Social loafing describes the tendency of individuals to put forth less effort when they are part of a group. Because all members of the group are pooling their effort to achieve a common goal, each member of the group contributes less than they would if they were individually responsible
Ringelmann’s Rope-Pulling Experiments
A French agricultural engineer named Max Ringelmann conducted one of the earliest experiments on the Social Loafing phenomenon in 1913. In his research, he asked participants to pull on a rope both individually and in groups.
What he discovered that when people were part of a group, they made less of an effort to pull the rope than they did when working individually.
But what happens when you are no longer in the group and instead of working remotely at home with no-one to poll your efforts with?
The very real reality that we are now faced with and for employers, this also brings the BIG question on many employers’ minds as they no-longer have the visual indicator of work – “how do I know that my team is completing their hours?”
When we think about the social loafing one of the things that Psychologists have come up with as the explanation is Motivation. Employees who overall are less motivated are more likely to partake in “social loafing” – well that’s in a group setting but how does that motivation stack up when you are working from home, possibly in self-isolation with minimal interaction with others? Does it still exist – well yes it does!
What can counteract this is the fact that in a group those that are prone to social loafing no-longer have a feeling of less personal accountability – there is no longer other people’s efforts to hide behind and when we send information electronically it has our own individual footprints. Where once their lack of effort may have gone unnoticed and had little impact on the outcomes they now will be standing out on their own and highlighted. Or do they?
In an article by Forbes March 2020 – It was suggested that “Just because your team is suddenly remote and may only be so for a relatively short period, you shouldn’t ignore passive-aggressive social loafing. If left unchecked, it will destroy the morale and productivity of even the best team”
The nature of working from home is that you cannot keep an eye on everyone and the efforts that they may (or may not) be putting in. Afterall in the office, you can see who the early starters and late finishes are and who’s always got their head down – not when you are limited to virtual catch-ups. Social Loafing can quietly fall into the virtual background of not called out.
When we look at what Psychologists set out for prevention of Social Loafing, they advise the following;
establish individual accountability;
develop standards and rules;
define tasks clearly;
evaluate personal progress, and
highlight the achievements of individual members.
Now lets for a moment look at the working from home effectiveness suggested guides. (we wrote a blog about this in March – read it here) as employers you can easily set these in place with open communication as the first one is – Know the ground rules – here are some areas to set out first and foremost
Does your employer require a nine-to-five schedule, or is there flexibility?
Which tech tools might you need, such as Zoom for video conferencing, Slack or Microsoft Teams for group chats, or Trello for project management?
It’s really important as an employer that you set out the ground rules and ensure you have the appropriate equipment for the teams, such as a laptop, as well as network access available for the employee – so they can get into their work – and you will also need to ensure that you have given them the heads up on the Workplace Health and Safety as employers STILL have that obligation when employees are working from home.
Not all employees will have a dedicated space, but you do need to have clearly established policies and procedures for working from home, flexibility, and ergonomics. Get them to fill in a Working from the Home checklist and send it back, signed with a photo of the space they will be working in. You need to ensure that loafing about on the sofa in front of the TV is not happening and clearly not an acceptable working environment and may cause more harm than good. You can grab our fact sheet and info HERE for working from home during COVOD-19.
Be sure to do trial runs and work out any problems that might impede workflow – obviously at the speed of adaption in the current COVID-19 situation it has not always been easy to do trial runs but you just need to be adaptable and patient.
You will also need to up the ante on the social interactions with the teams as being at home and be very isolating especially when you are used to being in the hustle and bustle of an office environment. Some employees love the thought of working in solitude, but even the most introverted among us can start feeling a little claustrophobic after a few weeks at home, alone, staring at the same project for long hours. It can get lonely. Be ready for that and try to schedule some connect-with-the-outside-world time. What about a staff “virtual’ lunch date, a video conference setting out new developments at work and a social Friday afternoon “virtual drinks”? You can even have some fun with this as what about a fancy dress – who said that being remote means being boring after all.
With so much happening and so quickly as we navigate the world of COVID-19, we can become overwhelmed. Add to this mixing pot of uncertainty an employee who is sitting in fear and the unknown which is never a good combination for irrational thought patterns. Protect yourself from an opportunist attempt at unfair dismissal claims or worse by seeking advice and avoiding acting in haste.
So today is the 1st April 2020 and this morning people are playing pranks on each other and finding humor in amongst the posts on FaceBook of “cleared my office today” “I don’t know when I will be back in” “I miss everyone and the fun” and “what now?”
I can almost say with certainty that we will never face another 1st April like the one that we have today. In our wildest dreams, we could have never imagined that what played out on the movie screens would play out in real life. Central Park in New York City, the place that’s on my bucket list to a carriage ride through is now set up as a makeshift hospital to help with the ever-increasing numbers of Coronavirus cases. Where once you may have said “I would die to go to Central Park” now the reality is that people may die “in” central park.
As an employment relations consultant, my phone and emails have been running hot with business owners and managers asking, “what do I do now?”. The reality is other than going back with what is coming out with Fair Work, ensuring that any stand-downs, redundancies, reduction in hours, etc to minimize the business impact are done as per the Act and as per the Awards so we don’t have a nasty backlash at the other end – it’s not business as usual anymore and what was once certain is now very uncertain.
I remember going to a Tony Robbins event and he got up and said that “Certainty is Boredom” – gee I wish I was bored right now as this uncertainty is to a whole new level.
Like many parents, I have my kids at home, and they are looking to me for guidance and support in what for them is challenging. They can’t understand why suddenly, they are unable to go to school, unable to see their friends and unable to go out whenever they want to. There are also the financial constraints – how do you explain that the food we have in the cupboard needs to go further than it has ever gone before as we really don’t know if we can fill it up again.
We are lucky (so so lucky actually) that my partner still has worked (for now) and so do I till May at least but no-one really knows how long we will all be in this place, these 4 walls, behind the rendered brick wall that we have been told to stay at unless it is an essential trip. (in mental well-being and sanity an essential trip?)
I have been positive till today then – SMACK it hit me in the face – I have no control over the outside world and no control over what will happen next. Sure, I have control over my thoughts and my mindset and coaches will tell you to focus on you and what you need but what is that?
The rules of the game have changed and shifted. I have my own business as well as teaching but looking at the invoices out to invoices this morning it’s a stark difference and you can guess which one is the less, no actually, t non-existent, I have no invoices to go out. Like many many others it’s going to hurt. I have been busy but I have been giving advice FREELY as this I believe is the right thing to do in all the pain – I don’t see its fair to be charging people when they also have no idea where their next payment will come from but at least I have a few weeks more to deal with that.
I was honored to get a text last night saying “I was ringing to take you up on that offer for a friendly ear” I had missed the call but rang straight back. The person is a client but also becoming a friend and they had to tell their whole company today that they will all be stood down as there was no more work as the industry they relied on had all but been decimated. She asked me how I deal with this kind of thing as she was struggling with having to tell all these people, you won’t be getting paid. Depersonalise it – was the only answer – as this was not them nor was this a conversation anyone else would naturally and normally want nor to have to say BUT we are not in normal times.
“Your first few days and weeks in a crisis are crucial, and you should make ample room to allow for a mental adjustment. It is perfectly normal and appropriate to feel bad and lost during this initial transition. Consider it a good thing that you are not in denial, and that you are allowing yourself to work through the anxiety. No sane person feels good during a global disaster, so be grateful for the discomfort of your sanity. At this stage, I would focus on food, family, friends, and maybe fitness. (You will not become an Olympic athlete in the next two weeks, so don’t put ridiculous expectations on your body.)”
I will leave my post at that as I need to consider the above for my own self – today, 1st April 2020 is no matter to be laughed at, joked at, or put down to “just a bad day” – today is the first of what is the new reality and new pathway for many.
Stay safe my friends, my clients, and everyone that reads this – we will rebuild somehow, we will be stronger, and we will be OK. XX
If you need anything then please reach out to us at Fresh HR Insights HERE
To be productive, you need an office environment that allows you to comfortably work and stay focused while Working from Home during (COVID-19)
designate an area of your home, specifically for getting work done. This could be an empty or spare bedroom that you convert to a home office. If you are pressed for space, you can set up a desk for your computer and office supplies
Be sure your workspace is quiet so you can focus on the task at hand.
Invest in quality Technology
A high-performance router will save you from many technology hassles. Since working from home often requires more than chat messages, you need a router that will keep up.
Even if you have a brand-new laptop or a new smartphone, you will want to invest in a quality pair of headphones with a mic. Noise-canceling features can really help improve the clarity of your phone calls. With modern business VoIP service, you will appreciate the higher fidelity of your calls.
Make sure you have comfortable office furniture
Depending on the amount of space available, consider purchasing a large desk, bookshelves, and a comfortable office chair – it is important to ensure comfort as you don’t know how long you will be Working from Home during (COVID-19)
Schedule your day
A structured routine helps effectively manage tasks and stay on target for deadlines.
Even if you don’t have to be up as early to leave for the office, you should still set an alarm to commit to waking up at the same time
A short planning session in the morning to map out your day can be very effective.
Enforce a hard limit at the end of the day. Distance yourself from work, so you don’t work nonstop.
If you are most productive in the morning, then you may want to set your work hours from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m. or if you are a night owl then 1pm – 9pm (or later)
Avoid work creep – setting work hours and not letting them creep into your personal time
When you make your task list, stick to it
Track your time
Be aware of how much time is spent not working. What are you spending that time doing and how much does it detract from your work goals?
Get into the habit of using a calendar or planner.
Although taking breaks might seem counterproductive, research has shown that taking short breaks can actually increase productivity and creativity levels. If you don’t have a work-life balance, then you won’t last too long working at home.
Dress as you mean to work
If you enjoy working in your PJs, then you are killing your productivity. “Dress for success” isn’t just a corporate catchphrase; it really matters when you work from home.
You’ll be prepared to get work done, and you will be mentally and physically prepared for the day while Working from Home during (COVID-19)
Avoid checking personal email, working in the lounge or social networking sites during work hours
A serious distraction that can go by unnoticed – and cost you your day.
Avoid watching TV while working; it sucks up your focus from the purpose of working at home. Instead, stream music that complements your work style.
It’s easy to lose contact. Check in with your immediate colleagues and team regularly throughout the day.
Don’t forget family and friends. Set aside time or use your breaks to call or email close contacts and stay in the loop.
Take regular breaks and remember to exercise
Respite from your desk is important, especially when you’re confined to your home. Schedule regular breaks.
Staying active can be a challenge when you’re in a confined space, especially cardio. Exercise is a known aid in helping with the symptoms of isolation so if you are well, be sure to stay active. Incorporate stretching, yoga, dips, lunges and natural resistance exercises to stay active.
Exercises to stay positive during these challenging times
Life is neither pink or grey: it is multi-coloured. It’s our eye that lingers on the beautiful or the ugly. The positive or the negative
Here is a great tool to learn how to stop negative thoughts. When you feel an unpleasant emotion (sadness, anger, fear, jealousy, etc) identify the thought the accompanies it (= automatic thought). Then imagine another interpretation equally convincing to explain the same situation, but positive this time (= alternative thought)
My clients are not calling me anymore
They don’t think I am good enough or I made a mistake
I have given them detailed information and right now they are good with what they have
With practice, you will learn to replace your automatic negative thoughts with positive alternative ones, the fly without delay.
Let’s avoid dwelling on our worries!
What moments or situations tend to make you worry?
Moments when I worry
Situations when I worry
What can you do to change these circumstances and avoid dwelling on your worries?
My tips for not worrying are:
Do something rather than worrying
There’s nothing like absorbing activities for avoiding worry. Think about activities that are so absorbing and interesting that you put all your mental energy into that and away from worry. These activities will
Block out all distractions and preoccupations
My anti-worry activities are:
If you need any more support or help during these difficult and challenging times, then please reach out to our team.
Clerks Award flexibility during outbreak of coronavirus
The determination inserted a temporary new Schedule, which applies from an employee’s first full pay period on or after 28 March until 30 June 2020. Schedule I adds award flexibility to the Clerks Award flexibility during the coronavirus outbreak for:
employees’ classifications and duties
minimum engagement/pay for part-time and casual employees
span of hours changes while working at home
full-time and part-time employees’ hours of work
directions to take annual leave.
The Commission may extend when Schedule I operates until, if necessary. We’ll update our information if that happens.
The following changes apply under Schedule I, for employers and employees covered by the Clerks Award.
Annual leave and close down of business – Clerks Award flexibility
Employers can direct an employee to take annual leave under Schedule I by giving their employees at least 1 week’s notice (or any shorter period of notice that is agreed).
If the annual leave is because the business is closing down for a period due to coronavirus and an employee doesn’t have enough paid annual leave to cover the whole period, the employer can direct them to take unpaid leave. The period of unpaid leave counts as service for entitlements under the:
National Employment Standards.
If the business isn’t closing, the employer can only direct an employee to take annual leave if the:
employee still has at least 2 weeks of leave left after the direction
employer considers the employee’s personal situation.
Employees can take up to twice as much annual leave at a proportionally reduced rate if their employer agrees.
Employees and employers can still agree to take annual leave at any time.
You can find more information on Coronavirus and Australian Workplace Laws HERE
WOW what can one say at the moment – the situation we are under is one that we have never seen before and it will change the landscape of the world we live in.
I hope that you and your business are doing OK so far or at least able to come out of this once we all have clarity when that will be.
It was positive to hear our Prime Minister this morning (29 March 2020) setting out that – More help will be given to millions of Australians battling the devastating impacts of coronavirus with a $1.1 billion package which boosts mental health services, domestic violence support, Medicare assistance for people at home and emergency food relief.
I have been writing updated articles almost daily and trying to keep businesses abreast of any changes whilst also protecting them from a Fair Work fallout by acting in haste during this time. What we don’t need is a spike in FW claims for unfair dismissal, adverse actions, unlawful dismissal or general protections claims as we all start to recover – and recover we will. I would love it if you could share this with your networks – I also have increased my FREE general consultations – all the info is on my website https://www.freshhrinsights.com.au/ on the front page and also the articles are under the articles section HERE
What now and what next for your workplace – Coronavirus COVID-19 2020 – A question on everyone’s mind right now. We have seen over the last few days more and more businesses in the retail sector closing up shop and standing down their employees. It is certainly a difficult time as business owners navigate the current situation and COVID-19.
When we think about a stand-down there are things that you must be cautious of as it is not as simple as advising your team “sorry but I have no choice I need to stand you down from work”
s524 of the Fair Work Act (‘Act’) allows for a stand-down BUT CAUTION stand-down provisions as set out in s524 of the Act does not give all employers an overall right to stand down under the COVOD-19 situation. The circumstances, as set out in the Act are when;
employees can no longer be ‘usefully employed’,
of a ‘stoppage of work’ (this term has a specific meaning).
We all know that businesses are deeply impacted and there has been a dramatic slowdown BUT as published in the material by the Fair Work Ombudsman a stand-down does not apply because ‘business is slow’ or if there is ‘not enough work’
Whilst government directives may meet the requirement for a ‘stoppage of work’, not all current COVID19 scenarios do. The risks of getting it wrong are high, and include employees later seeking back paid wages for the whole period of the stand down, and or bringing claims including:
constructive dismissal claims leading to dismissal related claims (such as unfair dismissal or general protections claims);
employees notifying the Fair Work Commission (Commission) of a stand-down dispute;
employees alleging the stand down amounted to unreasonable management action causing them a psychological injury in relation to which they bring a workers’ compensation claim,
amongst other things.
Importantly, even if workers do not dispute the stand down when it happens, they are entitled to pursue action well into the future (up to 6 years), potentially compromising a business’ ability to recover from the economic downturn.
Before making any decisions in what you are going to do ask yourself these questions
Can I keep the employees on in some way shape or form?
As we all navigate the current situation and COVID-19 devastates businesses large and small business owners are under increasing pressure to make decisions. No one wanted us to be in this situation but the reality is that we are and we just need to do what we can to get by. A concern that I have as an HR professional is that in the haste to cut wages, close down expenditure that is not needed and when standing down staff the decision could be made in haste and end up with a Fair Work fallout once we return to normality (whatever that looks like now we will find out)
There are many workplaces that are standing down their teams right now as it is seen as the easier option BUT there are risks if you do not follow all the correct procedures and adhere to the circumstances that warrant a stand down. You can not just stand down the employee because the work is drying up and profits are down – if there is still useful work for them to do then this may not be the option for you and your business. I have written a recent blog on useful work employee’s can do-read it HERE
If paid or unpaid leave is not an option within your workplace then you may look at reduced working hours but be cautious about trying to get these changes through in haste. Every employee HAS to agree to these cuts in hours – you cannot threaten redundancy if they don’t agree but you can paint the bigger picture –
Example – “We are regretful of having to suggest this option however as a business we are trying to stay afloat and keep you all in work right now and look to how we can remain for the future – in some form or other – we are hopeful that we can come to an agreement with each and every one of you as we would prefer to have you getting some income in these incredibly tough times. We are limited by the options and are trying desperately to avoid having to consider redundancy”
I know we are all in crisis at the moment and we are all struggling to find what to do – with so much uncertainty it is challenging to say the least. What I must stress is that you need to be extremely careful as you will need every single employee’s agreement before you vary any term of employment or contractual hours. We would hope all employees see the bigger situation here (even though we acknowledge they are scared too) and agree to support business owners and agree where they can.
This time will certainly test out the loyal employees we have and those that are with us or against us (although that’s not a statement to open opportunities to weed out employees as we re-build)
Before making any decisions in what you are going to do ask yourself these questions
Can I keep the employees on in some way shape or form?
On 24th March the Fair Work Commission made a determination and important changes to the Hospitality Award to improve flexibility, classifications and duties, hours of work of full-time and part-time employees and annual leave during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak
Schedule L operates from 24 March 2020 until 30 June 2020. During this time the following applies
L.2.1 Classifications and duties
(a) As directed by their employer, where necessary employees will perform any duties that are within their skill and competency regardless of their classification under clause 19—Classification and Schedule D—Classification Definitions, provided that the duties are safe and the employee is licensed and qualified to perform them.
(b)Clause 25—Higher duties will apply to employees engaged on duties carrying a higher rate than their ordinary classification.
L.2.2 Hours of Work—Full-time and part-time employees
(a) Subject to clause L.2.2(c), and despite clause 11—Full-time employment and requirements for notice in clause 30.2 (Rostering), an employer may direct a full-time employee to work an average of between 22.8 and 38 ordinary hours per week. The employee will be paid on a pro-rata basis. The arrangements for working ordinary hours in clause 29—Ordinary hours of work (Full-time and part-time employees) will apply on a pro-rata basis.
(b) Subject to clause L.2.2(c), and despite clause 12.3(a) (Part-time employment), and the requirements for notice in clause 30.2 (Rostering), an employer may direct a part-time employee to work an average of between 60% and 100% of their guaranteed hours per week, or an average of between 60% and 100% of the guaranteed hours per week over the roster cycle.
(c) Prior to any employer issuing any direction under clause L.2.2(a) or (b) an employer must:
(i) consult with the affected employee/s in accordance with clause 8A—Consultation about changes to rosters or hours of work and provide as much notice as practicable; and
(ii) if the affected employee/s are members of the United Workers Union, notify the United Workers Union of its intention to implement these arrangements.
(d) An employee given a direction under clause L.2.2(a) or (b) will continue to accrue annual leave and personal leave, and any other applicable accruals under this Award, based on each full-time or part-time employee’s ordinary hours of work prior to the commencement of Schedule L.
(e) If an employee given a direction under clause L.2.2(a) or (b) takes a period of paid annual leave or personal leave, the payment for that leave will be based on the full-time or part-time employee’s ordinary hours of work prior to the commencement of Schedule L.
L.2.3 Annual leave
(a) Despite clauses 34.3, 34.7, 34.8 and 34.9 (Annual leave), an employer may, subject to considering an employees’ personal circumstances, direct the employee to take annual leave with 24 hours’ notice.
(b) Clause L.2.3(a) does not prevent an employer and an employee agreeing to the employee taking annual leave at any time.
(c) During the period of operation of Schedule L, instead of taking paid annual leave at the rate of pay required by s.90 of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), an employer and an employee may agree to the employee taking twice as much annual leave at half the rate of pay for all or part of any period of annual leave.
L.2.4 Dispute Resolution
Any dispute regarding the operation of Schedule L may be referred to the Fair Work Commission in accordance with Clause 9—Dispute Resolution.
We recommend that you seek advice before implementing such changes and note that at this stage these only apply from 24 March 2020 until 30 June 2020 unless this is extended this determination will cease and normal award conditions will apply (see award here) – Contact us for more details Contact Us HERE
Working From Home – What you need to know and the associated Policies and Checklist
When you have employees working from home you are still under an obligation as an employer to ensure that the Health and Safety is being looked after. Any injury suffered in the course of employment, including while working from home, is likely to result in a potential exposure to a workers’ compensation claim.
Many businesses that already have working-from-home arrangements in place may not find this a challenging issue. However, for some companies, it may be necessary to take additional steps to determine whether their staff are exposed to risks and, if so, how they will be controlled.
First and foremost – You should not assume that all workers have a separate area in the house where they can set up a work station and safely work without exposing themselves to risks to their health and safety.
BUT How do you assess the risk?
Ensure that you have a working from home policy and Procedures. If you do not have one you can download and adapt the one we have attached HERE – the ergonomics policy that is associated with the working from home policy and procedure can be found HERE
You will also need to ensure that you have taken the appropriate steps to ensure that the employee has a safe working environment – you can use this checklistHERE
What is important right now is that you provide sufficient information and instruction to all your team members that are going to be working from home how they should work safely while at home. In the current circumstances with the Coronavirus (COVID-19), this instruction should take into account the impact on some team members having to look after their children, who are at home due to daycare and school closures as they may happen.
You can convey these instructions in group emails or more detailed one-on-one instruction via virtual meet-ups. Ensure that you check in with your teams regularly as psychological wellbeing will be vital in times of isolation.
To say business owners are in for the challenge of a lifetime is an understatement. Each day what we need to know changes almost by the hour. With so many questions that are yet to be answered, we all need support and guidance as well as that caring and supportive person to listen to us.
Fresh HR Insights Pty Ltd has extended it’s 30-minute FREE general consultation to 60-Minutes for all new business connections.
No strings attached just our way of being there when business owners need us.
We have opened up more available times so jump onto our booking system and book your virtual time.
Useful things employees can do in times of downturn – Let acknowledge that running a business during periods of uncertainty can be incredibly testing even to those that we see as the strongest amongst us. With what constitutes “business as usual’ being turned on its head; now poses an ideal time and opportunity to re-evaluate your business, your processes and procedures. Check out our Coronavirus (COVID-19) guide for employers.
What has worked well before may not be so effective now so let’s turn this upside down and find ways to pivot quickly. Instead of looking to reduce headcount lets look to utilize the experiences and skills otherwise unused and prepare for the ‘new’ working day and ways of doing things Useful things employees can do in times of downturn – what are they?
Let’s look where we are now – Business during periods of uncertainly looks completely different from the world we knew before. With the current Coronavirus, employers need to make allowances and take a flexible approach. There will be a high level of give and take from both sides. The most important thing during this time is communication – keep talking to your teams, be honest, be authentic and share your concerns alongside theirs. Look for solutions together and look at all options.
We can’t go past all the job losses we have heard about on the media – +and let’s not look past the panic buying (thank you media – well played) but what can we do to ensure workers do not suffer financial hardship during the Covid-19 crisis?
Employers are being forced to look at other ways, unpaid leave, using annual leave, reduced hours and reduced days, the employee working from home BUT what if we embraced this as the chance we needed to refocus? What does a NEW business model look like as a business during periods of uncertainty?
Ask yourself this question: Do I know what other skills and ideas my employees have?
I would assume that in many cases you won’t. You know what skills they have to do what your business required but we are not that business now – we need to be different so what else? What other skills do your employees have? What ideas have they got to help your business survive and then flourish in the new world that we will rise into?
ASK THEM – yes, it is that simple. I know I have mentioned communication a couple of times but that is because it is so important right now. Ask you, employees, what ideas they have, what can they do differently, what ideas have they got that they have always been too scared to say? Now is the time to embrace every idea, try every pathway you have never walked before, try that new process, that new product, that new procedure – you, after all, have nothing to lose but a lot to gain.
Here are some ideas that I have been working on with my clients – happy to share with you and also if you have more then please comment or send me an email so I can share with others. email@example.com
Useful things employees can do in times of downturn
For hospitability businesses, you can start a delivery service for those that are isolated at home
What about opening a drive-thru/ drive-by for collection of pre-ordered meals
Look at the business processes, what can do with a re-jig
Blogs – get the team to write blogs about your business, the business products, and services and then post onto the website, Face book, twitter, LinkedIn and all other social media platforms you use.
Create training videos for new employees (ready for the upturn), customers, suppliers and as a guide to what you have and what you do
Take photos of the team doing their tasks, update product photos, etc
Update the website
Create new resources – the options are endless
Look for business awards and grants and get the team to apply for these
Check out tenders, get on the list for tender notifications and prepare the draft documents for quick submission processes
Do an online SEO course and then use those skills to get your site to the top of google
Look for other free online courses to update skills and processes – get the team doing them Marketing ideas – be creative
Move all your clients into a database or update a database – what about getting birthday dates for all your customers and then create a send out card account and pre-set a card to go out on a birthday.
Look at ways to reduce overall operating costs – this may be electricity use, utilities, stationery, resources etc – walk around and look what can be used another way or used less or even not at all
What about extra office space – have you any to rent out
Did you need to office/ workspace updated – maybe a painting party
Look to maintain loyalty with your valued customers – it is proven that those businesses that do this have a better outcome when coming out of times of downturn – make the calls, touch base, don’t set out to sell but set out to support
Update position descriptions – get the team to look at what they do and then do some job enhancement exercises
Create or update the induction process – have you got everything covered – if not then get the checklist prepared – do a walkthrough or role-play of the first day and then document what you found needed to be on the checklist.
Develop a transition plan for employees retiring or going on extended leave as well as a succession plan for key positions – start mapping out the training needed
Implement mentoring and coaching arrangements between experienced and new employees
Plan and develop skills, knowledge, and abilities through on the job training and formal skills development
What about a team health plan – at times like this mental wellness is also vitally important to work together to maintain or update health goals. Maybe a walking lunch or walking meetings.
These are some of the ideas that I have come up with in my brainstorming sessions for useful things employees can do in times of downturn. As mentioned before if you have any ideas or suggestions then please feel free to email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org so I can share with others.
Keep safe everyone at this challenging time.
Further sources of information
Commonwealth Government National Coronavirus Health Information Line: 1800 020 080
Can offer annual leave or unpaid leave (or LSL if applicable) if employee has no accrued paid sick leave (personal/carers leave)
• Employee is positive to COVID-19
• Employee is in Government directed OR optional self-isolation and is sick
• Employee is sick with any illness or injury
• Employee has to care for or support a member of their immediate family or household who is sick, injured or has an unexpected emergency including, but not limited to;
o any illness o COVID-19
o school closure due to COVID-19
o Government directed isolation of child/dependant due to COVID-19 (NB does not include general coverage for own Government directed isolation as this leave is offered for the unexpected care required for the child, not for the isolation itself– see below)
No paid leave obligation
Can offer annual leave (or LSL if applicable) if employee would like to
Employee is in Government directed OR optional self-isolation and is not sick (i.e. has returned from overseas and feels well) *
• Employee has come in to contact with a known case of COVID-19 and is in Government directed OR optional self-isolation and is not sick EMPLOYER GUIDELINES & FAQS (Updated 17 March 2020) 2
• Employee has come in to contact with a suspected case of COVID-19 and is in Government directed OR optional self-isolation and is not sick
• Employee is stuck overseas (on a cruise ship etc) due to COVID-19
• Casual employees are not entitled to paid sick (personal/carer’s) leave. A casual employee who has to self-isolate or has contracted the Coronavirus must not attend the workplace, without additional payments.
Employee is working from home (and employer has approved this)
• Employee is getting an assessment for fitness for work under the direction of the employer; o if the result of the assessment is that the employee is sick then they revert to sick leave o if the result is that they are told to isolate then no paid leave is required (unless they are supplied with a medical certificate stating not fit for work) o if the result is they are fit for work, they should come back to work o if the employer insists they don’t return for 14 days then they should be paid ordinary pay
• Employer requests an employee to not come to work/isolate which is not in line with Government direction
• Employer closes the business/office/location using discretion (not Government directed) as an added precaution but employee’s role does not allow for working from home (i.e. works in a café, cleaner, factory worker, manual labour, mechanic etc).
• Employer closes business temporarily due to a downturn in work/business (refer to redundancy if this is a prolonged situation)
This does not yet exist for employees – however there is some talk that the Government may need to offer special paid leave (over and above annual leave and/or sick leave) for this pandemic.
Stand down (no pay)
Government-issued directive for closure (not at the discretion of the business). Seek further advice before actioning
Significant downturn in work due to impact of COVID-19 – we’d advise you openly discuss ways to mitigate this with staff such as expressions of interest from employees agreeable to temporarily reduce hours, take annual leave etc
• If this is not possible then begin consultation for redundancies.
• Guidance on the process to follow when considering redundancies can be advised by contacting email@example.com
How to support employees
Offer working from home options wherever possible
• Pay employees when no paid leave type is available to them if practical
• Offer EAP to assist with anxiety
• Communicate regularly
*The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has issued guidance on its website which suggests a
permanent employee should be paid when an employer directs them to stay at home in line with
Government advice when the employee is not sick (ie self-isolation after returning from overseas).
This conflicts with many commentators’ views that an employee who is required to stay away
from work due to Government advice is not entitled to be paid. The FWO says:
“Where an employer directs a full-time or part-time employee to stay home in line with advice, for example in line with the Australian Government’s health and quarantine advice, and the employee is not sick with coronavirus, the employee should ordinarily be paid while the direction applies”
We will provide further advice when the FWO clarifies its position.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) – The information contained has been produced in good faith based on the Fresh HR Insights Pty Ltd professional interpretation of the relevant legislation and guidance from government and health authorities as of 11 March 2020. As the situation and our understanding of COVID-19 develops, it likely that recommendations from government and health authorities will change. Accordingly, we can make no guarantee that the information within this document entirely corresponds with the position of authorities at the time you are using it. We encourage you to refer to the resources and authorities provided at the bottom of this post for the latest updates and recommendations.
This post should not be taken as a statement of the law and it is intended as a guide only, and we do not accept any liability for loss or damage sustained on the basis of this information.
BUSINESS CONDITIONS AND DOWNTURN
When can I stand employees down without pay?
Under Fair Work legislation, a permanent employee can only be stood down without pay in limited circumstances. In the case of Coronavirus (COVID-19), if the business is open to trade then you will not be able to stand employees down without pay. However, if the business is not open to trade for a reason that is beyond your control, this may amount to a stoppage of work and allow you to stand employees down without pay. If your business is covered by an industrial instrument such as a modern award or enterprise agreement, it may contain additional terms relating to stand-downs. Before doing so, you should first consider alternative work options, such as asking employees to perform work at another store or work from home if practicable.
If you are unsure of whether your situation permits you to stand down employees with pay, please don’t hesitate to contact Fresh HR Insights Pty Ltd on 0452471960
See also: Absence from Employment
ABSENCE FROM EMPLOYMENT
If I direct an employee to self-isolate, do I have to pay them?
Yes.If you have directed a full-time or part-time employee to self-isolate because they have exhibited symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID-19), then you should ask them to self-isolate and they may take personal leave until they are no longer exhibiting symptoms. You could also request that the employee seek medical clearance that their symptoms are not as a result of Coronavirus (COVID-19), and depending on the result of this, they may not need to self-isolate. If a full-time or part-time employee is absent from work at your direction, and not because they are required by the Australian Government to self-isolate, then you are required to pay them at least their base rate of pay for their contracted hours during this period.
If an employee is self-isolating at the direction of the Australian Government, do I have to pay them?
If the employee can perform their work remotely or from home, then you should pay them for the hours that they work. If they cannot work remotely, and they have been required to self-isolate by the Government, you do not have to pay them. However, employees may in some circumstances access personal leave, or you may agree to allow them to access annual leave, in order to maintain their income.
See also Can I direct employees to take personal leave? and Can I direct employees to take annual leave?
Can I direct employees to take personal leave?
There is no power under Fair Work legislation for an employer to direct an employee to take personal leave. An employee is not strictly entitled to take personal leave unless they are unfit for work because of an illness or injury – that is, unless they are actually displaying symptoms of illness. However, employees may agree to access their personal leave in order to maintain their income, even if they are in self-isolation as a precautionary measure only.
When are employees entitled to take personal leave?
Permanent employees are entitled to take paid personal/carers’ leave if:
they are experiencing symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID-19) illness; or
they are caring for a member of their household or immediate family.
Permanent and casual employees are entitled to two days’ unpaid carers’ leave per permissible occasion to take care of a member of their household or immediate family who is unwell. As these are minimum entitlements, employers can at their discretion elect to allow employees to access paid personal leave in excess of what has been accrued, or to access additional periods of unpaid leave. We have noticed that a number of employers are choosing to pay their casual and independent contractors during this time however that is a business by business and case by case situation and not an obligation.
Can I direct employees to take annual leave?
In general, annual leave is taken by agreement between you and the employee. Employees covered by a modern award or enterprise agreement may be directed to take annual leave, but only in the circumstances prescribed by the award or agreement. In most cases, these circumstances are limited to situations where the employee has accrued and excessive leave balance. If an employee is not covered by a modern award or enterprise agreement, you may require the employee to take annual leave if the direction is reasonable. Whether the requirement is reasonable will depend on the circumstances of each particular case. If an employee does not have sufficient annual leave accrued, you may wish to consider granting annual leave in advance. However, modern awards and enterprise agreements may stipulate specific requirements for the provision of annual leave in advance.
Can employees access annual leave while in isolation?
Yes. If an employee is required to self-isolate for Coronavirus (COVID-19), and they wish to access paid annual leave, you can agree to this request.
If an employee refuses to self-isolate, can I direct them to not attend work if they aren’t presenting any symptoms (for example, if they have recently travelled)?
You can direct an employee to not attend work as long as the direction is reasonable. You should be guided by the principle that it will be reasonable to direct an employee to not attend work if:
they are returning from a country or region considered by the Australian Government posing a higher risk of transmission; or
have been in close contact with a confirmed case of Coronavirus (COVID-19).
You should consider whether the employee should be asked to work from home while in quarantine, otherwise if they refuse to access any paid leave entitlements they may nevertheless be entitled to be paid for the period that they are directed by you to not attend work.
What are my obligations if someone is directed by the Australian Government to self-isolate?
The Australian Government has certain powers under biosecurity legislation, including the power to direct individuals to remain at their place of residence or be isolated in a medical facility. In general, these powers are only to be used as a last resort to limit the spread of the virus. Currently, the Australian Government requires persons to isolate themselves for a period of 14 days if they:
have left, or travelled through, mainland China or Iran in the previous 14 days; or
have left, or transited through, the Republic of Korea on or after 5 March 2020.
The Australian Government also requires persons who have been in close contact with a proven case of Coronavirus (COVID-19) to isolate themselves for 14 days from the date of the last contact with the confirmed case. If an employee meets these circumstances, they are required to self-isolate even if they are not specifically directed to do so by the Australian Government. If an employee cannot attend work as a result of these requirements, they should be encouraged to access personal leave or annual leave.
Can I ask someone to work remotely whilst in quarantine?
If an employee is able to work remotely whilst in isolation, this option ought to be explored as it allows the employee to remain an active participant in the workforce and maintain their usual income without being required to access their paid leave entitlements. However, if an employee is in self-isolation and accessing annual leave, personal/carer’s leave, or unpaid leave, then you should not ask them to work.
How do I manage productivity if someone is working remotely?
In essence, when managing productivity for employees working from home, you should take similar steps to manage employee productivity as you would in the workplace. That being said, you will have to adapt your approach to account for your inability to visually supervise them and the potential for miscommunication.
A few easy steps employers can take to more effectively manage remote workers include:
Set clear expectations
Clearly outline what you want, when you want it done by, how you want it done, and ensure you encourage employees to clarify anything they are not clear on. Avoid assumptions and vague or ambiguous directions.
Maintain regular communication
Organise regular catch-ups, and try to maintain multiple lines of communication in addition to email, such as voice calls, and instant messaging.
Provide the appropriate technology
Where possible, provide employees working remotely with the technology required to do so. Productivity is likely to suffer where an employee has technical issues, and this is more likely where they rely on personal laptops or home internet.
What happens to casual employees if they are required to go into isolation?
Casual employees are not entitled to paid leave, as this is intended to be accommodated in their higher rate of pay. Employers may choose to make discretionary payments to casual employees during this period, however, any such payment would be purely discretionary and not required by law. It is recommended that independent legal advice be obtained before making any such payment, as these may constitute as evidence that the employee is not truly a casual employee, but a part-time or full-time employee, if not managed correctly. As at the date of post various options to assist casual employees are being considered by the Australian Government, however, no formal policy position has been announced.
Might the disruption caused by Coronavirus (COVID-19) interfere with casual conversion rights?
It is possible that the disruption caused by Coronavirus (COVID-19) could interfere with casual conversion rights under modern awards and enterprise agreements, where applicable. Specifically, the disruption caused may:
disrupt a casual employee’s pattern of work to such an extent that they no longer satisfy the eligibility requirements for casual conversion; or
result in reasonable grounds for refusing a request for casual conversion.
It should be noted that notwithstanding this, employers can still agree that employee convert from casual to permanent employment if this is appropriate for the needs of their business.
Can I dismiss an employee who refuses to self-isolate?
No. However, if an employee refuses to self-isolate, you may wish to issue them with a reasonable and lawful direction not to attend the workplace until the self-isolation period has passed for the employee. The employee should be paid for their contracted hours at their base rate of pay. If an employee does not follow this reasonable and lawful direction, then this will amount to misconduct, and may provide a valid reason for dismissal. However, employers should always ensure they follow a disciplinary process that affords the employee with natural justice and procedural fairness when considering disciplinary action against an employee that may result in termination of their employee.
Any termination or other disciplinary action because an employee is required to self-isolate, whether they have contracted Coronavirus (COVID-19) or not, may be prohibited under anti-discrimination laws. Before taking any such action, it is recommended that you seek separate legal advice.
HEALTH AND SAFETY
What steps should I take to protect my employees?
Work health and safety laws in Australia require employers to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of their workers and others at the workplace. You must identify hazards at the workplace, and take steps to eliminate or reduce any risks.
To ensure employers are complying with their obligations under WHS laws, SafeWork Australia recommends employers:
Employees who contract the virus at work may be eligible to make a workers’ compensation claim if they contract the virus due to insufficient measures being taken by their employer to ensure their health and safety.
See also: Can a person claim workers’ compensation if they contract Coronavirus (COVID-19) while at work? and Should I quarantine goods coming from China before sale?
Do I have to provide my employees with personal protective equipment (PPE)? (i.e. face masks)
It will depend on your workplace, but depending on the risk present in your workplace you may need to. Employers have a duty to ensure a safe and healthy workplace for their employees. Accordingly, if the nature of the workplace poses a significant risk of an employee contracting the virus, then an employer may need to consider making PPE available to their employees.
If an employer decides that face masks or other forms of PPE are appropriate to minimize the risk of an employee contracting Coronavirus (COVID-19), then they will need to provide these masks to employees, and cannot expect employees to purchase their own.
Employers should also:
select PPE that is:
suitable with regard to the nature of the work, and how Coronavirus (COVID-19) is transmitted; and
For example, surgical masks may be adequate, but depending on our latest understanding of how the virus transmits, it may be more appropriate to provide P2/N95 masks.
a suitable size and fit for your employees to wear;
provide information and training on how to use, wear, store and/or maintain the PPE properly;
maintain, repair, and replace PPE to ensure employees are provided with clean, hygienic, and functioning PPE;
ensure that employees use or wear the PPE provided.
However, if employers believe that the risk to employees was such that the use of masks was appropriate then employers should also consider whether it is even safe for the shopfront to continue to operate. Particularly as PPE is the least effective form of risk prevention in the workplace, while the elimination of the risk is the most effective.
If an employer believes there is a lower risk of Coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission in their workplace, they may just wish to make use of other risk reduction approaches, such as ensuring employees have access to hand-washing facilities and soap or alcohol-based hand rub to reduce the risk of infection.
Can a person claim workers’ compensation if they contract Coronavirus (COVID-19) while at work?
Yes. It is possible that an employee could claim workers’ compensation if they contracted Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the course of their employment, and their employment was a significant contributing factor. However, as the spread of CCoronavirus (COVID-19) continues, it may be more difficult for the employee to prove that they contracted the virus in the course of employment, as opposed to them contracting it from the wider community outside of work.
Hygiene is an important and critical part of the life of any human being. The importance of hygiene can be best understood by the fact that almost every religion on earth has preached hygiene. The benefits of hygiene are not only limited to the physical structure of a human being, it also influences some psychological behaviors. It creates self-confidence, boosts morale and uplifts the self-esteem of a person.
Why is hygiene so important? Why has man converted his forests and lands into cleaner roads and proper societies? The answer is simple. Hygiene is a measure of a person’s way of life. A person having good self-hygiene not only enables himself to feel comfortable in his skin but it also helps others around that person, to work in comfort. A person with good values will never ignore his personal hygiene.
Every workplace has its norms and policies. Cleanliness and personal hygiene are always part of these norms and policies. All businesses have a dress code. This dress code is a part of the self-hygiene of employees. Maintaining proper hygiene at the workplace is very important for the good reputation of businesses. Both the official authorities and the employees need to take care of hygiene. No boss would want a dirty person to represent his company in the market or in front of the public. Similarly, no employee would want to work in a firm with dirty restrooms, cubicles, and the environment. The contribution of both parties is essential for the good reputation of the firm.
Contribution by the workplace authorities:
Employee retention is one of the major concerns of firms nowadays. Keeping the employees happy and content in their workplace is very important for the consistent success of the business. Employees are greatly influenced by their workplace policies & environment. A tempting workplace creates a good level of comfort in the employees. Keeping a workplace clean helps in creating a good environment. There are several essential measures that can help maintain the hygiene of the workplace. Some of them are mentioned below:
Emptying the trash cans on a regular basis.
Regular cleaning of restrooms.
A Spray of some light air freshener in intervals.
Cleaning of the windows.
Contribution by the employees:
What would happen if an employee, who is supposed to give a presentation to a multinational company, shows up with messy hair, no tie, rough nails, dirty shoes, and smelly body? The answer is obvious, he’ll get fired the minute he sets his foot in the office. The standard of hygiene of employees of a firm gives the idea of how good the firm is. Maintaining a proper self-hygiene by the employees is as critical to the repute of the firm as their performance. Some essential measures by the employees are discussed below:
Following the proper dress code.
Taking a bath every morning before coming to the office.
Proper haircut and hairstyle.
Use of a deodorant.
Self-hygiene greatly enhances the value of a person. If employees maintain their hygiene up to the mark, they fall in the good books of the boss automatically. Also, a clean workplace ensures good health of the employees and they are less prone to contagious diseases. Consequently, the performance of the employees is greatly increased.
2020 – Coronavirus
What guidelines should I be following as an employer to limit the spread and provide a duty of care to my employees? A number of major Australian businesses have ordered team members who have recently visited affected areas to stay at home for 14 days to avoid any potential spread. If employers are concerned and wish to take precautionary measures, they should follow current AHPPC community recommendations. As such an employer should:
Put out a generic communication to all employees advising that you are seeking to mitigate the risk and respond to the outbreak and as such have put reasonable precautions in place.
List the criteria for isolation.
Provide general health advice encouraging anyone who develops flu-like symptoms (including fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose or shortness of breath), seek medical advice immediately.
Advise the precautionary stance is to maintain a safe environment and provide a duty of care for all employees
Reiterate that you will continue to monitor the situation and be guided by advice from the Australian Government Department of Health in relation to your response.
Suggest employees keep updated on current advice and information.
What Other Things Should Employers Be Thinking About When it Comes to the Coronavirus?
Employers need to be aware that should an employee be required to stay away from the workplace as a precaution, they are entitled to receive full pay and should not be disadvantaged in any way. Where possible, arrangements should be made for an individual to work from home.
To avoid any claims of discrimination ensure that you are taking the ‘front foot’ and sending out generic communication to all employees. You must not target specific people.
The Coronavirus situation is rapidly changing, employers should keep themselves informed by following federal and state government advice and updating their communication to staff accordingly.
Importance of Updating and reviewing your company policies and procedures
Employee handbooks should be reviewed and updated at least on an annual basis, and an employer may want to consider reviewing the handbook every six months. While the core elements of policies and procedures may stay the same the details should change according to industry standards, organizational needs, or legal requirements. In addition, policies should line up with the company’s mission, vision, and values and these may change.
The REALITY is however that small business owners do not have the time to constantly update or amend the policies and procedures that they have in place. And it is not a legal requirement in Australia. BUT as an employer, you have a legal responsibility to inform your employees of their casual employment rights and responsibilities even if there is no federal or state law that requires you to have an employee handbook.
BUT an employee handbook is a great way to induct new staff into your Company and give existing staff a document they can reference at any time to keep their knowledge of workplace policies and procedures up to scratch.
Writing an employee handbook from scratch is a big undertaking. You have to explain a lot of rules and guidelines in a way that is easy to understand yet detailed enough to get the full message across to your employees.
Flexible working arrangements – 1st December 2019 affecting all modern awards – additional obligations in regard to arrangements and request for flexible working. Flexible work is now a model term in all Modern Awards. Under the model term, employers must actually have a discussion with employees who make a request and try to come to a genuine agreement. The obligation to discuss did not exist under the Act. Employers must also provide a written response explaining any grounds for refusal of the request.
Casual Conversion – October 2018 – many modern awards received a new clause that provided casual employees with an entitlement they did not have before. As of 1October 2018, ‘regular casual employees’ may request that their employment be converted to full time or part-time employment.
Family and domestic violence leave – The Fair Work Amendment (Family and Domestic Violence Leave) Act 2018 took effect on 12 December 2018. The FW Act now includes the right for workers to take up to five days of unpaid family and domestic violence leave per year as part of the NES. This extends the right to all workers, beyond the coverage of the award system.
Termination Payments – A new termination payment clause has been included in some modern awards. This clause imposes a requirement that on termination an employer must pay an employee’s outstanding wages and other entitlements no later than seven days after the day the employment was terminated. Common modern awards that now have this clause include:
Clerks – Private Sector Award 2010;
General Retail Industry Award 2010; and
Banking, Finance, and Insurance Award 2010.
First Aid Allowance – Clerks – Private Sector Award 2010– need to be paid the full weekly amount regardless of the hours that they work and not pro-rata.
As of 1 January 2020, employers are required to pay superannuation on their employee’s gross pay. This also includes any salary they have sacrificed. Salary sacrifice arrangements will change from January 2020 and it’s important you let your affected employees know. It is now no longer possible for the employer to pay an employee on a salary sacrifice agreement on the reduced amount of super. Read more about casual employee termination.
IMPORTANTLY on the 1st March this year (2020) there are a number of awards being affected by changes – you can read about it here (HERE) What happens if you do not comply??
The proposed new clauses will fall into one of three categories and have specific requirements:
Category 1 – includes modern awards which cover employees who work relatively stable hours. The Commission determined that the annualized salary term for this category will not require an employee’s agreement to the introduction of an annualised salary arrangement. The employer may implement an annualized salary in this category without employee agreement;
Category 2 – includes modern awards that cover employees who work highly variable hours and/or significant ordinary hours of work which attract a penalty rate. The Commission determined that the annualised salary term for Category 2 modern awards will require employers and employees to agree on the application of an annualized salary arrangement; and
Category 3 – includes modern awards that currently provide that the annualized salary be an amount not less than a specified percentage above the minimum weekly wage set out in the modern award (e.g. 25% in the Restaurant Award). The FWC determined that the annualized salary term for Category 3 modern awards will require employers and employees to agree on the application of an annualized salary arrangement. The clause will only apply with respect to the non-managerial staff.
As of 1 March 2020, employers are also required to pay employees for any overtime worked if their salary does not include overtime.
From 1 March 2020, if an employer discovers that an employee received less pay on their annual wage agreement than if they were paid under the award, it’s your responsibility to pay your employees the difference. This payment is required to be paid within 14 days and the process needs to be undertaken every year. This is also applicable upon the termination of contracts.
Employers must now keep records of when their employees start and finish work, and when they take their breaks.
From 1 March 2020, a failure to comply will amount to a breach of a modern award—colloquially referred to by the media as “wage theft”—and will attract civil penalties under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).