It is only 9 weeks until Christmas which no doubt means you are in the lead up to your festive event to close out the year.
Although these events are a great way for employees to take part in the festivities and for everyone to relax and be merry, they’re still work functions where they are organised and paid for by the employer. Therefore, the employer must still exercise a duty of care to manage any associated health and safety risks that may arise.
I know, I know, I can hear the sighs already… “Here come the fun police!!”
Having fun is important but it is also important to keep in mind that work endorsed parties, even away from the normal work location are still considered a work event and obligations do exist for staff and Directors around workplace health and safety.
The expectation surrounding staff behaviour and conduct does not change at a work function. Workplace harassment, bullying and even violence are serious issues and losing inhibitions after a little too much cheer is no excuse.
Outlined below, are considerations that may assist you to ensure you have a fun end of year event, while avoiding issues that can potentially have serious consequences if neglected.
Assess the risk
This comes in two steps:
Ahead of the Christmas party consider documenting a WHS risk assessment that identifies all foreseeable health and safety hazards and their defined control/s. This would include an inspection of the site prior to the event.
During a site inspection ensure that you speak to management at the venue to ensure Responsible Service of Alcohol and establish your own expectations of overly intoxicated people not being served anymore alcohol.
Nominate a contact person/people for the venue to be able to contact to advise them of an intoxicated person or incident.
Review you HR policies and procedures. Well-written policies and procedures set the ground rules and company’s expectations on appropriate behaviour. This can be a good reminder prior to the Christmas party and if there happens to be an incident, the company will be better prepared. It also assists to remind staff of general expectations.
Alcohol free event
Alcohol is not an obligatory requirement at any event.
Consider your team and your past experiences having end of year parties. Do you have any concerns about serving alcohol at a work event. If you have any concerns at all, consider having an event without alcohol. Perhaps a family event in a park is something that you feel more comfortable with for your business and your team.
Start and finish times
Clearly set out defined start and finish times for the event and ensure that these are stated on the invitation.
Shut down the bar at the finish time and stop paying for any alcohol, even at an after event.
How will employees travel?
Consider how employees will travel to and from the event? This can be as simple as encouraging employees to plan their travel ahead of time.
Choose a venue that does not place the employee in a difficult situation to get home, otherwise assist with transport options for employees.
You may have obligations with your workers compensation insurance for employees travelling to and from work, which will likely include the end of year function.
An aptly worded email ahead of the Christmas Party reiterating the business’ expectations around appropriate standards of conduct and responsible drinking may serve as a timely reminder to employees that workplace policies still apply during these events and as such any misconduct will be dealt with accordingly.
Accompany this email with any relevant policies as noted above.
Manage misconduct and complaints fairly
Even with the best planning, and all measures followed, incidents still happen.
Where alcohol is involved, behaviours are often affected but this does not release the business of their obligations to investigate and respond to complaints/ allegations. Be sure to hear any issues that arrive and respond with procedural fairness.
Be mindful that you may need to take action at the event immediately. Waiting to the New Year to handle a complaint may or may not be the correct course of action.
I know, the end of year party is supposed to be a fun and memorable event! Implementing these safety measures will ensure that it is memorable for the right reasons. After all, we all want to spend our festive holidays safe, happy, and healthy.
The Federal Government is proposing to set limitations on fixed-term contracts.
Concerns have been expressed about the misuse of fixed term contracts in particular where it is seen to extend the probationary period or where a contract continues to be extended.
While there are situations where fixed term contracts are being improperly used, there are also many organisations that rely on fixed term contracts due to nature of their business and funding which do not allow for longer term employment engagements to be considered or justified. Charitable organisations (where fixed term contracts are linked to funding grants) and contracts that are fixed to align with commercial contracts are two key examples.
It is anticipated that the Government may introduce legislation limiting the number of consecutive fixed term contracts that an employer can offer for the same role. For example, contracts may be limited to 24 months’ total duration, subject to some exceptions for specific scenarios that might be negotiated once the reforms are tabled.
It is not yet clear what consideration will be given to maximum term contracts. These contract arrangements vary from fixed term arrangements as they permit either party to terminate the contract early with notice where a true fixed term contract is not able to be terminated prematurely with notice.
If you need any assistance, do not hesitate to get in touch on 1300 1 OUR HR (68 747)
A HR publication, HR Daily, released an article this month on the rise in burnout causing serious health issues in the workplace. In the first quarter of 2022 we have helped multiple businesses navigate this minefield.
The reality is that individuals and businesses have had to navigate very challenging times – from a pandemic that has resulted in ongoing changes within businesses and resourcing constraints as a result of a number of things from loss of work to dealing with staff impacted by the virus, to more recently – the floods which has devasted many homes and businesses.
The stress of dealing with how a business is impacted can sometimes mean our attention is elsewhere. These events alone are enough to test the most resilient of us however there is a need to make sure we are continually checking in on team members to understand how they are doing and what support they may need. When stress and emotions are heightened work that was perhaps manageable can become unmanageable and more difficult to navigate.
In some organisations more than 50% of employees will experience symptoms of burnout referring to emotional and intellectual exhaustion. Some typical factors that contribute to burnout in a work setting are lack of workplace culture, feeling undervalued, lack of community amongst colleagues, feeling disconnected from their work.
Burnout may lead to some very real health concerns such as diabetes, high blood pressure, anxiety and insomnia. This may stem from a sense of feeling demotivated, not wanting to exercise, eat nutritious meals or take care of your own wellbeing. It can become just a fight to cope.
In May 2019 the World Health Organisation recognised burnout as a serious health problem and finally classified it as a mental condition. From an organisational perspective burnout can cost you dearly. Employees are more likely to take sick leave, or even look for another job increasing your turnover, recruitment costs, and reducing your revenue.
Burnout is simply a condition that no one is immune to.
So, what can a company do to help combat escalating cases of burnout?
Create a caring and supportive environment
Encourage staff to take regular breaks from their desk, to not take work home in the evenings and to approach their manager if they are feeling overwhelmed. Promote a healthy work schedule, if as a manager you tend to work long days make sure your staff know that it’s ok for them to leave, burning the midnight oil on a regular basis is not productive for anyone.
Follow an open-door policy and schedule regular catch ups with your team members. Be honest and transparent and encourage communication about life rather than just work. Diving straight into task orientated conversations can leave an employee feeling more like a number and less like a person, which can overall instil heightened levels of pressure and disconnectedness.
Consider your resources
Often dedicated employees work harder and harder, unwilling to turn down requests for help. Take time to review whether you are staffed correctly, would you benefit from an additional resource? Neglecting to resource correctly will leave employees picking up the slack and productivity taking a hit.
4. Consider EAP
If you do not have an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), consider researching these. Many EAP providers offer monthly wellbeing initiatives focussed on different factors such as nutrition, exercise, and sleep. They provide multiple tools including webinars, fact sheets and videos that can help employees refocus on wellbeing.
If an EAP isn’t for you, or if you want to heighten your wellbeing initiatives consider a dedicated Health Ambassador. This person would be a volunteer within your organisation responsible for review wellbeing initiatives that could be incorporated each month, such as a lunch time walk club, yoga sessions, or a fruit box delivery. Small gestures that give wellbeing a place in your company culture.
Burnout will always exist but by following some of these simple guidelines it may help to prevent burnout within your team. The more you care for your employees, the more your employees will care for the company. After all an organisation is only as healthy as the people who work for it……
In the current climate giving an additional week’s personal leave upfront may just get the candidate across the line.
What we know right now is that Covid will likely hit every business in the near future and employees know they will need personal leave to cover when they need time off work due to illness.
Thinking outside the box is not a new thing for business, but the speed and regularity of having to do so is moving more quickly than ever, in line with the rapid changes of the epidemic this weary world now faces.
As we begin the New Year facing such enormous staff shortages, what can business do that may have an impact on a candidate moving to your business? Personal Leave is an important entitlement that so many of us have appreciated over the years. We feel secure knowing if we get sick, or we need to care for our loved ones, we will have our accrued personal leave we can rely upon. This is leave that we accrue over time, and after 12 months we have accrued 10 days personal leave, which continues to accumulate year to year. It instils confidence knowing there is accrued leave waiting for you just in case you need it.
Now with the rapidly increased rates of Covid and the sweeping likelihood of getting it we know we are going to need our personal leave. However, what happens when you start a new job and have no accrued leave to fall back on? You start afresh, and you commence accruing leave all over again. It starts to beg the question for employees, “Why would I leave this job knowing I have accrued personal leave in my current role and to start a new job and I will have no sick leave to rely upon when I get sick with Covid?” Which with the current rates, is very likely?
What if you could offer them some of that security? The idea of offering 5 days personal leave upfront to your new starter may just make a difference to them coming to work for you. It may be the difference between a ‘No’ or a ‘Yes’ when you offer employment to your candidate. For someone on a base of 60K per year, it represents just over $1150 for the week.
Quite simply, you provide a type of insurance to the employee, a bit of a safety net that may help them to cross the line and accept a role with you.
Employing people right now is exceedingly difficult and we all know that. Thinking about innovative ideas to help you secure staff is something you cannot afford not to do.
As the New Year is now upon us Our HR Team will continue to look at ways, we can make positive contributions for your business.
Workplace mental health is costing Australian businesses billions of dollars each year - yes, every business needs to do something to address this! As we finish recent World Mental Health Day celebrations, and with Queensland Mental Health Week now also in full swing, it is pertinent to evaluate the impact on mental health over the past year, with HR Daily recently publishing some sobering findings.