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What is psychological safety and how do you build it in your workplace?

people having a conversation

A guest blog bought to you by Kylie McLerie: Collective Culture Consultancy

The term psychological safety has gained traction over the last few years as we have traversed the changing landscape of the modern workplace. But really, this is the seed where all flourishing workplace cultures need to grow from. Psych safety is the single most important factors in high performance teams; a fact that is being recognised by more and more companies across the globe. 

If you are sitting there thinking, “Well what actually is this?” then let me explain: The term psychological safety was coined by Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson. She defines it as “a shared belief that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking.” Establishing a climate of psychological safety allows space for people to speak up and share their ideas. This means environments where staff are supported to contribute to the strategic and operational workings of the business, where collaboration is fostered, and strengths and expertise utilised and where people feel valued and part of the big picture. 

Timothy R Clark describes four stages of psychological safety that teams can move through. 

The first stage is inclusion safety. We all want to feel included. We long to belong. We humans need to be accepted in a team before we can be heard, so essentially the first stage is simply being comfortable being present. This stage means all members but be included and welcomed – without discrimination regarding gender, age, social background, sexual orientation, neurodiversity or anything else.

The second stage is learner safety – and this means being able to ask questions, give and receive feedback, experiment, and make mistakes. Team members at this stage will provide feedback to each other, and ask for feedback themselves

The third stage is contributor safety. This means being able to participate as a member of the team, contribute ideas and suggestions, and raise threats and risks using members’ individual talents and abilities to contribute to the team without fear. At this stage, retrospectives and “post-mortems” become very powerful practices.

The fourth stage is challenger safety. This means being able to challenge the way the team works, come up with new ways of working, behaviours, and challenge the ideas of others – even the ideas of senior members. This is the most powerful “stage” of psychological safety, as it not only allows new ideas to surface and learning from mistakes to occur, but it can prevent potentially bad ideas from getting to the real world.

Timothy Clark also believes a leader’s roll is to increase intellectual friction and decrease social friction. Diversity in your workforce increases intellectual friction, this is great for that floury of ideas and thoughts required to solve problems, innovate and get the best outcomes.  Inclusion of each team member is key to this. Diversity is a fact (diff. ages, education, cultural backgrounds), inclusion is a choice, and we draw that out through the building of psychological safety. If your people feel safe and there’s no fear of ridicule or retribution, then the intellectual diversity comes to the surface.

women standing beside corkboard

When we don’t have psychological safety our self-sensory instincts kick in.  There is literally a neurological response, our amygdala kicks in with our fight or flight response sending blood away from our thinking part of the brain. This means that we shut down, go into self-preservation mode, our wellbeing suffers, we are less resilient and more stressed.

In contrast when your workplace feels challenging but not threatening, your brain’s oxytocin levels rise, eliciting trust and trust-making behavior. This is a huge factor in team success as it encourages speaking up because: 

  • Concern is alleviated about others’ reactions
  • Energy isn’t wasted on fear-based behaviours, so clarity of thought is improved
  • Productive conflict is supported
  • Mistakes are readily discussed enabling failures to be mitigated
  • More novel ideas are shared promoting innovation
  • Instead of focusing on self-protection people are focused on achieving motivating goals
  •  A climate is created that increases accountability.

High psychological safety is not necessarily about being polite and nice. Rather its recognising that true respect is about saying what you think, and giving each other permission to make mistakes, get it wrong and being able to self-correct.  And having psychological safety isn’t about eliminating all risk, but by taking away interpersonal risk you can better mitigate business risk.  It also doesn’t mean you need to lower your performance standards.

You can still have high standards, high accountability and high psychological safety in your team. 

people sitting on chair

So where do you start? 

  • Well, is all starts from a feeling of connection and belonging. It all starts with trust. Value time for employees to build working relationships. 
  • Lead with a curious mindset. Remind leaders that no one comes to work wanting to do a bad job.
  • Invite participation and value strengths. Leaders don’t and shouldn’t know it all. Use the strengths of the collective to build high performing teams. 
  • Be clear on the expectations for the work. Individuals need to know exactly what kind of input is expected from them as part of the team and as an employee of the company. 
  • Model fallibility and vulnerability from the top. No one wants a robotic boss. Authentic leadership that recognises their own strengths and downfalls and keeps it real sets the tone for the company culture. 
  • Make it clear that building psych safety is everyone’s business. Individual and team training around how to build psych safety is imperative for sustainability. 

At the end of the day, employee performance will improve as a result of creating a psychologically safe workplace. And employees who feel safe and engaged at work are less likely to quit. Really how can you afford not to consider really auditing the levels of psych safety at your workplace. 

For more information, or to speak about how we can support you to build awareness at your workplace please get in touch at kylie@collectivecultureconsultancy.com.au

About kylie

Collective Culture Consultancy is an educational and business consultancy firm that specialises in supporting the growth and maintenance of a productive culture. Building a collective responsibility for success breeds vision, well being and drive. Your culture is what drives your success. Ensuring that ‘same page’ ethos is our core business.

Research indicates that staff that feel connected to their workplace, valued by their colleagues and have opportunities to grow their skills and careers will be more committed to achieving organisational goals. Attracting the right staff is only the beginning, retaining them is where the investment should be.

Kylie McLerie, Director, has carved a long and diverse career in educational leadership through her roles as School Principal, Deputy Principal and Curriculum Manager, Teacher and Consultant. She is recognised throughout Western Australia for her dynamic leadership skills, ability to grow others and skills in creating workplaces that people want to belong to.


Who we are

It’s time for HR to move beyond policies, practices and processes, HR’s value proposition to business is to ensure HR professionals and their practices’ produce positive outcomes for key stakeholders, employees, line managers, customers and investors.

Like what you see? Click around and discover how partnering with us can give your business a competitive advantage by aligning strategy with people & culture, or, give us a like on Facebook for regular updates on industry trends, blog posts & photo’s of us having coffee at our regular haunts and / or our dogs & cats disrupting our work day.

THE PEOPLE & CULTURE OFFICE IS A KALGOORLIE BASED HUMAN RESOURCES (HR) CONSULTING COMPANY THAT SPECIALISES IN DEVELOPING PARTNERSHIPS WITH SMALL AND MEDIUM ENTERPRISES. WE CAN PARTNER WITH YOU TO GAIN A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE THROUGH EMPLOYEE INITIATIVES. 

CONTACT US TO ARRANGE AN APPOINTMENT TO DISCUSS WHAT SOLUTIONS WE CAN PUT IN PLACE TO DRIVE ACHIEVEMENT OF YOUR STRATEGIC AND OPERATIONAL GOALS.

AT THE PEOPLE & CULTURE OFFICE YOU ONLY PAY FOR THE WORK WE UNDERTAKE FOR YOU;  NO ANNUAL OR MONTHLY FEES; NO CONTRACTS; JUST QUALITY, LOCAL, SERVICE.

Are you ready for the new era of work – Employee value proposition

Employee Value Proposition - The People & Culture Office Kalgoorlie

This post is the fourth post in a series running throughout 2022 taking a deep dive into the new era work. This post is all about your employee value proposition and the employee experience. You can catch up on previous The People & Culture Office posts here here and here.

Hands up who is struggling to recruit quality talent in the current climate 🙋🏼

Attracting interest from job seekers requires you to shift your thinking from what you want from candidates (i.e. requirements of the role) to what you have to offer prospective candidates

Thats Employee Value Proposition (EVP) in a nutshell – what you can offer, but more than that, what you can offer thats over and above what your competitors have to offer.

Or as I like to refer to it, what’s your secret sauce

Let me explain –

If I say Big Mac where does your mind go? The Big Mac Special Sauce right? 🍔

Macca’s have built entire marketing campaigns around the special sauce, it’s what the Big Mac is known for.

As an employer what’s your special sauce? What are you known for? What do your current and prospective employees associate to your employer brand?

Think about Google and how they entice tech guru’s to join their ranks. They put a lot of effort into defining Google as a place that values employee wellbeing by having onsite wellness centres and rest pods, they encourage employees to take time away from work to volunteer in the community, they have games, breakout spaces, hybrid work models. The underlying theme is “we want to make you and your individual values, interests and wellbeing at the forefront of your employee experience with us.”

Imagine now that you’re just one of many in your industry operating a business in your geographical location

  • You offer the same rosters as everyone else
  • You offer the same earning potential
  • The same stock standard benefits

When someone comes to work for you they really could be working for any one of your competitors….

….. unless you can offer an employee experience that sets you apart

This is your special sauce

Your Employee Value Proposition is what encourages people to come and work for you. It should be broadcast throughout your recruitment advertising and campaigns.

Your EVP consists of appealing financial and non-financial benefits. For example in caring industries the intrinsic rewards that come from making a difference to someones life is a big driver. Having quality leadership & treating your employees as individuals is another (read how being good at your job doesn’t necessarily make you a good leader here), competitive remuneration that aligns to your values and how you see yourself as an employer.

The key is to articulate your brand and the values that drive your organisation as a consistent message across recruitment, compensation & benefits, policies & procedures, customer service and stakeholder engagement – every time you communicate with employees and the community you are building your brand and your EVP.

We can do this for you, experience a bit of our magic. 🪄


We will have a lot to unpack in the coming months, so if you don’t already, follow us on our socials here and here, navigate back to our blog roll and sign up for newsletters, or, follow me on Linkedin for regular education posts just like this.

Check back in with us at the end of April for a special guest post on psychological safety by Kylie McLerie of Collective Culture Consultancy.


Who we are

It’s time for HR to move beyond policies, practices and processes, HR’s value proposition to business is to ensure HR professionals and their practices’ produce positive outcomes for key stakeholders, employees, line managers, customers and investors.

Like what you see? Click around and discover how partnering with us can give your business a competitive advantage by aligning strategy with people & culture, or, give us a like on Facebook for regular updates on industry trends, blog posts & photo’s of us having coffee at our regular haunts and / or our dogs & cats disrupting our work day.

THE PEOPLE & CULTURE OFFICE IS A KALGOORLIE BASED HUMAN RESOURCES (HR) CONSULTING COMPANY THAT SPECIALISES IN DEVELOPING PARTNERSHIPS WITH SMALL AND MEDIUM ENTERPRISES. WE CAN PARTNER WITH YOU TO GAIN A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE THROUGH EMPLOYEE INITIATIVES. 

CONTACT US TO ARRANGE AN APPOINTMENT TO DISCUSS WHAT SOLUTIONS WE CAN PUT IN PLACE TO DRIVE ACHIEVEMENT OF YOUR STRATEGIC AND OPERATIONAL GOALS.

AT THE PEOPLE & CULTURE OFFICE YOU ONLY PAY FOR THE WORK WE UNDERTAKE FOR YOU;  NO ANNUAL OR MONTHLY FEES; NO CONTRACTS; JUST QUALITY, LOCAL, SERVICE.

Are you ready for the new era of work? – compensation & benefits

This post is the third post in a series running throughout 2022 taking a deep dive into the new era work. This post is all about compensation & benefits and how it links to employee satisfaction and productivity. You can catch up on the previous posts here and here.

Let’s dispel the biggest myth about compensation & benefits straight off the bat – providing highly sought after benefits does not have to be about high wages and expensive benefits such as private medical cover.

When it comes to looking at compensation & benefits you want to drive attraction & retention, and to ensure there is alignment with the vision your organisation has of itself as an employer.⁠

New generations armed with a social conscience, a need for connectivity and a demand for wellbeing, are well entrenched in the job market.  Old school ethos  are breaking down in favour of more collaborative models that prioritise recognition and team work. Outside the workplace, the cost of living is rising and a large chunk of our workforce are finding themselves financially vulnerable. 

Trends observed from the Australian Benefits Review (ABR) indicate that organisations are moving away from offering one-size-fits-all benefits; that is, offering all employees a suite of benefits whether they use them or not. In place of this, organisations are moving towards a collaborative-based model, where different benefits are offered, unique to the individual. These are tailored to the employee’s needs relating to wellbeing, lifestyle and career.


Employee Benefits

Wellbeing – Physical, Mental & Financial

People & Culture Departments can pump out some pretty amazing initiatives to inspire and engage employees. But if employees are not empowered to manage their health and wellbeing then only so much can be achieved

Wellbeing differs from person to person, and we know that what is happening away from work impacts work if the employee isn’t equipped with the tools and resources to address issues as they arise

So it makes sense to look at employees as whole beings doesn’t it? To make your employee benefits a human deal, not just a financial deal

Employee wellbeing impacts the resiliency of your workforce. Employees with higher wellbeing have lower levels of burnout, diagnosed anxiety and depression.

Of employees experiencing burnout at work:

– 63% more likely to take a sick day
– 2.6x as likely to be actively seeking a different job
– 13% less confident in their performance

Wellbeing programs that reduce the stigma of having open & honest conversations about mental wellbeing; coaching managers on providing support; and empowering employees to identifying wellbeing initiatives that matter the most to them, will increase engagement, productivity and your ability to attract and retain quality employees.

Flexibility

1 in 2 employees Australia wide say flexible work hours and arrangements would reduce stress (particularly around family responsibilities). Other big ticket items in this category are increased paid time off, increased superannuation contributions, work from home policy, access to wellbeing and mental health programs, income protection insurance

59% of organisations in Australia reported that they were reinventing flexibility as a core part of transforming the employee experience. The most common form of flexible work arrangements were flexible start / finish times, compressed work weeks and remote working (work from anywhere).

Flexibility is multi-dimensional and no longer simply means ‘working from home’. It’s about where work is done, as well as when and by whom.

It’s an understanding that one size doesn’t fit all, that the key to a happy, healthy workforce is about doing the right work, at the right amount, at the right pace and the right time, in the right location.

The most common forms of flexible work arrangements include ongoing flexitime (such as early start/finish or longer lunch breaks), offered by more than 80% of the market, as well as part-time arrangements. Over the past five years, increasing numbers of organisations are allowing employees access to compressed work weeks (such as working 38 hours a week over four days instead of five).

Recognition

Say thank you, celebrate win’s in the moment, call out good behaviour not just the bad, put on morning tea or lunch to show your appreciation.

The few moments you take from your day to do the above can mean so much to employees.


We will have a lot to unpack in the coming months, so if you don’t already, follow us on our socials here and here, navigate back to our blog roll and sign up for newsletters, or, follow me on Linkedin for regular education posts just like this.


It’s time for HR to move beyond policies, practices and processes, HR’s value proposition to business is to ensure HR professionals and their practices’ produce positive outcomes for key stakeholders, employees, line managers, customers and investors.

Like what you see? Click around and discover how partnering with us can give your business a competitive advantage by aligning strategy with people & culture, or, give us a like on Facebook for regular updates on industry trends, blog posts & photo’s of me having coffee at my regular haunts and / or my dog & cat disrupting my work day.

THE PEOPLE & CULTURE OFFICE IS A KALGOORLIE BASED HUMAN RESOURCES (HR) CONSULTING COMPANY THAT SPECIALISES IN DEVELOPING PARTNERSHIPS WITH SMALL AND MEDIUM ENTERPRISES. WE CAN PARTNER WITH YOU TO GAIN A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE THROUGH EMPLOYEE INITIATIVES. 

CONTACT US TO ARRANGE AN APPOINTMENT TO DISCUSS WHAT SOLUTIONS WE CAN PUT IN PLACE TO DRIVE ACHIEVEMENT OF YOUR STRATEGIC AND OPERATIONAL GOALS.

AT THE PEOPLE & CULTURE OFFICE YOU ONLY PAY FOR THE WORK WE UNDERTAKE FOR YOU;  NO ANNUAL OR MONTHLY FEES; NO CONTRACTS; JUST QUALITY, LOCAL, SERVICE.

Are you ready for the new era of work? – job design

This post is the second post in a series running throughout 2022 taking a deep dive into the new era work. This post is all about job design and how it links to employee satisfaction and productivity.

There’s no denying the past few years have triggered a major shift in how people view work, life and the existential crises that has accompanied living through a pandemic. Even if, like me, you live in Western Australia and have largely been unaffected by lockdowns, poor health and loss of income, there is no doubt that at some point throughout 2020 and 2021 you were given cause to pause and reflect on whether you are truely living an authentic life or not.

Effective job design has an impactful relationship on the achievement of operational objectives and goals. It drives alignment of the HR function to the business structure, process and people goals to better mitigate risks.

The purpose of a job analysis is to provide an in-depth understanding of the competencies required for success in order to select appropriate candidates. The job analysis and design process looks at the current workforce situation and future workforce needs to future proof the organisation. It looks at continuous improvement / automation, grouping of logical tasks and job families, person specifications to best match the position profile, technical skills, capability, societal expectations and influence.

Societal Expectations and Influence

Thanks to a mixture of living through a pandemic and differing personal values of Millennials and Gen Z compared to Boomers and Gen X, the lens through which we view the social construct of work has been turned on its head.

Work from home mandates from 2020 continuing into 2022 has sped up the shift in flexible work arrangements, the connectivity of teams and how job tasks are completed in a remote environment.

The balance of power has shifted to employees, according to this recent ABC Australia article work from home arrangements have increased from 8% of Australians prior to the pandemic to 40% over the past 2 years and is expected to continue at high levels until the pandemic ends. This has opened the job market up to people who may have had barriers to employment in the past such as people with disabilities and primary carers.

There is greater understanding that an employee brings their whole self to work, personal obligations don’t go away when they clock on and return when they clock out. The employee offering is now being looked at as a human deal; inclusivity is all about offering employees choice and a level of control.

The ability to work from in an environment you are physically comfortable in and a structure to suit personal commitments such as child and elder care and home schooling has led to the desire to hyper personalise the work day. Think standing desks, plant lady obsessions, playing soft music and taking breaks when they suit you and your work style best.

What was a niche philosophy of allowing teams to design their own job roles and allocation of tasks to suit individual strengths and career aspirations has grown in popularity.

It’s an understanding that one size doesn’t fit all, that the key to a happy, healthy workforce is about doing the right work, at the right amount, at the right pace and the right time, in the right location.

We will explore this concept further when we look at compensation and benefits, in the meantime you can jump across to my Instagram here and here for a little sneaky peak.

Does the grouping of job tasks make sense? Are your employees dying of boredom?

When allocating tasks do they complement each other or are you building hybrid roles of very different beasts?

Let me explain, and I’m being very broad here, quite often in smaller organisations there will be an employee who undertakes finance, payroll, HR and marketing tasks.

When recruiting you split the role between what is required skills wise and what is required behavioural and capability wise. Building a person specification (info which guides organisations to determine which employees are best fit for specific jobs) based on the above brief is an exercise in contradictions.

Finance people tend to be black and white, numbers focussed, introverted, problem solving is viewed strategically and focussed on cost. Good HR and Marketing people are creative, empathic and can weigh up the shades of grey to determine a win win solution to problems. Problem solving is viewed both holistically and strategically with bent towards risk minimisation, even if that may be the most expensive option.

How easy is going to be to find an employee that fits a person profile ticking all those boxes?

Jobs need to be looked at realistically and critically, maybe the answer is to have two part time employees instead of just one?, or maybe outsource some tasks? It isn’t just about what needs to be done but who is around to do it.

And of course once you have a clear picture of the knowledge, skills and abilities of the job at hand it is much easier to determine an appropriate pay level that reflects the position requirements.


Another factor of job design that greatly impacts productivity and retention is the “sexiness factor” of the job.

Think about a receptionist / switchboard operator for a large corporate. If you’ve ever sat at a switchboard with 20 incoming phone lines you will know this to be true:

a) it’s very busy and talking all day is draining

b) people are rude

c) it can be soul destroying

To provide some variety to keep employees engaged, productive and employed, the organisation may choose to invest in automation to divert incoming calls to the relevant department greatly reducing calls at the front desk. This would free up the employee to undertake a greater range of duties, aiding to break up the day and maintaining focus and attention.

This is a simple but effective example of using technology to address factors contributing to turnover in the organisation. This reduces costs, increases efficiencies and retains corporate knowledge.


We will have a lot to unpack in the coming months, so if you don’t already, follow us on our socials here and here, navigate back to our blog roll and sign up for newsletters, or, follow me on Linkedin for regular education posts just like this.


It’s time for HR to move beyond policies, practices and processes, HR’s value proposition to business is to ensure HR professionals and their practices’ produce positive outcomes for key stakeholders, employees, line managers, customers and investors.

Like what you see? Click around and discover how partnering with us can give your business a competitive advantage by aligning strategy with people & culture, or, give us a like on Facebook for regular updates on industry trends, blog posts & photo’s of me having coffee at my regular haunts and / or my dog & cat disrupting my work day.

THE PEOPLE & CULTURE OFFICE IS A KALGOORLIE BASED HUMAN RESOURCES (HR) CONSULTING COMPANY THAT SPECIALISES IN DEVELOPING PARTNERSHIPS WITH SMALL AND MEDIUM ENTERPRISES. WE CAN PARTNER WITH YOU TO GAIN A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE THROUGH EMPLOYEE INITIATIVES. 

CONTACT US TO ARRANGE AN APPOINTMENT TO DISCUSS WHAT SOLUTIONS WE CAN PUT IN PLACE TO DRIVE ACHIEVEMENT OF YOUR STRATEGIC AND OPERATIONAL GOALS.

AT THE PEOPLE & CULTURE OFFICE YOU ONLY PAY FOR THE WORK WE UNDERTAKE FOR YOU;  NO ANNUAL OR MONTHLY FEES; NO CONTRACTS; JUST QUALITY, LOCAL, SERVICE.

Are you ready for the new era of work?

There’s no denying the past few years have triggered a major shift in how people view work, life and the existential crises that has accompanied living through a pandemic. Even if, like me, you live in Western Australia and have largely been unaffected by lockdowns, poor health and loss of income, there is no doubt that at some point throughout 2020 and 2021 you were given cause to pause and reflect on whether you are truely living an authentic life or not.

“The Great Resignation” in the US has fuelled a so called anti-work movement that has given rise to mass resignations, labour shortages, an increase in minimum wages and conditions. In Australia & Europe where minimum employment standards and safety nets already exist, the likelihood of the great resignation on the scale being seen in the US is less likely, but what is undeniable is the power dynamic between the employer – employee relationship has been turned on its head.

Driven less by income, employees in Australia are now viewing work through a lens of “is my job / employer fulfilling me; aligning to my values; accommodating my wellbeing; giving me a sense of belonging.”

What this all really means is

Are you ready for the new era of work?

Is your employee value proposition agile enough to tap into workers desires to fuel your business success

Over the next few posts we are going to take a deep dive into these concepts and more.

We will be looking at employee wellbeing, benefits and structuring an appealing employee value proposition.

Whether the generational divide has any influence over successful compensation & benefits strategies.

Planning and job design and how it links to employee satisfaction and productivity.

The importance of employing the right person for the job and how this plays in to your workplace culture.

Factors contributing to turnover such as lack of trust (by both an employer and employees), work hours, employee autonomy and control, work life integration and whether your offer is a human offer or designed around maximum profit.

We will have a lot to unpack in the coming months, so if you don’t already, follow us on our socials here and here, navigate back to our blog roll and sign up for newsletters, or, follow me on Linkedin for regular education posts just like this.


It’s time for HR to move beyond policies, practices and processes, HR’s value proposition to business is to ensure HR professionals and their practices’ produce positive outcomes for key stakeholders, employees, line managers, customers and investors.

Like what you see? Click around and discover how partnering with us can give your business a competitive advantage by aligning strategy with people & culture, or, give us a like on Facebook for regular updates on industry trends, blog posts & photo’s of me having coffee at my regular haunts and / or my dog & cat disrupting my work day.

THE PEOPLE & CULTURE OFFICE IS A KALGOORLIE BASED HUMAN RESOURCES (HR) CONSULTING COMPANY THAT SPECIALISES IN DEVELOPING PARTNERSHIPS WITH SMALL AND MEDIUM ENTERPRISES. WE CAN PARTNER WITH YOU TO GAIN A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE THROUGH EMPLOYEE INITIATIVES. 

CONTACT US TO ARRANGE AN APPOINTMENT TO DISCUSS WHAT SOLUTIONS WE CAN PUT IN PLACE TO DRIVE ACHIEVEMENT OF YOUR STRATEGIC AND OPERATIONAL GOALS.

AT THE PEOPLE & CULTURE OFFICE YOU ONLY PAY FOR THE WORK WE UNDERTAKE FOR YOU;  NO ANNUAL OR MONTHLY FEES; NO CONTRACTS; JUST QUALITY, LOCAL, SERVICE.

I’m dissecting Fair Work education posts so you don’t have to #2

Ok! Part 2 of our blog unpacking Fair Work education posts and what they mean for your business.

Miss the first post? That’s ok, you can catch up here

*this post applies to National System employers, WA based sole traders, partnerships and unincorporated organisations fall under the WA Industrial Relations SystemReferences to an “Employee Agreement” relates to a registered collective agreement.


I have an Individual Flexibility Agreement (IFA) built into my contracts, this allows me to pay a flat rate of pay, based on contracted hours of 38 hours per week, whilst establishing rostered work hours greater than that. I pay well above the Award so it’s all ok – Paying over the Award doesn’t absolve you from adhering to Award terms and conditions, the use of IFA’s to achieve flat rates of pay for new employees is unlawful.

So much to unpack with this common misconception. Let’s start with IFA’s, above Award payments and flat rates of pay.

Each Award will stipulate ordinary hours of work (38 hours per week), the span of ordinary work hours (ie: to be worked between 7am – 7pm), allowances payable, penalty rates, breaks and loadings such as annual leave loading. No matter how much above Award you pay your employees they are still entitled to these additional amounts over and above their base salary / hourly rate.

A carefully worded contract of employment is required if you wish to lawfully offset these items against the Award entitlements. Sometimes this is done in SME’s by embedding an IFA into the contract of employment – this practice is unlawful.

An IFA must be one that is genuinely made by the employer and the individual employee without coercion or duress (which means acceptance of the IFA can’t be a condition of employment).  An agreement may only be made after the individual employee has commenced employment with the employer.

Another rarely understood fact of putting IFA’s to use in this way is that either party can terminate the IFA, that means if your employee terminates the IFA your flat rate becomes a base hourly rate + penalty rates.

In addition, the way “ordinary hours” is viewed by Fair Work and accompanying legislation and Acts (such as Superannuation and Long Service Leave) is what is customary for the employee to work and whether there is a discernible difference between what the ordinary hours are and what quite clearly is additional hours. Having a contract of employment written as 38 hours per week (and accruing leave entitlements at this rate), but, handing the employee a roster of 14 shifts on 7 shifts off, 12 hour days with no separation between pay rates doesn’t pass the pub test.

Which brings me to……….

Fair Work defines “Ordinary Hours” as an employee’s normal and regular hours of work, which do not attract overtime rates.

In offsetting overtime rates to achieve a flat rate of pay you have traded off that safety net of only accruing leave entitlements on 38 hours per week. There is no separate rate of pay to distinguish additional, or overtime hours, therefore the normal hours of work are ordinary hours and entitlements such as leave needs to reflect this.

When it comes to Super If you can’t distinctly identify overtime amounts, all the hours actually worked are included in the employee’s ordinary hours of work. Overtime payments must be clearly identifiable, otherwise all hours worked are OTE.


My employees are paid a salary and the position comes with an expectation of overtime – this is ok as long as the salary more than accommodates the overtime worked, and the expectation of additional hours is reasonable

Common Awards now contain Annualised Salary clauses allowing an employer to satisfy Award entitlements within the base salary. In order to be compliant the employer is required to keep accurate records of the hours worked (ie: timesheets), and be able to demonstrate the salary sufficiently accommodates the actual hours worked if the employee were to be paid as per the Award (ie: penalty rates, allowances and leave loading)

Employers must take into consideration a number of factors when determining if overtime is reasonable. This extends to an individuals personal responsibilities away from work such as child or elder care, industry standards and health and safety matters such as fatigue or increased risk from working at night for example.


Industrial relations is complex, and our system is by no means easy to navigate. As a business owner / leader it is your responsibility to ensure that your business practices are lawful, but more importantly, that you fully understand what your contracts and policies contain and the implications of enforcing such business tools.

The buck stops with you, and you need to ask yourself:

  • Do I understand the advice I’ve been given
  • Do I understand and accept the risk of non-compliance
  • What are the wider implications to this business practice
  • Does it align to the values of the business (are you walking the walk)

Like what you see? Click around and discover how partnering with us can give your business a competitive advantage by aligning strategy with people & culture, or, give us a like on Facebook for regular updates on industry trends, blog posts & photo’s of me having coffee at my regular haunts and / or my dog & cat disrupting my work day

You can find us on our socials, give us a like on Facebook and follow us on Instagram

It’s time for HR to move beyond policies, practices and processes, HR’s value proposition to business is to ensure HR professionals and their practices’ produce positive outcomes for key stakeholders, employees, line managers, customers and investors.

THE PEOPLE & CULTURE OFFICE IS A KALGOORLIE BASED HUMAN RESOURCES (HR) CONSULTING COMPANY THAT SPECIALISES IN DEVELOPING PARTNERSHIPS WITH SMALL AND MEDIUM ENTERPRISES. WE CAN PARTNER WITH YOU TO GAIN A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE THROUGH EMPLOYEE INITIATIVES. 

CONTACT US TO ARRANGE AN APPOINTMENT TO DISCUSS WHAT SOLUTIONS WE CAN PUT IN PLACE TO DRIVE ACHIEVEMENT OF YOUR STRATEGIC AND OPERATIONAL GOALS.

AT THE PEOPLE & CULTURE OFFICE YOU ONLY PAY FOR THE WORK WE UNDERTAKE FOR YOU;  NO ANNUAL OR MONTHLY FEES; NO CONTRACTS; JUST QUALITY, LOCAL, SERVICE.

I’m dissecting Fair Work education posts so you don’t have to #1

Grab a cuppa and strap in! I’ve trawled Linkedin and screenshot a number of education posts around common employment, and contract of employment issues that I commonly see when meeting with prospective clients.

*this post applies to National System employers, WA based sole traders, partnerships and unincorporated organisations fall under the WA Industrial Relations System. References to an “Employee Agreement” relates to a registered collective agreement.


If it’s in a contract, it’s lawful – In short, No

Just because a clause is contained within a contract, and an employee has signed it, it doesn’t mean you can lawfully undertake that action.

The Fair Work Act underpins the industrial relations system in Australia, it is the legal framework that sets the minimum standards and conditions for the employer – employee relationship. From the Act we get the National Standards of Employment (NES) which are the 11 minimum terms & conditions for all employees, and then the Award is a full set of standards and conditions broken down by occupation.

An employment contract can’t provide for less, or deviate from in a detrimental way, than any of these industrial instruments.

I commonly see unlawful clauses contained within employment contracts related to ordinary hours of work and the entitlement of leave and superannuation, overpayments and payroll deductions, withholding of pay and use of individual flexibility agreements.


I’ve overpaid my employee, I’m entitled to take money back next pay – only if you’ve received a signed deduction authority from the employee

Again, a common clause I see written into employment contracts. Fair Work is pretty explicit about how and when payroll deductions can occur, if you are attempting to recoup funds without a signed authority you are quite simply playing with fire.


Medicals, uniforms, training courses, damage to equipment; it all costs money. I make sure I’m reimbursed for this from the employees pay – Again, Fair Work has explicit guidelines around how and when this can occur, having it written into a contract does not give you free rein

“and it’s unreasonable in the circumstances” and no, having a new employee sign a blank payroll deduction authority to be used to deduct monies from their final pay without obtaining consent for the amount first is not reasonable. Best practice will always come back to consulting with employees.


My departing employee hasn’t returned their work keys so I’m withholding their pay – most Awards dictate that an employee must receive their final pay within 7 days of their employment ending

Employment contracts can extend this period, for example if you are on a monthly pay cycle you can include a clause to state the final pay will be received in accordance with the pay cycle. Withholding a final pay (or any pay for that matter) is unlawful.


Industrial relations is complex, and our system is by no means easy to navigate. As a business owner / leader it is your responsibility to ensure that your business practices are lawful, but more importantly, that you fully understand what your contracts and policies contain and the implications of enforcing such business tools.

The buck stops with you, and you need to ask yourself:

  • Do I understand the advice I’ve been given
  • Do I understand and accept the risk of non-compliance
  • What are the wider implications to this business practice
  • Does it align to the values of the business (are you walking the walk)

This is part 1 of this series, stay tuned for part 2 where I dissect ordinary hours of work, flat rates of pay and leave accruals.

You can read more about employment contracts HERE and what quality HR is HERE and HERE


Like what you see? Click around and discover how partnering with us can give your business a competitive advantage by aligning strategy with people & culture, or, give us a like on Facebook for regular updates on industry trends, blog posts & photo’s of me having coffee at my regular haunts and / or my dog & cat disrupting my work day

You can find us on our socials, give us a like on Facebook and follow us on Instagram

It’s time for HR to move beyond policies, practices and processes, HR’s value proposition to business is to ensure HR professionals and their practices’ produce positive outcomes for key stakeholders, employees, line managers, customers and investors.

THE PEOPLE & CULTURE OFFICE IS A KALGOORLIE BASED HUMAN RESOURCES (HR) CONSULTING COMPANY THAT SPECIALISES IN DEVELOPING PARTNERSHIPS WITH SMALL AND MEDIUM ENTERPRISES. WE CAN PARTNER WITH YOU TO GAIN A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE THROUGH EMPLOYEE INITIATIVES. 

CONTACT US TO ARRANGE AN APPOINTMENT TO DISCUSS WHAT SOLUTIONS WE CAN PUT IN PLACE TO DRIVE ACHIEVEMENT OF YOUR STRATEGIC AND OPERATIONAL GOALS.

AT THE PEOPLE & CULTURE OFFICE YOU ONLY PAY FOR THE WORK WE UNDERTAKE FOR YOU;  NO ANNUAL OR MONTHLY FEES; NO CONTRACTS; JUST QUALITY, LOCAL, SERVICE.

Attracting & retaining Gen Z employees

Did you know the oldest Millennials are turning 40 in 2021! Over the past decade, we’ve heard a lot about how companies must adapt to the needs of Millennials. Well……I hate to break it to you, but it’s time we move on and explore the new kids in town (or the workplace)

Digital Integrators. Generation Connected. Dot.com kids. Millennial Intensified. These are just some of the creative terms used to label the newest – and largest – generation to enter the workforce: Gen Z

More than just hating on our side parts and skinny jeans, Gen Z is defined as those born between 1995 and 2009, they are now aged between 10 and 24 and make up approximately 30% of the world’s population. By 2021, Gen Z will make up approx 20% of a multigenerational workforce.

As I touched on in my 2018 blog Is The Ability to Engage & Motivate Millennials the Elusive Unicorn  the “kids these days” rhetoric from older generations surrounding these conversations is just history repeating itself. For the most part, Gen Z & Millennials aren’t uniquely any more disruptive to the workforce than Gen Xers or Boomers were.

A big standout from older generations is Gen Z’s commitment to their personal values and a very true sense of self, they don’t differ from Millennials too much here. They have very strong social values, particularly around diversity and inclusion. If they don’t like what their organisation is doing, they’re not afraid to publicly say so on social media. But on the flip side they aren’t shy about giving credit where credit is due, (think all the amazing organisations who continued to pay employees who were off fighting the 2019/2020 Australian bush fires).

But in reality every generation has had a tipping point that has spurred on activism of some point; the Vietnam War; 80’s greed; 90’s revolt against – well everything (including saccharine pop music and hair band ballads); the GFC & anti Wall Street protest and now Me Too, climate change and diversity & inclusion. And each & every generation has had their elders declaring them entitled and lazy, so stop yelling at the kids to get off your lawn and let’s unpack Gen Z.

If you aren’t online they won’t find you As the most connected generation in history, Gen Z live a digital life. This doesn’t mean they are online 24/7, it means this is their first point of call to source information, in fact 70% of Gen Z & Millennials use social media as their primary job search tool. As recruitment agency Hays suggests, if your job isn’t online, Gen Z won’t find it. It’s also worthwhile ensuring you’re running a quick, honest and transparent recruitment process.

The new way of working Gen Z are predicted to work 17 jobs and have 5 careers in their lifetime, according to the demographers and researchers at McCrindle. In short, they are adapting to the age of disruption by embracing everything the “gig economy” has to offer. With contract, freelance and gig employment no longer being considered “alternative work”, as it was in the past, today 81% of Gen Z would consider joining the gig economy. As someone who works in the gig economy (and a few years north of being a Gen Z) I can testify this new way of work can offer an amazing lifestyle change, which brings me to my next point.

Work life integration Technology started blurring the lines between work and life in the mid 2000’s. But rather than fight against this shift, millennials and now Gen Z are often the ones pushing for greater workplace flexibility in order to achieve an integration rather than a balance between work and life. Out the door is the idea of ‘balance’, where work sits on one side and life on the other, and are instead happy for the two to coexist – provided their employer allows them to utilise technology to work flexibly. Cloud technology, smart phones and various collaboration tools like Zoom enable work to be done from anywhere, at any time. Of course this isn’t relevant for every industry but could there be mind shift in your workplace that allows for greater freedom & autonomy in a push to achieve greater engagement and productivity?

People need to understand why Ok, this one isn’t specific to Gen Z but it’s something I see repeatedly so worth an inclusion. A common complaint heard from all employees, regardless of age, is that they have limited understanding of how their work contributes to the success of the organisation. The strategic goals of the company are not filtered down to a team or individual level. Gen Z want a clear purpose for their role – they want to understand their organisation’s “reason for being” and how their contribution helps to achieve this.

Gen Z is also highly motivated by social issues and making a difference – in their communities, personal relationships and the workplace. Research indicates that 38% of Gen Z’s want to work for a socially or environmentally responsible organisation, and 45% want work that has meaning and purpose beyond getting paid.

Give’em feedback & give it in the moment Checking in with them a couple of times a year won’t cut it (again, this applies across the board); they want clear goals, rewards and regularly refreshed personal challenges to keep them involved in the workplace.

How to go about this? Here are some great tips applicable for any generation.

  • Be intentional about the interaction. Relationships matter to Gen Z, so consider taking the time to reflect on the nature of the professional relationship you want to develop or maintain, not simply the facts and figures on the Performance Appraisal Form.
  • Use active listening. Give the employee a chance to talk, and then listen. It’s a two way street.
  • Lead with the positive contributions. Devote plenty of time to discussing areas where they’re performing well.
  • Share practical examples. Offer specific guidance and frameworks for areas where they need to improve. No generalisations – actual examples.
  • Show that you’re willing to help. Ask “How can I/we help you improve?” is a better approach than asking “How are you going to improve?”
  • Stick to the facts. Avoid value judgments. Ask for clarity if you perceive they are do not understand, don’t overcomplicate things.

There’s also a critical role for employers to play in ensuring these young workers have the right skillsets, beyond just technical expertise. Just 57% of surveyed Gen Z believe their education has prepared them well for future careers.

You can complain about it, or you can do something about it.

According to Dell Technologies: “Gen Z are full of tech swagger, but they worry about having the right soft skills and experience for the workforce.” Top of the wish list are collaboration and communication skills.

Every generation has its strengths, weaknesses and quirks, let’s not forget that as we welcome new employees into our workplaces.


Like what you see? Click around and discover how partnering with us can give your business a competitive advantage by aligning strategy with people & culture, or, give us a like on Facebook for regular updates on industry trends, blog posts & photo’s of me having coffee at my regular haunts and / or my dog & cat disrupting my work day

You can find us on our socials, give us a like on Facebook and follow us on Instagram

It’s time for HR to move beyond policies, practices and processes, HR’s value proposition to business is to ensure HR professionals and their practices’ produce positive outcomes for key stakeholders, employees, line managers, customers and investors.


THE PEOPLE & CULTURE OFFICE IS A KALGOORLIE BASED HUMAN RESOURCES (HR) CONSULTING COMPANY THAT SPECIALISES IN DEVELOPING PARTNERSHIPS WITH SMALL AND MEDIUM ENTERPRISES. WE CAN PARTNER WITH YOU TO GAIN A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE THROUGH EMPLOYEE INITIATIVES. 

CONTACT US TO ARRANGE AN APPOINTMENT TO DISCUSS WHAT SOLUTIONS WE CAN PUT IN PLACE TO DRIVE ACHIEVEMENT OF YOUR STRATEGIC AND OPERATIONAL GOALS.

AT THE PEOPLE & CULTURE OFFICE YOU ONLY PAY FOR THE WORK WE UNDERTAKE FOR YOU;  NO ANNUAL OR MONTHLY FEES; NO CONTRACTS; JUST QUALITY, LOCAL, SERVICE.