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Key HR News Wrap May 29 2017

At the heart of flexible work is culture

Recently HRD Online (the new name for HC Online magazine) outlined the flexible work program that has been so successful for Perpetual.
There are some really good insights and tips in this article about flexible work arrangements including
– key role of leaders as advocates
– focus on outcomes rather than time spent at the office
– all employees having access to flexible work arrangements

There is also a list of different types of leave arrangements for those seeking tips and guidance.

This article and subject is the headline comment in this week’s blog for a few reasons.
Firstly, flexible work needs trust on both employer and employee parts for it to work. Effective flexible work arrangements need more than a policy and formality to work.
Regular readers will be familiar with the number of weekly wrap up blogs where culture gets named as a critical factor, and yes here it is again.
For flexible work arrangements to work effectively a workplace needs to have these things
– trust between both parties. Over and above the provisions of the Fair Work Act, companies need to generate respect and trust at work for them to be effective on a wide range of issues

– clarity on what is important. In a company where time at the desk is vital (either due to culture or the nature of the work – such as inbound call centres or reception) flexible work arrangements can create more headaches than they seek to resolve

– agreed with a clear sense of the benefit possible for both parties rather than a one sided arrangement.

As you can see the principles of effective flexible work arrangements may be applicable to those factors that create and maintain healthy and effective places to work

Social media at work – again

This article in AHRIs HRM online canvasses the mechanics of social media at work. Regardless of whether you want it or not, we all have to face the fact that social media goes with us wherever we have a mobile phone and reception.

Recently while MC at a National Conference I took the approach to encourage attendees to “put yourselves in the place of those you usually train and to behave how you ask them to behave”
The purpose of this was to encourage people to be attentive, willing to learn, to have an open mind and to ask questions. What also came up were the different ways that we expect social media to be used or avoided at work.

At events such as this conference the audience is encouraged to tweet and use the conference hashtag – so how can a casual observer tell if someone is using their phone to tweet or facebook?

The same sort of thing happens at work with so many people making use of efficiency apps such as evernote to make notes. If a person is head down typing at a meeting, how do you know if they are making notes or emailing or on social media? The answer is that you don’t until after the fact.

Returning to the AHRI article covering a specific case that also relates to flexible work practices. There are a few very clear lessons to be learned that are raise din the article – social media policy, clearly defined expectations of workplace behaviour and the definition of the workplace.

From the broader view of how the world of work is changing there are broader issues here about culture at work and how clear we have been with employees about what is acceptable behaviour. (posting derogatory comments on social media is not ok, but where is that stated and where can people find the definitiono f derogatory?)

What key suggestions can be made?
1. Workplace policies need to be explicit about what is ok and what is not ok, we cannot claim that people should know. That is similar to expecting employees to read minds.
2. Many workplaces have created short samples of behaviours associated with key values of the organisation to define what is ok and what is not ok.
3. Social media is here to stay and provides a record of what has been posted, let’s help each other to use it as a helpful tool and not a weapon

Can you believe what you read?

The final article this week is about the ongoing and on foot Lorna Jane case which is proving to be just as complicated as many of us suspected.

An employee has resigned and lodged a complaint of bullying and harassment alleging that she was persecuted about her weight and treated poorly by her manager.

Please note that this case is shared because it demonstrates a number of key things about resolving workplace conflict:
– matters are complex
– there are always at least two sides to every story
– people are complex and have a lot going on
– media and reports of cases are not necessarily free from bias

This case saddens me for a number of reasons:\
– it is in the public eye and this is damaging the reputation of ALL involved. Probably unfairly, regardless of the outcome
– communication and the ability to resolve matters before they get out of hand seem to be more and more important yet less and less evident at work

IN closing this week the point of raising this case are here:
1. When dealing with employees clarity and compassion are key as is a focus on the outcomes
(you will see this as a thread in the three articles mentioned this week)

2. Making things public rarely results in any of the involved parties “smelling like roses” – it’s called airing dirty laundry in public for a reason. When you are following up a complaint or a situation please maintain the confidentiality of all parties as far as is reasonable.
Encourage those involved to do the same. In addition to the example of this case, chatting about a complaint in the meal room can be a form of bullying and harassment of the other party.

3. People feel pressure in many areas of their life and it often comes to a head in the workplace. Workplace policies are designed to deal with workplace behaviour, not the cause of the behaviour.
If you do not have an Employee Assistance Program or access to external support for staff, please get that arranged as it will help all parties more than you know.