Webinar – Having Difficult Conversations Highlights

We held a webinar last week on ‘having difficult conversations’ with your staff. We’ve shared the top three snippets here!

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Susanna Ritchie
Susanna Ritchie

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Don’t Shake It Off (Workplace Wizards’ Version): The Importance of OHS Compliance

“I stay up too late, got safety on my brain, that’s what managers say… mmm-mmm, but I keep proving, can’t stop, won’t stop grooving, it’s like I got this caution in my mind saying, ‘don’t just shake it off.”  Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) compliance is more than a checkbox activity that can be shaken off; it’s about building a sustainable culture that keeps everyone safe and healthy. By integrating solid safety practices into your workplace, you’re not just protecting your team—you’re also boosting productivity and steering clear of legal and financial headaches.  In this blog we’ll explore some common myths around OHS and practical steps to improve your workplace safety policies (beyond the bare bones of compliance!), all while taking some creative liberties with the lyrics to Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off – specifically to remind you to NOT shake off OHS!   Busting Common OHS Myths  “We keep on cruising, can’t stop, won’t stop choosing to debunk these myths, yeah!”  Alright, first let’s bust some common myths that might be tripping up your workplace safety efforts. Myth #1: OHS is Mostly Common Sense  While it’s tempting to think that common sense will keep everyone safe, real-world safety is complex and often counterintuitive. Effective OHS involves understanding specific laws, identifying less obvious hazards, and implementing protocols that might not be immediately apparent. It’s about building a structured approach to safety that goes beyond everyday intuition. Leaving it to ‘common sense’ alone, often creates numerous blind spots that you’re not even aware exist. By being proactive with OHS, and going beyond common sense, you can ensure you’re not only prepared to handle any potential blind spots but you’re also equipped for any other unpredictable safety curveballs that the future might throw at you.   Myth #2: OHS is All on You, the Employer  Yes, you’ve got big responsibilities, but safety is a team sport. Everyone, from the CEO to the newest intern, needs to play their part in keeping the workplace safe.  It’s particularly crucial to deconstruct this idea of safety being something that only management deals with. Your employees should be empowered to identify risks and voice concerns. This collaborative approach not only enhances safety but also promotes a more engaged and responsible workforce.  Myth #3: OHS is Too Expensive   Think of implementing an effective OHS system as an investment, not a cost. The payoffs include fewer accidents and a lower risk of expensive legal issues. Plus, there are plenty of cost-effective safety solutions that can be tailored for smaller businesses.  Investing in OHS not only prevents costly accidents but also improves employee morale and productivity, which can lead to greater rewards the long run.  Myth #4: Safety Rules Just Slow Things Down  Let’s keep it real; we’ve all had this thought pop up at least once. ‘We’ve done this before/there’s been no issues/all these rules just slow things down’. This however is the equivalent of running with your shoelaces untied because you don’t have ‘time’ to slow down and tie them up – sure it saves time in the moment, but it’ll cost you dearly when you trip over yourself down the line.    OHS is always a big picture game and most of these myths arise from a fundamental misunderstanding of what safety protocols entail. Far from being a hindrance, well-designed safety measures streamline operations and reduce time lost to accidents and injury-related absences. This leads to a more efficient, more productive, and ultimately more profitable operation.  Good safety practices result in smoother, faster workplace—not the other way around. As the saying goes, a stitch in time saves nine!  Myth #5: It’s All About Avoiding Fines  While dodging fines is great, effective OHS is really about valuing your people and creating a workplace where everyone can thrive without worry. Centring your OHS approach with ‘avoid penalties’ as your main mantra can skew your perspective and see you miss out on the more holistic elements of OHS – ultimately leading to a more reactive than proactive execution of related policies and processes.   The core of OHS is about valuing human life and well-being. A safe workplace is a more positive, engaging, and productive environment. This commitment to well-being can enhance your reputation with clients and within your industry.  Myth #6: Once Set, Forget the Safety Plan  Safety isn’t a ‘set it and forget it’ deal. Safety by nature demands vigilance and adaptability, and workplaces are dynamic. They change every day, and as they change, new risks also pop up. As such, it’s important to keep your policies dynamic too – most of all your policies to do with workplace safety. Regular updates are key.  As new technologies, processes, or materials are introduced, or as changes in staffing occur, previously unforeseen risks can, and do, always emerge. Regularly reviewing and updating safety plans ensures they remain effective and relevant.  Myth #7: Only Certain Industries Need OHS  One of the most prevalent myths is that safety is only a real concern in certain industries, namely those that involve more physical work such as trades or construction.    Hazards aren’t just about heavy machinery though; they’re about everyday workplace safety.  Every workplace has its risks, whether it’s the obvious dangers of a construction site or the more subtle ergonomic risks in an office environment. If anything, these subtle risks pose more of a threat because they’re subtle and often fly under the radar. Understanding that safety is a universal need is crucial to protecting all employees, regardless of the industry. This broadens the scope of OHS to encompass a wide array of environments and challenges.  Seven Key Steps to Enhance Your OHS Compliance  “Got hazards on my list, ticking them off, and I’m writing it twice, planning and tracking, gotta get this right.”    Step One – Appoint a Safety Leader: Select a dedicated leader for your safety initiatives, ideally someone with a deep understanding of OHS. While internal candidates may be familiar with daily operations, engaging an external expert is highly recommended. External


Fair Pay on The Frontline: Aged Care Wage Increase

In November 2020, the Health Services Union (HSU) initiated a landmark work value case with the Fair Work Commission (FWC), advocating for a 25% wage increase across all roles in the aged care sector. This case encompassed three critical applications targeting adjustments to minimum wages outlined in: The Aged Care Award 2010;  The Nurses Award 2020; and The Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award 2010 (SCHADS Award).  On March 15, 2024, the Fair Work Commission delivered a historic decision, resulting in a substantial pay increase of up to 28.5%. This decision addresses wage adjustments for both direct care employees, including personal care workers and nurses, and indirect care employees, such as head chefs/cooks and recreational activities officers/lifestyle officers, within the applicable awards. Gender Equality in Wage Determination The recent decision by the Full Bench, comprising an expert panel, marks a significant step towards rectifying historical gender-based wage disparities within the aged care sector. The panel’s thorough examination revealed that assumptions rooted in gender inequality had led to undervaluation of the work performed by aged care sector employees, particularly impacting female workers. Common misconceptions, such as the belief that certain roles were naturally suited to women or that female employees lacked dependents, contributed to unjust wage fixations. Furthermore, the Decision highlighted how minimum wage rates in key awards were influenced by these outdated gendered assumptions, perpetuating inequality. The expert panel’s findings underscore the necessity for wage adjustments based on work value grounds, devoid of gender bias, and signal a crucial shift towards equitable compensation practices within the aged care industry. Direct care employees Direct care workers are set to receive a significant pay increase beyond the initial 15% interim raise. This decision emphasises the establishment of a benchmark pay rate for key classifications and the development of a new uniform structure based on it, aiming to eliminate gender assumptions. The identified benchmark rate, $1223.90 per week for Certificate III-qualified employees, reflects considerations of previous equal remuneration orders. The decision also outlines the need for separate classification structures in the Aged Care Award, harmonisation of rates and structures for certain roles, and the transition of AINs from the Nurses Award to the Aged Care Award. Additionally, technical and grandparenting provisions are detailed to accommodate wage increases, resulting in a substantial impact on direct care workers’ pay, with hourly wages set to rise between 18 and 28%. In establishing the new classification structure(s) for direct care employees, the expert panel emphasised several key points: Recognised the fundamental difference in work value between direct care employees and other roles in residential aged care, advocating against a single integrated classification structure in the Aged Care Award; The purpose of the classification descriptors in awards is to identify which categories of workers are entitled to the minimum rates, not to serve as comprehensive ‘position descriptions; and Recommended inclusion of a supervisory level within the classification structure(s). Indirect care employees Indirect care employees in the Aged Care Award are categorised under ‘General and administrative services’ or ‘food services’ streams. While acknowledging the importance of their contributions to residential aged care facilities, the Expert Panel determines that their work does not equate in value to that of direct care workers, thus justifying disparate pay rates. However, the Panel acknowledges notable changes in work value, particularly in infection prevention, dementia care, and compliance with Aged Care Quality Standards. Consequently, a 3% pay increase is recommended for these workers. Further recommendations include aligning pay rates for SCHADS Award healthcare workers with those for personal care roles and elevating the classification of laundry hands, cleaners, and food services assistants to reflect increased resident interaction, resulting in a total pay increase of 6.96%. Notably, Head Chefs/Cooks are not proposed for further increase. These adjustments aim to improve conditions for support service workers, with an anticipated 6.8% increase in employment. Additional conclusions for indirect care workers include: Harmonisation of pay rates for SCHADS Award HCWs performing non-personal care work with those applicable to personal care HCWs; Recognition of the increased interaction with residents by laundry hands, cleaners, and food services assistants, warranting their elevation from Level 2 to Level 3 in the Aged Care Award classification structure, resulting in a total pay increase of 6.96 percent; No further increase is proposed for Head Chefs/Cooks. Future Trends & What This Means for Your Workplace Employers should take note of the decision by the Fair Work Commission regarding wage increases in the aged care sector. While these new rates will not come into effect until the commission releases a finalised report, they are expected to be applicable by July 2024. The Fair Work Commission has provided in its decision the classification of wage rises within three different awards. The decision entails a significant increase in wages for direct care employees, ranging from 15% to 28.5%, and for indirect care, wages are anticipated to rise by up to 6.8%. However, employers with existing Enterprise Bargaining Agreements (EBAs) in place will not be affected by these increases. On the other hand, employers without EBAs and those in the process of negotiating them should consider the potential impact of the raised rates. The rate rise will affect employers who are currently contemplating the EBA process, as they will need to factor in the increased rates until their EBA is approved. Additionally, employers will have to review how they are paying their staff, and those who will be renegotiating their EBAs will need to factor in additional rates due to this rise. The Albanese Labor Government has expressed support for the Fair Work Commission’s decision on the aged care work value case. In early April, the Commission will also consider the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation’s application to increase wages by up to 35% for an estimated 250,000 nurses, nursing assistants, and midwives. It is anticipated this ‘work value claim’ will build on the landmark findings in the Decision and extend the recognition to other healthcare employees. An obvious concern for employers in the aged

performance management System

What Is Performance Management System and Why Is It Important

Ever found yourself in a workplace where no one wants to talk about the elephant in the room? Those tough chats about performance that everyone dodges until the last minute? Ever wondered how that kind of environment messes with the team’s vibe and productivity? Let’s find out why managing performance is more than just hitting targets—rather, keeping our minds in the game too. WHAT IS A PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM A performance management system is a structured process designed to monitor, evaluate, and enhance individual and organisational performance. It involves setting clear goals and objectives aligned with organisational objectives, continuously monitoring progress, providing feedback, coaching employees to improve their performance, and rewarding achievements. An effective performance management system helps organisations to effectively manage employee performance, identify areas for development, and ultimately drive productivity and success. HOW AN EFFECTIVE PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM HELPS ORGANISATIONS A good performance management is important for all businesses. Why? Effectively managing performance and setting a benchmark will help your business achieve its strategic goals by aligning employees, resources, and systems with the organisation’s overall objectives and values. These days, it’s crucial to have a solid performance management system in place. Not only does it enhance productivity, but it also prioritises the well-being of employees. It’s also crucial to set clear goals, offer frequent input, and cultivate a nurturing environment. However, mishandling tough conversations can lead to bad outcomes. These include lower morale, more work, and harm to mental well-being. Although effectively managing employee performance is needed, many teams require a more comprehensive strategy that goes beyond simple evaluations. An effective performance management system incorporates a complete system of goals, reflections and rewards that enables teams to do their best work. If done right, performance management has a direct impact on the efficiency of an organisation’s teams by providing team members a chance to improve their work. By effectively empowering teams to succeed in both the short and long term, a business can reduce its costs and grow the bottom line. Avoidance Can Be Tempting… Avoiding the issue might seem enticing. After all, why burst the bubble by bringing up uncomfortable topics? But dodging discussions about an employee’s performance, behaviour, or attitude can double the trouble. Not only does it deny the employee a chance to improve, but it also heaps pressure on the rest of the team to compensate, leading to sagging spirits and motivation. And, when difficult conversations are not handled properly, it can lead to unnecessary conflict and have a negative impact on mental health. This can leave people feeling unappreciated, singled out, and bitter. Employee performance management should place a strong emphasis on ensuring the well-being and productivity of employees. This can be achieved by setting realistic goals, providing regular feedback, offering resources for well-being, creating opportunities for professional development, and acknowledging employees’ hard work and dedication. This approach prioritises both business objectives and the well-being of employees, ensuring that performance management is compassionate, continuous, and constructive. Developing an Effective Performance Management System Performance management systems can take various forms; and are often redesigned, re-launched and abandoned on numerous occasions within an organisation. Essentially, the key to a valuable performance management system is to ensure all staff commit to the system, as opposed to merely complying with isolated conditions and protocols. An effective performance management system (PMS) helps organisations track employee performance. It also aligns individual conduct with business goals and spots issues early on. It should be developed by senior management and include clear expectations, standards of behaviour, and a framework for addressing performance issues. To do this, they need to understand how it works as a business tool. This means knowing each part of performance management and its importance. Components of an Effective Performance Management System Planning Planning helps a business achieve its goals, and the same goes for staff. It’s important to set clear roles for employees. Also, to regularly tell them what you expect and your goals. This is key to their success. In this process, you set goals and line them up with the broader goals of the organisation. You ensure that every employee’s work helps the business succeed. Coaching Coaching helps foster training and development and builds personal and team morale. It’s about supervising employees and reinforcing or redirecting their efforts through recognition and feedback. Effective coaching involves ongoing communication, and providing guidance and support to help employees develop their skills and achieve their full potential. Evaluating Evaluating employee performance helps remind workers what their managers expect in the workplace and track how they are progressing against their goals. It involves assessing employee performance against the criteria established in the planning phase. Regular evaluations provide a chance for feedback and talk. They help employees see their strengths and areas to improve. Rewarding Recognising the effort and achievements of each employee is essential. It builds employee engagement and a positive company culture. Acknowledging and valuing the hard work of your employees can bring about many benefits. It can enhance their productivity, encourage a sense of collaboration, and make your business more attractive to potential new hires. This component is important for maintaining a motivated workforce and reinforcing the behaviours and outcomes that are highly valued by the organisation. Disciplining You don’t want a bad apple to spoil the bunch. Managing poor performance or misconduct is essential for business. It can also involve important learning and growth opportunities for staff and your business as a whole. A fair and consistent approach to discipline helps maintain a positive work environment and ensures that all employees are held to the same standards. Workplace Wizards assists employers to proactively institute performance management strategies or can help organisations who are managing poor performance or defending dismissal-related claims. Sadly, performance management does not correct the problem behaviour or conduct every time. If so, we can help you ‘move on’ the employee whom you need to dismiss – ensuring you manage it in a fair, empathetic and legally-defensible manner. Managing an employee out of your