Same, but different (but really just the same)

The People & Culture Office | Tattoo | Woman

“There’s a saying, diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance. But that’s bull because usually the party is up a flight of stairs. People think if they are treating people the same, they’ve got it right. But that’s the essence of discrimination – as experienced by disabled people – is that when you treat them the same as a non-disabled person they can’t even get in the building” Susan Scott-Parker

Before you read on I would like you to pause for a moment and picture in your mind what a person with a disability looks like.

I’ll check back in with you at the end of my post.

Due to unconscious bias, many people with disabilities face barriers to gaining employment (not just meaningful employment, just any employment), which is why the unemployment rate for people with a disability is more than double that of the general population.

In my former life I was a HR Manager for a disability support organisation, while there I noticed that millennials and Gen Z had a really inclusive view towards people with disabilities due to the prevalence of Education Support annexes in the school system. In my school days (I’m 46) children with disabilities were very much separated from the general school population and as a result Gen X and Baby Boomers can find relating to people with disabilities on a human level quite confronting. (Those damn millennials hey)

People will often direct the conversation towards a family member or a carer rather than converse with the person directly, they may stare, ask inappropriate questions, or, in an attempt to act as though they aren’t feeling uncomfortable, will fail to acknowledge their presence all together.

In fact we (as in society, the media et el) are so unused to seeing someone with a disability featured so prominently that sometimes famous people with disabilities are confused for each other. Those that follow the tennis or are a regular viewer of The Project would be familiar with Dylan Alcott, Dylan and fellow paralympian Kurt Fearnley have a running joke on Instagram that they are often mistaken for each other.

Think about applying for work or attending a job interview knowing there is quite a good chance you’ll be discounted as soon as you enter the room (if you’re even lucky enough to get that far).

1 in 5 Australians are classed as having a disability, a lot of people develop a disability throughout their life as the result of an accident such as a motor vehicle accident or falling off a ladder; through suffering a stroke; developing an illness such as MS, parkinson’s or one of the many autoimmune illnesses or through the presence of a psychiatric illness such as anxiety, depression or PTSD.

Picture an Accountant who has had a stroke, and as a result has reduced mobility. There’s no reason why they can’t perform an office based role without any added safety risk at all is there?

Now picture that same person applying for a job with a company who’s pre-employment medical process eliminates all people without excellent functional capacity. When assessing someones fitness for work the inherent requirements of the job are meant to be considered hand in hand with the individuals functional capacity. But quite often it doesn’t, for whatever reason many industries and organisations baulk at the thought of making “allowances” or reasonable adjustments for people that don’t automatically fit the perfect physical criteria.

Maybe it goes back to the idea that they are treating everyone “equally” 🤷🏻‍♀️

Dylan Alcott has established Remove the Barrier to encourage the employment of people with disabilities. Other organisations such as Forest Personnel can assist with the recruitment of people with disabilities. Follow the links through to their websites where you can find some great info on employing people with disabilities.

Something I really want to stress is that a person with a disability isn’t necessarily a person on a disability support pension, or someone with an obvious physical disability such as being in a wheelchair. Disabilities vary between what type they are and the level of functional impairment such as:

  • Physical – affects a person’s mobility or dexterity
  • Intellectual – affects a person’s abilities to learn
  • Mental Illness – affects a person’s thinking processes
  • Sensory – affects a person’s ability to hear or see
  • Neurological – affects the person’s brain and central nervous system,
  • Learning disability
  • Physical disfigurement or
  • Immunological – the presence of organisms causing disease in the body

So right at the start of the post I asked you to picture what a person with a disability looks like, well they look like this

Me – not Rachel from Madison Studio Photography 😀

5 years ago I was diagnosed with Lupus which is an autoimmune illness that attacks healthy organs and tissue in your body resulting in extreme fatigue, joint pain and organ damage.

The People & Culture Office came to being because I found it increasingly difficult over the years to find a workplace and colleagues willing to accommodate (and be inclusive of) my illness & it’s limitations. I knew that with appropriate wellbeing measures in place I could continue being a valued member of society, contributing taxes to the healthcare system that I lean heavily on and continuing to share my skillset with a range of organisations.

And I would have a guess that 99.9% of my clients, business connections and acquaintances wouldn’t even know that I have a chronic illness. Because with the appropriate adjustments in place I can function in a work environment, I can still add value, and the thought that, that part of my life could have been taken away from me would have been devastating.

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

Simone Pickering | The People & Culture Office


Changes to flexible work arrangements commence 1 December 2018

Employee Working | HR Consultant | The People & Culture Office
The People & Culture Office – your first choice for HR solutions

As of tomorrow the new changes to requesting flexible work arrangements come into effect for all businesses under the national workplace relations system. If you are a Sole Trader eg: Jane Smith T/as Janes Cafe, an unincorporated partnership eg: Jane & Bob Smith T/as Janes Cafe or an unincorporated trust eg: Jane and Bob Smith as trustee for Janes Cafe you fall under the WA Industrial Relations Commission, so these changes do not effect you. The majority of employees in Australia fall under the Federal system which covers all constitutional corporations or in layman’s terms it is any business with “Ltd” or “Pty Ltd” after its name. All other states in Australia have referred their industrial relations powers to the Federal system but Western Australia being Western Australia has chosen to keep the State based system.

So what are the changes and how do they effect your business.

Come December 1 2018 there will be a right for certain employees to request flexible working arrangements from their employer. An employer can only refuse such a request on “reasonable business grounds”.

More specifically, the requests may be made by:

  • permanent employees who have completed 12 months of service
  • casual employees who have been employed on a regular & systematic basis for a sequence of periods of employment of at least 12 months, and have a reasonable expectation of the arrangement to continue

Eligible employees are entitled to request a change in their working arrangements if they:

  • are the parent, or have responsibility for the care, of a child who is school aged or younger
  • are a carer (under the Carer Recognition Act 2010)
  • have a disability
  • are 55 or older
  • are experiencing family or domestic violence, or
  • provide care or support to a member of their household or immediate family who requires care and support because of family or domestic violence.

Examples of changes in working arrangements may include:

  • hours of work (eg. changes to start and finish times)
  • patterns of work (eg. split shifts or job sharing)
  • locations of work (eg. working from home).

Employers must give employees a written response to the request within 21 days, stating whether they grant or refuse the request and may refuse the request only on reasonable business grounds. If the employer refuses the request, the written response must include the reasons for the refusal.

Further, it is unlawful under:

  1. The Fair Work Act to take adverse action against employees including termination of employment
  2. State & Federal legislation to discriminate against employees either directly or indirectly through their employment because of their family or carers responsibilities

Employers must accommodate their employees’ family and carer responsibilities where it is reasonable to do so. Whether a refusal to accommodate such requests is unreasonable will depend on the facts and circumstances of the particular situation. A defence is available to employers on the basis that an adjustment is not reasonable if it would cause an unjustifiable hardship on the employer taking all circumstances into account, including consideration of:

  • the requested arrangements are too costly
  • other employees’ working arrangements can’t be changed to accommodate the request
  • it’s impractical to change other employees’ working arrangements or hire new employees to accommodate the request
  • the request would result in a significant loss of productivity or have a significant negative impact on customer service.

Reasonable grounds for refusal for a small employer may differ vastly to those that are reasonable for a large, well resourced employer.

For example if the employee is in a customer facing role or manning a busy switchboard, and you are a small – medium employer with a minimal number of similar employees to provide coverage for the absence, and recruiting may be impractical given the hours of engagement, then you may be able to justify that you have reasonable business grounds. The same situation with a large employer with 20 + admin staff would struggle to provide such a justification.

Similarly a non customer facing role who can complete the bulk of their tasks online, and with minimal interaction, such as an accountant or engineer would have quite a good case to suggest their absence from the office to work from home would create minimal disruptions to the operations.

The future is now

The reality is flexible working arrangements will soon become the new normal, and not just for the legislated requirements we have now. In a recent white paper released by Employment Hero on what Australian employees want from their workplace, flexible work arrangements rated in the top 3 wants with 45% of respondents indicating it was important to them when choosing a prospective employer. The same group, when asked what benefits they would like their existing employer to introduce, overwhelmingly stated flexible work arrangements with 59% of respondents giving it priority over other benefits such as career development, financial incentives and “feel good” benefits such free massages.

The next generation crave flexibility. The Deloitte 2017 Millennial Survey reveals that “flexible working continues to be a feature of most millennials’ working lives and is linked to improved organisational performance, personal benefit, and loyalty”. Overall, 84% of millennials reported that some degree of flexible working ranging from flexible start and finish times, flexible roles and flexible locations including work from home were highly desirable.

These arrangements are not identified as “simply a nice to have” but as being strongly linked to improved performance, employee retention and loyalty. Further, the report notes that organisations that have adopted flexible work indicated any earlier misgivings that opportunities would be abused appeared to be unfounded with 78% of respondents feeling trusted by their line managers. If you would like to read more about the changing millennial workforce Click Here. I also shared my thoughts on whether the changing face of the workplace was a contributing factor to the skills shortage in residential mining and trades positions here.

The inclusion of flexible work policies into your HR framework isn’t just about millennials or working mums, as we hurtle towards a large ageing population it provides the flexibility for the ageing workforce to continue working well beyond 65, something that will become more and more a necessity with superannuation unlikely to accommodate most retirees needs into their 80’s & 90’s.

Flexibility as a workplace norm builds diverse and inclusive workplaces, it allows those who would otherwise be somewhat excluded or restricted within the workplace to be able to contribute to the organisations success, it allows organisations the ability to attract & retain talent as we see a societal shift in personal priorities. Creating a flexible and agile workplace goes beyond creating “an accommodation for working parents”, rather it’s a strategy that enables a competitive business edge in the ever changing world of work.

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. Click here to learn more

Why outsource your HR function

HR | Kalgoorlie | The People & Culture Office

More than just hiring & firing, HR is an integral component of any business looking to succeed. Human Resources is the function in an organisation that manages all employees and ensures maximum engagement & productivity, as well as make sure the company is protected from any issues that may arise from the workforce.

There’s no denying that HR focus has dramatically changed in recent years. In the not so distant past, HR was primarily an admin function, the dreaded “fun police” when it came to workplace policies or it was a task lumped in with Payroll.

But today’s astute business leaders understand in order to succeed in today’s (and the futures) business environment they need to move their HR function away from focussing on personnel management and administrative tasks, and direct their focus towards managing employee engagement and strengthening workplace culture. Smart business owners see the benefits in ensuring their employees are happy and as a result will continue to stick around for the foreseeable future.

By outsourcing your human resource operations you can improve compliance, save money & attract the best talent. The People & Culture Office can offer your business long term support so you can focus on achieving business success. We are on hand to support all businesses, wherever you may be.   

No annual fee’s                  No contracts                  Just quality service


HR myths about SME’s busted

HR Consultant | The People & Culture Office

For those of us that live and breathe HR, it can be frustrating to constantly defend the importance of what we do. I frequently hear “Oh, we don’t need HR, our Office Manager handles that.”

Then there are those that think HR is nothing more than maintaining files and making sure payroll gets submitted. The truth is HR is much more than paper pushing and file maintenance. It takes great dedication, commitment and knowledge to be a true HR professional. There are a lot of areas where SMEs get into trouble with their HR, such as:

  • Managing grievances e.g. bullying, sexual harassment
  • Unfair dismissals
  • Managing underperformance of employees
  • Parental leave and the requirements for the employee and the employer
  • Managing absenteeism
  • Keeping up to date with HR legislation and implementing HR frameworks
  • …and the list goes on.

So on that note I’d like to bust some common myths that SME business owners hold about hiring external human resource consultants.

Myth: “I’m not sure they’d have a place in my business.” Reality: Every business that hires and deals with employees most likely needs an HR consultant at some point. You may need your HR framework drawn up and implemented from scratch, a strategy for recruitment, help managing an employee’s performance, or a business restructure to best facilitate growth and change.

Myth: “Hiring an HR person would probably cost me an arm and a leg.” Reality: Not hiring an HR consultant might end up costing you much, much more. Let’s look at unfair dismissal. In recent times, unfair dismissal payouts cost businesses sums of five figures or more. In the financial year 2016/17 Fair Work awarded 7,194 monetary claims for unfair dismissal at a median rate of equivalent to 8 weeks pay, of these, 810 were for amounts of $10,000 up to the maximum amount payable (26 weeks of the employees earnings), these figures do not include fines imposed on businesses where applications were heard before a full hearing of the Commission,  a recent sexual harassment pay out was  $130,000. Evidence suggests that these high costs are usually incurred due to a lack of compliant HR policies, procedures or poor documentation. Hiring a HR consultant means you’ll be fully compliant in all these key areas.

Myth: “They’ll just give me cookie-cutter advice that won’t apply to my business.” Reality:  The People & Culture Office will come into your business tailoring a solution to your exact needs. For example, you may be managing the performance of your operations manager. How can you manage the risk? We provide commercially viable and relevant advice helping you deal with any and all HR issues.

Myth: “These HR types will try and lock me into some kind of pricy ongoing agreement.” Reality: The People & Culture Offices’ business model works on a once-off or project basis. Depending on your business needs I don’t need to stick around for months or years on end. The People & Culture Office can provide a framework for your HR needs with ongoing HR support as and when required. It’s your business, you control the level of involvement, not me.

Myth: “HR is just about recruitment.” Reality: Recruitment is just one of the activities an HR professional does. Human Resource function is as vast as any other technical function can be and is segregated into multiple areas. While HR is the first and last point of contact for any employee in the hiring and exit process, it surely isn’t the only thing HR professionals are there for. There are several other areas any successful HR department caters to like employee engagement, training and development, performance management, resource management and many more.

Myth: “Anyone can do HR.” Reality: HR activities are based on theory, research and most importantly, practical experience to understand how to apply HR principals into the workplace. I decided to launch my own consultancy service after hearing many stories from Goldfields business that employees were being directed by the “HR Person” to take annual leave on a gazetted public holidays, to book annual leave just to get day’s off from continual rostered shifts, leaving them with no leave to actually take a holiday, telling employees on parental leave their job has been given to someone else and employees being given written warnings for time off sick when a Doctors Certificate is present. There is a shortage of skilled HR people in the region which unfortunately has seen the rise of admin personnel being promoted into positions that require a great deal of technical skill & knowledge, this practice isn’t good for business and exposes the organisation to a great deal of risk.



Why are workplace HR policies so important?


There’s no denying that HR focus has dramatically changed in recent years. In the not so distant past, HR was primarily an admin function, the dreaded “fun police” when it came to workplace policies or it was a task lumped in with Payroll.

But today’s astute business leaders understand in order to succeed in today’s (and the futures) business environment they need to move their HR function away from focussing on personnel management and administrative tasks, and direct their focus towards managing employee engagement and strengthening workplace culture. Smart business owners see the benefits in ensuring their employees are happy and as a result will continue to stick around for the foreseeable future.

Human Resources Policies and Procedures are important as they provide structure, control, consistency, fairness and reasonableness in the business. They also ensure compliance with employment legislation and inform employees of their responsibilities and the organisations expectations. In addition, they also provide transparency in how processes will be managed, and should be easily accessible by all managers, supervisors and employees alike.

Let’s imagine a workplace without any HR policies and procedures that employs managers who have very little knowledge of what to do in terms of process or best practice, and have received no training. How would this look? Like a disaster waiting to happen, thats what- workplace policies are useful documents to rely on when a legal dispute arises between an employer and an employee. In many cases, where the employer can point to a policy to show that the employee ought to have known what his or her responsibilities were in relation to the disputed matter, the employer is likely to be in a much stronger position before a court or tribunal. Some employment related laws include a requirement that a policy be in place and that the policy fulfil certain specifications. For example, occupational health and safety laws require employers to put in place a rehabilitation policy outlining the responsibilities of the employer. Where no policy is in place this will constitute an offence under the legislation. In other areas of the law, such as equal opportunity, there is no specific requirement in the legislation that policies be put in place. However, where an employer can point to a policy, that will go some way towards substantiating the employer’s compliance with the law should the matter arise before a court or tribunal. To this end many organisations have policies on EEO, workplace harassment and grievance handling procedures

You may think that as ‘sensible adults’ your employees know how to behave – but unfortunately it’s not always the case. The mix of backgrounds, cultures, upbringings, education and experiences see all of us develop different ideas of what is and isn’t acceptable, and how to conduct ourselves at work  Policies should provide all the information that new & established employees need to know.  They are a great tool in the induction process to ensure new starters are on the same page as you from day one.

There are plenty of places to obtain workplace policies on the internet, generally they are relatively cheap, you insert your business name and you’re off and running, but generic policies don’t always work from business to business. Your policies need to be reflective of your workplace & peculiarities of your industry. In addition most of these policies only contain basic information and will then include a “insert procedure here” paragraph, without the appropriate HR knowledge how can you ensure your content isn’t just best practice but legal?

The key to getting policies right isn’t just understanding industry and the workplace, but understanding the law. It’s the difference between knowing legally what steps must be taken during employee discipline & termination or managing drug & alcohol testing to ensure you don’t end up on the wrong side of a Fair Work decision & just copying another companies policies off the internet.

70% of SME’s utilise the resources of adhoc HR (an employee holding another position in the business that has taken on the duties of HR), and it comes at a risk: If your business is leveraging adhoc HR for your HR needs, you’re dealing with a fairly costly business issue. According to recent data on SME’s, 82% of employees undertaking adhoc HR duties have no relevant training which exposes the business to not only significant legal risk but the lack of capacity to implement strategies to help save money or improve employee retention and culture.

The People & Culture Office policies reflect contemporary human resource practice, offer step by step procedures and are fully compliant to Australian workplace law and legislation. They have been written with the average employee in mind; that is anyone in the business can pick up the policy and understand exactly what is expected of them and what procedure should be followed to achieve the desired outcome.

Policies should add value to your business, whether it’s a Recruitment & Selection Policy to guide you to recruit employees of the highest standard or an EEO, Bullying & Harassment Policy that covers off the relevant legislation, if your policies are too vague, don’t provide guidance and protect you from legal action then you aren’t getting the value from them that you should. Click here to view how we can partner with you to provide contemporary workplace solutions for your business.

Outsourced HR solutions can help manage your risk, keep you compliant, and give you peace of mind. And in doing so, you’ll be placing your company in a strong position to grow and prosper. 

Based in Kalgoorlie, The People & Culture Office is an independent HR Consultant who can partner with you to offer a one stop HR solution, we only charge you for the work we perform; no contracts, no annual or monthly fees, just quality service. Click here to learn more












Employee recognition without the big bucks


What makes you enjoy your job? Is it a massive pay packet or having your Manager (or company as a whole) acknowledge the great job you are doing? Is it a thankless quarterly bonus or a staff lunch put on by the company to give everyone the chance to relax and interact with each other in a social setting? When employers think of employee reward & recognition they think of money, but the most meaningful ways, the ways that employees remember and appreciate, can sometimes be the least cost prohibitive.

Successful companies know that their employees are at the heart of the business. Satisfied and engaged employees create not only positive energy in the workplace, but also go the extra mile to ensure individual and organisational success.

Disengaged employees can be a hindrance to the workplace as they can drain out the positive energy out of the rest of their colleagues. They try to evade work, struggle to meet deadlines and are reluctant to accept additional responsibility.

The challenge of motivating employees to perform to their full potential is one that every workplace faces. Managers can feel that their staff would be more productive if they were more committed, while employees typically feel overworked and undervalued.

The Employee Engagement Hierarchy is based off of Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and reflects an employee’s engagement level as determined by how well their needs are being met. Rewards and recognition fulfill different needs and so which one is better depends on the individual and their needs.

Image result for The Employee Engagement Hierarchy

So what are the best methods to increase employee engagement and encourage them to bring their full selves to work every day?


Also known as intrinsic rewards, recognition involves the psychological rewards gained by doing a job well. This can include verbal or written recognition of an employee’s achievements, skills, or overall performance. This can be in a team meeting or one-on-one, or in a casual midday chat. Research has found that it is intrinsic rewards and recognition that tend to drive employee motivation on a day-to-day level, rather than the tangible rewards.


  • No financial investment required
  • Increases employees’ sense of competence and worth, resulting in increased pride and care in their work
  • Builds meaningfulness and purpose for an employee, contributing to their job satisfaction as they recognise the relevance/importance of their role within the greater organisation
  • Can be a great way to reinforce organisational values and cultures like improving teamwork


  • Staff may “slack off” after they have received recognition, thinking they have already proven themselves
  • Staff can feel undervalued if they are never recognised

For the most part, intrinsic rewards continue to motivate employees afterwards, as they want their employer to feel that the recognition was justified. And recognition is something that can be given to any employee, including those who may not be performing at the highest standard, as it can be used as a tool to engage and motivate employees who feel undervalued or overworked and are therefore less productive.

There are plenty of inexpensive ways for management to show employees the recognition that they deserve. Sometimes at the end of the day, the two most underused words in any organisations are the simple words ‘Thank You’’.

Whichever method used or practiced, remember to make it a ritual and not just a ‘once off’.


This includes all financial rewards (also known as extrinsic rewards) like pay raises, bonuses, gift cards, or any other tangible reward which is given to a person in recognition of their performance.


  • Highly motivating if the reward is desirable
  • Attractive perks can increase the appeal of an employer to prospective employees, attracting higher calibre candidates
  • Could compensate for jobs with lower rates of pay or job satisfaction


  • Short-term motivation only, leading to ongoing financial costs to produce regular reward opportunities
  • Could lead to increased culture of competition, rather than collaboration and teamwork, amongst staff
  • Could lead staff to focus only on achieving outcomes associated with rewards, and neglect other areas of performance

Overall, while providing extrinsic tangible rewards is generally seen as a reliable and effective way to encourage and motivate staff performance, as you can see, there are some consequences worth taking into account.

While rewards can certainly provide short-term motivation and drive, it generally does not drive long-term engagement, and must be continually invested in to make it succeed. In terms of workplace collaboration, rewarding individuals only runs the risk of discouraging teamwork, as individuals seek to outperform each other, rather than work together to achieve targets. This has the potential to create disharmony in the workplace as staff vie for the reward rather than the focus on quality work.

There are compelling gains to be made from creating a workplace culture that celebrates and promotes the achievements of staff through recognition. It requires no financial investment, and provides long-term benefits to employee satisfaction and workplace productivity.

Based in Kalgoorlie, The People & Culture Office is an independent HR Consultant who can partner with you to offer a one stop HR solution, we only charge you for the work we perform; no contracts, no annual or monthly fees, just quality service. Click here to learn more



Hello weekend!


Just a reminder that it’s the weekend (if you’re a Monday – Friday worker ), good luck to all the businesses nominated for tonights KBCCI Business Awards I’ve been lucky enough to represent a winning organisation the past 2 years and it’s a great night & honour to be recognised by your peers.