to under WorkChoices. As a consequence, we are going to be dealing with Fair Work much more.

6 Ways to avoid Fair Work Australia and keep out of Court

Rae Phillips - Thursday, October 28, 2010
Since we now have some clear statistics on what is keeping the Fair Work Ombudsman and Fair Work Australia busy, there are also some very clear steps for us to take moving forward.

We know that in the first 11 months under the Fair Work Act, 83% of matters that were conciliated were resolved at conciliation, compared to a settlement rate of 75%. 196 unfair dismissal claims proceeded to a hearing, with 15 resulting in reinstatement, 35 resulting in a payment in lieu of reinstatement and 144 being dismissed.


The figures show that of claims that were settled at conciliation with an employer payment, 28% of these were settled for less than $2,000 and 30% were settled for between $2,000 and $4,000. A further 3% of claims were settled for payments of between $20,000 and $40,000.


This means it is critical that as small businesses we are very diligent in managing our workplace risks.


So here are the keys to minimising your small business risks:


1. Be fair
– treat your employees the same, don’t have ‘one rule for some’, focus on the behaviour not the person;

2. Be clear
- set standards early, schedule regular performance discussions and provide feedback;

3. Be concise
- document all of your performance discussions, get into the habit of providing a copy so that employees are aware of your practice;

4. Be systematic
- follow the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code, but also provide the opportunity for the employee to bring a support person;

5. Be informed
– an employee is still able to lodge an application for unfair dismissal which will be denied in your response on jurisdictional grounds.

6. Be prepared
– if you become involved in a claim, make a financial provision for a settlement at conciliation.

So once we are managing our risk appropriately, why not have a go at adopting some best practice employee engagement systems? Here are the winners of the 2010 Dream Employers Awards to give you some inspiration –
www.dreamemployers.com.au

Hints for delivering your Performance feedback

Rae Phillips - Thursday, October 14, 2010

It is all about PREPARATION!

  • Speak with other supervisors who work with the employee and ask them for specific examples of how they meet or do not meet the expectations of the role;
  • Show empathy - try and understand the employee’s perspective;
  • Be a positive listener;
  • Give comments with care. Focus on the performance behaviour of the employee rather than them personally;
  • Avoid comparisons with other employees;
  • The employee should complete a self assessment before the interview. This should form the basis for the discussion with the manager;
  • Work through each section of the review form, asking for the employees perspective and then discussing yours;
  • Be specific and compare current performance to expected performance, give examples of good and not so good performance;
  • Where there is agreement, congratulate the employee and use your copy to make the appropriate notes;
  • Where there is disagreement, ensure you have examples which are specific and allow the employee to understand what you mean.;
  • Establish how and when to follow up on commitments for improvement;
  • The employee should review the points made during the appraisal and summarise them;
  • Encourage the employee to make comments in addition to the appraisal comments;
  • Discuss the employee’s aspirations, potential and development needs;
  • If they are unrealistic, explain the processes required and encourage more attainable goals;
  • Set action plans detailing the person responsible and a time table for completion;
  • Set a date for review of the performance issues and / or development requirements;
  • Close on a friendly note, keeping the lines of communication open for future discussion.
Setting employees up for success in a new role requires planning and action. There are times that things won’t go according to the plan, but the system should be flexible enough to allow for this, and help it get back on track.

5 Key Elements of Effective Performance Reviews

Rae Phillips - Wednesday, October 13, 2010
As business owners we are operating in one of the most challenging times ever. Many of us have had to change the structure of our business, lay off staff and rethink our priorities.
We have people in our organisations that we trust with the vision for our business and we are working hard to maintain productivity levels and customer satisfaction results. What can we do to make sure we keep our people fired up and excited?

These 5 key elements to effective performance reviews are presented to give you a head start when you are managing the performance of your people.

1. Be consistent;
2. Train everyone;
3. Keep good records;
4. Set expectations early;
5. Follow up.

It is our intention that with knowledge and focus, you will set your people up for success and improve individual and team performance and productivity! Good luck – let us know how you go!

1. Be Consistent
Implement a consistent method of reviewing performance at your place. This could mean having a 6 weekly mid probation review; meeting for 30 minutes every 3 months; a six monthly catch up or anniversary reviews. Always use self assessments and let people know what will happen after the meeting.

TOP TIP: As you bring on a new employee, schedule the review meetings in your diary so you are prepared and don’t miss any.

2. Train Everyone
Have you ever felt like you were ‘pulling teeth’ when meeting with your staff? This was probably because they were unsure of the reason for the meeting and what their role was. Make sure you not only train the staff who are conducting the performance reviews, but also those who are being assessed. You will get MUCH BETTER results if everyone understands the objectives and the best ways to participate.

TOP TIP: Give out an FAQ sheet with the review forms so that the reviewer and reviewed can benefit from previous experience and plan for their meeting.

3. Keep Good Records
Keep good records so you can refer back to the meeting content, justify your performance ratings and follow up. Always bring a copy of the position description, any previous reviews, any notes on file and your semi completed review form to the meeting. It is critical that you base the review on the typical performance for the entire period.

TOP TIP: If you can, have someone else making the notes and get everyone to read them and sign off at the
end.

4. Set Expectations Early
Prospective employees should know during the recruitment stage that you have a performance management process – don’t make it a secret! Make sure that performance is assessed against the information in the position description and only refer to tasks, skills levels, experiences that are required to carry out the duties of the role. Let them know what the expectations are for improvement. Who is responsible, when will the change need to occur?

TOP TIP: Your position descriptions are a practical tool that can be used from recruitment, to Onboarding, training and reviewing performance gaps – make sure they are reviewed before each vacancy is filled.

5. Follow Up
Is the change required skills based or attitudinal? Is it more related to continuing development? It is imperative that you do what you say you will – when you said you would! If it is your responsibility to arrange training or a buddy, get it done straight after the meeting so you don’t forget!

TOP TIP: Schedule appointments for follow up discussions and invite the right people as soon as possible so you don’t get side tracked and end up weeks overdue for a critical performance discussion.

Fair Work Wages Decision

Rae Phillips - Friday, June 04, 2010
The First Fair Work Australia Wage Case

This decision concerns the first Annual Wage Review under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Fair Work Act). A large number of interested organisations and bodies participated in the review. 

For the entire decision - please click on this link



The Increase!


An increase of $26 applies to all modern award minimum weekly wages.

The national minimum wage in the national minimum wage order will be $569.90 per week or $15 per hour. The hourly rate has been calculated on the basis of a 38 hour week for a full-time employee, consistent with s.62 of the Fair Work Act.  

 

 

 

For more details on the decision - follow this link

Implementation

This pay increase is effective 01 July 2010. The effect will be that where the phasing provisions are included in an award the pre-modern award conditions relating to minimum wages, casual and part-time loadings, Saturday, Sunday, public holiday, evening and other penalties and shift allowances will apply until 1 July 2010 when the modern award obligations will commence. There will be a further four instalments on 1 July of each year concluding on 1 July 2014.  

For more information on transition arrangements - follow this link.

 

 

 

Modern Award Madness

Rae Phillips - Friday, April 30, 2010
Did you know that there has already been more than $33million in fines to small business for Fair Work Act non compliance?

Determining the Modern Award that applies to your business is a key element of becoming compliant - but it can be challenging! From thousands of state and federal awards there are now around 200 that will affect most businesses. For many of our customers, it has been very easy to identify the Modern Award that applies to their business - for others it has been quite difficult. Getting the pay and transitional arrangements for your staff right is even more critical in this time of change. 

Modern Award Madness - get it right for your business

Modern Awards, together with the National Employment Standards (NES) and the national minimum wage orders, form the safety net for employees under the new Fair Work system. Under the Fair Work Act 2009, penalties of up to $6,600 for an individual and $33,000 for a corporation may apply to a breach of a term of a Modern Award and/or the NES. Here is our action plan to make it easier for your business:

1 – Confirm your Awards
What Modern Awards cover your employees now? Check our Fair Work Support Site - http://www.inspire-success.com/fairworkact
Identifying the Modern Award or award/s that applies to your business may require specialist advice.

2 – Check the old award/s with the Modern Award/s
What award were your employees covered by? Compare those provisions with those of the Modern Award and the NES. Remember that if the former award conditions are better, they could still apply to your people.

3 – Research any transitional provisions
Do your Modern Award/s have transitional provisions? July 2010 might be one of several new milestones for your business.  This could include wages, loading, penalties and non-expense related allowances. Most Modern Awards have transitional requirements, which are key to effective implementation of the awards in your business.

4 – Update your people practices
Many of your people policies, procedures and letters will need to be modified. Updating these systems may need some guidance.

Still unsure about how it applies at your place? Why dont you take a look at our FWA Support Site for a one stop shop! Use our Fair Work Checklist to do your initial review of your people systems and if you need any help, give me a yell!

Fair Work Act - Your Obligations

Rae Phillips - Thursday, February 04, 2010
The Fair Work Act - how fair is it?
From 1 January 2010, several important changes in Australia’s workplace laws that affect all employers and employees in the national workplace relations system came into play.
• National Employment Standards (NES)
• Fair Work Information Statement
• Sole traders, partnerships & others moving into the national system
• Modern awards
• Transition to modern awards

Both Employers and employees need to be prepared for these changes, how is your business looking? Use this checklist to run a quick review - and if you need any help, give me a yell!


Get the most from your end of year staff event

Rae Phillips - Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Employees look forward to the traditional work Christmas party, which is a wonderful way for a business to celebrate its wins for the year and to make employees feel appreciated, allowing them to relax, get to know each other and share the joys of the season. However all this merriment can offer the perfect environment for sexual harassment and workplace accidents to occur. 

The combination of a social setting, a relaxed, party atmosphere and alcohol can create high spirits - which can quickly erode inhibitions and commonsense. Every year the various anti-discrimination tribunals receive complaints of sexual harassment at work Christmas parties and these can lead to costly claims for the employer. Whether it is a stolen kiss underneath the mistletoe, an overly enthusiastic dance partner, unwelcome or uninvited sexual advances, or a comment on someone's appearance, sexual harassment claims are often rife after Christmas parties.

To avoid potential workplace issues and litigation, it is important for you, as an employer, to be familiar with your legal responsibilities, the potential liabilities associated with hosting a business party and an understanding of how to be a responsible host. Under Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) legislation, as an employer you have obligations to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all your employees while they are at work.  

The Christmas party is considered a 'work activity' and intoxication is not a defence to sexual harassment laws.  And this responsibility of care is not confined strictly to the workplace – it can be an off-site party and also includes the trip home.

So when organising your staff event, why not consider these key points:

Objective: what do you want to achieve? This should form the basis for all of your planning efforts.

 

  • Say thanks for a hard year;
  • Prepare for a challenging new year;
  • Give an update on the business;
  • Set the scene for changes;
  • Spend time together and relax;
  • Build team work and camaraderie;
  • Bring families into the workplace;
  • Wish everyone a merry Christmas

.

Audience: how can you match the company objectives with their expectations? 

  • How old are they?
  • How long have they worked with us?
  • How many of them are there?
  • What are their previous experiences?
  • What is their work history?

Budget: how much can you spend?

Transport: public transport, cab charge or their own devices – this can be a strategic and moral decision.

A Christmas party should NOT be about:   

  • Giving everything away;
  • Promoting a drinking culture;
  • Surprises – ethical and moral;
  • Going against company policy;
  • Promoting the religious aspect of ‘christmas’ party. (Unless that is your business!)

Some things to remember:

  • Some people find it hard to differentiate work and play when not in the workplace – BEWARE!
  • Watch the entertainment! 

Set the ground rules covertly and overtly before the party:     

  • Expectations of behaviour
  • Closing off the bar tab
  • Finishing of the Christmas party event
  • How they will get home. 

Here are some ideas to host a seasonal shindig on a shoestring budget:

  • Hold a party in the office, eliminating venue hire costs, expensive bar tabs, tiresome queues for the toilet, oppressive bouncers and transport.
  • Deck the halls with handmade decorations – you’ll create a look that is cheap, cheerful and quirky.
  • While three-course sit-down dinners are a popular option for Christmas parties, cocktails and canapés provide more bang for your buck.
  • Visit venues offering all-inclusive packages that include extras such as lighting, theming and furniture.
  • Look out for specials on alcohol now – a number of great deals are available in the lead-up to Christmas, so stock up early for that festive toast! 
  • Or consider having a cash bar instead of an unlimited drinks package.
  • Limit lavish extras – a great Christmas party doesn’t need to have a live band or magician.
  • Remember, staff want to have fun and celebrate the festive season with their colleagues. 
  • Australia has the ideal climate to enjoy a Christmas party outdoors, so host a barbecue by the lake or at a nearby park.

When decorating the office:

  • Use a stepladder, not a swivel chair to put up decorations.
  • Don't hang the tinsel on computers or other sources of heat.
  • Don't decorate emergency exit signs.
  • Switch off tree lights before going home.
  • Ensure that Christmas trees are secure and won't be knocked over by people passing by or pulling cables.
  • Keep party food that spoils in a fridge before the party.
  • Use paper cups, not glasses.
  • Move computers out of range of possible spillages.

Before the Christmas party:    

  • Send an email, or pin to the notice board, a reminder to staff of EEO and OHS policies and behavioural responsibilities.     
  • Remind staff that Kris Kringle/Secret Santa gifts should not be offensive or sexual in nature.     
  • Designate someone to stay sober in order to monitor the party to ensure any issues are promptly and properly addressed.     
  • Inspect the venue for possible hazards like slips and trips and make potential risk areas out of bounds.     
  • Suggest a dress code for the party that keeps things professional.     
  • Avoid indoor fireworks, barbeques, candles and the like.

At the Christmas party:     

 

 

 

  • Alcohol, if served, should be done responsibly.      
  • A voucher system may be a useful way to limit alcohol consumption.      
  • Have a bartender dispense the alcoholic drinks.     
  • Instruct them as to when to limit alcoholic service.     
  • Sufficient food should be served with alcohol.     
  • Have plentiful supply of low alcohol and non-alcoholic beverages available.     
  • Buffets present a particularly high risk of food poisoning from foods such as cooked meats, eggs, mayonnaise and cooked rice.     
  • It is recommended that food should not be left out at room temperature for more than 90 minutes and stored below 5°C.    
  • Don't hang mistletoe.  An innocent kiss may turn into a festive fling which could have repercussions in the workplace. 

and Hey - have a great time!

Note: thanks to NSW Business Chamber for providing some of these hints.

 

 

 

Working across generations

Rae Phillips - Monday, October 19, 2009

Over the last few years I have had MANY discussions with employers and their staff about challenges working with the “young people of today”. (Now for those of you reading who are those young people – don’t worry I will not be ranting on as you expect!)

In fact there were so many discussions and so much passion in the discussion that it became obvious that I had to learn more about the so called Generation Y, or Millenials or Echo Boomers. How interesting that journey has been and continues to be!

Lets set the scene, I have a business owner, a department head, a team leader, all making negative comments about their GenY employees. The sort of things I heard included they were impatient, lazy, want to be nurtured (constant feedback, immediate recognition) at work, demand workplace flexibility. They are unresponsive to motivational tactics, are motivated not only by money, but also fun and their social life, they are easily bored, have no job or brand loyalty, they focus on their life rather than work (work to live).

They are slack in their appearance, from a workforce perspective: they are difficult to attract, harder to manage and are proving near impossible to retain. They are image conscious, wont automatically give respect, are materialist and demand the rationale behind any request of them (Gen WHY).

So have you ever thought about why they are this way? What about this as an idea:

They have no job or company loyalty because they watched their parents work for years for an employer, working long hours, giving up family time, only to be made redundant in the down turn in the 1990’s.

They are not only motivated by money, but also fun and their social life, because they have been told by their parents (people like you and me) to get out and have a good time – don’t spend all your time at work, get some balance!

They are impatient because their parents always worked hard to give them things that we didn’t get. We didn’t want them to wait to save, they learned about credit cards. We have microwave ovens (that seem to take forever!) and digital cameras that don’t have film that needs to be taken completely or need to go to be developed.

They want constant recognition at work because they are used to it at home. How good am I? – ‘you are fabulous darling!’

There is so much discussed about the negatives, but not a lot of us taking responsibility for the wonders we have created.

But what about the other side? There are some positive aspects of this generation that need to be highlighted, to decrease these generational barriers and create a more cohesive workforce with more satisfied employers and employees. And there are plenty of positives about these individuals.

Furthermore, times are changing. Generation Y is here to stay and will be a major part of the Australian workforce. And they can be beneficial to any organisation, bringing youthful idealism and energy, a fresh view to the industry, new qualifications and a 21st century perspective to life. So really, it is time for us Baby Boomers and Gen X’s to change our paradigm and get over it!