The case for diversity & inclusion

Diversity – “the collective mixture of differences and similarities that include, for example, individual and organisational characteristics, values, beliefs, experiences, backgrounds, preferences, and behaviors.”

Inclusion – “the achievement of a work environment in which all individuals are treated fairly and respectfully, have equal access to opportunities and resources, and can contribute fully to the organisation’s success”

Feeling welcomed and included, a part of the team, has a substantial effect on whether we feel good when we’re at work, our ability to perform in our role, and our overall wellbeing.

Australia, and subsequently its workforce, is one of the most diverse countries in the world. We come from a wide range of cultural, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds, gender identities, ages, sexual orientations, and differing family responsibilities.

Yet discrimination, bullying, and harassment in the workplace remain ongoing issues, particularly for people from different cultural backgrounds, people with disabilities, mothers returning to work, LGBTI people, and mature age employees.

Diversity is about our individual differences and acknowledging the unique blend of knowledge, skills and perspectives people bring to the workplace.

Diversity can include characteristics such as cultural background and ethnicity, age, gender, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, language and education. Diversity also includes characteristics such as professional skills, working style, location, and life experiences.

An inclusive culture is one where everyone feels valued and respected and is able to fully contribute. It is about removing barriers to make sure everyone can fully participate in the workplace and have equal access to opportunities. Inclusion is about empowering people to contribute their skills and perspectives for the benefit of organisational performance and business outcomes.

The moral argument is weighty enough, but the financial impact – as proven by multiple studies – makes this a no-brainer.

Diversity is central to innovation. It brings forth new and better ways of doing things, helps us to harness the benefits of technology and improve the efficiency and quality of our services. Inclusion is the key to unlocking this potential.

When we value workplace diversity and inclusion we see benefits such as higher employee engagement, improved performance, greater innovation, retention of talent, improved employee wellbeing and lower levels of unlawful behaviour such as harassment and discrimination.

The case for diversity & inclusion lies in valuing peoples abilities instead of their limitations

Whether business owners and managers like to admit it or not, people tend to recruit someone that reflects back themselves. Sometimes when a management team states they recruit on cultural fit what they really mean is they are looking for a while male aged between 25 – 45 that likes to sink a few beers at the end of the week and supports the West Coast Eagles. Sometimes it’s overt, such as my example, but sometimes you can look around your workplace and realised you’ve basically employed the same person 40 times, this is called unconscious bias.

2018 Diversity & Inclusion report conducted by Hay’s found that  63 per cent of respondents across all markets believe leaders hold a bias towards people who look, think or act like they do.

Research suggests that we instinctively categorize people and things using easily observed criteria such as age, weight, skin color, and gender. But we also classify people according to educational level, disability, sexuality, accent, social status, and job title, automatically assigning presumed traits to anyone we subconsciously put in those groups.

The “advantage” of this system is that it saves us time and effort processing information about people, allowing us to spend more of our mental resources on other tasks. The clear disadvantage is that it can lead us to make assumptions about them and take action based on those biases. This results in a tendency to rely on stereotypes, even if we don’t consciously believe in them.

Read more about this here

No matter how unbiased we think we are, we may have subconscious negative opinions about people who are outside our own group. But the more exposed we are to other groups of people, the less likely we are to feel prejudice against them. So the more diverse our workplaces, the more it will become the norm.

Millennials have a unique perspective on diversity. While older generations tend to view diversity through the lenses of race, demographics, equality and representation, millennials see diversity as a melding of varying experiences, different backgrounds and individual perspectives. They view the ideal workplace as a supportive environment that gives space to varying perspectives on a given issue.

Kicking goals in the area of diversity & inclusion isn’t easy, it’s a work in progress, something that requires continued work and maintenance. Empathetic leadership is key to this transformation. For real change to happen, every individual leader needs to buy into the value of belonging – both intellectually and emotionally.

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

IT’S TIME FOR HR TO MOVE BEYOND POLICIES, PRACTICES AND PROCESSES. THE PEOPLE & CULTURE OFFICE CAN PARTNER WITH YOU TO GAIN A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE THROUGH PEOPLE & CULTURE INITIATIVES CONTACT US TO ARRANGE AN APPOINTMENT TO DISCUSS WHAT SOLUTIONS WE CAN PUT IN PLACE TO DRIVE ACHIEVEMENT OF YOUR STRATEGIC GOALS.

Building an “always learning” culture

“No matter how much you’ve done, or how successful you’ve been, there’s always more to do, more to learn, more to achieve” Barack Obama

One of my favourite questions to ask of potential new employees is “what is something in your area expertise would you’d like to learn more about”

When looking to future employees I’m looking for not only someone who can, and, is willing to learn something new, but someone with enough self awareness to understand there is ALWAYS something to learn.

I’m about to bang on now about how the workforce is changing and how entrenching a culture of continuous learning is a must for attracting and retaining not just younger employees (16 – 37 year old demographic), but any employee who values their position within an organisation and wants to bring as much value as they can to their role. In other words, the type of employee you’d be lucky to score.

So lets start with my favourite subject – the changing landscape of the workplace

Learning is no longer just for students or apprentices & trainees. Technological advances, such as AI and automation, are creating an environment of almost constant change – not just at work, in every aspect of our lives. Businesses that don’t encourage and enable their employees to adapt to the changes will lose their competitive edge.

Traditional employee learning and development strategies are based on a stable and predictable environment. That, for better or worse, no longer exists.

On a small scale we are talking about minor changes to internal processes; ie: the requirement for handover notes or incident reports to be completed online meaning all employees need some level of computer competency, for a big picture example, thanks to technology a multitude of businesses can now operate in a digital & global space that just wasn’t conceivable for them 20 years ago.

It’s also no longer enough to employ someone and expect them to remain stagnant in their nominated field of work. Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends’ report found 42 per cent of millennials are likely to leave their organisations because they’re not learning fast enough. That number is astounding, especially when 75 per cent of the workforce will be made up of millennials by 2025.

What’s needed for organisations to survive and thrive in this new world is education; creating a culture of continuous learning that helps older staff shift into this new, fast changing era, and to satisfy the younger workforce’s desire to learn.

It requires a change in mindset, but the rewards are positive. Leaders who embrace the concept of a learning culture understand that learning is a natural process, that people yearn to grow. These organisations cultivate employee potential through learning opportunities and experiences.

And now onto my next point – thanks to technology workplace learning is now easier than ever.

Thanks to applications such as Zoom & Skype workplaces can access coaching, webinars and structured training right from their desks.

TAFE’s around Australia have been delivering course content 100% online for some years now.

Depending on your industry, there may be an industry specific LMS system available for you to join in order to access learning modules for your employees.

And finally the *most* important factor in building a culture of continuous learning within your organisation – senior employees & leaders who possess the skills to coach employees.

Most people within a leadership position was probably bought up through the ranks by what’s known as a “Command & Control” leader, defined by traits such as; I’m the manager, so I make the rules; Your job is to do what I say; If you mess up, I’ll let you know about it; If you don’t hear from me, that means you’re doing fine; You’d better be careful not to make a mistake, or cross me!; I make the policies, and you follow them.

If this was your boss how willing do you think you’d be to try something new? Not very; you’d be terrified of getting in trouble.

Growth and innovation comes from trying new things; stepping outside of your comfort zone; not being afraid to fail. It requires a collaborative and innovative leader.

When people think of coaching employees to learn something new, they think in terms of just showing them what to do. “First we do this” “If this happens you need to do that”

Coaching is about providing your employees the tools and capacity to discover the solutions for themselves as opposed to the how and when to complete a task. The leader still makes decisions but the conversation in getting there is two way.

It’s about developing your employees by providing regular support & feedback to allow their careers to progress to where they aspire to be. The ongoing dialogue of coaching communication guarantees that employees know what is expected of them and how their work fits into a larger vision or strategy of the organisation. 

The unfortunate reality is most people in leadership roles do not coach or develop their employees — ever.

Organisations with neglected learning cultures experience high talent turnover, struggle to keep customers, and ultimately fall behind competitors. These organisations may be profitable in the short term, but they ultimately fail.

On a scale of thriving to failure, where would you rather be?

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

IT’S TIME FOR HR TO MOVE BEYOND POLICIES, PRACTICES AND PROCESSES. THE PEOPLE & CULTURE OFFICE CAN PARTNER WITH YOU TO GAIN A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE THROUGH PEOPLE & CULTURE INITIATIVES CONTACT US TO ARRANGE AN APPOINTMENT TO DISCUSS WHAT SOLUTIONS WE CAN PUT IN PLACE TO DRIVE ACHIEVEMENT OF YOUR STRATEGIC GOALS.

Apprenticeships should support workforce planning

In 2013 when this most recent downturn hit I was made redundant from my job (the joys of working in a support service – you aren’t seen as an income generator so off you go).

I am passionate about youth employment and an opportunity arose for me to work in the apprenticeships & traineeships space.

What I become to learn (and alarmingly so) was that because of the down turn apprentice numbers took a sharp turn south. Companies that had in the previous years taken on a dozen or so new apprentices were only taking on 1 or 2 – or none.

These were for trades that once we come out the other side of the downturn (as past history would show we always do), would be in high demand. These were trades that up until the down turn businesses were recruiting from the eastern states and paying for existing employees to undertake trade upgrades.

Had companies maintained their apprenticeship program, by 2017 they would have had a bunch of tradies finishing their time and ready to work within their businesses, and most importantly, with a skill set tailored specifically to that business.

Apprentices & trainees should be seen by business as a way to bring fresh new talent into the business, to support their succession planning and growth aspirations and to minimise any negative impacts from current or future skills shortages.

And what a better way to have have a workforce trained to your specific business requirements than to grow your own talent. Apprenticeships and traineeships offer you the opportunity to train your up & coming employees in the areas that your business needs the most, providing your business with the skills it needs the most.

You want to know what else is great about employing youth into these roles? They bring a fresh approach & energy into a business which can have a knock on effect to other employees. A company that is willing to invest in people by supporting apprenticeships is showing a positive approach to corporate social responsibility, which is good for attracting both customers and future quality staff. It builds a positive employer brand which in turn will increase your profile as an employer that people want to work for.

And now to address the elephant in the room, I often hear business owners and older employees lament about the younger generation in the workplace; they are lazy, you have to hold their hand every step of the way, they are always on their phones.

Hands up who left school and started their first job and knew EXACTLY what to do? ……… anyone ……… anyone? Nobody can start a new job without some sort of training – ranging from “this is my first job ever and I don’t know how to conduct myself” through to “where do these documents get saved”. If you want your employees to not just exceed, but to excel, you need to spend time with them.

So if I hear “they are lazy” my response is did you asked them why they are sitting around not working; if you are telling me you have to hold their hand every step of the way I would suggest you try alternative ways to communicate, because your current method may not suit their learning style, and if I hear they are always on their phones I’m more interested in understanding why you haven’t told them to get off of it.

Depending on the industry & qualifications employers of apprentices and trainees can attract some great financial incentives with commencement, midpoint & completion payments available as well as well as additional incentives for priority areas and subsidised payroll tax for the bigger employers.

With the new financial year WA businesses can take advantage of the Jobs and Skills WA Employer Incentive. The great thing about this incentive is it is also available for school based trainees, which means you can gain a financial incentive to select and nurture your future employees from upper high school right through to the completion of their apprenticeship or traineeship. There’s a potential $8,500 in incentives on offer for a 4 year trade and $4,250 for a 2 year traineeship – woah!

Nicole Goldsworthy from Apprenticeship Support Australia is a valuable resource for employers within the Goldfields region and can answer your queries, sign your apprentices and trainees up and assist with sourcing reputable registered training organisations. You can email Nicole 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

Simone Pickering | The People & Culture Office

IT’S TIME FOR HR TO MOVE BEYOND POLICIES, PRACTICES AND PROCESSES. THE PEOPLE & CULTURE OFFICE CAN PARTNER WITH YOU TO GAIN A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE THROUGH PEOPLE & CULTURE INITIATIVES CONTACT US TO ARRANGE AN APPOINTMENT TO DISCUSS WHAT SOLUTIONS WE CAN PUT IN PLACE TO DRIVE ACHIEVEMENT OF YOUR STRATEGIC GOALS.

What’s the tea

Settle down and get comfy because I’m about to spill some tea.

Tea Spill GIF - Tea Spill The GIFs

Last month I was visiting a friend and we were all chatting, her husband, who works for one of the bigger employers in town, was telling me how the organisation had sent out an employee feedback survey.

The workplace has quite a low morale, pays are low compared to the rest of the industry and there are quite a number of FIFO workers. The sentiment amongst the residential workforce in general is that the big bosses are more concerned with putting profit over our community.

So the crews are assembled in the meeting room and management start discussing the terrible feedback from the employee survey and they ask if anyone would like to make a comment on the issues (let’s not lose sight of the fact that these types of surveys’ sole purpose IS for employees to make a comment – this is information they already have).

Silence………. nobody speaks a word. Then finally a voice pipes up “People are too scared to say what the issues are” discussion ensues and a couple of people, respectfully, share their input.

The meeting ends and those who spoke up are pulled aside and given a bollocking for what they said.

😳🤔 Do you think they get the irony of their actions?

Anonymous employee surveys are an excellent way to gain insight into the workplace culture, employee morale and what you are doing both right & wrong – as long as the organisation, and by that I mean management, is mature enough to accept the good with the bad and take action to make meaningful changes for the better.

All too often you see companies invest heavily in “yay team” training sessions or social activities in an effort to improve culture while failing to address the real issues.

Organisational culture is accepted behaviour, not expected behaviour

Culture flows from the top down

A strong & positive culture comes from strong & positive leadership. Words don’t change a culture. Displaying company values around the premises & in communications, or imprinting mugs, mouse pads, note pads, or key chains with the (company’s) values might be nice reinforcement, but these things do not define or change a culture.

Culture change comes from concrete and noticeable changes in leadership behaviour: what they do; who they hire; who they ask to move on; who they listen to and emulate; where they spend their time; what they talk about in meetings; what they measure; how & where they invest their $$.

When you listen to employees talk which pronoun do they elect to use when talking about the company? “We” or “They”? “They” suggests disengagement and at its worst, alienation.  While “we” suggests that employees feel as though they are part of something meaningful and significant.  They are engaged, productive & proud employees.

Do people want to work for your company and what do they write about you online? High turnover & finding it hard to attract quality talent (or keeping them) is a sure fire sign there is something wrong within your organisation, or within a particular department.

Going back to my story at the beginning of the post, I did a Google search to see what employees had to say about their experiences working there, here are snippets from the 5 most recent reviews;

“Your Employees Matter Too, Not Just Shareholders”

“Over worked, under paid and no real sense of being appreciated”

“Only management and share holders matter workers are nothing”

“The people working there are essentially good shame about the management”

“Upper management being very detached from daily struggles in the working environment and low pay rates”

Ouch! Now think about my reference to the FIFO workforce, the Kalgoorlie mining community is small and bad news spreads fast, the FIFO community draws from a much bigger pool. The number of FIFO onsite kinda makes sense doesn’t it?

Want to learn more about workplace culture? You can find more blogs here, here & 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

Simone Pickering | The People & Culture Office

IT’S TIME FOR HR TO MOVE BEYOND POLICIES, PRACTICES AND PROCESSES. THE PEOPLE & CULTURE OFFICE CAN PARTNER WITH YOU TO GAIN A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE THROUGH PEOPLE & CULTURE INITIATIVES CONTACT US TO ARRANGE AN APPOINTMENT TO DISCUSS WHAT SOLUTIONS WE CAN PUT IN PLACE TO DRIVE ACHIEVEMENT OF YOUR STRATEGIC GOALS.

Our June newsletter is here!

It’s full of Friends quotes and a plethora of important and interesting info

Follow the link to get reading……… and remember “He’s her lobster” 🦐

https://mailchi.mp/013db8f2ad25/its-like-a-cows-opinion-its-moo

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

IT’S TIME FOR HR TO MOVE BEYOND POLICIES, PRACTICES AND PROCESSES. THE PEOPLE & CULTURE OFFICE CAN PARTNER WITH YOU TO GAIN A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE THROUGH PEOPLE & CULTURE INITIATIVES CONTACT US TO ARRANGE AN APPOINTMENT TO DISCUSS WHAT SOLUTIONS WE CAN PUT IN PLACE TO DRIVE ACHIEVEMENT OF YOUR STRATEGIC GOALS.

A bit of this & a bit of that

If you follow me on Insta or Facebook you may have seen this ⬇️ photo about how I spent my 1st business birthday getting papped by the lovely Rachel of Madison Studio Photography.

Oh hey! Thats me 😂

Rachel is one of the amazing local small businesses offering my clients a discount on services as part of our Employee Benefit Package 🙌 You can learn more about the Program here, here and here.

This week I wanted to make use of my post to cover off on a few HR related bits and pieces that small – medium businesses commonly have misconceptions about, or are common errors, but aren’t sufficient enough to warrant a stand alone post on the subject.

Terminating employees as a small business

As a small business you may have heard you are exempt from Fair Work action if you have less than 15 employees, a belief that has lead many an employer to just terminate the employment of people willy nilly without cause.

In actual fact Fair Work introduced a Small Business Code in 2009 to provide a framework in regards to the termination of employees. The Code provides a process that employers must demonstrate they have followed prior to termination. If the employee in question is eligible to lodge a claim through Fair Work, and the employer cannot demonstrate procedural fairness was shown through the following of the Code, then Fair Work will rule the dismissal as being unfair and the employer will be liable for compensation.

Requesting or forcing the resignation of an employee

The legal definition of Constructive Dismissal is conduct of the employer was so “harmful, adverse or unfriendly to” the contract of employment and the employment relationship that the employee could not be expected to put up with it. Some examples of Constructive Dismissal include;

  • an employer expressly suggesting that an employee resign (irrespective of whether the employee made the suggestion) so as to assist with preserving the employee’s future ability to obtain work;
  • an employer actively making it very difficult or impossible for an employee to fulfil their role;
  • an employer continuously failing to provide, to a serious degree, a safe and/or healthy working environment (this includes failing to act on bullying and / or harassment of an employee); or
  • an employer imposing unauthorised and detrimental variations to the employee’s contract, such as a pay-cut, demotion, change of working hours, relocation or unreasonably failing to prevent or punish a co-worker who may be harassing or discriminating against the employee.

The steps you take as an employer to terminate an employee must be well considered and consistent with your termination policy. No matter how well intentioned your actions may have been, there is rarely a low risk shortcut that can substitute the correct performance management or redundancy process. You can read more about Constructive Dismissal here.

Abandonment of employment

Lets say you have an employee that hasn’t turned up to work for the past couple of days and hasn’t called in sick, what do you do? At what point does their job no longer exist?

Abandonment of employment is defined as “circumstances where an employee is absent from the workplace without reasonable excuse, or has failed to communicate with the employer to provide an excuse for being absent.” Traditionally, modern awards have allowed an absence of more than 3 days as evidence a worker has abandoned their employment and an absence of 14 days without reasonable cause showing clearly that they have. Recently Fair Work removed the relevant clause from a number of awards, despite this procedural fairness is still required, therefore best practice for unauthorised absences should be;

After a 3 day period of unauthorised absence the employer should make an attempt to contact the employee firstly with a telephone call, and, if there is no response, to follow up with a written request sent by email or registered post requiring the employee to provide an explanation for their absence by a specified deadline.

It is very important that the employer is aware of what provisions govern that particular employee’s employment— whether that be a modern award, enterprise agreement or contract of employment — as that particular instrument may contain a specific clause stating how abandonment of employment must be handled. Also, an employer may have a workplace policy dealing with absences which should be considered.

Finally, once all avenues have been exhausted and there is no explanation for the absences provided, an employer should always issue a letter stating that the employee’s employment has been terminated without notice, effective immediately, on the basis of abandonment of employment.

What is NOT abandonment of employment

  • When an employee has provided a medical certificate for an absence (note the “temporary absence” provisions of the Fair Work Act).
  • When an employee has made a workers compensation claim and is unfit for work while being paid weekly payments under the claim.
  • When an employee has taken authorised leave.
  • Unnotified absence from work for up to 3 days.

Do you have a subject that you would like to know more about? Contact Me via email to let me know and I can write a blog or Facebook post about it.

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

IT’S TIME FOR HR TO MOVE BEYOND POLICIES, PRACTICES AND PROCESSES. THE PEOPLE & CULTURE OFFICE CAN PARTNER WITH YOU TO GAIN A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE THROUGH PEOPLE & CULTURE INITIATIVES CONTACT US TO ARRANGE AN APPOINTMENT TO DISCUSS WHAT SOLUTIONS WE CAN PUT IN PLACE TO DRIVE ACHIEVEMENT OF YOUR STRATEGIC GOALS.