Productivity strategies for businesses

Explore how strategic strategic people management and technology can boost productivity and ensure sustainable growth for businesses.

If you heard that Australia had a record surge in employment, you’d automatically expect increased productivity. Right? 

Well, shockingly, this isn’t the state of our economy. Despite an unprecedented 6.9% increase in hours worked in the financial year 2022-23, productivity across the board actually fell by 3.7%. This counterintuitive scenario, detailed in the Productivity Commission’s latest report, underscores a troubling disconnect: more Australians are working longer hours than ever, yet the nation’s overall output isn’t keeping up.

This alarming trend raises critical questions and this blog addresses how businesses and policymakers can shift from merely increasing workforce numbers to improving the efficiency and productivity of our work processes. This change sets the stage for a stronger and more sustainable economy, the nature of work and efficiency in Australia. Alex Robson, the Commission’s Deputy Chair, while assessing the statistics and trends explains, “Australians’ incomes grew in 2022-23, mostly because they worked more hours. But productivity growth is about working smarter, not working harder or longer.” This revelation is a wake-up call that challenges us to rethink our approach to workforce management and economic growth. 

The key issue here is not just the increase in labour but the effectiveness of that labour. With the labour market participation near record highs and minimal growth in wages relative to inflation, the real concern becomes evident: without genuine productivity improvements, we can’t sustain long-term wage growth or control inflation effectively. 

The disconnect between increased labour and productivity

The recent insights from the Productivity Commission are indeed troubling. The discrepancy between the increased hours worked and decreased productivity underscores a critical challenge: simply increasing labour hours does not necessarily equate to improved output or efficiency. 

The impact of insufficient investment:

A significant contributor to this productivity shortfall is the inadequate investment in capital resources necessary to support a growing workforce. The capital-to-labour ratio, a key indicator of how much is being invested in tools and equipment per worker, experienced a sharp decrease of 4.9% over the last year. This decline shows that although more people are employed, companies haven’t invested proportionately in the tools, technology and training needed to enhance productivity.  

The consequences of overlooked efficiency:

The urgency to fill job vacancies has often resulted in hiring practices that favour quantity over quality. Many of these positions are in sectors like retail and hospitality, which are typically associated with lower productivity levels. In addition, incorporating less experienced or less productive labour into the workforce without adequate support or training dilutes the overall effectiveness of the workforce.

Refocusing on quality and efficiency:

To counteract these trends, businesses must shift their focus. Rather than merely increasing headcount, they should aim to enhance the productivity of each work hour. This requires a strategic revision of resource allocation, technology integration, and employee engagement.

Investing in people and technology:

For sustainable growth, it is essential that companies increase their investments in both human capital and technological resources. Equipping employees with the appropriate tools and ensuring they have the skills and training to use these resources effectively are crucial steps. Emphasising continuous learning and adaptability is crucial to keep pace with technological advancements and evolving market demands.

Creating a culture of efficiency:

Leadership plays a crucial role in creating a workplace culture that values and actively pursues efficiency. This involves setting clear expectations, offering consistent feedback, and promoting innovation and problem-solving across all levels of the business. A culture that prioritises process and workflow optimisation can significantly boost overall productivity. 

 

The crucial role of effective people management

Understanding the disconnect between lower productivity despite an increased workforce sets the basis towards understanding the inefficiencies within Australia’s workforce. Let’s examine how strategic people management can turn these challenges into opportunities for growth. 

Effective management is a crucial factor in maximising our workforce’s potential and reversing the trend of declining productivity. Let’s look at how focused human resource strategies can transform productivity outcomes and have a positive impact on long-term economic growth. 

Identifying and addressing skill gaps:

Skill gaps in the workforce can significantly hamper productivity. Identifying these gaps through regular assessments and feedback allows businesses to pinpoint specific areas where training is needed. Implementing targeted training programs to close these gaps, both boosts individual employee performance and enhances overall business efficiency.

Strategic recruitment practices:

Recruitment practices have a big influence on productivity. By adopting a more strategic approach to hiring, businesses can ensure they attract candidates who closely fit the job requirements and the culture and ethos of the company. This involves a thorough understanding of the role’s demands and a careful evaluation of how candidates’ skills and experiences align with those needs.

Enhancing employee engagement:

Engaged employees are more likely to be productive. Strategies to increase engagement can include clear and transparent communication, recognition programs, and opportunities for career development. Ensuring that employees feel valued and understood can lead to increased satisfaction and motivation, which are crucial for maintaining productivity.

Optimising workforce management:

Effective people management isn’t just about overseeing employees; it requires a dynamic approach to managing their workloads, providing support, and encouraging a positive work environment. Techniques such as flexible working conditions, better resource allocation, and supportive leadership can help maintain high levels of productivity by creating an environment where employees can thrive.

Measuring and enhancing performance:

Regular performance reviews are essential to provide feedback and also to set future goals. Utilising performance metrics aligned with business objectives can help managers understand individual contributions to the company’s productivity. This also allows for the adjustment of strategies in real-time to address any emerging challenges.

By focusing on these areas, businesses can develop a more capable, engaged, and efficiently managed workforce, which is key to reversing the trend of declining productivity. Strategic people management not only addresses immediate productivity concerns but also builds a foundation for sustained growth and competitiveness.

Innovative work practices and technologies 

As important as effective people management is the need for businesses to embrace innovative work practices and technologies. This approach complements the strategic management of human resources and also moves businesses towards operation excellence. Here are a few examples of how companies can boost productivity and remain competitive. 

IAdopting felxible work arrangements:

Offering flexible work arrangements to employees can enhance employee satisfaction and reduce burnout, thus increasing productivity. Businesses can implement various forms of flexibility such as remote working, flexible hours and condensed workweeks. 

For example, allowing employees to choose their working hours or work from home for part of the week could improve employees’ work-life balance, decrease absenteeism and turnover rates. 

Implementing collaborative technologies: 

When considering or managing hybrid or fully remote settings, effective collaboration technologies are crucial for enhanced communication and project management within the various teams. 

For example, companies can significantly reduce time wasted on miscommunication and inefficient processes by asking their teams to use tools like Slack for communication, Asana for task management and Google Workspace for document management and collaboration.

Harnessing the power of AI and ML:

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) offer powerful opportunities for automating routine tasks and optimising business processes. 

For example, businesses can make use of AI-driven chatbots to handle routine inquiries and frequently asked questions (FAQs). This allows their human staff to focus on more complex customer issues or other value-added services. 

Emphasising sustainable practices:

Incorporating sustainable practices into business operations can lead to significant efficiency improvements. 

For example, transitioning to digital documentation reduces paper use, speeds up information retrieval and cuts costs. 

Utlising analytics for better decision making: 

Data analytics help businesses to better understand their operations, customer satisfaction and overall performance. Simple, user-friendly analytics tools can help businesses measure and understand performance across various aspects of their business, from sales and marketing to customer engagement and operational efficiency.

For example, service companies can use data analytics to identify bottlenecks, thus helping them to reorganise their teams and improve customer service response times.  

These innovative work practices and technologies help businesses enhance their productivity and also align themselves with modern business standards. These strategies help create a proactive, efficient, and sustainable business environment.

 

Evaluating and adapting business strategies

To maintain productivity and drive growth, businesses must not only implement but also continuously evaluate and adapt their strategies. This approach ensures that operations meet internal objectives and are also aligned with market conditions. 

Here’s how businesses can integrate continuous strategy evaluation into their operations for sustained success.

Continuous evaluation of performance:

Regularly monitoring and assessing business strategies is essential to confirm their effectiveness and identify areas for improvement. Using real-time data analysis and performance metrics allows businesses to make informed decisions quickly. For example, using analytics to track customer engagement and sales performance can help businesses understand the impact of a new marketing strategy or product launch.

Incorporating feedback loops:

Feedback is a critical component of strategy adaptation. Establishing effective feedback mechanisms from all stakeholders – employees, customers and suppliers – helps businesses remain responsive to needs and expectations. This could be as simple as regular customer satisfaction surveys or as involved as a monthly review meeting with key clients or a digital platform for employee suggestions. These feedback loops help companies to stay connected to their community and to iterate on their services or products effectively.

The role of leadership in strategic adaption: 

Leadership is vital in navigating through strategic changes. Leaders must help create an environment where flexibility and adaptability are part of the business culture. This requires clear communication about the reasons for changes, expected outcomes, and how these adjustments align with the broader business goals. Leaders should encourage a mindset among employees that views feedback and change positively, as opportunities for personal and business growth.

Learning from real-world applications:

Drawing on real-world examples from businesses that have successfully adapted their strategies can provide valuable insights. Companies like Toyota have long been recognised for their continuous improvement processes, where constant incremental changes are made to processes and production techniques to enhance quality and efficiency. Similarly, many tech companies continuously update their software products based on user feedback to enhance functionality and user experience.

 

A call to action for a more productive future 

The data is out there, the signs are clear. Even with a bigger workforce, despite more people being hired, our productivity isn’t keeping pace. The findings from the Productivity Commission are clear – simply adding more hours or people isn’t the answer. Instead, we need to make every hour count by enhancing how we manage our teams and integrate technology.

As we’ve seen, boosting productivity involves much more than just increasing labour. It’s about smarter management, leveraging the right technology, and cultivating a workplace culture that values continual improvement and efficiency. From flexible work arrangements to adopting new tech tools, these aren’t just ideas but practical steps that any business, big or small, can start implementing to see real results.

In today’s economy, staying static isn’t an option. We need to be proactive, not just in responding to changes but in anticipating them. This means continually re-evaluating and refining our strategies to ensure they align with both our team’s needs and market dynamics.

It’s time for business leaders and policymakers to take these insights and turn them into action. The roadmap to reversing our productivity slump is clear – invest in our people, embrace technology, and keep adapting. By committing to these strategies, we can transform these challenges into opportunities for innovation and growth, ensuring a resilient and thriving future for Australian businesses.

 

Let’s not just aim to meet the standards but set new ones. Here’s to building a more efficient, dynamic, and competitive Australian economy.

If you would like to chat further about how you can increase productivity and review technology, book in a free 30-minute consultation here.

Gratitude as a strength: the magic of accepting compliments

Discover how embracing praise can make a positive impact on your mental health. Learn to accept compliments and boost your self-esteem. 

Let’s play a quick game

  1. You’re out at a party and the host says “You look stunning!”

You respond with:

       A. “Oh! You must be going blind”

       B. Stop it…”

       C. “Thank you.”

 

       2. You meet your first boss and she says “You’re doing brilliantly! You’ve come a long way.”

You say:

      A. “Everyone says I’m born under a lucky star”

      B. “I have still so much to do”

      C. “I’m so glad to hear you say that. Thank you.”

 

      3. You wow everyone with a presentation at work and a colleague comments, “That was incredibly insightful! You really know your stuff.” 

You reply with:

A. “Oh, I just threw some slides together last minute.”

B. “I guess I got lucky this time.”

C. “Thanks so much! I’m glad you found it helpful.”

 

If you’ve chosen option c in all three scenarios above, congratulations! You are doing brilliantly! But most often, we women are so self-critical that accepting a compliment with grace can be surprisingly challenging. 

This seemingly small act, saying those two simple words “thank you” holds immense power, capable of transforming our mental health and boosting our self-esteem. Yet, so many of us struggle to get those words out. Instead, we opt to deflect or downplay the praise we receive. 

It’s time to explore why embracing compliments is essential for our well-being and how it can help build stronger self-acceptance and mental resilience. 

 

Why compliments feel good but can be hard to accept

Receiving a compliment can make us feel great for the whole day.

Mark Twain once said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.”

Yet, acknowledging that compliment, accepting it with a simple “thank you’? That often feels as tough as solving a maths problem. And that’s because a lot is going on behind the scenes when someone says nice about you. 

Hearing good things about yourself should make you feel amazing. The warm, fuzzy feeling is partly due to your brain releasing a happy chemical called dopamine. This not only makes you feel great but also nudges you to keep doing whatever you do to earn that praise. 

But here’s the twist: Even though compliments are like mini cheerleaders for your self-esteem, you probably deflect them for the most part. Why? A lot has to do with how you’re raised and the mixed messages you get from all around. Societal norms dictate the need to be modest, not too proud, and always strive for more. So, when someone sends a compliment your way, it can feel like you’re suddenly put in the spotlight, and your first instinct is to step out of it.

But here’s a helpful tip – think of compliments as tiny gifts of words. They’re meant to be opened and enjoyed, not pushed away. They give you a peek at how others see you, shining a light on the good stuff you might not even notice about yourself. And isn’t it a joy to discover something positive you didn’t realise you had?

But, getting to the point where you can happily accept these word gifts takes a bit of practice. It’s about retraining your brain to understand that it’s okay to feel good about yourself and to see your own worth through others’ eyes.

You need to get comfortable with letting those positive vibes in and letting them lift you up. It’s simpler than it sounds, and with a little bit of practice, you can definitely get there.

 

Learning to accept the applause

In the words of author, Steve Goodier, “Sincere compliments cost nothing and can accomplish so much. In ANY relationship they are the applause that refreshes.” 

It’s one thing to understand that compliments are like secret boosts for your self-esteem. It’s also easy to acknowledge that accepting them can sometimes feel like trying to hug a cactus. But how do you get from awkwardly sidestepping praise to fully embracing it? It boils down to changing your mindset and practising until it feels natural.

It’s not bragging, it’s believing:

First up, let’s tackle the big myth: Accepting a compliment doesn’t mean you’re full of yourself. It means you’re starting to believe in your own worth, and that’s always a good thing. When someone says you did a great job, they’re not expecting you to disagree. They’re giving you a verbal high-five. Would you leave a high-five hanging? Probably not. So, why leave a compliment hanging in the air?

Practice makes perfect:

Like any skill, accepting compliments takes practice. Start by resisting the natural urge to downplay or deflect. The next time someone compliments you, try responding with a simple “Thank you.” That’s it. No “but” or “it was nothing” attached. Just “Thank you.” It might feel weird at first, but keep at it. Over time, it’ll start feeling more natural, and you’ll begin to see yourself in the positive light others see you.

Turn the compliment into a conversation:

If “Thank you” feels too short or inadequate, and you’re itching to say more, use the compliment as a springboard for a conversation. For example, if someone praises your presentation skills, you could say, “Thank you! I’ve been really working on them. Is there anything you think I could do even better next time?” This way, you’re accepting the compliment while staying engaged and open to growth.

Reflect on the praise:

After receiving a compliment, take a moment to reflect on it. Instead of brushing it off, think about what was said and how it makes you feel. This reflection can help reinforce your positive qualities in your own mind and gradually build your self-esteem.

Spread the love:

Getting comfortable with receiving compliments often makes you better at giving them too. When you start noticing the good in yourself, you’ll also start seeing it in others. Sharing genuine compliments can create a positive feedback loop, where everyone around you feels appreciated and valued.

Remember, you deserve it: 

The most important thing to keep in mind is that you deserve the compliments you receive. They’re not flukes or mistakes. They’re reflections of your hard work, talent, and the impact you have on others. Embracing them is not just about feeling good in the moment; it’s about building a foundation of self-worth that can carry you through challenges and successes alike.

 

Embracing compliments: a step towards loving yourself

Accepting compliments gracefully isn’t only about navigating social situations with elegance; it’s an act of self-love and affirmation. It’s a declaration that you see your worth and are ready to embrace the love and respect others offer you.

Beyond the ‘thank you’:

Understanding and practising the art of accepting compliments lays the groundwork for a healthier, more positive relationship with yourself. Each “thank you” you utter is a step away from self-doubt and toward self-assurance. But the journey doesn’t stop at simply accepting kind words; you need to internalise them – letting them take root in yourself, and allowing them to grow into a sturdy, unwavering self-esteem.

The mirror of reflection: 

Think of each compliment as a mirror, reflecting back at you the qualities and strengths you possess. This mirror doesn’t lie; it simply shows you what others see – the best parts of you. Allow yourself the grace to believe in this reflection, to accept it as your truth. It’s in this belief that the true transformation begins, transforming not just how you see yourself, but how you navigate the world around you.

A ripple effect:

When you start to accept compliments with grace and gratitude, you don’t just change yourself; you also change how others interact with you. Your acceptance encourages more open and positive interactions, creating a ripple effect of goodwill and appreciation. This isn’t just about making yourself feel good; it’s about encouraging an environment where kindness, appreciation, and positive reinforcement thrive.

Final words of envouragement:

Accepting a compliment, even with “thank you” is more than about being polite – it’s a powerful affirmation of your worth. Each compliment you receive is a gift, an offering of respect and admiration. Embrace it. Cherish it. Let it remind you of your value, especially in moments of doubt.

If you find yourself struggling to accept compliments, don’t be discouraged. Like any skill, it takes practice. Start small, remind yourself of your worth, and remember that it’s okay to feel proud of who you are and what you’ve accomplished. You are deserving of praise, not for perfection, but for the effort, the passion, and the uniqueness you bring into this world.

 

In closing 

Your journey through this exploration of compliments is much more than about learning to say “thank you.” It’s about recognising your value, allowing yourself to be seen, and, most importantly, seeing yourself through a lens of kindness and appreciation. 

As you step out into the world, carry with you the knowledge that you are worthy of every kind word, every note of praise, and every accolade that comes your way.

May you walk forward with your head held high, your heart open, and your ears ready to accept the beautiful truths others see in you. Remember, each step you take in accepting compliments is a step towards embracing your true self – flaws and all – with love and pride.

 

If you would like to chat further about how you can empower yourself and others through gratitude, book in a free 30-minute consultation here.

Beyond Physical Safety: Addressing Psychosocial Risks for a Thriving Workplace

The conversation around workplace safety has gone beyond tangible, physical risks to include mental and emotional health and well-being. We’ve recently been faced with the term ‘psychosocial hazards’ – a concept gaining ground, not just in occupational health discussions, but also in boardroom agendas across Australia. 

While traditional safety measures focus on preventing physical injuries, psychosocial hazards highlight the more subtle, yet equally detrimental, aspects of work life that can affect an individual’s health and wellbeing. 

They include a blend of both psychological and social elements in the workplace, extending from job design and work management to social interactions among colleagues. 

While these hazards might not always manifest as visible injuries, they can lead to significant stress, mental health issues and decreased productivity. And that’s crucial for businesses to understand. 

With a focus on this topic, we aim to shine a spotlight on these ‘silent stressors’, making a case for their recognition, understanding and proactive management in the workplace. 

Unpacking Psychosocial Hazards: The Categories Simplified

When we talk about workplace dangers, images of heavy machinery, electric risks, or physical strain might come to mind. However, psychosocial hazards, although less visible, can be just as harmful. 

They’re deeply intertwined with the way work is designed and managed and the interpersonal relationships within the workplace. 

To help businesses better understand these hazards, we’ve simplified them into three broader categories: 

1. Work Design and Management 

This category focuses on the tasks at hand, how they’re structured and the autonomy an employee has.

Job Demands: A balanced workload is essential for the well-being of employees. Extremes, whether too much work or too little of it, pose risks. For instance, an employee might face excessive demands during peak business seasons and then have minimal tasks during slower periods.

 An OECD study reported that on average about 13% of Australian employees work over 50 hours weekly, risking stress and fatigue. Conversely, too little work  can lead to disengagement or feelings of insignificance.

Low Job Control: Job satisfaction often depends on the control employees have over tasks. Low job control means workers can’t decide how or when they work. It’s different from having set tasks or structured job responsibilities; it’s about constantly feeling restricted.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed that 38% of employees didn’t have authority over their work, which can reduce job satisfaction. Recognising and rectifying this hazard is crucial for maintaining a motivated and engaged workforce.

Lack of Role Clarity: The certainty and understanding of one’s role within an organisation are critical to effective job performance. When employees are unsure about their job description, their responsibilities, or the expectations set for them, it leads to a lack of role clarity. This isn’t just about occasionally facing complex tasks; the issue becomes hazardous when the ambiguity is extreme, consistent, or recurrent.

Inadequate Reward and Recognition: Job satisfaction is a fine balance between an employee’s efforts and the recognition they receive. This can range from awards to simple verbal praise. Overlooking recognition can become problematic if it’s a regular or long-standing issue.

Consistent employee recognition can lead to significant improvements in the workplace. Doubling the number of recognitions each week, can improve work quality by 24%, reduce absenteeism by 27%, and decrease staff turnover by 10%.

Poor Organisational Change Management: Change is inherent to organisational growth. But how that change is managed determines its success and the impact on the company’s workforce and productivity. 

A staggering 70% of change initiatives fail, often due to employee pushback and weak management. Poor organisational change management includes transitions that are haphazardly planned, communicated, supported, or executed. It isn’t about a decision that isn’t well-received. Poor change management becomes a significant psychosocial hazard when it’s notably flawed, sustained, or a regular occurrence.

 

2. Social and Organisational Context

This category focuses on the social fabric of a workplace, which plays a pivotal role in employee wellbeing.

Poor Support: Every individual relies on support systems within the workplace. These systems constitute the backbone of daily operations and overall job satisfaction. ‘Poor support’ goes beyond the inconvenience of waiting for a colleague to wrap up a meeting. It’s the persistent and profound lack of assistance from peers, supervisors, or even the deficiency of resources required for efficient job performance.

When the lack of support becomes regular, acute, or sustained, it goes from being a mere inconvenience to a notable psychosocial hazard. The consequences are many – from declining morale to reduced productivity and increased turnover.

Poor Organisational Justice: ‘Organisational justice’ really boils down to fairness at work. It’s about how employees feel they’re treated by the company, its rules, and the bosses. It’s not just about small problems, like not getting the work shift you wanted. It’s about bigger issues where workers often feel ignored, unvalued or mistreated.

Recognising and addressing these issues of organisational justice is about cultivating a culture where every employee feels integral to the success of the organisation.

Conflict or Poor Relationships: Having a good working relationship with colleagues is key to a positive workplace. But sometimes, behaviours that hurt others creep in. These can range from:

  • Violence and Aggression: Physical or verbal acts that intimidate or harm.
  • Bullying: Repeated actions that make someone feel belittled or unsafe.
  • Harassment: This includes unwanted behaviours based on gender, race, age, ability, and other personal factors.
  • General Workplace Issues: Everyday conflicts or misunderstandings that spoil relationships and teamwork. 

It’s important to understand that we’re not talking about small, isolated incidents. It’s about serious behaviours that persistently disrupt the workplace and strain professional relationships.

Violence and Aggression: This refers to situations where an individual faces abuse, threats, or physical assaults while on the job. In addition to the immediate physical harm, the psychological impact can be long-lasting and severe, posing significant health and safety concerns.

Business owners must address and manage the risks associated with violence and aggression in the workplace. This responsibility extends not just to conflicts among employees but also involves interactions with external individuals, such as customers and clients. Ensuring a safe environment for all is paramount, and businesses must be proactive in mitigating these risks.

Bullying: Would it surprise you to know that almost half of all Australians will be bullied in some way? 

Workplace bullying is characterized by ongoing, unwarranted actions aimed at an individual or a group of workers. It’s not a simple disagreement or one-off incident; it’s a consistent pattern of behaviour that can deeply affect those on the receiving end. The consequences of bullying extend beyond emotional distress; it can also lead to tangible physical harm, elevating it to a critical health and safety concern.

Businesses are obligated to identify, address, and manage the threats associated with bullying in the workplace. Every employee has the right to a safe working environment, and businesses need to step up and ensure this protection.

Harassment (including Sexual Harassment): Harassment in the workplace, whether it’s based on gender, race, age, ability, or other personal factors, is a pressing concern. It creates an environment of fear, mistrust, and discomfort, affecting not only the targeted individuals but also those around them.

Workplace sexual harassment is particularly severe and unacceptable. It can manifest in various ways: some actions are blatant, while others might be more hidden or insidious. Whether it’s a repeated pattern or a single incident, the effects are profound. Such harassment traumatizes the direct victim and can also deeply affect those who witness it.

By addressing harassment head-on and fostering a culture of respect and safety, businesses not only comply with the law but also create a healthier, more productive work environment.

 

3. Work Environment and Conditions

This category focuses on the actual conditions and environments where work is performed. 

Remote or Isolated Work: Remote or isolated work refers to jobs where employees are separated from the help or company of others due to the location, timing, or the kind of task they’re performing. This type of work might involve extensive travel, limited resources, or sparse communication options. It poses unique challenges, demanding both workers and employers to adapt and ensure safety and efficiency.

Poor Physical Environment: A poor physical environment at work refers to situations where workers consistently face unpleasant, substandard, or even dangerous situations. This could be anything from poor lighting and ventilation to exposure to harmful substances. 

When such conditions are extreme, persistent, or a regular occurrence, they transform from mere annoyances into significant psychosocial hazards. Addressing these issues is crucial for the well-being and safety of employees and their overall productivity and morale. 

Traumatic Events or Material: Being exposed to traumatic events or material at work refers to facing situations or content that deeply distress or shock. Whether it’s witnessing an unsettling incident, investigating a harrowing case, or consistently being exposed to disturbing materials, such experiences can have profound psychological impacts on workers.

Recognising and addressing the risks associated with such traumatic exposures is crucial. It safeguards the mental well-being of employees, ensuring they can work effectively and healthily.

Understanding these categories helps businesses take a holistic approach to identifying potential problems. It’s the first step in ensuring a healthier, more supportive, and productive work environment.

Why Should Busineses Care?

At its core, a business thrives on the well-being and productivity of its employees. Addressing psychosocial hazards isn’t merely about ticking off compliance boxes. It’s a strategic move towards creating a thriving, positive work environment. 

When businesses prioritise the mental and physical health of their employees, they directly boost workplace morale. This proactive approach not only curbs absenteeism but also reduces staff turnover, saving on recruitment costs and preserving organisational knowledge. 

Moreover, in an age where reputation is everything, a company known for its commitment to employee well-being stands out. It attracts top talent and earns respect in the marketplace. In essence, by addressing these risks, businesses are investing in their most valuable asset – their people.

Taking the Next Steps

Identifying psychosocial hazards is just the beginning. The true challenge lies in continuous vigilance and responsive action. Businesses should engage in regular evaluations to create a workplace that is not only safe but one that thrives. 

These assessments should be tailored to the unique dynamics of each workplace. Coupled with this, fostering open communication channels is vital. Encouraging employees to voice concerns or share experiences can unearth potential issues before they escalate. This dialogue builds trust and emphasises the organisation’s commitment to its workforce. 

Lastly, having proactive measures in place – whether it’s training programs, mental health support, or clear policies – can pre-emptively address potential risks. By taking these steps, businesses are not just averting problems; they’re sculpting a culture of care and inclusivity.

If you would like to chat further about how you can ensure psychosocial safety  in your workplace, book in a free 30-minute consultation here.

Navigating Challenges, Implementing Strategies and Envisioning the Future 

In Australia, mental health is no longer an issue confined to the shadows – particularly within the corporate world. A recent study by Beyond Blue revealed some alarming statistics about mental health in the workplace. About 20% of people will experience mental health problems in any given year. Nearly 50% will experience mental health problems at some point in our lives.

As business owners and leaders, recognising the significance of mental health is paramount for sustainable success. Ignoring it can jeopardise not only your workforce’s well-being but also your company’s performance.

Mental health is becoming increasingly important in Australian business. And with good reason! It can improve resilience and productivity, and it’s a strategic priority for many companies. This article will explore the importance of mental health in the workplace and how businesses can harness its potential.

Undertsanding Mental Health Issues in the Workplace

“We need to break down the stigma around mental health and start talking about it openly.

When we do that, we can create a more supportive workplace for everyone.”

– Liz Ellis, AOM, Former Australian Netballer.

Mental health disorders are more common in the Australian workplace than you might think. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, anxiety and depression are among the most prevalent issues impacting employees. These conditions have a profound impact on an employee’s daily functioning, making it difficult to perform their job effectively.

The cost of mental health issues in the workplace extends well beyond the individual. It can also affect team dynamics, interpersonal relationships, and overall morale. This can have a negative impact on business outcomes, such as operational efficiency, customer satisfaction, and bottom-line financial performance.

Business owners and leaders need to take mental health seriously. It isn’t just a personal concern, but also a strategic business consideration. By understanding the complex interplay between mental well-being and workplace dynamics, businesses can create healthier, more resilient, and ultimately more productive workplaces.

The Cost of Ignoring Mental Health in the Workplace

“Every business should realsie that the mental health of your team is just as imporntant as the bottom line.”

– Scott Farquhar, Co-founder, Atlassian.

A crucial factor often overlooked by businesses is the profound financial impact of ignoring mental health in the workplace. A 2022 report by the Australian Human Rights Commission found that workplace stress is the leading cause of psychological injury claims in Australia. The study found that stress-related claims cost businesses an estimated $3.8 billion per year.

While the financial implications are substantial, the societal and human costs are even more significant. Disregarding mental well-being can lead to an adverse work culture, fostering negativity and resentment, impeding creativity, and stifling innovation. Such an environment is unlikely to attract or retain the skilled talent businesses need for growth.

Conversely, companies actively investing in the mental well-being of their employees can reap considerable benefits. Beyond reducing absenteeism and healthcare costs, they can boost employee engagement, creativity, and productivity, culminating in a more resilient and adaptive workforce. This isn’t just about cultivating a caring and inclusive culture – it’s about building a sustainable business in an ever-changing corporate landscape.

Ignoring mental health just isn’t an option. The business case for mental well-being is clear and compelling. It’s time to move mental health from the periphery to the core of business strategies, for the good of our people and our businesses.

Australia’s Corporate Response to Mental Health

“A good business should be more than just profit. It should also be a force for good.”

– Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest, Fortescus Metals.

There’s mounting evidence of the direct correlation between employee mental well-being and business performance. And many Australian organisations are making considerable efforts to address this pressing concern. The shift from reactive to proactive strategies reflects a commitment to employee welfare and sustainable business practices.

Proactive organisations are using strategies that include employee assistance programs, mental health training for managers and establishing a culture of open conversations around mental health. Creating a supportive work environment reduces mental health issues and fosters resilience.

A notable example is ANZ Bank, which provides mental health and wellness resources for its staff. They also run targeted programs addressing specific areas such as resilience training and stress management. Macquarie Telecom and Google Australia have also been recognised for their commitment to mental health in the workplace.

Despite these efforts, mental health strategy adoption varies across the corporate sector. Some businesses still lag in response, missing the clear message – investing in mental health isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.

But this is just the beginning. The challenge is maintaining and improving mental health initiatives – not just during crises, but as an integral part of the business fabric. Mental health isn’t a tick-box exercise. It’s a transformational journey that can redefine corporate culture.

Barrier’s to Mental Health Support in the Australian Workplace

“Speaking up about mental health and getting help is so important. Yet stigma and barriers remain.”

– Libby Trickett, Olympic Gold Medallist, Swimming.

Despite the growing awareness of the significance of mental health in the workplace, several barriers hinder the effective implementation of support structures within the Australian corporate sector.

Stigma and Misunderstanding: Misconceptions about mental health conditions often result in fear, rejection, and discrimination. This can deter individuals from seeking help or disclosing their mental health issues at work.

Lack of Awareness: Many employees and employers lack a clear understanding of mental health and the signs of mental health conditions. This can lead to delayed recognition and intervention.

Limited Resources: Smaller businesses may struggle with the resources required to implement comprehensive mental health programs.

Privacy Concerns: Fear of breach of privacy can prevent employees from accessing available mental health services within their organisations.

Inadequate Training: Without proper training, managers and supervisors may struggle to recognise mental health issues among their teams. They are thus, unable to provide the appropriate support.

Overcoming these barriers requires consistent efforts to educate and inform, coupled with the commitment to creating a workplace culture that values and prioritises mental health. Businesses that succeed in breaking down these barriers will create an environment to support their most valuable asset – their people.

Strategies for Improving Workpalce Mental Health in Australia

“Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but bias ansd stigma and bias shame us all.”

– Bill Shorten, former Leader of the Australian Labor Party.

Addressing mental health requires strategic intervention; not just reactive measures. To effectively address this issue, businesses should implement comprehensive strategies to create a mentally healthy work environment. Here are a few approaches to consider:

Open Dialogue: Encourage conversations around mental health. Breaking the silence helps remove stigma and promotes a culture of acceptance and understanding.

Training and Education: Provide mental health training to managers and employees. An informed team can better support colleagues facing mental health challenges.

Flexible Work Options: Work-life balance plays a critical role in mental health. Offering flexible work arrangements can help reduce stress and increase job satisfaction.

Access to Resources: Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) offer confidential counselling services to employees. These can be crucial in providing support to those dealing with mental health issues.

Promote Self-Care: Encourage employees to prioritise their well-being through regular exercise, adequate rest, and healthy eating.

Stay Alert: Be aware of changes in employees’ behaviour or performance that could signal mental health issues. Regular check-ins can help spot any early signs of distress.

Adopting these strategies is a step in the right direction, but the journey doesn’t end here. It’s a process of continuous improvement, ensuring mental health is always at the forefront of the company’s priorities. Remember, a mentally healthy workplace is not just beneficial, it’s essential.

The Future of Mental Health in the Australian Workspaces

“We know that mental health is not just an issue for our health system.

It is relevant in the workplace, in our communites and our homes and our schools.”

– Julia Gillard, Former Prime Minister of Australia.

It’s heartening to see the growing awareness of the importance of mental health in the workplace. Businesses are increasingly taking steps to support the mental health of their employees.

One of the most important trends is a shift towards a more holistic approach to employee well-being. This means businesses are not just focussing on the mental health of their employees. Their physical health, emotional health and social health are also being considered.

The use of technology to support mental health in the workplace is also increasing. There are several digital tools and platforms to help employees manage their mental health. Counselling services, mindfulness apps and social media support groups are more easily accessible.

There’s also a greater focus on prevention. Businesses are increasingly focusing on preventing mental health problems from developing in the first place. This involves providing employees with information and resources about mental health, and creating a supportive workplace culture – conducive to good mental health.

The future of mental health in Australian workplaces is also being shaped by the changing nature of work. As the workforce becomes more mobile and flexible, businesses will need to find new ways to support the mental health of their employees.

Overall, the future of mental health in Australian workplaces is positive. There’s a growing awareness of the importance of mental health in the workplace, and businesses are increasingly taking steps to support the mental health of their employees. This is likely to lead to a mentally healthy, productive and engaged.

Embracing Mental Health as a Pillar of Workplace Success

While much is being done for mental health and well-being in Australian workplaces, there’s still much work to be done. Overcoming barriers and fostering a mental health-friendly environment is not a one-time effort but an ongoing commitment.

By embracing this challenge, businesses can create a healthier, more supportive environment, leading to increased productivity and resilience. The promising trends of proactive mental health strategies, the integration of technology, and a holistic approach to wellness signify a hopeful future.

It’s a future where mental health is no longer a taboo, but an integral part of the conversation around employee well-being. As we move forward, the emphasis should be on continued learning, sharing best practices, and a relentless commitment to mental health at work.

Remember, mental health isn’t just a health concern—it’s a business imperative, a human rights issue, and the bedrock of a thriving workplace.

 

If you would like to chat further about how you can embrace mental health as a pillar in your workplace, book in a free 30-minute consultation here.

This article offers a comprehensive overview of the scheme, its impact on small businesses, and the importance of fostering a supportive work environment with access to Australia domestic violence support services.

An in-depth look at how this initiative supports employees and small businesses. 

Understanding Family and Domestic Violence Leave

Family and domestic violence is characterised by intentional harm or fear inflicted by one person in a relationship onto another. This recurring pattern of behaviour aims to control, manipulate or harm the victim. Abuse can take many forms, including physical, emotional, financial, or sexual, and may come from anyone in a close relationship with the victim.

In Australia, the AustralianBureau of Statistics reports that one in six women and one in sixteen men experience family and domestic violence in their lifetime. We’re all aware of the prevalence of family and domestic violence, but did you know that, in Australia, a woman is murdered by her current or former partner every 10 days? Shockingly, that’s true!

Workplaces often serve as a refuge for victims, offering safety and crucial social and financial support, as well as access to various Australia domestic violence support services.

The Importance of Paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave

Stable employment is a critical factor in helping individuals escape abusive relationships. The introduction of paid leave allows victims to take time off without risking their income or employment, facilitating their exit from harmful domestic situations.

Addressing family and domestic violence also benefits employers, as it can impact an employee’s productivity due to distress or unplanned absences.

Criteria for Accessing Paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave

The new scheme allows full-time, part-time and casual employees in Australia, whose employers fall under the national industrial relations system, to access 10 days of paid leave within a 12-month period.

This leave can be utilised for various purposes related to family and domestic violence, such as ensuring safety, attending court, seeking police services, or participating in appointments with professionals in counselling, medicine, finance or law.

The leave doesn’t accumulate and resets annually on the employee’s work anniversary. The new paid leave replaces the existing National Employment Standards (NES) entitlement of five days of unpaid leave. Employees can still access unpaid leave until paid leave becomes available in their workplace.

Implications for Small Businesses

The paid family and domestic violence leave applies to all small businesses under the national (Fair Work) industrial relations system, typically incorporated businesses with ‘Pty Ltd’ it ‘Ltd’ in their name. This was scheduled in two phases:

  • For businesses with over 15 employees, the leave policy became effective: February 1, 2023
  • For businesses with fewer than 15 employees, the leave policy becomes effective: August 1, 2023
  • Until August 1, 2023, employees working for national system small business employers with less than 15 employees can continue to take unpaid family and domestic violence leave. While the scheme doesn’t yet apply to employers under Western Australia’s state industrial relations system, it is anticipated to come into effect for state system employers in 2024.

Employee Entitlements Under the Scheme

Full-time and part-time employees will receive their full pay rate for the hours they would’ve worked if they were not on leave. Casual employees will be paid at their full pay rate for the hours they were scheduled to work during the leave period.

Employees may need to provide evidence, such as a statutory declaration or documentation from the police, court, or family violence support service.

Employers Can Support Affected Employees

It is crucial for employers to create a supportive and secure work environment. If an employee is suspected of experiencing family and domestic, it is essential to check on their well-being and encourage them to seek professional help. This could include Australia domestic violence support services. Employers should also make information about support services like 1800 Respect and the Employee Assistance Program readily available in the workplace for all employees to access.

Here are some practical steps employers can take to support affected employees:

  • Develop a workplace policy: Creating a clear and comprehensive policy on family and domestic violence can help foster a supportive work culture and ensure that employees are aware of their rights and available resources.
  • Provide training to the leadership team: Equip managers and supervisors with the necessary knowledge and skills to identify and respond to employees experiencing family and domestic violence. This can include understanding the signs of abuse, knowing how to address the situation sensitively, and being aware of relevant laws and support services.
  • Offer flexible work arrangements: Implementing flexible work options, such as remote work or altered hours, as possible, can provide additional support for employees dealing with family and domestic violence. This flexibility allows them to manage their personal matters while maintaining their job security.
  • Maintain confidentiality: Respect the privacy of employees by keeping their disclosures confidential and handling any information with sensitivity. Ensure that the affected employee’s contact details and work schedule are not shared without their consent.
  • Establish a support network: Encourage the formation of a workplace support network where employees have a safe space to share their experiences and help each other. This can help create a sense of community and solidarity among employees.

Potential Benefits of  the Paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave Scheme

This recent implemented leave policy while benefiting family and domestic violence survivors also had a positive impact for employers and society as a whole.

For employees:

  1. Financial security: The paid leave allows employees to maintain financial stability while addressing domestic violence issues, which is crucial in helping them leave abusive situations.
  2. Reduced stress: By offering paid leave, employees can focus on seeking support and handling their personal matters without the added worry of lost income or job loss.
  3. Improved mental health: Access to paid leave can improve the mental health of employees affected by family and domestic violence. It provides an opportunity to seek professional help and work towards recovery.

For employers:

  • Increased productivity: Addressing family and domestic violence issues through paid leave can lead to more focussed and productive employees. They can better manage their personal matters without work-related stress.
  • Enhanced workplace culture: Providing support to employees experiencing domestic violence can foster a positive workplace culture, demonstrating empathy and understanding from the employer.
  • Reduced turnover: Offering paid leave for domestic violence can lead to lower employee turnover rates, as it shows a commitment to employees’ well-being and encourages loyalty.

For the community: 

  • Greater awareness: The introduction of the paid leave scheme raises awareness of family and domestic violence, encouraging open conversations and promoting the availability of support services.
  • Societal change: By acknowledging and addressing family and domestic violence through paid leave, the scheme contributes to a larger societal shift towards reducing and preventing such violence.
  • Economic benefits: Reducing the prevalence of family and domestic violence has far-reaching economic benefits, including decreased healthcare costs and increased workforce participation.

United Efforts for a Safer Society: Combating Family and Domestic Violence Together

By implementing the paid family and domestic violence leave scheme and taking proactive steps to support affected employees, Australia is making significant strides towards creating a safer, more inclusive work environment. The well-being of employees is clearly being prioritised.

Employers play a critical role in this process by fostering a supportive workplace culture, providing resources, and ensuring that survivors feel empowered and secure in their professional lives.

Together, these efforts demonstrate a strong commitment to addressing the pervasive issue of family and domestic violence. They also contribute to the broader goal of building a society where everyone can thrive without fear or harm. As we move forward, employers, employees and the community at large must continue working collaboratively to eliminate family and domestic violence. And more importantly, to support the resilience and strength of survivors.

If you would like to chat further about this Scheme, book in a free 30-minute consultation here.

 

A consistent, motivating, and rewarding remuneration and incentives program is key to improving employee engagement and retention. For many people, money is not always the key motivator. Other incentives that go hand in hand with remuneration can validate your employees’ choice to work for your company. A business that recognises this will attract and retain great talent who value their role and contribution.

Why is employee engagement important?

Since 2020, businesses in every industry have experienced enormous changes. Now, two years later, we need to look at different ways to engage our people, strengthen company culture and manage any uncertainty felt by our employees.

In her Quantum Workplace article, Natalie Wickham defines employee engagement as:

‘The strength of the mental and emotional connection employees feel toward the work they do, their teams, and their organization.’

Retention and engagement are more important than ever before – for your people and your business. Wickham goes on to define and explore 14 benefits of an engaged workforce as:

  1. Increased employee safety
  2. Better employee health
  3. Happier employees
  4. Greater employee satisfaction
  5. Better home life
  6. Lower absenteeism
  7. Higher retention
  8. Greater employee loyalty
  9. Better customer service
  10. Higher quality products and services
  11. Greater productivity
  12. Higher sales
  13. Higher profitability
  14. Higher stock price

Ways to strengthen employee engagement

Employee engagement is dependent on providing your staff with:

  • clarity
  • certainty
  • a clear direction for the company and themselves.

Consider the following questions:

  • Do your employees know and understand your business goals and vision?
  • Is their work meaningful and contributes to the business goals?
  • Are there opportunities to include your staff in future planning?
  • Are your leaders equipped to have regular conversations with their employees about job security, work arrangements and other sensitive topics?
  • Do you provide regular communication to your employees about your business performance and development?
  • Do your staff have the space and time to do their job at their full potential?
  • Do you recognise your employees’ efforts and provide suitable opportunities for development?

Once you have worked through these questions, you are well on your way to establishing the types of benefits that will improve your employee engagement and support your overall business culture.

Employee wellbeing is a primary focus of Future of Work

It is vital that the benefits you offer your employees reflect your company culture, and provide the opportunity to become more engaged and motivated.

A recent Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) report cites that:

‘85% of workers report that their wellbeing had declined throughout the various lockdowns’

and that,

‘More than one-third of workers (37%) consider their employer the main source of mental health support.’ 

Engagement benefits must work to create:

  • Social connection
  • Safe spaces for personal needs
  • Greater workplace flexibility
  • A focus on work/life balance and overall wellbeing
  • The opportunity to develop interpersonal skills for leaders and staff

Examples of perks / benefits you can offer your employees

Praise and Celebrate

Consistently acknowledge and celebrate the effort and successes of your employees. Show them how their work contributes to the overall success of their area, and the business as a whole. A ‘thank you’ goes a long way to increasing an employee’s sense of fulfillment.

Tools / Resources

Invest in the right technology, tools, and resources to enable your team to do their job safely and successfully.

Connect and Communicate 

Now more than ever, leaders must be as transparent as possible to provide support to their people. Creating connections by opening the lines of communication for a two-way conversation, shifts the employee/employer relationship into a positive space.

Focus on Wellbeing

Develop a wellbeing culture that promotes health and wellness across all aspects of your employee’s lives – not just at work.

Include inclusive programs that help reduce stress, promote good nutrition and exercise, and support your employees’ physical, mental and spiritual health.

Simple changes to your work environment can also help to improve the engagement and health of your staff. Tess Taylor states in ‘The Balance Careers’:

‘Today’s employees are looking for the entire package when it comes to their work experience. Companies that take the time to improve the work environment with soft seating arrangements, collaborative workstations, pleasant artwork, lighting and live plants are going to find that this translates to happier employees.’

Flexibility

A workplace that creates mobile-friendly, off-site or hybrid work options, can be a great way to improve employee engagement and retention.

Parental leave may be a priority for some employees, while a competitive bonus structure may appeal to others.

The option of additional unpaid leave may assist staff members with family overseas, particularly as travel becomes possible once again.

If it is possible, providing complimentary childcare can reduce parental stress and improve happiness.

Training and Development

Learning and Professional Development is a major boost to employee engagement and productivity.

Clear career development paths and on-the-job training programs are a great way to provide your employees with growth opportunities at no cost to them.

Financial Rewards

These can be in the form of profit sharing, stock ownership, bonus or incentive programs.

A well-structured and focused Leadership and Development team will help you explore your options to determine the most suitable perks / benefits for your workplace. By using the framework of staff retention and engagement as the core principles, you can develop your internal structure and workplace environment to provide the appropriate support, remuneration and incentives to increase employee happiness, satisfaction and wellbeing in these uncertain times.

If you are looking for ways to further increase your employee engagement, book in a free 30-minute consultation here.

Staff retention is one of greatest challenges we face in business today. Ineffective communication is a primary cause of employee turnover. Developing clear lines of communication throughout a business will improve employee engagement, leading to an increase in overall productivity, retention, creativity, and more effective client and supplier interactions.  

So, how do we, as leaders, successfully connect with our teams and keep them informed about our business activities through clear and purposeful communication? 

In our post-pandemic world, with so many people still working from home, it is crucial that all businesses understand how to effectively manage employee communication. Although every workplace has its unique challenges, there are important factors to consider that will help you improve communication with your team members. 

 An Informed Employee is an Engaged Employee 

When a team member understands what is going on, what is expected of them, and why, they become more:  

  • Closely involved with business updates 
  • Dedicated 
  • Loyal 
  • Productive 
  • Closely aligned with the overall strategy.  

Informed employees better understand their role within the business and are more able to execute their assigned tasks because they have access to the information they need, no matter where they are. 

Challenges to Workplace Communication 

There are many challenges to the creation and maintenance of effective written and verbal communication.  

These include:  

  • Inconsistency in communication  
  • Reliance on technology (no face-to-face communication) 
  • Assuming the audience understands the jargon 
  • Not listening to your team 
  • Not making communication a leadership function 

Consider your business – how do these five factors play out in your work environment? 

Don’t Assume that Everyone is Skillful in Communication 

Assuming that everyone in your workplace can communicate effectively is a damaging notion.  

Some leaders lack the capability to communicate well and are unable to help others express themselves. On the flipside, employees may feel awkward when they are asked to express opinions, especially in front of more senior staff. Also, some leaders simply may not have the skills to sensitively facilitate staff involvement. 

Communication Channels 

While all communication channels have their merits, there is no one-size-fits-all solution.  

You will need to consider the challenges of your particular business environment and explore what works best. It may take some trial and error – so be open to feedback and review what is, and isn’t, working, then make any necessary adjustments.   

Success in communication comes from knowing how to pass on different types of information to the members of your team. 

  • Reduce the number of communication channels: Making information available in one place (if possible) makes the process more manageable for everyone. The more places your team must look, the more frustrating it can be, and the more likely they are to miss something.  
  • Consider who you are talking to and the outcome you need to achieve: If you are communicating a quick update that is relevant to everyone, a mass email or intranet post may be fine. If you are announcing a major change, you may need to use a more targeted, hands-on approach.

Again, determining what best suits the needs of your business, staff, and relevant timeframes will help you work out the most effective way to share all necessary information with your team. 

Building Connection – Team Meetings 

Every business has its own team rhythm and ways of working. A well-organised plan of daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual meetings helps to keep everyone aligned and accountable. 

  • Annual Planning Meeting (Owner and Senior Leaders): The purpose of the annual planning meeting is to align the team’s priorities for the year ahead to move the business closer to achieving their 3-5-year plan. 
  • Quarterly Meeting (Leaders): This is to determine how you will accomplish the annual plan and move the business forward. Generally held as a one-day meeting, the goal is to set up a road map for the next quarter that supports, focuses and motivates the team.  
  • Monthly Meeting (Leaders): A well-managed monthly management meeting should focus on learning, sharing and problem-solving. This provides a great opportunity to share the load and develop your upcoming business leaders in line with your succession plan. 
  • Weekly Meeting (Team): The weekly meeting keeps your team focused and accountable in execution of the priorities set out in your quarterly plan. 
  • Daily Huddle (Everyone): The daily huddle is a 5–15 minute catch up! This enables your entire team to be informed and aligned on the work that needs to be done. 

Communication through Difficult Conversations 

Difficult conversations are a normal part of life and need to be addressed in an open and constructive way. 

Many people put off uncomfortable conversations in the hope that the problem either fixes itself or disappears. This approach can have a damaging effect, particularly regarding how employees feel within their workplace. People want to feel heard, especially when they face uncertain circumstances such as created by the recent Covid-19 pandemic. Many employees have felt unsure about the direction of their workplace and worried about whether their roles will continue to exist. 

Preparation is the Key for Leaders and Managers 

Go into the meeting with a very clear understanding of the problem you are trying to solve. Before starting a difficult conversation, ask yourself these questions: 

  • Am I prepared? 
  • What information do I need from the employee? 
  • How do I think the employee will react?  
  • Do I have a clear understanding of the problem and outcome I want to achieve from this conversation?  
  • What solutions can I propose to resolve the matter?  
  • What would I like the employee to feel and do? 

Taking the time to prepare fully for your meeting will help you define any underlying issues and ensure your communication is clear and concise. 

It’s important to have the right communication mechanisms in place to build relationships and impart knowledge of common goals, listen and engage with team members, and to manage any issues and emerging risks. Poorly executed communication can cause employees to endure an unsatisfactory work experience, leading to a whole host of problems with morale, productivity and, in some cases, customer satisfaction. By focusing on providing the best possible communication to employees, you will ensure your team stays well informed with everything they need to perform their jobs at the highest level.  

Do you have the necessary communication strategies in place to drive and maintain team accountability and performance? Grab a copy of the checklist on ‘Team Communication’ in my HR Resources library here.

 

We hope that most of the time we get our recruitment right but at times we don’t, and we can’t get it right all the time. Sometimes people leave as a result of something that could have been identified at the recruitment stage. Remember, we generally employ people for their skills and competencies and 90% of the time we manage people out of the business because of their behaviours and attitudes.

We invest considerable resources in the hope of finding great team members and I’m sure you’ve had enough of attracting the wrong candidates or candidates not even showing up for their interviews. The recruitment process for any business can be daunting, especially if you don’t get it right the first time. There are some common mistakes that businesses could avoid, giving them every chance of finding the right candidate. Here are 8 common mistakes businesses make with recruitment:

1.Ignoring promoting from within the business

It’s common for businesses to forget to look at the people they already have on board to see if anyone can do the role or who could grow into the role with development. Promoting from within can also motivate the team and increase morale. Take the time to write down the advantages and disadvantages of hiring an external person to a role versus a current team member.

2.Lengthy hiring process

Some businesses take too long in the recruitment process and run the risk of missing out on great candidates. 33% of candidates will lose interest and pursue other roles if the hiring process is lengthy. Majority of candidates will be applying for more than one role at a time and in this current job market, talent is being ‘snapped up’ very quickly.

3.Making assumptions

There are so many assumptions that can be made in a recruitment process! Making too many assumptions based on what the current job market is like without backing it up with some data and research, assuming one channel for attracting and searching for candidates will give you a representative sample of resumes or only focusing on ‘good looking’ resumes. Also, assuming the candidate that lives closest to the office is the right choice.

4.Lack of preparation

A recruitment process can feel overwhelming, but preparation is key in making sure you provide a positive candidate experience. Some common areas where businesses make mistakes are not preparing for interviews such as scheduling and confirming interview times and locations, developing interview questions and re-familiarise themselves with the position description.

5.Interviewers do all the talking and not a lot of listening

When interviewing candidates, some interviewers do all the talking and not a lot of listening, they use closed questions rather than open ended questions and they don’t make a candidate feel comfortable and relaxed from the start. Many interviewers we have found have actually failed to let the candidate know about the actual duties of the role.

6.Not doing your due diligence

Businesses don’t always have the hiring process following a level playing field in which each candidate is judged against identical selection criteria or not asking themselves clarifying questions to make sure the final decision on the chosen candidate is as objective as possible. It is important when selecting your candidates, you do your due diligence by finding out if the candidates information provided is accurate, for example, qualifications are true and correct. Reference checks are a good way to clarify the information, thoughts and opinions you came up with during the interview, for example, ‘this is what I found, would you agree’? It is also good to have another opinion of the candidate’s work habits and performance as well as behaviours.

7.To many ‘cooks in the kitchen’

It’s important to have the right people involved in the recruitment process such as the potential candidate’s manager. However, having too many people involved can slow down the recruitment process.

8.Lack of communication

Ongoing communication with candidates throughout the recruitment process is important. 44% of candidates find poor communication as the most frustrating aspect of a hiring process and I’m sure we have all had this experience where you heard nothing back from your application. Candidates need to receive communication from you even if they are unsuccessful for an interview or were interviewed and are unsuccessful. The unsuccessful candidate may not be right for this role but potentially others in the future.

Adapting a more structured recruitment approach may help you avoid some of these common traps. When you are involved in the selection process you should always keep in mind the importance of bringing people in who are not just good at the job, but who will also play a part in helping to create a more positive culture.

 

Ready to improve your recruitment process?

My Recruit Right! Program will show you the 9-Essential Steps you need for a more effective recruitment process. The program has been designed to support you and your team to implement an effective, efficient and consistent process in line with current legislation and laws. We’ve done the heavy lifting for you! The best part is, you can complete the program when and where it suits you!

Enrol for my Recruit Right program here.

2021 certainly for business owners, managers and people leaders has been tough to navigate with ongoing restrictions and lockdowns, vaccine mandates, keeping staff engaged and morale high, adapting to remote work models and recruiting and onboarding virtually. The ‘future of work’ has definitely been accelerated by the pandemic.

On a positive note, we have seen shifts in businesses prioritising mental health and wellbeing, not just from an organisation level but through to a team level, fully embracing flexible work and finding ways to improve retention and communications with their employees.

For Catie Paterson HR Business Consulting we have enjoyed helping businesses build a solid foundation of HR processes, systems and culture to allow their people the opportunity to grow and contribute to the achievement of overall business goals. Through the Human Resources Success Audit Webinar Series’ with the Better Business for Good Company, the new resources library and Recruit Right online program (more online programs to come!) we can further support businesses to create better workplaces.

Human Resources trends expected in 2022

2022 will see a need for businesses to really focus on increasing engagement with their staff with a focus on regular communication, in particular, one to one checkins to discuss and make sure employees are progressing to achieve their career goals and training and development plans and to provide Managers an understanding if they need further support in certain areas.  Engagement will only continue to increase if people are provided clarity, certainty and a clear direction on where the company is headed.

2022 will also see workplaces fully implement their hybrid work model as a long-term approach rather than just for the needs of the pandemic. There isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ model and each business will need to update their policies and adjust their model that fits around their employees and customer needs.

Mental health and wellbeing will also need to be a top priority for 2022 with the need for businesses to look at wellbeing more from a team level and not just from an organisational perspective. Clear and consistent communication of mental health and wellness support programs and resources and the people involved is crucial, whether this is to employees working remotely, in an office or on a large worksite.

Businesses will need remain flexible with their plans with some potential external changes to occur unexpectedly.

At Catie Paterson HR Business Consulting we are here to help with all your people management needs. If you would like to know more, book a free 30-minute consultation with me here.

The pandemic has changed Australia’s job market with many businesses finding it difficult to attract staff as well as keep existing ones across all industries. Skill shortages from lack of migration to remote work is allowing for more opportunities being available for job seekers, increasing the challenges of hiring talent.

As reported in The Age and according to SEEK, ‘job ad volumes in October were 63 per cent higher than a year ago and 44 per cent above where they were in October 2019.’ These are astonishing figures. At the same time, applications for jobs are also down.

With such a competitive market, businesses need to make sure they have a solid recruitment process that showcases and communicates their employee value proposition and provides a positive candidate experience in the selection process.

Attracting and finding the right talent can be time-consuming and a costly process especially if you need to re-hire and retrain due to hiring the incorrect person. Adopting a more structured approach to the recruitment process will help minimise the risk of choosing the wrong candidate the first time, a slow screening/interview process and a negative candidate experience.

For a recruitment process to be effective and efficient there are key steps that need to be in place and followed by everyone who might be involved in recruiting team members.

Is it time to create a solid recruitment process for your business?

Here are the 9 simple steps you need for a successful recruitment process:

1.Background work

Background work is the first step in the recruitment process that can help you save time and money in the long run if it’s done correctly. However, this step is often not completed entirely by businesses.

It is taking the time to look at the role you are trying to fill and considering how it fits into the current, mid-term and long-term needs and business goals/objectives. It is also important to define the types of skills, experience and behaviours you are after for the role before working through the selection process, increasing the likelihood of finding and retaining the right candidate.

2. Write the position description and the advertisement

Before any advertising can occur for the role you should have a Position Description (PD) which is up to date. The information in the PD forms the basis of any advertising and is the critical step to understand what the requirements of the role are. It outlines the required duties, responsibilities, skills, qualifications, and type of employment. It also should detail a behaviour profile for what success looks like in that role and your organisation’s values.

The next step is to write the job advertisement and think about what channels/where is best to advertise the role. More than one channel should be chosen and some of these, for example, could be internal advertising, seek and/or LinkedIn, other social media, recruitment agencies and networking events.

3. Assess and shortlist candidates

Depending on the role, the assessing and shortlisting process may be a shared responsibility. If the role has been advertised and there are several applicants to go through, you may like to consider conducting telephone screening to develop a short list of candidates. Before starting this process make sure to have a template of questions you would like to ask each candidate to help with the screening process.

4. Interview preparation

The interview is the most common selection method to recruit team members. The success of the interview will have a lot to do with how you prepare and structure it.

In the current market with competition for good applicants so strong, it is important the interview is a positive experience which sells the benefits of your business and the role.

Prepare for the interview by:

-Scheduling interviews – confirm interview times and location and make sure to choose your location well. Make sure interviews are scheduled not too long after the phone screening.

-Develop and design interview questions/guide. The most common questions used are target questions or behavioural based structured questions around a candidate’s past behaviour in similar situations to what will happen in the role they have applied for. These types of questions generally go beyond determining whether a person can do the job.

-Read resumes and prepare specific questions from their resumes.

-Re-familiarise yourself with the Position Description – you should also know the role inside and out.

5. Conduct interviews

If you are conducting a number of different interviews you need to have a structure to them, so they are effective and a positive experience for both you and the candidate. Here are seven stages which helps structure the interview:

-Start with a welcome and introduction

-Review their resume with them to get them talking

-Start using your target questions

-Business overview – what do they know about your business?

-Position overview

-Time for the candidate to ask any further questions

-Close the interview and inform them of the next steps.

When conducting interviews, did you know that there are some questions you cannot ask an interviewee and are illegal? It’s important to understand what some of these unlawful questions are when preparing your interview questions. My checklist on ‘Interview Questions You Can’t Ask’ provides some examples of unlawful questions. You can find this here.

6. Check final candidates against hiring criteria and make final selection

In making your final candidate selection you need to gather all your notes from the interviews and review them and if there were others involved in the interview you need to collect their feedback. It is also useful to rate the candidates against a set of ‘clarifying questions’ to help you compare.

7. Reference check the selected candidate

Reference checking can be a really useful tool to aid in making a final decision, yet we don’t use it as much we should. You can find out if the candidate has truthfully represented themselves by reference checking. Use the information, thoughts and opinions you came up with during the interview to clarify anything e.g. ‘this is what I found, would you agree’? You can only conduct a reference check once you have gained authorisation from the candidate to talk to that person.

8. Make the successful candidate an offer

Once the decision has been made you have the privilege of making the successful candidate an offer to join the business. Keep in mind they may have other offers so make sure you have all the final details of the role i.e., salary, ideal start date etc ready and make the offer as attractive as you can.

9. Communicate with all the unsuccessful candidates

It’s an important part of the process to ensure you take the time to communicate with all the unsuccessful candidates. Be prepared to provide these candidates reasons why they were unsuccessful.

A good recruitment process helps you both attract and find that right team member for your business. As a business owner or Manager, finding a team member that has the right skills you need, someone you can rely on to do the work and is excited/motivated to work with you is critical for any business to be successful.

Is it time to put these steps into action and create your very own recruitment process? My Recruit Right program will take you through each of the nine steps and all the tips and tricks on what to do and what to avoid. Register for my program here.

Or, just wanting to get started? Then grab a copy of my free recruitment and selection checklist here.

Recruiting virtually was something many businesses were exploring even before the pandemic hit last year. With the increase in remote work, businesses are now having to adapt their recruitment strategies and processes to suit virtually.

Virtual recruiting is conducting a complete or partial recruitment process with a candidate online without meeting them in person. Virtual recruiting can have many benefits such as saving time and money with video interviews with no commutes, scheduling interviews more easily and the ability to record the interview. Virtual recruiting can also incorporate more virtual recruiting tools and, if candidates have the option to work remotely, a wider pool of talent.

A consistent recruitment process is essential whether it’s being done virtually or face-to-face. An effective recruitment process will help you hire the right person, for the right position the first time round, keep control of hiring costs, ensure a positive candidate experience and make sure the screening/interview process isn’t too long.

Before recruiting virtually, you still need the foundation of a good recruitment process. If you already have a good process, thankfully, with good technology it can be easily adapted to the online world.

Here are some tips to successfully recruiting virtually:

Be prepared

Virtual recruitment may allow access to a wider talent pool but it’s important to understand what you are looking for:

-How does the role fit into the current, mid-term and long-term needs and business plans?

-Is it an opportunity to review the team/the role?

-Develop a job/position description and profile to identify skills, attributes, experience and behaviours for a person to be successful in the role.

-With hiring virtually, certain aspects of culture need to be considered. This should still be the case when hiring in person, however, it’s even more essential in virtual recruiting. It’s important to make sure position descriptions detail your values and are included in the recruitment/ advertising process. By including these it can help you attract candidates that align with not just the role but the company.

-Determine if the role can be done remotely or needs to be onsite.

-What are the employee benefits you are offering to attract candidates and are they relevant if the role can be performed remotely?

Profiling the role and the successful person provides you with the reason and the purpose of the hiring process.

Understand your technology requirements

Map out the technology requirements you will need to conduct your recruitment process virtually. There are several great tools you can use to help with video interviews such as zoom, skype and Microsoft teams. There are other tools to help optimise and automate some of the process such as applicant tracking systems, skill testing tools, communications to candidates, screening and selection software, posting job ads and collecting candidate feedback.

Recruitment processes can be different in each business, so any technology or automation needs to suit the business requirements. It’s also important to make sure when choosing to automate a particular part of the process, such as emails to candidates, that they are still personalised and well written. If not, this could have a negative effect on the candidate experience.

Video interviews

The interview is the most common selection method to recruit team members. The success of the interview will have a lot to do with how you prepare and structure it. In the current market with competition for good applicants being so strong, it is important the interview is a positive experience which sells the benefits of your company and the role.

Video interviews still require the same structure and preparation as an in-person interview. However, they can be a convenient way to save time for both the candidate and employer. In a guide by LinkedIn Talent Solutions, ‘Companies that conduct video interviews report up to a 95% reduction in recruitment costs.’

With remote work here to stay, video interviews offer a suitable alternative to be able to still build that connection and determine if the candidate is the right person for the role. Many businesses are now incorporating both real-time and one-way video interviewing. One-way video interviewing is where a candidate can record and answer questions. These can be reviewed at a time that suits in the recruitment process. Both real-time and one-way video interviewing offer the benefit of recording.

Promote your employee value proposition, company culture and values

In a normal office-based interview, candidates have more of an opportunity to experience a company’s culture. With virtual recruiting this is harder to give them this experience. It’s important to look at promoting your company culture, values and employee value proposition consistently across social media platforms and your website. You could look to host virtual events that provides candidates the opportunity to get to know the company more, meet managers and team members, and ask questions about the company.

Stick to your good recruitment process

Running a professional recruitment and selection process is vital to successfully building a great team. When deciding to use virtual recruiting, you can still utilise the good recruitment processes you have in place, you will just be adding virtual tools to enhance the process when hiring remote workers or at times where the process cannot be done face to face.

Would you like further guidance on how you can improve your recruitment process so you can attract the right talent for your business? Contact Catie Paterson HR Business Consulting today.