Archive

Archive for August, 2010

winHR & winOHS Version 5.5 Released

August 18th, 2010 No comments

Favour is pleased to announce the latest major release of winHR & winOHS ans webHR&OHS.

As always this new version has been driven by the feedback of our valued clients.  In Version 5.5 of our popular HR and OHS software suite there are some great new enhancements, amongst other items, for occupational health and safety functionality.  This includes:

  • Brand new dedicated Return To Work tab
  • A multitude of additional fields across all OHS tabs with useful process enhancements

Generically, the most popular enhancement is the introduction of Checklist functionality.  It flexibly allows you to define checklists for important processes that can be ticked off as tasks are achieved.  For example, for a new starter you can define all the items that need to be addressed and mark them off as they are achieved.

At Favour, we strive to continue to enhance our Human Resource & Occupational Health & Safety solutions according to our client needs.  Our next major release will introduce enhanced recruitment and course management features.  Please stay tuned for these.

Favour aims to provide the most affordable HR & OHS solutions in the Australian market.  Please contact us for more information 0n 1300 657 158 or visit our website at www.favour.com.au

Categories: Product News

The rise of workplace mediation

August 18th, 2010 No comments

from website of Human Resources Magazine at www.humanresourcesmagazine.com.au

Employers are increasingly turning to mediation and dispute resolution to resolve workplace conflicts. HR Leader looks at some of the latest trends and reveals the most common pitfalls for the unsuspecting HR professional

Post global financial crisis, Australian employers are quicker to nip workplace conflict in the bud through alternative dispute resolution and workplace mediation processes. Rather than fighting it out in courts and industrial commissions, large employers are intervening in workplace conflict, especially “employee on employee” conflict, much earlier than was the case even two to three years ago, according to a number of experts.

This is in part due to greater awareness about bullying in the workplace and the legal liability that will accrue to an employer who fails to take action, according to Siobhan Flores-Walsh, a partner at Australian Business Lawyers.

“Many employers are not waiting for an employee to complain about a situation before suggesting that the parties engage in some form of conflict resolution process,” she explains. “Employers tell us that if they wait until the formal complaints process is triggered, the matter will often bog down in an internal investigation process that can be damaging to relationships. Of course, early intervention is consistent with OHS obligations.”

The forms of conflict resolution processes adopted by employers are also evolving, says Flores-Walsh, who has worked in employment law and industrial relations for 18 years, including HR roles in the oil and media industries.

“While conciliation and mediation are popular, we are also noticing employers sending their employees to conflict resolution training as a preventative mechanism,” she observes.

“In addition, in circumstances where senior employees are in conflict with each other, some employers are asking employees to engage in conflict resolution training as a precursor to them trying to resolve differences together.”

Issues for HR professionals

A common workplace mediation and dispute resolution mistake made by HR professionals in the management team is to address the symptoms of conflict instead of the cause, according to Anna Booth, director of dispute resolution firm CoSolve.

“They invest in dispute management, seeking to address the stated issues using the disputes procedure, and when agreement is not reached, escalating the issues in the organisation and often to tribunals,” Booth notes.

“One organisation I was with recently was at the tribunal every week. Experienced professionals are looking behind the issues to the relationship and investing time in the painstaking process of building trust and respect between people and establishing the framework for working together.”

A simple yet often overlooked step is to communicate and consult with all the stakeholders, says Booth, who also serves as a Board member of Members Equity Bank and non-executive chair of Slater & Gordon.

“A recent experience saw an entire training program nearly abandoned because management assumed their undoubted expertise would be accepted without question by the workforce representatives, reminding us that how we go about doing things is just as important as what we do,” she recalls.

Flores-Walsh has also noticed that many employers inappropriately require victims of workplace harassment and bullying to effectively “negotiate” an outcome with the very person who has engaged in unlawful conduct against them.

Once an employee’s allegation has been substantiated, she says care should be taken before suggesting that the complainant enter into a dispute resolution process in lieu of, or to supplement, an employer imposed outcome. “Sometimes an employer should simply discipline the perpetrator,” she states.

“We often see employers who, having substantiated a complaint of bullying/harassment, nonetheless do not take disciplinary action against the perpetrator. Rather, the employer gets the parties together to negotiate an outcome.”

The parties are often referred to a mediator to assist them in the process, but Flores-Walsh says this is dangerous territory for an employer to enter. “Mediation is not like a court process where the court is interventionist and attempts to protect \each of the parties,” she says.

“Mediation and other alternate dispute processes essentially abandon the parties to their own skill or lack of skill and do not actively address the operation of power imbalances.”

Flores-Walsh recommends that employers only refer the parties to a substantiated complaint to alternate dispute resolution processes with the utmost of care, as an inappropriate referral could result in the employer breaching its duty of care to an employee by exposing them to risk of psychological injury in circumstances where the employee (typically an already traumatised victim) does not have the skills to cope with the process.

Categories: Articles, Human Resources

HR2You – August 2010 Newsletter

August 12th, 2010 No comments

by HR2You at www.hr2you.com.au

Bring Out The Best In Your People

The great leaders create other leaders. What are you doing to bring out the best in your people and creating leaders in your organisation?

 Make your people shine by involving the best communicators on projects, not the ones with the best titles. Be open to these people with new ideas and a creative outlook on the business. They are the ones most likely to drive your business.

If you have a low tolerance to mistakes, then your employees won’t take risks. Empower your employees to take a risk once in a while and build their self esteem. Set guidelines by all means, but give your employees room to breathe and make your business prosper.

 Stretch your employees. Not on the rack, but in their minds. Challenge them to build their skills and their thinking, and you will alter their behaviour. Create the environment that fosters this positive change.

 If you work to bring out the best in your people, you will have the best people.

Sexual Discrimination

A couple of big stories in the news recently around this topic. A former PR at David Jones gave them the kind of publicity that all business owners and managers dread – a media conference to point out the sexual misdeeds of the former CEO and a large compensation claim. The other case involved two former female employees at Airservices Australia suing for being harassed by porn images around the workplace. This case also made the headlines, cost an Airservices manager his job and brought unwanted publicity to the company.

 Both cases could have been avoided. The first one with a solid workplace policy on inappropriate behaviour and training (all employees) on the policy and the consequences of not adhering to it. The second case required not only a solid workplace policy and training, but also an email and internet filter to stop employees bringing and distributing inappropriate images (see Porn Kings in The Workplace).

 Now might be a good time to speak to HR2You on your workplace policies on sexual harassment and internet use and train up your employees on the consequences.

 Have You Been a Bad Boss?

 Being the boss is difficult enough, especially when you need to counter the natural tendencies that separate you from the people you manage. Knowing what to avoid can help you manage your people better.

What should you look out for?

 Know The Value Of Recognition

 Too many times I hear staff complain about the boss not recognising them. Then I hear from the boss saying that they are always complimenting their employees. Why the different views?

 Most often the interaction between boss and employee is limited to a case by case basis. This is where they talk only about a specific task, client, project, sale, etc… The boss says “Well done” and moves on. The employee says thanks, but in their mind they remember staying up all night at home preparing for that task, client, project, sale, etc…

 Many businesses fail to have a formal recognition program to reward employees who have achieved or gone above and beyond the call of duty. Recognition is a big motivator that I hear from many employees and a key requirement in their ideal work environment.

 It doesn’t take much to formally recognise employees, and it goes a long, long way to retaining and motivating them.

 Does Your Office Clique Together?

 Does your office have an inner circle that runs the show? It’s well documented that one of ‘bad’ elements of Kevin Rudd’s reign was the ‘Gang of Four’ that made all the decisions and ran the Cabinet. Cliques in a business can be great for those in them, but they leave many on the outer and in the end be detrimental to the overall business.

A recent poll in the Age newspaper on whether ‘Office cliques are a pain’ shows 76% of respondents say they are silly, unproductive and isolating for anyone outside them. This just leaves a quarter of the workforce thinking they are beaut. As an employer, do you really want three quarters of your workforce feeling left out and annoyed?

 Cliques bring distrust, rivalry, conflict and a dysfunctional workplace. A schoolyard gang mentality appears and important information stops flowing between employees. It is important to take action early and prevent the workforce from becoming polarised.

 Look around your workforce and identify any cliques, what damage are they doing to your business?

 Handy Quote

 “The conventional definition of management is getting work done through people, but real management is developing people through work.”

— Agha Hasan Abedi

Categories: Human Resources

Are OHS inductions sound?

August 10th, 2010 No comments

by Kevin Jones at Safety At Work Blog

http://safetyatworkblog.wordpress.com/2010/08/09/are-ohs-inductions-sound/

Mostly no.

Over the years I have experienced site safety inductions that have involved sitting in front of a television and video player in a shed and then telling the safety manager I watched the induction video and understood it.

I have sat in a site shed with a dozen others and endured an induction of scores of PowerPoint presentations and a questionnaire that was, almost, workshopped and did not represent any understanding of the work site’s OHS obligations.

There have been long inductions where there is a lot of information but no handbooks to take away or to refer to later.

There have been OHS inductions that have involved no more than ”there are the toilets, the tea room is over there and there’s a fire extinguisher here somewhere”.

Bad induction is an unforgiveable flaw in a company’s safety management system and clearly indicates a careless attitude of companies towards their employees’ and contractors’ safety. The significance of induction should not be underestimated because it has two purposes – to establish a common state of knowledge of all workers on a site before one starts work and to have a reference point for investigations of any incidents.

A flawed induction provides a poor understanding of the OHS practices, procedures and policies on a site which will, in turn, lead to an increased risk of incidents occurring.

The investigation of an incident will look to the sign-offs of staff and contractors to the induction program and say that, regardless of the quality of the induction, the workers and contractors have signed and stated that they fully understand their OHS obligations. The incident will indicate not that the induction was inadequate but that the signatories signed a statement that has been proven to be untrue. The focus goes to the worker or the contractor rather than the provider of the bad induction – the employer or principal contractor. A legitimate question is “why did you sign a document that states you fully understood the induction when the reality is that you did not?”

A common situation is that people see any induction as an impediment to getting the job started. They want it to be brief as it is unproductive time. It is a necessary safety evil.

Inductions must regain their significance as the basis for a functional contractor management system. This will require induction training to be relevant, interesting, current, site-specific and, most importantly, verified and enforced.

Contractors, particularly, need to question the validity of the training they are being offered and to not sign if they do not understand all of the OHS issues and procedures they are being presented with. If they do sign-off without understanding their obligations for that site, it can almost be guaranteed that they will be a target in any incident investigation by the principal contractor.

Refusing to sign is not easy to do in a competitive environment where each contract could be the difference between a small business failing and succeeding. The risk of losing everything, including a worker’s life, is heightened if one signs a statement that is untrue or signs a statement unthinkingly for the sake of getting a job started. This is the small business operator’s risk dilemma – play the odds and maybe win or “do the right thing” and possibly lose a contract.

Are you willing to risk having the coroner find that you contributed to your best friend’s death because you skipped the induction or didn’t listen? Could you face your best friend’s partner and relatives at the Coroner’s Court? And where will the principal contractor be, standing next to you in solidarity or across the corridor with a phalanx of labour lawyers?

Bad quality safety information and inductions must not be tolerated. We must begin to not accept poor information from our clients or large companies because if we do, we are complicit in their careless attitude to workplace safety.

If you appreciate this article, please show your support by visiting Kevin Jone’s Safety At Work blog at safetyatwork.blog.wordpress.com

Categories: Articles, OH&S