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Your Weekly HR Related News – 6 February 2017

This week we look at Valentine’s Day, work life and private life, and OHS lessons.

It Is Valentine’s Day Next Week

No this is not a reminder to buy glowers or gifts. It is a reminder that office romances can be problematic and that romance or lack of can affect how your team will behave. It may even affect your own behaviour.

Despite common perceptions, there are no laws that prevent romance in the workplace.
Flirting is not sexual harassment, unless it goes on past the point where one party has made it clear that they are not interested.

Sending gifts is not harassment or stalking unless it is unwanted and/or part of a broader pattern of behaviour.

Yet, romance in the workplace is a distraction, especially when a couple bickers, fights or breaks up. I have been witness to three marriage break ups in an office and it was awkward, uncomfortable and hard for everybody.

Sometimes the day itself can be distracting and disruptive to work flow as flowers and gifts are delivered. Or as staff wait wondering if there will be something arriving for them.

What can you do? Realistically not a lot however three tips would be:
1. Have a general culture or way of working where employees know that their work needs to be done. A little fun is fine as long as it doesn’t prevent work being done on time and to standard
2. Take a breath and avoid overreacting. A gentle reminder that you work together as a team and that involves being respectful and considerate of others.
3. Remember that it is only one day of the year

Do You Need To Be Different At Work And Home?

One logical conclusion from the first part of this week’s blog is to wonder if we need to keep work and private lives more separate. That really is a personal and individual decision, although the way we behave with friends and family is bound to be more casual than how we act at work.

This article asks the same question

It’s a interesting read even though it isn’t really that helpful to answer the question.

My advice is:
1. Be very clear on what you want to be known for at work and then behave accordingly.
If you want to be the “class clown” then you will behave very differently (and may have different levels of success) than if you wanted to be known for being “reliable”
This factor is one of the core elements of the career and leadership coaching that I do

2. Be conscious of your surroundings and context and adapt accordingly.
Language and phrasing that fits right in to an administration or office environment will not fit in a warehouse. Styles of communicating vary widely between large and small companies.
Think before you speak and act.

3. Watch out t if you are needing to behave at work in ways that are vastly different from your natural style.
This is hard work and difficult to maintain over a long period of time and it can be quite harmful for you.
Imagine it as like being in fancy dress costume 365 days a year. That would be pretty tough.

Workplace Lesson On OHS

The final piece this week is about a large fine imposed on Woolworths as reported here by SmartCompany

Essentially there were some problems with a piece of equipment used to stack goods and staff created a work around. Over time this created an injury for one employee.

What lessons come from this
1. Employers are always held responsible and liable to provide safe tools and equipment to enable staff to do their work.

2. Employees will sometimes create work arounds and it is the responsibility of management and team leaders to oversee work practices to ensure that they are being followed correctly.
This can lead to some initial conflict however when you say to someone that you are mindful of their short and long term safety and well being it’s my experience that the conflict is reduced.

3. Every employer, regardless of size is accountable to Fair Work