Joke Trend in The Office That HR Needs To Work Out For 2019

Joke Trend in The Office That HR Needs To Work Out For 2019

Sometimes, employees often act in the stereotyped manner of attempting to make jokes at the workplace in a bid to lighten up the atmosphere and make it conducive for everyone. Unfortunately, rather than ease the tension on other employees, they end up presenting themselves as a pushy and a self-promotional employee. The tight rope on which such employees walk is often a source of major heartaches for Australia’s employers who are finding it hard to tackle jokes and remarks that are not so friendly in the workplace. It can often not be about what the person meant but the perception of the person receiving. 

Ultimately, the workplace is not designed to be a boring routine with no element of fun and humor in it. What every employer and HR Manager needs to know is how to find a balance between harmless jokes in the workplace, and targeted jokes. It is also important for employees to understand the uniqueness of every individual and make a conscious effort not to make jokes that might be perceived wrong by their fellow employees. As a rule of thumb, everyone needs to understand that some phrases are not allowed in the workplace despite their intention. Phrases like “I will make you understand who wears the pant around here” and so much more phrases that might be tagged as sexism should be discouraged in the workplace.

In an attempt to curb and limit unnecessary jokes in the office, employees need to understand sensitive topics and make a conscious effort to steer clear of it. Such remarks tend to upset the atmosphere around the workplace and around the community at large.

To effective battle the fast-rising trend of making unnecessary jokes in the workplace, HR needs to implement the following:

  • Not So Much Seriousness

Sometimes in an attempt to curb the spread of an infection, we make use of the wrong lotions and we end up festering the wound. The motivation to curb unnecessary jokes by HR should not be an avenue for turning the workplace into a graveyard. The truth is, if you want more productivity from your employees, you need to make them happy with their job. When employees fall in love with their job and their work environment, they could carry on business for hours without breaking so much as a sweat.

Researches have proven that laughter in the workplace account for a large percentage of variations in employee productivity. As a result, HR should actually encourage an atmosphere of laughter in the workplace but should draw a distinct line over going overboard.

  • Put It In Writing (if it is not written down, it didn’t happen)

The result of workplace conflict is mostly resolved after a visit to the Fair Work Commission website. Irrespective of the parties involved, chances are that it will come back to hunt the company for a very long time. The only way to be sure that your employees will comply with the rules is when they know that they have crossed the line. To do this, you might take the following step:

  1. Meet individual employees, obtained their perspective on jokes in the workplace, and explain to them what HR will condone and what it will not.
  2. The resolution of the meeting should be published, communicated to all employees and the sanction for offending employees should be clearly stated.
  3. Have clear Policies and procedures and workplace agreements
  • Create an effective action plan to manage grievances:

HR should create a workplace culture where aggrieved employees can disclose inappropriate behaviors by employees or violations of the code of conducts. When employees are conscious of retribution, they tend to act with more decorum and compose themselves at the workplace.

The rule for dealing with inappropriate jokes is to make the employee see for themselves that such a joke is not appropriate for work. What HR should do is to make them realize their stupidity and ensure that they apologize for it. HR should take every complaint of inappropriate jokes serious and punish earing offenders.

Fresh HR Insights are EXPERTS on workplace matters and act as a key point of authority for Small Businesses across South East Queensland – Make an appointment today 

Unconventional Knowledge of HR That May Change Your Perspective

Unconventional Knowledge of HR That May Change Your Perspective

I don’t want to die in my office; I’m gonna die on the beaches. – Jack Ma

That’s so sweet of Jack Ma, but the reality stands harsh. To work at web giant Alibaba, you must work at least 12 hours a day, six days a week. Jack Ma argues for a 72-hour working week. That is what the billionaire expects from his employees.

We are human, not resources

Anybody running any company must realize that the most valuable asset is people. Too often companies seem to put their shareholders first, and then they put their customers second, and their staff last. That makes the workplace full of confused people because they struggle to bring their best selves forward, but it doesn’t have to be this way. There is a better way.

Investing in employee experience advances organizational effectiveness and profitability.  It’s critical that the leader realizes it’s not just the people at the top, the switchboard operator, or the person cleaning the floors, or all these people are as important as the people at the top, and often, they’re the most important people. They’re out there doing the hard work, and they’re the people that are in touch with the customers.  Having a plan for employee development is essential to ensure the performance and productivity of the organizations and the departments. 

Online HR platforms vs. bringing the H back into Human Resource management

Everything around us is evolving with the dynamics of digitalization and globalization. We must integrate data and technology into our game today, but don’t forget, human touch has a dramatic impact on administration, in improving confidence and creating bonds. Human Resource is such a broad topic, so not everyone is supposed to understand everything, but we’re expected to have an opinion. When you’re an HR manager, on one side you have the employee population, on other side you have the management, and anyhow we have to stay right in the heart and balance different agendas and expectations all across. 

We are entering a new age of automation, unlike anything that’s come before. Now it’s a time of uncertainty and change. There’s a clear progression in terms of what humans did for a living for the longest time; humans shifted into service jobs, and then in human history, the information age happened. The world of work is changing. Suddenly the rules were different; our jobs are now being taken over by machines much faster than they were in the past. We communicate with friends and colleagues often by devices rather than sitting with them talking face-to-face. Tablet and smartphone adoption is growing by 50% every year. We’re no longer governed by the nine-to-five, we’re choosing where when and how we work. That’s why we see hundreds of companies and all types of businesses use the latest evolution of online HR platforms all over the world. Some systems are remarkably flexible and cater to all sizes of companies. They can be in a single location, or they can be in locations around the city, country or even globe. You can access from anywhere you have an internet connection whether that be in the office, at home, at a hotel somewhere else that allows you to get at the data and action whatever things you need.

There’s a lot of discussion going on right now around which should be the future role of HR and we are required to understand how the businesses are running and what the human associations of that are. We talk so much about consolidation of sourcing digitalization, and that’s all fine. Successful companies inside they mind their employee experience and externally they care about their customer experience, but the net is they are focused on people first.

I for one stand behind keeping the “Human’ in Human Resource management. I understand the need for HR Platforms and do offer one myself BUT you can never take away the real human approach and the intrinsic consequence of feeling valued to your employees. To prove my point take the Hawthorne Studies – Well-lit lighting increased productivity, as did a few other variables, such as having a clean workstation, allowing employees to build and work in teams, and having regular breaks. While these were the direct findings from the Hawthorne study, none of them were groundbreaking.

What the researchers in the original studies found was that almost any change to the experimental conditions led to increases in productivity. The results were surprising and the researchers concluded at the time that workers were actually responding to the increased attention from their supervisors. Researchers suggested that productivity increased due to attention and not because of changes in the experimental variables. Landsberger defined the Hawthorne effect as a short-term improvement in performance caused by observing workers.

What I Wish Everyone Knew About  Communication Technology and Workplace Culture

What I Wish Everyone Knew About Communication Technology and Workplace Culture

Communication technology reshapes the world that we work in every day. Handheld wireless devices give us the ability to email, browse phone, use our calendar, and access corporate databases and the opportunity to work out of the office. All of these workplace technologies are not only a time saver but also offer us the opportunity to interact in real time over a complex-wide array of channels to communicate. Still, there are sometimes some unconscious barriers that will continue to block our effectiveness.

Communication involves both the sender and the receiver. As a sender, we may focus on what we want from others, we carefully craft our message and send it out, and expect results, but how do we know that it’s been correctly convey? Good communication makes teams work more efficiently, motivates employees and helps relations with customers and partners. So how can managers communicate better, and how does a form of communication affect the results? Of course, it depends on what it is that you’re trying to communicate.

  • An email is an essential tool that billions of people and businesses rely on every day, and it’s not going away anytime soon. Most people pay attention to what they mail; they might even craft it carefully before they send an email. They want to have a calm tone, and they want to be friendly, polite and respectful, but most people pay less attention to the receptivity of the people. If you’re always super urgent in texts, messenger and emails, people feel controlled. And the biggest problem with email today is you can quickly come to be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of how much you get, and it is way too easy to miss important messages or take the message the wrong way.
  • If you are going to have to terminate someone, hire or interview someone, it might be face to face as the best way to handle it. Face-to-face communication so mattering in the workplace as opposed to text and emails, because you’re seeing facial expressions or their tone where they are coming off better in person than it is in an email. To give employees praise or coaching, you got to talk in person because it’s important you want to know what’s happening with them. There’s so much added value in seeing someone face-to-face. Now it’s not possible all the time; we have great distances between us sometimes, or you need a quick answer, but whenever it’s possible, face-to-face is the most effective form of communication.

Sacking an employee by text message is not illegal but could be unfair and provide an employee with grounds to challenge the dismissal. The Fair Work Act 2009 makes it clear that an employer must not terminate an employee’s employment unless the employee has been given written notice of the day of the termination. A text message has been held to be a form of writing and so satisfies this obligation. Indeed, a lot of people may rightly hold the belief that an appropriately worded text message does the same job as a formal letter and has the added bonus of being more likely to reach the employee. Not illegal, but should be avoided

Meanwhile, lots of technology is coming in which is probably going to displace human activity. One of the challenges of the future is going to be whether we become systems cells whether we are fundamentally social cells. The rise of artificial intelligence and chatbots could fundamentally disrupt quite a menu of workplace communication and previously professional jobs.

No doubt- technology and innovation are changing the culture. But sometimes we’re in this dilemma about all this technology – is it for us, or are we for it?

Technology predictions for 2025 include

  • 30% of corporate audits will be performed by artificial intelligence. 
  • Globally, more trips will be made using car sharing programs than privately owned cars 
  • Brain-reading devices allows wearers to learn new skills quicker 
  • Electronic devices can be charged using Wi-Fi 
  • Robotic, mind-controlled prosthetics become widely available. 
  • World population forecasted to reach 8,141,661,000 
  • Average number of connected devices, per person, is 9.5 
  • Global number of Internet connected devices reaches 76,760,000,000 
  • Predicted global mobile web traffic equals 104 exabytes 

Email etiquette at work

  1. Include a clear, direct subject line.
  2. Use a professional email address.
  3. Think twice before hitting ‘reply all.’
  4.  Include a signature block.
  5.  Use professional salutations.
  6. Use exclamation points sparingly.
  7. Be cautious with humor.
  8. Know that people from different cultures speak and write differently.
  9. Reply to your emails–even if the email wasn’t intended for you.
  10. Proofread every message.
  11. Add the email address last.
  12. Double-check that you’ve selected the correct recipient.
  13. Keep your fonts classic.
  14. Keep tabs on your tone.
  15. Nothing is confidential–so write accordingly.
How To Dismiss an Employee

How To Dismiss an Employee

Employee dismissal is not supposed to be a difficult process. Unfortunately, some employers tend make it unnecessarily burdensome with roll on effects. As a last resort of dealing with employees, employers can often react without considering the full process and what is “Harsh, Unjust and Unreasonable”.

Employers that are not careful when carrying out the termination process soon find themselves on the wrong side of the law. When an employer does not have the knowledge of what is legal and how to conduct themselves during a dismissal, they find it impossible to prevent legal action against their business.

Imagine that sinking feeling when you receive a FWC – Acknowledgement Letter following the dismissal of an employee. Attached will be the F3 for your response. You have 7 calendar days to lodge your reply to the unfair dismissal application. You will then be sent a conciliation date and time. It can be very stressful if this is something you have not tackled before.

Various reasons can account for the dismissal; however, it is your duty as the owner of the business to act reasonably throughout the dismissal process. In other words, you are dismissing the employee with grace and within the frameworks that are set down by the FWC.

An employer must give the employee a reason why he/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. An employer must provide an 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.

The first step to dismissing an employee is to review the reasons for the dismissal. It is important to confirm all the pieces of information presented and verify the known facts before dismissing an employee. If deemed necessary, you should set up a meeting with the employee before the dismissal. You need to offer an employee a support person as part of this process.

Additionally, employers should confirm the legalities and legal implications that are involved before looking at or heading towards dismissing an employee. The Fair Work Act presents the due procedure to follow before dismissal is decided upon. The act frowns upon any act of discrimination, assault, harassment, breach of contract, and above all, wrongful termination. You need to be mindful or unlawful or adverse actions. It really is not a black and white process.

Pre-meeting procedures

  • Decide on what form the meeting will take and the paperwork that will be involved. You can decide on a script to aid the meeting or could decide against it.
  • Decide on who will be present during the meeting: this is a tricky area of the pre-meeting procedures that employers should be clear on.
  • On the part of the employee – they will need to be offered support during the meeting. Ask, in the meeting invite, if it is their wish to be escorted by a person to provide support.
  • On the other side, employers seeking to hold a disciplinary meeting need to be careful not to intimidate the employee. When the atmosphere is intimidating, the employee might perceive that it is action to get rid of him/her, and as a result, affect the conduct of the meeting. You also MUST be careful of predetermined outcomes. No decision should ever be made without obtaining all the facts.
  • The meeting should be held at a location that offers minimum disruption. By so doing, what is private will be kept private until you wish to disclose it.

You need to note that if you do receive an unfair Dismissal application as an employer you will be required to provide evidence including evidence that a warning has been given (except in cases of summary dismissal). Evidence may include a completed checklist, copies of written warning(s), a statement of termination or signed witness statements etc. These cannot be produced after the fact, so you need to get it right every time throughput the process. Fresh HR Insights can help with this.

How to conduct a disciplinary meeting that may lead to dismissal

During the meeting it is essential to provide an adequate explanation for the disciplinary – this would have already been set out in the disciplinary invite, you will go over it.  As an employer, where it is clear that the employee is indeed guilty of the allegations, you need to understand that a dismissal equals no more income, therefore, it becomes understandable if the employee gets angry or upset. Make sure you allow time for a break to gather their thoughts.

The employer should not get angry in return. Ensure that your conversation stays calm, do not force the employee to keep quiet, and above all, allow freedom of expression.

In a situation where the employee has not provided any reason for the allegations you still need to consider all the facts. Take time after the meeting – jumping straight to the conclusion of dismissal may indicate a predetermined outcome and therefore you may not be seen to be procedural fair. FW may deem the dismissal to be a fair reason but that the process was harsh – there would therefore likely be some form of payment to the employee for this.

If you have decided to go to dismissal, we suggest a final “show cause’ letter and meeting. This tells the employee that you are considering terminating their employment and gives them the last chance to tell you why you should reconsider. If nothing new, then you would be safe to dismiss.  The dismissal should be issued in writing. After this, take care of issues relating to settlements of entitlements and other relating issues.

Post meeting

An employer should co-ordinate the leaving process of the dismissed employee. Ensure to treat the dismissed employee with respect throughout the ordeal. The employee should be allowed unrestricted access to his personal items and also goodbyes from all other employees. If the employer wants to pay in lieu of notice the employee can leave that day.  This is often the best solution as rightly so the employee will be upset, and the business needs to move on and go into damage control to clear up what’s left behind.

Employers should treat employees with social, physical and legal respect during the dismissal process. Fall short of this and the law will make you pay.

The above is a very generalised process and does not take into account any mitigating circumstances nor does it take into account any specifics of a situation. We therefore highly recommend if you are looking at terminating an employee you contact us BEFORE you say or do anything.

Here is something to note – if you do get a F3 did you know “The employer can object to an unfair dismissal application on a number of jurisdictional grounds. A jurisdictional objection is not simply that the employer thinks the dismissal was fair. For example, the employer may object because the employer does not think the employee is eligible to make the application.”

How To Resolve An Unfair Dismissal Claim

How To Resolve An Unfair Dismissal Claim

Unfair dismissal does not play well on a company’s finances and environment. It could potentially drain your time, cost you your reputation, and ultimately affect your profit if you end up having to pay out an employee.

The best bet you have as an employer is taking advice at a very early stage. There are few ways to reduce the success rate of a successful unfair dismissal claim by an aggrieved employee. Also, in the case of a successful claim, there are few ways to minimize the risk that you are going to be facing as an employer.

The first of these ways is through observance of all the legal processes and obligation as an employer. The Fair Work Act guides the dismissal of an employee – as a small business you can follow the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code.

A break down of the code for dismissal, other than summary dismissal is:

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.

As an employer, and taking on board the above, when an employee is not performing up to expectation, the first thing to do is have a discussion with them and let them know that the performance or conduct is not acceptable. This can first be done as a counselling session. If the performance or conduct does not improve then you can have a formal disciplinary meeting and dependent on the responses a warning can be issued. The warning should contain details about the current employee practice and what is expected of such an employee.

The warning should succinctly address all underlying behaviors and recommend improvement. You can also proceed to produce a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) which sets out everything clearly and the time-frames as well as acting as a framework for regular communication. When this is done, you must give that employee time to respond positively.

In the case of fraud, theft or bribery, an employer does not need to provide any warning and can (dependent on each individual circumstances) proceed to summary dismissal.

If you are faced with an unfair dismissal claim, you will have a meeting set up with conciliation meeting. Conciliation is a voluntary process to help an employer and employee resolve an unfair dismissal dispute. It is an informal method of resolving the claim that is generally conducted by telephone and can avoid the need for a formal conference or hearing.

If you choose not to have a conciliation, or you have a conciliation that fails to produce a settlement, the case will automatically go to a hearing or conference unless the employee formally discontinues their application. Fresh HR Insights recommends that you do attend a conciliation meeting and we can support you in this. We can act as your representative.

The potential cost of a successfully played unfair dismissal claim on the part of the employee can be crippling on all fronts. So, therefore, it is advisable to come to a reasonable agreement of settlement and where you can stay outside the courtroom. Although you could win in a courtroom since the chance of winning is 50/50, appearing before a courtroom could end up very costly not just in money but also time and the stress on you personally as a business owner. Better to avoid it entirely.

You need to note – You are under no obligation to agree to a settlement if you don’t want to at the conciliation meeting. It is your right to maintain your position and proceed to a hearing. But it is in your interests to try conciliation as they are often successful, with 4 out of 5 matters settling at this stage. A settlement can avoid the time delays and costs of having a formal hearing.

The best way however to avoid all this all together is to understand the legalities involved. Legalities that you can’t understand if you don’t ask for help. Your call…

 How is a conciliation conducted

Conciliation are usually held by telephone. The conciliator will be in their office at the Commission. The employer and employee can be in any location, provided it is quiet and they will not be disturbed. A conciliation can take around 90 minutes to complete.

The conciliator will call the parties and introduce them into a telephone conference call. Any representatives for either side will also be called if they are not in the room with the employee or employer. This can mean there are as many as 5 different people on the conference call.

The style of each conciliator may vary but, in general, a conciliation will include the following steps:

  • the conciliator explains their role and the manner in which the conciliation is to be run
  • each side briefly outlines their story including what happened, any relevant facts and what they want
  • the conciliator may allow or ask questions
  • the circumstances, and any issues arising, are discussed – the conciliator may talk separately to the parties. While this is happening the party not in the private discussion will be disconnected and called back later. In these private discussions each side is given the opportunity to speak to the conciliator about their situation. The conciliator will discuss with them proposals that might lead to a resolution. The conciliation can continue in private discussions for some time, as the conciliator relays proposals and counter-proposals from one side to the other. This process may help the parties reach an agreed settlement.
  • the conciliator helps the parties to reach agreement by identifying common ground, suggesting possible options and sometimes by making recommendations and helping the parties draft an agreement in writing.

After the private discussions all the parties come back together on a joint conference call. If an agreed settlement has been reached the conciliator will confirm the details with the parties. But if no agreement has been reached the conciliator will explain the next steps in the process, which is going to a formal conference or hearing.

How to protect yourself from unfair dismissal claims

How to protect yourself from unfair dismissal claims

Deciding on letting go of an employer is never an easy task. This is a fact that many business owners have come to terms with. Regrettably, some had to learn the hard way. There is nothing bad in letting go or dismissing an employee. What would be considered wrong is dismissing the employee in a not so legal way I mean, if an employee is always absent, does not do his work well and is causing you to lose productivity, then he should walk the plank.

But hold your horses, you cannot dismiss employees just as you feel unless you want to be plagued with the problems and costs that come with settling unfair dismissal claims.

To prepare yourself and your business from unfair dismissal claims, observe the following procedures before dismissal:

  1. Clear communication: the importance of communication in a company cannot be overemphasized. Communication is instrumental in preventing feelings of hostility, humiliation, prejudice, and favoritism. Draw out or review policies and management systems that determine the disciplinary procedures. Apart from engaging your employees, it depicts a transparent atmosphere in the organization. The disciplinary procedures should be communicated to the employees and if possible, presented in a handbook.
  2. Employee handbook: This will be one of your weapons when claims arise. The handbook should be designed to include internal policies and legislative framework within your company. It should be comprehensive and at the same time, easy to use. It should be structured to give room for implementing organizational changes. You can easily fall back on this when (or if) a claim does come up.
  3. Key performance indicator (KPI) and staff performance: A way to check an employee’s performance is to set KPIs as this will aid to avoid precarious situations in the future. Your aim should be to create one if you have not and implement it. Employees can use this to calculate their performance and determine if they are falling short. It helps to maintain an optimistic approach to work.
  4. Keep records: In any employee performance related discussion, ensure that there is an independent and impartial witness who can give an unbiased third-party opinion on the subject of the discussion if the need ever arises. Additionally, interactions with employees should be recorded. The documentation can be used to update employee human resource files and correlate it with their warnings, disciplinary actions and performance. Although keeping records help you to comply with the legal ACT, its usefulness comes to play in the face of an unfair dismissal claim by an employee. “If it isn’t written down it didn’t happen”
  5. Investigation: Instead of assuming, get your facts right before dismissing an employee. If needed, it can be conducted by an external investigator. Investigation ensures that your grounds for dismissing an employee is not only legal it will also be fair Just and reasonable.
  6. Give your employee an opportunity to prove you wrong. An explanation does not have to be by words. It could be by actions. Before deciding on dismissing an employee, allow him time to gather his thoughts right and watch for performance improvements. If no feedback is provided after reacting, then you can proceed with the dismissal.

To stand a chance against successful fair work claims, it is crucial to get these procedures right. Even if a dismissal is deemed to be fair it can still be “harsh” or procedurally unfair.  

What is an unfair dismissal?

Unfair dismissal is when an employee is dismissed from their job in a harsh, unjust or unreasonable manner.

The Fair Work Commission may consider an employee has been unfairly dismissed if:

  • the person was dismissed
  • the dismissal was harsh, unjust or unreasonable
  • the dismissal was not a case of genuine redundancy
  • the employee worked for a small business and the dismissal was not done according to the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code.

What is harsh, unjust or unreasonable?

The Fair Work Commission will decide if a dismissal is harsh, unjust or unreasonable, and they consider all of the following circumstances:

  • was there was a valid reason for the dismissal related to the employee’s capacity or conduct
  • was the employee notified of that reason and given an opportunity to respond
  • if the employer didn’t allow the employee to have a support person present at any discussions about the dismissal, was that unreasonable
  • whether the employee had been previously warned that their performance was unsatisfactory
  • If the size of the business, or lack of dedicated human resource management specialists or expertise impacted on the procedures that the employer followed when they dismissed the employee, and
  • any other matters that the Fair Work Commission considers relevant.

Fresh HR Insights are experts in the dismissal process.

If you have any questions about the reason for dismissal or how to go about dismissing an employee for either conduct or capability, then call us on 0452 471 960 or book a FREE 30-minute general consultation HERE

We also have available fact sheets and eBooks that help you in the Dismissal process. We have listed these below – Click on them to find out more.

Workshops

Did you know that Fresh HR Insights also offer a range of Workshops for Small business – find out what we do HERE – If you cannot see what you are after then give us a call on 0452471960 and discuss your needs.

The Impact of Unfair Dismissal on Employees Emotion and Mental Health

The Impact of Unfair Dismissal on Employees Emotion and Mental Health

Just like traps scattered on a farm, unfair dismissal is a complicated and daring area of employment laws. Like a trap, most times, uncareful employers often get spooked. Every employer knows that there are laws which regulated the dismissal of an employee. Failure to follow these laws and you might end up in a conciliation meeting or if this fails to reach agreement you may need to visit the courthouse early. What could be more daunting than visiting the courthouse or employment tribunal would be paying fines embodying compensation to the aggrieved employee.

An obscure fact that every employer needs to come to terms with is that there are consequences for their actions. By that, I mean negative consequences. You cannot just dismiss an employee unfairly and give them a tap on the back, no! there are consequences.

Lets look at what this can mean for the employee – although we get that at times you may just want to be rid of under-performing employees or those displaying unacceptable behavior we wanted to at least point these out.

Emotional consequence. For every unfair dismissal, the employees end up losing their job and their means of sustenance. The process of going through an unfair dismissal may tell on their emotional health. Their stress level might increases, chest pains, insomnia and panic attack may all begin to surface. They might start to experience a series of mood swings and anger that they normally would not have shown, until they become emotionally wrecked. And they will blame you for it. This is why you should (or at least try) to get it right.

Also, unfair dismissal could attract psychological consequences. If you think only people who hit their head in an accident get post-traumatic stress disorder, then you may be surprised. Since the unfair dismissal was a traumatic experience, asking if it could lead to a disorder would be considered “begging the question” Mental health is more than mental illness, it can be the absence of the mental strength to move on. After an unfair dismissal, the aggrieved employee may begin to demonstrate psychological symptoms such as anxiety, irritability, cognitive difficulty, and depression.

The emotional, psychological, and behavioral fallout from unfair dismissal should be a factor worth noting by employer’s or business owner. At least if a dismissal is the only available outcome then follow a fair and just process. Terminating based on unsubstantiated discretion is setting yourself up for a claim.

Fair reasons for dismissal include

  • Capacity – if the employee lacks the ability, or is incapable, of completing the job

  • Performance – if the employee’s performance is below what is required for the job, or if they are not meeting the standards outlined in their employment contract

  • Misconduct – if the employee’s behavior is below workplace standards, or if they take part in serious misconduct

  • Redundancy – if the job which the employee was previously completing is no longer necessary for the business, or technology has made their role unnecessary

 

Some simple steps include – Telling the employee in writing about the allegations against them, give them the opportunity to respond to the allegations and also allow them to have a support person present at any meetings. Workplace operate under a structure of fairness and equal opportunity, it is therefore not only ethically right but right that if you intend to dismiss that the employee has a chance to defend themselves.

 

So what does the above mean for you as an employer

When an employment tribunal is addressing the case of unfair dismissal, they would consider the potential consequences the dismissal will have on the employee and this will ultimately affect their ruling. From experience, it does not always end well for the business owner or employer.

This is why employers should be careful and clear on employee dismissal decisions. What may seem civil and decent to you might mean something different in the face of the law. Pay attention to workplace culture, examine the fact sheets (get your free fact sheet here) and dismissal regulations. Instead of leaving yourself open to legalities and costly compensations, stay sensible and avoid turning a fair dismissal into an unfair one.

Lets look at what the Commission look at with Unfair Dismissal as set out on Fair Work Commissions website – calculating Compensation for Unfair Dismissal

Outcomes for unfair dismissal

There are 3 possible outcomes that the Commission can order if a person has been unfairly dismissed. These are:

  • to order that a person gets their job back (reinstatement)
  • to order the payment of money (compensation), or
  • to make no order.

 

Let’s look at the Compensation in some detail

What does the Commission look at?  The Fair Work Act 2009 sets out a series of issues that the Commission must take into consideration when deciding if compensation should be ordered.

Step 1 – Calculate the Remuneration. The commission looks at how much longer the employee would have been employed if they were not dismissed. This is done to determine how much they would have earned. This becomes the starting point of a compensation order (if any). The length of service if also looked at any the work history and any performance and behavior issues.

Step 2 – Deductions – Consideration is given to any money the employee has earned since the dismissal has occurred – this is normally subtracted from the amount in step 1. While income support payments are not generally included , workers compensation payments generally are.

The viability of the employer is also considered – the employer must present evidence regarding their financial position.

Other relevant matters are also taken into account. This can include possible economic loss or gain of the former employee – including sickness, accident, unemployment, earning capacity etc

Misconduct that contributed to the dismissal is taken into account. This can include misconduct after dismissal. Misconduct may involve – a breach of the workplace health and safety act, negligent culpability, threats of violence, or swearing at management.

Step 3 – Efforts to reduce loss – Has the former employee taken deliberate, positive steps to lessen the effect of the dismissal has had on them such as finding a new job.

What is reasonable depends on the circumstances of the case.

A person is not required to take unreasonable steps to reduce their loss such as:

  • spending money, or
  • selling their possessions (such as sporting goods, cars, boats, etc).

Offers or re-employment – A person who has made an application for unfair dismissal cannot claim that their dismissal has caused them a loss if they have refused to start a new job with the same employer.

Step 4 – Compensation CapThe compensation cap is the lower amount between:

  • half of the employee’s annual wage, and
  • $72,700 (as at 1 July 2018).

Note: The compensation cap is updated each year from 1 July. The compensation cap for dismissals taking effect between 1 July 2017 and 30 June 2018 was $71,000.

Calculating the total amount of compensation

The total amount of compensation that the Commission can order is the lower amount between:

  • the amount calculated in Step 1, removing any deductions from Steps 2 & 3, and
  • the compensation cap calculated above.

Step

Details

What do I need to do?

Step 1

Calculate remuneration

The Commission will calculate how much money the employee would have earned if they had not been dismissed.

Employee – Provide proof of what you were earning.

Employer – Providing copies of the times and wages record and any formal warnings or other relevant documents.

Step 2

Deductions

Wages or income

The Commission will consider any money which the employee has earnt since the dismissal occurred.

Viability of employer

The Commission will look at what effect an order for compensation may have on the viability of the employer.

Contingencies

The Commission will also look at ‘any other matters that it considers relevant’.

Misconduct

If the Commission finds that an employee’s misconduct contributed to their dismissal, the Commission must reduce the amount of compensation by an appropriate amount.

Employee – Provide proof of what you have earnt since you were dismissed.

Employer – Provide proof of the financial situation of the company.

Step 3

Efforts to reduce loss

The Commission will consider what steps a person has taken to reduce their loss.

Employee – Provide proof of what of what steps you have taken to reduce the impact of the dismissal.

Step 4

Compensation cap

The Commission will compare the amount of compensation calculated to the compensation cap.

The smallest amount is what can be ordered.

 

Fresh HR Insights are experts in the dismissal process. If you have any questions about the reason for dismissal or how to go about dismissing an employee for either conduct or capability, then call us on 0452 471 960 or book a FREE 30-minute general consultation HERE

 

How Does Unfair Dismissal Play on Company Finances?

How Does Unfair Dismissal Play on Company Finances?

In assessing an unfair dismissal claim, we would like to grasp how the alleged unfair dismissal of an employee, the process that occurs during the unfair dismissal application, the eventual conclusion of the process, and how it affects the financial capability of a company. It is common knowledge that the issue of unfair dismissal cannot occur between an employee and another employee. It definitely has to be between an aggrieved employee and an organization.

Whether an employee is alleging to have been dismissed without reasons, on false accusations or in a wrong manner. Either way, there are financial implications for the company involved.

For example, after an individual lodge an unfair dismissal application with the Fair Work Commission in Australia and the case is accepted, a copy of the application is sent to the company being accused of unfair dismissal. In which, such company has to provide a response, stating why the individual was dismissed or stating a jurisdictional objection, explaining why the case is not under the commission’s jurisdiction. Usually, the company would hire an advocate to make certain the claim of unfair dismissal or to ascertain that truly they have the legal backing to dismiss the employee.

This although would not be the first financial cost incurred by the company in relations to this dismissal. According to the Fair Work Act, usually, the employee must lodge a complaint within 21 days of dismissal. Therefore, it is possible that the company replaces such individual within those 21 days. The burden of hiring a new employee falls on the company. To hire a new employee might translate to increased payroll or increase in the cost of hiring.

After the individual now lodges an unfair dismissal application, the company needs to hire an advocate to plead their issue. This means that the company needs to pay a Human Resource/ Employment Relations Consultant of the lawyer for his/her services.

Experts Human Resource/ Employment Relations Consultant or lawyer can charge as much as $400+ per hour, depending on the experience and expertise. With some of these unfair dismissal cases that cannot reach an agreement at conciliation and end up dragging on for weeks and months, a company could pay well over $6,000 to lawyers depending on the hours worked and the complexities of the matter.

Not forgetting that if eventually the company is found guilty of unfair dismissal, they would have to pay a compensation fee or reinstate such employee. A company can be made to pay as much as half of the annual income of the dismissed employee if found guilty, depending on the compensation cap of the individual. Even if no compensation is required and both parties come to an agreement, whatever is agreed upon, the company has to pay.

With all these, it can be perceived that any company’s finances would be significantly affected in the case of unfair dismissal. Whether the company is found guilty or not, lawyers need to be paid whether they win the case or not. And when the individual cannot be reinstated, most times a hefty compensation is paid by the company. Organizations should always be careful when dismissing an employee and should do it according to the law to prevent a potential lawsuit and unnecessary expenses that tells on their financial books.

As the financial implications of most unfair dismissal claims for any company’s finances, it always results in deficits and not surplus.

 

 

Conciliation

If you choose to participate in conciliation, a Commission Conciliator will hold discussions between the employee and the employer to reach an agreed settlement. Most applications for unfair dismissal remedy settle at conciliation.

The conciliations are private, and the settlements may include:

  • reinstatement (getting the job back)
  • continuity (an order that it should be as though the dismissal did not take place)
  • monetary settlement (eg lost pay or compensation)
  • a statement of service (stating how long the employee worked for the employer and what they did)
  • payment of owed entitlements
  • an apology
  • a non-disparagement agreement (where neither party can bad-mouth the other).

Some facts: More than 90% of unfair dismissal claims in 2017 were resolved before they reached a hearing involving a Fair Work Commissioner, but experts say disputes can still cost businesses significant time and money even if they never make it to the formal hearing stage.

The Fair Work Commission’s annual report in 2016-17 revealed 14,587 claims were made for unfair dismissal against Australian businesses in the 12 months leading up to June 30. On average, this is 280 claims a week.

Table 2: Unfair dismissal—conciliation outcomes, monetary payment

 

 

No. of matters

 

Percentage of settlements involving monetary payment

Range ($)

2017–18

2016–17

2015–16

2014–15

2017–18

2016–17

2015–16

2014–15

$0–$999

510

553

539

526

8

7.7

7.9

7.6

$1,000–$1,999

935

1,002

922

1,038

14

14

14

15

$2,000–$3,999

1,683

1,893

1,866

1,806

26

26

27

26

$4,000–$5,999

1,206

1,344

1,288

1,338

18

19

19

19

$6,000–$7,999

760

790

717

739

12

11

10

11

$8,000–$9,999

418

474

447

438

6

7

7

6

$10,000–$14,999

606

643

608

565

9

9

9

8

$15,000–$19,999

219

251

236

227

3

3

3

3

$20,000–$29,999

168

163

153

163

3

2

2

2

$30,000–$39,999

48

49

57

48

1

1

1

1

$40,000–maximum amount*

39

32

26

29

1

<1

<1

<1

Total

6,592

7,194

6,859

6,917

100

100

100

100

*A maximum of the monetary value of six months’ salary by way of compensation is payable under the Fair Work Act. Note, however, that the monetary amount may include payment for other issues, such as unpaid entitlements.

 

If you want to find out more about the Disciplinary process, we have developed an eBook that will guide you through the process step by step and provide tips and templates. For the month of March 2019 this eBook is on sale. Having the knowledge in the “how to” can be enough, if followed, to avoid or mitigate Unfair Dismissal Claims or at least defend them. 

Counting the Cost of Unfair Dismissal

Counting the Cost of Unfair Dismissal

When we think of the issue of unfair dismissal, there will always be disputes about who actually bears the ultimate cost, the employer or the employee. While some would say it is the employee, other schools of thought seem to think it is the employer. But who does bear the cost? A sneak peek at what unfair dismissal is.

According to labor law, an unfair dismissal is an act of employment termination, made without good reason or contrary to the specific legislation. Put in another way, when there is a good reason for dismissing an employee, but the dismissal happens through the wrong procedure.

Now when an aggrieved employee wants to raise a claim of unfair dismissal, they have to lodge an unfair dismissal application to the commission responsible for handling such matters in the country.

For example, the Fair Work Commission is responsible for such in Australia. When this procedure is completed, the commission urgently sends a due copy of the application to the employer who then reciprocates and send a response to the commission and the ex-employee. More often than not, the commission tries to settle the matter through agreements, but where this is not possible; it progresses to a legal hearing.

To examine which party bears the ultimate cost of unfair dismissal, it is important we examine it from different perspectives:

Financially, in most cases, for an aggrieved ex-employee to lodge an unfair dismissal application against a former employer, they will have to pay a particular fee, before they can start the process. This is currently $71.90This fee can be waived in cases of serious financial hardship.

Thereafter, the cost reduces considerably on the side of the employee and in some cases, the fee may even be refunded if the application is not accepted. For the employer, especially employers or large companies who are being accused of unfair dismissal, they will bear the cost of hiring a Human Resource/ Employment Relations Consultant or a lawyer to ascertain if truly there’s legal backing for unfair dismissal.

Also, in a case where the employee was truly unfairly dismissed, the compensation paid by the employer is usually hefty, when compared to the compensation paid by the ex-employee, if any at all when the claim is unsubstantiated. While the Fair Work Act in Australia allows costs payment if either of the party acted unworthily or without genuine cause. It should also be noticed that the same act states that all parties bear their own cost.

Note; Compensation is capped at 26 weeks’ pay and the total amount of compensation able to be awarded is half of the high-income threshold amount that applies immediately before the dismissal. This is currently $71,000 as the high-income threshold until 30 June 2018 is $142,000

Additionally, either parties can be detrimentally affected by an unfair dismissal application. Look at it this way, it can affect the employee’s ability to get another reasonable job or affect the company’s productive. If a person starts an unfair dismissal application against their former employer and after the whole proceedings, they are found to have acted inappropriately or without cause, they might find it considerably difficult to get another good job as acts like this are closely monitored by other employers.

For an employer found guilty of unfair dismissal, not only would they lose customers trust, but there will also be internal employee uproar. The public sentiment would be in support of the unfairly dismissed employee, and the image of the company will be damaged. Before long, stakeholders begin to express their dissent and the company has to deal with it.

Before embarking on dismissing an employee unfairly, it is noteworthy employers come to grasp the cost that they would be paying. Whether the dismissal was intentional or not, as far as it is unfair, employers end up bearing the greater cost. No matter how you look at it, it ultimately affects the profit gearing and perceived image.

The team at Fresh HR Insights fully understand and appreciate the costs involved with terminating an employee either because of their conduct or their capability. Which ever it is we strongly advise to tread carefully and follow a process. If you need to terminate give us a call on 0452 471 960 or alternatively book a time to chat through our booking system.

Some facts: More than 90% of unfair dismissal claims in 2017 were resolved before they reached a hearing involving a Fair Work Commissioner, but experts say disputes can still cost businesses significant time and money even if they never make it to the formal hearing stage.

The Fair Work Commission’s annual report in 2016-17 revealed 14,587 claims were made for unfair dismissal against Australian businesses in the 12 months leading up to June 30. On average, this is 280 claims a week.

If you want to find out more about the Disciplinary process, we have developed an eBook that will guide you through the process step by step and provide tips and templates. For the month of March 2019 this eBook is on sale. 

In House Training

Managing Separation and Termination training – Duration 3-hours for up to 10 people

Learning Outcomes:

  • Understanding Legislation
  • Knowledge of what Fair Work look for in an unfair dismissal claim
  • Procedural Fairness awareness
  • Skills and Knowledge for Disciplinary Action
  • The role of Managers and Supervisors
5 days’ unpaid domestic violence leave approved in all awards

5 days’ unpaid domestic violence leave approved in all awards

The push for domestic violence leave in modern awards has been successful with the Fair Work Commission deciding on five days’ of unpaid leave.

All employees – including casuals – will be entitled to unpaid family and domestic violence leave, the Fair Work Commission has decided.

The Commission confirmed it views family and domestic violence as “a community issue and requires a community response”. It will change all 122 modern awards to insert a model clause entitling employees (including casuals) to five (5) days of unpaid family and domestic violence leave.

Fresh HR Insights will have a domestic violence policy available for soon as the wording of the clause is finally decided.

What is family or domestic violence leave?

Family or domestic violence leave will be available in the event that the employee needs leave to take actions to deal with the impact of the family and domestic violence and it is impractical for them to do it outside their ordinary hours of work.

This could include by way of example, making arrangements for their safety or the safety of a family member (including relocation), attending urgent court hearings, or accessing police services.

How does the leave accrue?

Five days of unpaid leave will be available at the commencement of each 12 month period rather than accruing progressively during a year of service.

The leave will not accumulate from year to year.

Most significantly, the full five days of unpaid leave will be available to part-time and casual employees. This is different to some other forms of leave (e.g. annual leave) which are pro-rated for part-time employees or not provided at all to casual employees.

What is a model clause?

A model clause means the terms of the clause will be identical in all 122 modern awards and will be finalised in the coming weeks.

What will this mean for your business?

The extent to which employees will access the new entitlement to unpaid leave is unknown, as is its impact on businesses.

The Commission therefore proposes to revisit the issue in 2021, after the model term has been in operation for three years.

At that time the Commission will consider:

  • whether any changes are needed to the unpaid leave model clause;
  • whether to allow access to personal/carer’s leave (for the purposes of family or domestic violence leave); and
  • whether the Commission should re-visit the possibility of paid family and domestic violence leave in modern awards.

When will Fresh HR Insights Domestic Violence Policy be ready?

The Commission did not release the drafting of the new domestic violence leave clause, which means there are several issues which are still unclear, including:

  • the technical definition of ‘domestic violence’
  • the evidence requirements for taking the leave
  • whether an employee can use personal/carer’s leave for domestic violence leave purposes.

Fresh HR Insights new policy will be released as soon as the terms of the domestic violence leave clause are finalised in the modern awards. The Commission has indicated it will be some weeks before we see the draft final clause. Watch this space!

Written by Australian Business Lawyers & Advisors on 27th Mar 2018
Managing Employees – THE HR ESSENTIALS ALL EMPLOYERS NEED TO KNOW

Managing Employees – THE HR ESSENTIALS ALL EMPLOYERS NEED TO KNOW

HR essentials, what employers need to know.

It’s Kath here from Compass Business Support. Today I’m joined by Paulette McCormack from Fresh HR Insights. This is the very first of a series of videos that we’re going to be doing for you all about HR essentials, what employers need to know.

Anyone who’s employing a team or thinking about employing a team in the future, this series is necessarily for you to know.

It is a great the way we’ve structured it, too. So, we’re going from when you’re bringing people on board, or thinking about it, right through to the separation process and everything in between. So you mustn’t miss any of these 10 step processes. These are all booked in as per the below so make sure you add to your diary. We will be setting up events to so you can get ready to see the video’s go up and watch out for the lives. 

  • Policies and Procedures – Do I need them and if so which ones (24th April)
  • Recruitment and Selection – The raw deal when finding your star (22nd May)
  • Probation Periods – Letting go can be easier than holding on (26th June)
  • Induction – Setting New Employees up for long term success (24th July)
  • Absence Management – When employees are missing in action (28th August)
  • Disciplinary Process – When things dont go right (25th September)
  • Effective Communication – Talk to me I am listening (23rd October)
  • Ending Employment – Its time to say goodbye the right way (20th November)
  • Small Business HR Rescue – Summing it al up for success (10th December)

Todays topic , this is all about before you take on an employee. We’ve got some questions to ask today, Now, the first thing, this is all about before you take an employee onboard.

Question ONE: How do you know when you’re ready to start taking on an employee? When you’re ready to take on a new team member?

Answer: The main thing is you’ve got to make sure you’re financially ready to bring on a person onboard. So what I do suggest to the small business owners is to actually think about how much they’re going to pay them. Obviously make sure it’s within the award as well, that’s always important. Then to put that money aside for a period of three months.

If you put it into a high interest savings account and save it all up. If you can afford to pay that every single week for three months then I’ll say you’ll be financially able to employ someone. There’s nothing worse than bringing someone onboard and finding out that you cannot pay them.

You don’t want to do that. You know, if you get to the three months and find that maybe it’s not the right thing, because you’ve had to think about it as well, then you’ve got a little to lose

Because once you bring someone onboard, and it’s what we’ll go into as well through the series and it’s certainly one of the freebies that you’ll be getting today. Shhh. It’s a freebie. It’s in there as well, depending what kind of employee you’re going to bring onboard. If it’s occasional then you’ve got a bit of more flexibility. But if you’re a permanent patch on a permanent full time, you’ve got a notice period to pay as well.

So you want to make sure that you can afford that. That you’ve actually got the funds saved up. You don’t want to back yourself into a corner, that’s for sure.

Question TWO:  Second question is where do you start?

When you’re looking at what kind of person to bring in where do you start.  Start looking at what you’re doing as a job, and start mapping it out. Then start mapping out someone else do? When you bring a person onboard as a small business owner it’s tempting to carry on wanting to manage the whole process and not letting go. So, it’s starting to map out the letting go process because there’s no point bringing an employee onboard and becoming that helicopter.

Nobody likes a micromanager. And I think most small business owners can be … They’re fairly guilty of that. Wanting to control everything that goes on in the business.

So this is a really great point that making sure that you’ve got a whole list of things that you either don’t want to do, or you don’t like doing, that you can actually delegate to a new employee.

Because you want to be working on your business and no longer in your business. That’s why you’re going to bring on an employee. So, you need to make sure you have the work for them to do. Because you’re soon going to get pretty annoyed if you’re paying a wage and they’re sitting there doing nothing. You’d be lying if you said, “No, I won’t.”

Question THREE: So the third question I’ve got for you today, which type of employee would suit me best?

This comes down to what business you’re running and what your needs are. So, in the three-month period mentioned above you’d be working that out. The role and everything. Now, if your business is fluctuating where some weeks it’s busy and some weeks it’s quiet I would recommend you look at getting a casual. The casual employee doesn’t have set hours. But each day is end to day contract. Then they start again the next time you have them in.

So, one week you might need them three days, the next week you might need them four days. Next week you might only need them one. So you’ve got that flexibility.

Where for the permanent part-time person or a permanent full-time they have consistent hours. You’d have to pay them even if there’s no work. So that’s why a casual is so much better.

Now, there is a causal conversion in the pipeline coming across all the awards and some already have this, so you need to be mindful of that. But that doesn’t actually apply to an irregular casual. So someone whose hours are all over the place. So you don’t need to worry about it too much if you’ve got an irregular casual. Only if you’ve got a systematic, or regular casual where the hours are pretty predictable. And it’s something I can help you with anyway.

Absolutely. And does that vary across different awards as well, that casual ruling?

It does. Yes. Some of the awards already have it in. So, there’ll be in construction industry, that tends to have them in it. So be mindful of that. But when you’re looking at the retail, or the clerical award then it’s certainly not in there at the moment. But it’s something I can help people with.

That’s the great thing about this video series, too. Is that you’ve always got that expert here to help you. So, Paulette’s always on hand to be able to answer questions. An adviser in the right direction.

So, I think that’s all the questions we’ve got for our very first video. I hope this has been really helpful to you guys. And that you are going get great value from this. Not only today but also the rest of the series that we’ve got.

Did you want to talk a little bit about your giveaways today?

GIVEAWAYS

FRESH HR INSIGHTS We have got an amazing giveaway. What I’ve actually done is I’ve done a fact sheet for you. It’s actually turned into be a fact booklet. I’m also a University teacher so I tend to play in the academic space a lot as well. And I can’t help myself but to give a lot of information. Just can’t stop.

So, I’ve actually put a lot in there as well. There’s also a free checklist for you to go in and have a look at what employer-employee relationship is. And what different categories of employees that you can have as well. So, if you’ll follow the link we’re going to put at the bottom here there all downloadable. They’re all free. They’re all available to you no strings attached.

Excellent. That sounds like it’s got lots of great information in there. That’s wonderful.

Fabulous. I’ve actually got a one page business plan in there for you as well, which is free and also comes with an instructional video. And is also a systems health check. So just a general review of all the business systems that you’ve got in your business currently. And what you might need to implement.

ANOTHER SUPER DEAL We have a new start up process, which includes your contract of employments as well. Which are really important to have those in place. But also making sure you capture the key information you need and actually start the employer-employee relationship on the right foot. So, a 25% discount of our package. All you need to do is to send us an email today and put in the code, KBPM2018

START UP PROCESS – KBPM2018

 And we look forward to seeing you on the next video. Take care.

You Can Watch our Other Great Videos HERE

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Honesty: the best Code of Conduct. A dark and sad day for Australian cricket

Honesty: the best Code of Conduct. A dark and sad day for Australian cricket

Honesty: the best Code of Conduct. A dark and sad day for Australian cricket

The Australian cricket team is, as you would expect, one of our national treasures.    As one of those in the test match league along with South Africa, England, India, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Zimbabwe, we have always held our cricketing heads high.  Until now, that is.

When Cameron Bancroft made his attempt to alter the surface of the ball – in what will now be remembered in history as Australia’s shameful test match of last Saturday in South Africa – he did not think of the fallout from his actions.  He very probably was so focused on winning at any cost, he wasn’t thinking straight.

It has transpired, since the weekend’s revelation, that Bancroft was acting with the complicity of the senior members of the cricketing squad. We would not know this had Captain Steve Smith decided to come clean and give explanation to Bancroft’s behaviour and we suppose for that we should be grateful. However our national cricket team and its beleaguered captain, should have eschewed the plan as soon as it had been thought of – or better still – not thought of it at all.  Why? Because this is how they will be judged!

What has been lost is far greater than the one test ban that Bancroft has to undergo and the loss of Captaincy for Steve Smith. Trust, confidence and national honour have been offered up at the pyre of “winning by any means” and burnt to ashes.

Fresh HR Insights suggests that had there been a Code of Conduct, or some form of guideline, outlining the values of our national cricket team and how they must behave especially when facing challenging matches and the fear of losing, it would have been useful.

Such a policy would have shaped how our young men behave in the field, or off it when planning team strategy. “No shame in losing” is one such value and better to face that than show the world you will cheat to win!

Other workplaces have this kind of guidance, and it helps when employees or senior management are faced with difficult moments.  To lose a client or cheat to keep them can give inexperienced staff nightmares – a policy expressly forbidding dishonesty in company practice is worth its long term weight in gold.  Trust and confidence take years to build and seconds to lose.

It is not made easier to understand our team’s behaviour in the light of further news that this is a regular thing in the cricketing world, and over which umpires and other adjudicating personnel have turned a blind eye.  Fresh HR Insights considers that this might be a turning point for cricket.  Any place of work or field of endeavour needs its policies and practices laid out for all to see. When human weakness starts to triumph we will have the guidance, there in front of us, to pull us back onto the honest tracks that we should have stayed on in the first place.

A code of conduct is a must – all staff and personnel, whether in our famous sporting teams or in the local estate agents, should know what is expected of them, especially when under pressure.  There is self-discipline in losing, with honour. Let us not forget that.

Workplace Stress

Workplace Stress

Workplace Stress

Workplace Stress – Hans Selye once said It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it. I couldn’t agree with this more. After all stress affects us all, many of us on a daily basis. Stress is not about to leave our lives anytime soon so the best idea to live with stress, is to learn how to handle it.

Stress in the workplace may be derived from many avenues such as feeling under appreciated or undervalued by your employer or employees, working too many hours, not taking designated breaks or avoiding taking time off. All of these are examples of how the workplace can lead to stress. Then there is stress that comes from an employee’s personal life such as relationship breakdown, financial hardship or social rejection. You probably guessed that stress in someone’s personal life will almost always resonate in their professional life in some way, no matter how hard they try to hide it. Eventually, any stress that is not dealt with accordingly will boil up inside to the point that you may not notice the stress anymore and in fact, it may seem normal to wake up and go to bed feeling stress. Whilst getting rid of whatever it is that is causing you stress isn’t always an option, there are ways in which you can manage it in the short and in the long term to enable you to continue working at your best.

Some tips for fast acting stress relief:

  • Count to 10 and slow your breathing. If counting to 10 isn’t enough, count to 30.

It might sound silly, but just as someone with an anger problem stops for 30 seconds to give their brain time to react sensibly, the same is known to happen with stress. Sometimes all the brain needs to react appropriately is time. If you find yourself at work completing a task or near someone that has put you into a stressful state, close your mouth and take a slow deep breath for 10 seconds. If your stress has reached a critical level, try and excuse yourself to the nearest bathroom to close your eyes for a short time and focus on nothing but your incredibly deep and slow breathing. Each inward breath should be 5-10 seconds long, the same speed for each outward breath. This 2 minutes in the bathroom could be the difference between you saying something or doing something that you may immensely regret so if you feel your blood boiling, take a quick break to cool down.

  • Get yourself a coffee or drink of water.

Whether you’re in a busy office or on a warehouse floor it can be easy to get caught up with being busy. Just remember that whilst not every employee is entitled to overly regular coffee breaks, every employee IS entitled to drink water and have bathroom breaks. If your water bottle is empty but your flat out, look for the next available gap and go to fill your drink bottle up then. Water is what will provide oxygen to your body and without it, all those busy tasks you need to get done are going to get done a lot slower and possibly with mistakes if you don’t allow yourself to drink water throughout the day. Fact: when we are thirsty, our body’s are already in dehydration mode.

Tips for longer lasting stress relief

  • Take your designated breaks

Just like forgetting to drink water it can be easy to forget about taking your tea or lunch breaks or simply think your ‚ ≤too busy’ to take them. If your one of those people who eats lunch at their desk or works through an eight hour day (not allowed) without a break thinking what harm can it do, then you may be in for a shock. Not allowing yourself to take a break will almost always lead to tiredness, forgetfulness and lapses of concentration. Not surprisingly, this is when most workplace accidents occur and probably when most minor and major mistakes are made. We have all skipped a lunch break or a tea break at some point but don’t make it a habit. We all need to rest, relax and regroup and taking just a thirty minute lunch break can be enough time for you to grab a coffee, eat your lunch, make a phone call, go to the bathroom and be back at work fresh as a daisy. Trying to clock an additional thirty minutes of work in exchange for making yourself tired and not noticing how close your hand is getting to the machinery your using is simply not worth it. So go on have a break, and why not have a Kit Kat.

  • Holidays

This word used to excite people. Now it probably just causes anxiety and further stress to mention it to some bosses in fears they will say NO and make you feel like you will lose your job if you ever take a holiday. You work hard, you deserve to take your holidays. Got a strict boss who hates people having time off? Try and plan your holidays around your busiest times and give as much notice as possible. If your planning on taking more than a week off for a scheduled holiday, then consider that two months is not an unreasonable amount of notice in which to ask your boss for the time off. Asking to take a week off next week and you may very well be pushing your luck.

So to recap

  • Allow time to breathe
  • Drink lots (of water)
  • Take your designated breaks
  • Try and take a holiday or at least some time off each year

 

A tip for successful managing

A tip for successful managing

Whatever the weather: A tip for successful managing

Climate scientists are preparing for even greater changing weather patterns and we have already seen many more frequent extreme weather events: cyclones, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, earthquakes, and flooding all over the world.  Here, in Australia, we have seen some unexpected weather events of our own – not least the storm of orange dust which eclipsed parts of the outback of Queensland in the last few days, due to recent exceptionally dry weather. Reports from the area suggest the event hit people by surprise and that is was scary – more like something you would see in films rather than actually happening.  Our thoughts and sympathies are with all those affected by such a distressing event and we hope that they have the help they need at such a time.

Thankfully, frightening weather is something we can prepare for if given sufficient warning so we at Fresh HR Insights want to look at another type of inclemency that can arise – unexpected or extreme events in the workplace!

We often get called for support when a business or company is in the middle of a crisis. We like our clients to think of us in an emergency but we always advise that it is better to be prepared for such eventualities as: unexpected sickness, or death, of employees; an accident that may affect a whole department; a media story that impacts public confidence in your company, its goods or services; the loss of much needed stock on its way to your company rendering your business unable to fulfil its obligations to customers. 

There are so many urgent and unplanned occurrences that can literally turn your month upside down and send you spinning off your strategy and budget targets.

Firstly, we at Fresh HR Insights will always advise that your staff team represents the strongest ally and the most solid support possible when a curveball is dealt to your company. To count on them and for them to rally in your darkest hour means there must be a relationship of trust between staff at all levels and especially between senior and junior levels.

Secondly, we will also advise that this trust cannot be achieved if you are not compliant with the law.  Australia’s Fair Work Act is not just a document, it is a meaningful set of principles and provisions that directly affect the lives of everyone – and most employees in Australia are provided for by the Act.   

If you are not providing fair pay for the job, proper holiday time, sick and compassionate leave, parental leave and long service leave, for instance, then you may have a resentful workforce who in their turn do not care for the company they work for.   Individuals who do not benefit from these provisions in your workplace will not have any particular respect for you and what is worse, will suffer badly if these provisions are withheld from them.  They certainly will not respect you when calamity hits.

Fresh HR Insights can help you make sure you have the policies and practices that place your company on a good footing with the law and with your staff. 

 

We have developed a series of HIGHLY information eBooks that give you COMPREHENSIVE information and the associated templates. We are adding to these every month so there is something for everyone. Check them out with the below links.

Rescuing Small Business Owners

Rescuing Small Business Owners

Rescuing Small Business owners

The ER way – How Fresh HR Insights adds value

Times can be hard for small business owners.  Even when the economic waters are relatively smooth, if you spend your business life running from side to side of the ship, you can find yourself sinking if you don’t have the correct strategy and economic model to keep your ship in the narrow straits of success. In today’s climate, when the only certainty is that there is no certainty, the financial currents are turbulent with an ebb and flow strong enough to sink a tanker.   Let us hope your business is not in need of a lifeboat.  If it is, or if it is experiencing some difficulties which you feel will not go away, then Fresh HR Insights can help.

Here in Queensland our economy was one of the most successful in Australia in the mid-90s and early 2000s.  A downturn, along with everyone else in the world (nearly) after 2009 meant not business failure as such, rather more that there has been sluggish growth. So there is, still, in our view, every incentive to start and to continue running your own business.

The Australian government has facilitated a lot of support for small businesses in Queensland and the Queensland government launch of the Office of Small Business in 2016 has certainly shown that intention to be purposeful.  However, maintaining your small company over time is another matter, and this is where Fresh HR Insights can advise small business owners on whether its employment relations model and business policies and procedures can face the future with a level of security. 

Many small businesses fail, not through lack of vision or enthusiasm, nor through lack of dedication from the owner, but because she or he did not pay enough intention to a number of things necessary at the outset of the business. She or he did not place enough importance on the planning required to sustain the business and its ongoing costs of operation over time, nor additionally on the provision and support of the essential motivated staff team needed to run the business and adjust its plans along the way. 

Fresh HR Insights has found that when there is any particular difficulty, such as a drop in market interest or a sudden change in legislation that impacts the costs of a business, then the weakness of initial strategy may sink a small business, but if these problems are compounded by a lack of robust HR operations it will undoubtedly go down.

Poor employer-employee relations can cost dearly, and poor quality staff without the right skills or knowledge in their roles can also cut a company’s survival chances down vastly.  Lack of trust internal to the business will mean the essence of team is lost.  Fresh HR Insights can help in the leadership and management dynamic, and the employer-employee relationship. We can help you build a business idea into a reasonable going concern where everyone on board your ship will have an stake and an interest in making sure your company keeps going.

Contact Fresh HR Insights for advice if you are small business owner, we will be delighted to help.

Want to go it alone then we have the solution for you. 

Small Business HR Rescue Kit

Hiring a Human Resources or Industrial relations Consultant can sometimes be the thing that separates a startup from a more stable business. HR/ IR professionals help take over several aspects of the business that can be crucial to maintaining company culture – hiring processes, legal compliance, payroll and employee relations. BUT not all business owners will feel the need to hire a human resources professional and that is why we have created the Small Business HR Rescue Kit.

This is a comprehensive eBook with policies and templates that you can use in your business. Grab your copy TODAY

 

Grab Your HR Rescue Kit NOW

 

Rescuing Small Business with all you need to know

What to give your employees this Christmas

What to give your employees this Christmas

What to give your employees this Christmas – the significance of giving when it comes to employee engagement

The Employer/ employee relationship is a strange bond of mutual and conflicting interests simultaneously. To strike the right balance is critical for any employer since an employee is a vital part of any business’s success story. A clear approach of an employer towards employee rewards is logical and sensible. Besides the usual system of promotions and bonuses, a well-placed gift at an appropriate time works wonders in creating a better performing employee.

And there is no better occasion than Christmas for an employer gift offering. Though cash speaks louder than words, giving gifts rather than cash is a way to foster a personal relationship. What you decide to give your employees this Christmas is a matter of preference and budget.

Here are a few nice ideas (within reasonable budget) to help you decide:

  • Books

Traditionally books aren’t considered the most valued gift in the world and you won’t score very high with your “not so literary” employees but the “book worms” would love you for that. Giving a meaningful book to a well directed employee (on a subject of liking) is a very appropriate idea. If the employee prefers Audible (http://www.audible.com.au) perhaps a gift voucher instead

  • Venue Vouchers and Certificates

Giving out passes to bowling alleys or movies can keep your employee’s kids occupied and allow them time to spend with their partners. You can pair these up with some interesting additional items, like a tin of kettle corn popcorn or to go with your gift vouchers. Have a look at Gift Card Store – (https://www.giftcardstore.com.au/)

  • Edible Arrangements

 A beautiful fruit basket of fresh pineapple, strawberries, and honeydew (besides other exotic fruits) can make a wonderful and healthy gift for your employees. Throw in a liquid chocolate bottle for some interesting fruit dips. (https://www.edibleblooms.com.au/category/christmas-gifts/

  • Bath & Body Accessories Sets

One of the most popular gifts is the body and bath accessories that will make their mark with overwhelming sweet scent and presentation. They may not be just shower gels and fragrances; a set of hand lotions and creams can be cool to brave the chilly elements on Christmas eve. A couple of hand sanitizers can also add up as a handy desk accessory on your employee desk.

  • A bottle of Wine

Perhaps most customary of all is a golden wrapped bottle of fine wine to celebrate the occasion. It won’t ever lose its charm. So, you can confidently pack it up as your Christmas employee gift.

  • Host a dinner at your home (for smaller employers)

When it comes to delivering a personal touch, nothing would beat a dinner at your home for your team. It doesn’t need to be anything overwhelmingly fancy or expensive. Bringing the team together in itself for an evening of casual interaction and conversation can be a great way of bonding your team. Make some candy packages to give away at the end as a sweet gesture.

  •     A fun filled field trip.

This is something memorable and you can add it to your company webpage and profile as well. Your employees would appreciate a free lunch and all paid recreation as a Christmas gift. It will pay off in the short and long term alike.

  • A desktop candy jar

Sweet leaves longer impressions on human brain. Exploit the potential of sweet with a desktop candy jar. An employee will always remember “the last Christmas” every time he or she will pick a candy. 

  • Cash- nothing beats it on a special day

Cash is known to be the best gift ever. It has more options for you employee than you can imagine and it takes off the trouble of choosing the right gift from your head as well. You can play smart by scheduling your annual bonus around Christmas (with some decent add up as a Christmas give away).