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HR Highlights For Feb 13 2017

Weekly Roundup of HR Items of Interest

Flexible Working Is Not A Gender Issue

We are all aware (or should be) that the Fair Work Act requires consideration of flexible work arrangements. Typically this has been associated with women returning from maternity leave.
It has been pleasing to see a recent shift in comment towards including the need for men to access flexible work arrangements as well. This has probably been assisted by interviews and job changes by high profile men such as James Brayshaw (prominent to those who follow AFL anyway).
An article this week in the Australian Human Resources online magazine explores the issue a little further

The article gives some examples and comments however my top three tips would be:
1. The right to request flexible work arrangements is provided to all employees.
It is up to us to resist the unconscious bias or assumption that requests will only come from women
2. Flexible work arrangement requests can be made for many reasons including carer responsibility and this applies equally to men and women.
3. All requests for flexible arrangements must be considered and evaluated in terms of business need, not any personal view about whether the provisions apply to one gender more than another.
Let’s focus on enabling employees to live full productive lives at work and at home.

When Swiftly Sacking An Employee Is Best

This article on the IHR Australia site caught my eye as many companies struggle with the question of when to terminate employment.

Myths exist that a slow process is “safest” yet this case where a disgruntled employee did burnouts, delivered sub standard work and made abusive gestures to management.
This is an article well worth reading as it goes through what happened and how the Fair Work Commissioner considered the case from both parties perspectives.
There are some good and clear lessons to learn from this case.
1. Procedural fairness is essential in written and spoken interactions by the employer and management representative.
It can be tempting to let emotions rule yet this company took swift action and still followed due process
2. Evidence acted on to choose to terminate employment must meet the criteria of the Fair Work Act in terms of being a “valid reason”
Having clear company policy about what is and is not acceptable behaviour is a strong foundation yet the Act has an overarching requirement for the reason to be valid
3. Timing of incidents and the overall pattern of behaviour created is significant. In this case the incidents occurred on three consecutive days.
A swift decision to terminate employment is not a knee jerk reaction to a one off incident. Context is important
Whenever you are considering termination of employment get advice from a HR professional (whether internal to your business or external)_

How To Trump The Trump Tattle

It seems that everywhere you look and go there is someone talking about the recently elected President of the USA. It is a hot topic and yet many workplaces have grappled with how to handle office chit chat about current affairs – especially when those conversations seem to be overtaking the workplace and possibly stopping work from being done.
An article in HC Online tackles this very issue here

Chit chat happens in every workplace even (and perhaps especially) when the management team try to put a stop to it. People often talk while they are working and unless it interferes with the work or customer service then it shouldn’t be considered a problem.

The article provides 5 really good pieces of advice on how to keep productivity up and gossip or chit chat to a minimum
– don’t micro manage
– focus on goals
– encourage integration
– bite your tongue
– unite over work

If I were to add my three tips they would be:
1. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Unless work targets and service standards are being missed, let it go. You have no real basis for challenging anyone’s behaviour unless work is not being done so let it go.
2. Keep your own sense of humour. Perhaps a light heated quip that “certain things are better discussed over a coffee or a drink” than in the workplace
If the topic is getting to you personally and work isn’t being affected, you’ll need to find a polite way to either extract yourself or to ask others to refrain in your presence
3. Encourage a team environment where they manage and monitor their own chit chat time and pull each other back into a productive and work focused head space.