News

31 Mar, 2020
Remote leadership: 6 tips for removing the blindfold
SOURCE:
HRM
HRM

In times of uncertainty, we often look to our leaders for guidance. But COVID-19 has caused such unique challenges, they’re scratching their heads too. Here’s how HR can help.

Knowing how to effectively manage staff from afar might be a skill leaders of global companies have, but leaders of local companies are learning on the job. 

HRM speaks with two experts about how to help your leaders adjust management of a workforce that is operating remotely. Spoiler alert, a lot of it comes across as simple, but the trick is all in commitment and execution.

This article is broken down into five sections:

  1. The power of listening
  2. Performance management
  3. Is that conflict, or something else?
  4. Reframing recognition efforts
  5. Strategic meetings
  6. Assessing wellbeing

1. The power of listening

“There’s no playbook for this,” says Steve Bennetts, psychologist and head of growth & strategy, employee experience solutions, APJ a Qualtrics. 

Most leaders have never dealt with such a sudden shift. Like us, they’re learning how to do their job differently, while at the same time figuring out how to help the rest of us do ours. 

What’s imperative, Bennetts says, is that leaders are listening to what their people need. If they don’t, he says they are “just throwing darts in the dark”. And it’s not just about giving your people an outlet, you have to give them a voice – you have to follow up on the feedback they’ve provided. Bennetts points to research Qualtrics recently conducted which shows organisations that turn feedback into action have much higher engagement rates (78 per cent) than those that don’t (39 per cent).

“During change, our results show people want [leaders] to listen even more. Our old way of listening, like an annual engagement survey, probably isn’t suitable right now.”

Their results also found that organisations that formally checked in with staff at least every quarter saw engagement levels of 63 per cent. That dropped by 13 per cent when feedback was only sought once or twice a year.

2. Performance management

Should you expect the same level of performance from employees at the moment? Bennett doesn’t think so. Everyone is adjusting to a shocking new reality, and we have to give them time.

“One of the key things we need to remember is that this wasn’t a planned situation. When you ask to work from home normally, you would set up a work environment and baby sitters etc. so you can continue to work as effectively as you would in the office. Unfortunately, right now that’s not the case.

“Leaders might be managing people who are having to do four hours of homeschooling before they can start their work day,” he says. “I know that I’m only going to get 50 per cent productivity out of them, and I just have to adjust to that.”

Not only will their performance temporarily shift, so too will their participation rates.

“It’s not work-life integration anymore, it’s a work-life overlap,” says Dr Jacqui Abbott FCPHR. 

“The people you’re speaking to aren’t necessarily in a quiet environment at home. There could be children or animals around, or there could be more than one person in the house trying to work from home.”

Abbott says employees might feel highly anxious about a daily meeting they’re meant to attend because they’ve got things going on around them – screaming babies or nagging teenagers. She says leaders need to step in and say something like “that’s okay, we’re all doing the best we can”. They need to make this imperfect way of working acceptable.

It’s also important leaders are having very clear conversations about output, she says.

“If you’re clear about what you’ve got to do, how you’re going to do it and the hours you’re going to do it in are secondary. When you set clear boundaries for your staff, you’re setting achievable tasks.”

All of this isn’t to say that normal performance issues won’t arise. There is a small portion of workers who might use this time at home to slack off, or perhaps they were already experiencing issues. 

When this happens, do you reach for regular HR tools, such as a performance improvement plan? Or should we be implementing new approaches such as a performance re-engagement plan to get them back on the straight and narrow? The answer is determined on a case by case basis, says Bennetts.

Abbott points out that you might even find that those who were previously underperforming start wanting to step up and contribute more. That could be out of fear of losing their jobs – research suggests discretionary efforts can increase during a crisis – or it could be because they feel a sense of loyalty to the company and want to see it succeed through the crisis. 

3. Is that conflict, or something else?

The internet has always been rife with bullying and harassment, but with more of us heading online to work, we could very likely see this increase. 

It’s hard for managers to keep their eye on this behaviour without having the victims speak up. As we know, many forms of workplace bullying can be subtle or difficult to identify, such as workplace gaslighting.

Considering the strange state of the world at the moment, people might be more likely to act out – especially those who are experiencing unprecedented levels of stress and anxiety.

“From a psychosocial perspective, there are a number of people who go to work to escape home,” says Bennetts. “People might have anxiety or depression, and they might use work as their downtime. [Those worlds) are now being interlaced for them. There are some mental health issues that can come out and it’s important managers talk about those with the individuals involved,” says Bennetts.

He adds: “What might be coming across as bullying or harassment might actually be a result of someone under a lot of stress or strain.”

Leaders can preempt these situations, he says, by being open with their teams and saying ‘we’re going to be communicating through video/email more often, so let’s be more accepting of people; just give everyone a moment.’

And you might have to remind people of this now and then.

4. Reframing recognition efforts

Employees can feel they’re working in the shadows when not in the office. It’s nice for leaders to issue a blanket statement acknowledging staff efforts, but what about those smaller individual efforts that go unnoticed? 

Managers can witness the blood, sweat and tears that go into a project when they’re physically overseeing it, but it can be harder to detect the time and effort put into a task when multiple people are working on the same thing from afar.

Instead of the pat on the back staff might be used to, leaders have to come up with new approaches. That might be implementing an ’employee of the week’ program; it could be calling out a job well done in your virtual company meetings; or creating a specific online space for shouting peoples’ praises (in my workplace, we have a dedicated Slack channel for this called #bloodygoodworkmate).

Bennetts says for any of the above to be effective, it’s first important that managers put clear frameworks in place to help staff define what success looks like in their specific role.

“If managers don’t do that, their employees will probably flounder during this time. Because they’re not sure what success looks like. 

“What we’ll see is a lot of organisations adopting something that we’re seeing in the world of tech, which is OKRs (objectives and key results). So that’s about outcome driven results and putting clear metrics up for what people need to achieve. Set a goal that’s attached to a result and make sure it’s easy to measure.”

5. Meetings

Have a clear agenda for your meetings, says Abbott. We’ve heard this tip before, many times in fact, but no longer is it just well meaning advice – it’s a business critical fact. In trying times, you need your people to be as productive as possible, and inefficient meetings will eat away at that productivity.

“Rather than putting out lots of information, a [virtual] meeting is an opportunity to ask questions, to seek understanding… so everyone is very clear about direction and people have an opportunity to voice their concerns.”

She also encourages leaders to take the lead on setting up non-work related online gatherings.

“I’ve heard of a group that has people come online to do The Age quiz together at lunch time. Another idea is to do virtual walking meetings. So you can connect while doing other things.”

Taking a diversity and inclusion lens to meetings, Abbott says it’s important for leaders to remember that people operate differently.

“It’s important that all voices are heard. If information can be disseminated beforehand, do that.  If one person is doing all of the talking, it can be hard for people to take in all that information. It needs to be broken down into smaller chunks.”

Bennetts adds that your choice of communication platform is crucial.

“Say you’re opening a Zoom meeting, the loudest people will get the most voice in that forum. But if we go out and get everyone to complete a feedback survey, you’re giving all of your people the chance to share their thoughts, and that feedback is treated equally.”

One question Bennetts suggests leaders ask during their end-of-day meetings is ‘what has your experience been like today?’

“Someone might answer, ‘I feel like we’ve had a lot of meetings. It’s feeling hard to get my work done’. And you can talk about how to adjust that.”

6. Assessing wellbeing

HRM has published plenty of articles on how to create a mentally healthy workplace, and there are also lots of great online resources out there about how to emotionally support employees in a virtual world. But one thing you might not have considered is setting up a strategy for how you check in.

“There needs to be a back end process to this. You don’t want three different people checking in with you within ten minutes and then you don’t hear anything from anyone for three days,” says Bennetts.

Leaders need to coordinate their approach and put together a plan for how they’ll support each person in their team. That might be daily check-ins from a direct manager, followed by weekly check-ins from the CEO and HR lead.

“I like the idea of having cross-team check-ins. Leaders might check in with people they’re not used to speaking with. You might discover new people or talents, or new resources amongst each other.

“This is a period of flux, and we will come out the other side. We just need to be human with people as we go through.”

18 Feb, 2020
The leadership development challenges of 2020
SOURCE:
hrmonline
HR

The pace of business change has never been faster. But you can’t abandon the core principles of leadership development.

The best way to understand what’s happening in leadership development is to talk to the people who are conducting it. For this article, HRM spoke to some experts and discovered there were some common themes in their thinking. 

Learning in complex environments

Leadership must now be based on continuous learning in order to keep pace with evolving circumstances, says Jo Saies CPHR, the owner and director of PB Performance and Development. Private and public sectors are both grappling with the volume, speed and scale of information within increasingly complex environments. 

Saies says that while the leadership skills required in these sectors differ, “both sectors are moving toward each other, as the public sector recognises the need for commercial acumen and the private sector starts to be more aware of its social responsibilities.

“The big shift in leadership is the skills that people need to have in order to lead in this environment of increased complexity.” 

Saies insights come from working in HR roles within organisations as well as coaching. One barrier, she says, is that too many people try to do the impossible. In her experience, “Trying to maintain control over our environment only leads to ineffective leadership.

“There is the need to be continuously re-learning things rather than having all the answers, and this means showing vulnerability. It is a real leadership challenge to let go of the need to know all the answers.”

Evette Tattam has worked in executive level HR roles within the banking, legal and energy sectors. She  has also seen how difficult it is for leaders to be vulnerable – to express a desire to listen and learn – within cultures that continue to view talent through a very narrow frame of reference. 

“Curiosity is underestimated as a leadership capability,” says Tattam. “We need to be better at recognising less commonly appreciated elements of great leadership, such as the ability to listen and have a conversation rather than focusing on our own responses and opinions in an attempt to show how much we already know,” she says.

Developing the right way

Openness to learning might be the first step. But the all important second step is developing capabilities. In this space too there are real challenges.

“Agile, resilient and productive organisations need agile, resilient and productive people,” says Chris Phillips CPHR, CEO of Grey Matta Solutions.

Despite the hyper-connected environment digital advancements have created, Phillips is adamant that “the future of work is human”. 

“People want to be heard, feel psychologically safe and be valued,” he says. And that’s true regardless of the sector, industry or company.

Mel Egginton, former manager HR business partnering at Townsville Hospital and Health Service, has worked in the higher education, mining, health and local government sectors and says the greatest challenge for senior leaders is understanding the value of developing leadership capabilities throughout the organisation. There is a temptation, as the volume of available data increases, to spend more time analysing it.

Mel Forbes, formerly of AGL and now the founder of Dott Group, says we have to think about the design of leadership development programs. She believes they need “freedom within framework”. That’s a framework that provides a solid structure while simultaneously allowing for more diverse and targeted development.

“Communication is also a key capability gap,” says Forbes. “Dealing with complexity and change through digital communications has reduced our ability to have effective conversations that have context and content.” 

Forbes says she is seeing a return to communication strategies that re-engage people and reduce the expediency of a digital directive culture. Leaning too heavily on digital mediums is just not as effective in managing communication across teams and outside of hierarchical reporting lines.    

 Most industries in Australia are moving towards a greater level of social responsibility. Forbes has seen a shift in organisations towards more community-minded approaches, where they insist on having greater awareness of the fact that their products and services are also a part of their employees’ lives within the community. Because of this she says leadership development should also be taking into account what communities need and expect. 

A move towards understanding

Talking about modern organisational challenges with HRM last year, Atlassian’s work futurist Dominic Price said that as more and more people switch away from manual labour, we need to address the fact that the ‘calluses’ caused by work are no longer on our hands.

He said: “The calluses are now appearing on your brain and we can’t see them. So how do we collectively take ownership for our peoples’ wellbeing?”

The expectation that leaders are in charge frequently creates the impression they are exempt from mental health issues. “The ‘lonely at the top’ sensation is still real today,” says Saies. 

But this way of thinking has everything backwards. Indeed, making sure leaders are better able to engage more of their whole selves in work may be an antidote to the rise in mental health challenges facing employees and leadership. 

Many of the HR professionals interviewed for this article say that  policies and procedures introduced to improve wellbeing in the workplace are only as effective as the leadership capabilities of the implementers. They see the need for leaders to become more self-aware in order to develop a better understanding of how their actions, thoughts and behaviours affect their own experiences as well as the experiences of those around them. 

One of the main wellbeing challenges for leaders, says Phillips, is the expectation of having to be constantly connected and  ‘on’ all of the time.

“The expectation to be always connected has resulted in an associated anxiety when we try to disconnect. People struggle to mentally detach from work, which leads to feelings of overwhelm, job dissatisfaction and eventually burn-out.” 

Moving ahead

It’s all well and good to outline what leaders should be doing, but how can you turn the theory into practice?

Phillips says it’s critical that there is consistency of action and messaging in leadership. He recognises it can be challenging to maintain the message of ‘people first’ when ‘business’ gets in the way. However, Phillips implores organisations to set metrics that measure more than the financial aspects of the business. 

Saies agrees, saying that it is “people acumen that is both our greatest challenge and greatest opportunity.”

Chrystie Watson is the founder of Learn Leadership.

11 Feb, 2020
Fixing the ladder: how this company overcame its retention issues
SOURCE:
HRM Online
HRM Online

By honing development training and peer-to-peer support, this business was able to bust through significant growth barriers.

You have skilled, capable managers working at the top level of your organisation. They know what needs to be done and get it done quickly. But when the time comes for them to move on, or they get poached, the people working at the level below them aren’t ready to step up, or they don’t want to. What do you do? 

Scott Quinn CPHR had to answer this question when the scenario played out at Retzos Group, a franchisee of KFC. The company was facing retention issues with its restaurant managers (5 per cent above average turnover rates) and assistant managers (15 per cent above average). On top of that, only 19 per cent of assistant managers had the necessary skills to progress to a manager role.

The situation was hamstringing the business and making it impossible to achieve its key objective of expansion, and as the head of HR and development manager, Quinn knew he needed to fix it. He also decided to use this challenge as the basis of his project to achieve HR certification through AHRI’s Practising Certification Program.

Hierarchy gap

Retzos Group’s retention and training issues went hand in hand, and Quinn says the business wasn’t taking a strategic approach to progression. The typical hierarchy of a KFC restaurant has the area manager at the top, followed by restaurant managers, assistant managers, supervisors and team members. At Retzos Group, everyone below the first tier needed a clear progression plan because, as it stood, there was little planning around this.

 

“It was like, ‘That person has the ability to do the hours? Great, give them the job,’” says Quinn. “But they often didn’t have the ability. This is what caused our retention issues. The person who accepted the role couldn’t cope. They didn’t have the experience, the training and development, or the support they required, to succeed. So they would leave. 

“The cost of losing just one key employee, according to management consulting firm Korn Ferry (formerly the Hay Group), exceeds 60 per cent of the departed employee’s annual salary. Quinn estimated that in 2018, Retzos Group had lost up to $950,000 in retention costs.

“That’s factoring in things like job advertising, interviewing, orientations,  training, compensation during training and lost productivity.”

This was an alarm bell Quinn was determined to answer.

“The strategy was to go back to the beginning and understand what kind of development plans could be put in place to identify the right people coming through the business and support them to move up in the business.”

Training and development

Quinn looked to other businesses who’d been in similar situations and analysed their strategies. US retail giant Walmart offered a perfect model. In 1990, it had a massive 70 per cent turnover rate. Its solution was recruitment training for managers and making sure managers were part of the onboarding of new staff members.

To get the ball rolling on a similar strategy, Retzos Group created a new position, a training development manager. Part of this role was to appoint area trainers into each region.

“The area trainers are existing restaurant managers who still have a normal day to day job with the company. But two or three days a month, they go out to other restaurants in their area to support and develop the younger assistant managers.

“Not only did we improve the development of our assistant managers, but it also helped in developing the restaurant managers. And now those restaurant managers are able to progress to an area manager role.”

Driving culture

Crucial to the success of the overall strategy was the implementation of a new resource. The company developed a 360 culture development tool that was used by everyone in the business, from top to bottom. It allowed all employees to take an active role in their own development. Through the data gathered by this tool, Retzos Group was able to develop individualised development plans for all staff. Quinn says this had the most significant impact in improving retention rates across the business.

“Anyone can create a culture and development tool, but it’s what you do with it afterwards that really matters.”

This focus on data wasn’t limited to the culture tool. The strategy called for existing sources of data to receive greater attention. This meant really listening to, and then recording, the comments made in exit interviews. 

Quinn and his team also conducted a simple survey for assistant managers, at zero cost to the business. They asked questions such as, Do you feel you have the systems and tools necessary to do your job? Do you feel you had enough training and development to do your role? And, Do you feel the workload distributed across the management team is fair?

“We did this because we were losing more assistants than restaurant managers. So we asked them to rate their work-life balance based on their management-rostering system. We wanted to know if they felt recognised for the work they did and then asked them to rate their happiness in their current role.”

From the survey results, Quinn was able to see there was an uneven workload distribution. This wasn’t something they’d tracked before but the remedy was simple.

“We were able to quickly change the rosters. We now track who does nights, weekends, days, closing shifts and the ‘unsociable’ shifts, such as Saturday nights. Now we have a rotating roster that’s fair to everyone in the organisation.

Getting results

This new workforce management strategy, based on the Korn Ferry research, will save the business a projected $210,000 in turnover costs across 2019. Restaurant manager turnover has reduced from 14 to 10 per cent, and assistant manager turnover has dropped from 24 to 16 per cent. 

The strategy has been a success, but Quinn doesn’t want to give the impression that the 30-week project was solely responsible for the increased retention rates. The growth strategy was in its development stages before Quinn began the project. Also, its results were enhanced by the implementation of various culture development tools. The advantage of the AHRI certification program was the structure it gave the process.

A big lesson Quinn took from this experience was the importance of rigorous workforce planning and structure. “I used a Gantt chart, and I used it effectively. It’s a time-and-action chart which tells you at which point you have to do specific tasks, from week one to week 30.”

Another key takeaway was managing stakeholder expectations.

“As results were improving, the expectations got higher, and ended up going beyond our original goal. Some people expected those rates to keep rising. I had to keep managing that by saying, ‘Remember what our original goal was. Remember where we’ve come from.’

“With projects like this, there’s a natural burst of improvement, and then it will slow down and you’ll start to get more consistency across retention,” says Quinn. 

His final piece of advice to anyone considering a business change is to not to be short-term in your thinking. The bigger the change, the more important it is to give yourself the time to get it right. 

7 Feb, 2020
3 Ways You Can Bring Sustainability to Your Workplace
entrepreneur

You don’t have to search too hard to find a company flexing its green credentials. There are startups like co-working company Upflex, which plants a tree for every booking it receives. Then there are the industry behemoths. Recently, massive asset-management firm BlackRock announced its plan to shift away from investing in companies that contribute to the climate crisis.

January report from McKinsey urges companies large and small to take immediate action. “Much as thinking about information systems and cyber-risks has become integrated into corporate and public-sector decision making, climate change and its resulting risks will also need to feature as a major factor in decisions,” observed McKinsey Global Institute Director Jonathan Woetzel, in the report.

Sustainability is a business imperative, and a great place for employers to act on it is in their own workplaces. Creating more sustainable workspaces, i.e. greening the office itself, does carry some benefits beyond a positive climate impact. First of all, energy-efficient workspaces are typically cheaper to operate, so there’s a potential for savings on utilities and maintenance. They’re also more pleasant to work in, which can aid recruiting and retention efforts, especially among environmentally conscious young people. Lastly, greener offices prove a company’s commitment to sustainability, which can be a powerful branding and marketing tool.

Related: How the ‘Change Generation’ Is Motivating Businesses to Commit to Sustainability

No matter what prompts you to approach the issue, it’s evident that tomorrow’s offices can and should have a much smaller environmental impact than they do now. Fortunately, sustainability initiatives won’t force your employees to compromise on comfort or perks. Here are some ideas every company can adopt.

1. Arrange for green days

A company’s carbon footprint includes its employees’s emissions from commuting. The 2019 Urban Mobility Report found that the average U.S. commuter wastes 21 gallons of gas a year sitting in congested traffic. Indeed, the transportation sector is one of the largest contributors to climate change, accounting for 29 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2017, according to the U.S Environmental Protection Agency. Business travelers are a big part of that. Of course, there are often lower-carbon options than commuting and traveling for business, as remote work and teleconferencing are on the rise.

Green days and similar initiatives aim to reduce the amount of time people spend traveling for work. Employees are allowed to work from home on green days, and the rest of the year, they’re encouraged (even incentivized) to use public transportation and set up interoffice meetings using videoconferencing. All told, there’s a clear business case for green days. 

2. Prioritize sustainability in all spaces

Something as easy as adding more plants to the office (or even a show-stopping living wall) can improve air quality without emitting anything but oxygen. A study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology found that plants boost productivity, too. In fact, elements of biophilic design, which models indoor spaces after nature, are cropping up in many offices. Google has added skylights and lined its walls with wallpaper that imitates natural patterns. Amazon’s Seattle headquarters, called the Spheres, looks more like a botanical garden than an office space, and Microsoft has built treehouses for its campus in Redmond, Washington. While you don’t have to go that far, biophilic principles can offer green inspiration for any indoor projects you undertake.

Small changes throughout the office add up to big gains in sustainability. Any time you’re refurbishing or moving into a new location, consider how you can spruce up the space in a green way, from lighting to plants to flooring. “Renovations offer ideal chances to reduce waste and scale sustainable efforts. Best of all, no one needs to reinvent the wheel to make sustainable magic happen,” notes Stephen Lewis, technical director at the carpet and floor care company milliCare, in trade publication Facility Executive. “Decades of environmentally friendly practices have made way for designs that improve energy use and waste management.”

3. Set standards with suppliers

Your business is part of various supply chains that should be audited for environmental impact. Are you committed to reducing pollution? Consider buying secondhand office essentials, like coffee makers or printers. If sustainability is a true priority, make it a deciding factor when choosing supplies and vendors. Look for electricity providers that rely on renewable energy sources. Buy computers that are repairable, upgradeable and TCO-certified. Engage with cafeteria food-service vendors that offer compostable packaging and plenty of meat-free options.

Engage suppliers in an open dialogue about your goals and values, strive to build long-term relationships, offer sustainability incentives when necessary and use the fewest number of supplies possible. You can vet any supplier by first defining the criteria you'll use and the evaluation process you'll follow. Nike, for instance, has created a Nike Sustainable Manufacturing & Sourcing Index to rate the environmental friendliness of its suppliers. The company has set a 2020 goal to source 100 percent of its products from contract factories meeting its internal sustainability criteria. 

As that example illustrates, smart companies have already taken the lead in terms of sustainability, and it’s time for stragglers to catch up. The point is that it should be a priority now. As you make your workplace greener, the benefits to your business and the planet will only increase over time.

 

7 Feb, 2020
Why providing feedback to your employees is vital for your business
SOURCE:
Retail
Retail

eedback is a way to support team members and ensure they’re aware of their performance. Regular feedback can help team members reflect on their performance and take action to repeat or change behaviours.

The Johari Window

Johari Window, created by Luft and Ingham (1950), is used to help team members understand the value of self-disclosure, and encourage team members to give and accept feedback.

The Johari Window is a model that can be used to:

  • Improve understanding between individuals within a team.
  • Help people build more-trusting relationships.
  • Solve issues.
  • Work more effectively as a team.

Established team members will have larger open areas than new team members. The size of the Open Area can be expanded horizontally into the blind space, by seeking and actively listening to feedback from other members of the team.

Key points when applying the Johari window:

  • Leaders can assist team members in expanding their Open Area by offering feedback.
  • The size of the Open Area can also be expanded vertically downwards into the hidden or avoided space by the sender's disclosure of information, feelings, etc. about himself/herself to other team members.
  • Leaders can help a person expand their Open Area into the hidden area by asking team members about themselves.
  • Team members can increase the open area by reducing the blind area through the process of asking for and receiving feedback within the team. Team members need to ensure they adopt this theory when dealing with the wider organisational team to increase understanding between departments.

Informal feedback

Ongoing, consistent informal feedback is critical to developing team members. Feedback should not wait until the formal review process; it should form part of daily conversation. There are two types of informal feedback best thought of as:

  • Reinforcing feedback
  • Challenging feedback

Reinforcing feedback

Reinforcing feedback sends a message to the team member that their performance is appreciated. Reinforcing feedback also acts as an encourager to repeat desired behaviours.

When giving reinforcing feedback, the following guidelines should be followed:

  • Provide specifics on exactly what performance standard or behaviour was appreciated.
  • Explain why it is important to reiterate the impact it is having on the wider organisation.
  • Deliver in the public arena so other team members can understand the types of performance and behaviour that are expected.
  • Don’t wait until the task is complete; provide reinforcing feedback throughout to keep momentum and motivate towards completion.
  • Give reinforcing feedback as close to the event as possible to make it relevant.

Challenging feedback

Challenging feedback is intended to correct poor performance and also stretch team members to work to their full potential. When giving challenging feedback, the following guidelines should be followed:

  • Don’t use the words negative or constructive it sends the wrong message and potentially causes the recipient to be less receptive.
  • Be specific when describing the behaviour or performance issue.
  • Use a questioning technique to ascertain what the team member thinks of their performance to ascertain whether they can identify the issue themselves.
  • Ensure it is something within the team member’s control.
  • Deliver the feedback as soon after the event as possible; however, be sure that emotions are not running high.
  • Take into consideration the needs of the recipient.
  • Agree with the team member that changes need to be made to ensure they’re working to their full potential. Deliver challenging feedback in private.

Formal feedback

Many organisations have a formal process for reviewing performance. This often takes place on a regular, systematic basis either quarterly, six-monthly or yearly dependant on the organisation. The performance review is concerned with discussing performance against the responsibilities and goals set.

When conducted properly, performance reviews can result in real benefits to both the organisation and the team member including:

  • Opens communication lines between the manager and the team member.
  • Reinforces behaviour and performance expectations.
  • Creates an opportunity to discuss personal and professional goals.
  • Clarifies understanding of the organisation’s strategic direction.
  • Identifies support needed.
  • Reduces team member turnover.
  • Sends the message that the team member is valued by both their manager and the organisation.
  • Provides an opportunity for managers to receive feedback from the front line.

Performance reviews look to facilitate productivity by maximising team member’s performance. If regular informal feedback has been provided throughout the year, there should be no surprises at the performance review. If this is the case, the discussion around the review period will summarise what has already been discussed allowing additional time to focus on the review period ahead and future goals.

Want to learn more about providing feedback to your employees? The ARA Retail Institute runs courses on everything retail from managing daily operations, leadership and team culture. Click on 'training workshops' below and enhance your business today.

7 Feb, 2020
Colette by Colette Hayman collapses, 140 stores at risk
SOURCE:
The Age
The Age

Poor trading and a failed funding agreement have led to the collapse of women's fashion retailer Colette by Colette Hayman, placing 140 stores and hundreds of jobs at risk in the ongoing brutal retail environment.

The handbags, jewellery and fashion accessories brand was put in the hands of Deloitte administrators Vaughan Strawbridge, Sam Marsden and Jason Tracy on Friday.

It marks the fourth major retail collapse in the last few months, with fellow fashion retailers Bardot and Jeanswest raising the white flag in January. Discount department store Harris Scarfe also collapsed late last year.

Mr Strawbridge told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald in addition to poor trading conditions, the business had been expecting fresh funding to replenish its capital after paying off debts. However, the funding deal fell through, forcing the owners to place the business in administration.

"There was some funding the directors thought would be made available, and when that didn't come to fruition they found themselves needing to appoint administrators," he said. It was too early in the process to reveal the nature of the mooted funding, he said.

Its 140-strong network of stores, which employs 300 permanent staff plus casuals, also contains a number of underperforming stores, which Mr Strawbridge said administrators were currently assessing potential options for.

The eponymous accessories label was founded in 2010 by businesswoman Colette Hayman, the former owner of jewellery chain Diva, who operates the company alongside her husband Mark.

Ms Hayman began the handbag retailer after selling Diva in 2007 to Brett Blundy's Lovisa. It remained privately owned for much of its life before investment giant IFM Investors took a stake in the business in 2017.

Company records show the retailer, which is registered as the CBCH Group, is 51 per cent owned by Ms Hayman and her husband, and 49 per cent owned by IFM.

It has yearly gross sales of more than $140 million, with the company reportedly selling upwards of three million handbags per year. Most of its stores are located in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, and it also has 14 stores in New Zealand.

It's unlikely to be the last major retail collapse for the first half of the year, with analysts and experts warning the poor trading conditions, high rents and weak consumer confidence could see more prominent brands give up the ghost.

Fellow handbag and accessories retailer Oroton collapsed in 2017 after the upmarket brand failed to find buyers.

Mr Strawbridge, who is also overseeing the administration of Harris Scarfe, said conditions were worse than usual, but remained optimistic about the collapsed companies' finding buyers.

"I don't think we've seen this number of retailers who've struggled at the same time before," he said. "But it would be a real shame if those businesses didn't come out of administration."

Colette stores will continue to trade while Deloitte seeks to either recapitalise or sell the business, with administrators confident there would be an appetite from buyers given the strong "heart" of the business.

Staff will continue to be paid by the administrators and gift cards will be honoured.

29 Jan, 2020
Why Not Being Confident Can Sometimes Be A Good Thing
Entrepreneur Asia Pacific

Millennials constitute the largest percentage of the global workforce, and 7 out of 10 report that they've experienced impostor syndrome at some point in their career. This feeling of being a fraud can discourage you from taking risks and further educating yourself, and picture-perfect social media feeds have heightened our collective perfectionism, paralyzing us from making progress and contributing to a mental health crisis.

However, there’s a far more dangerous villain lurking in the sense-of-self spectrum: Overestimating your abilities. Having unearned confidence. And most of us are biologically wired to exaggerate our efforts.

Where does false confidence come from?

In social psychology, illusory superiority is a phenomenon in which we consider ourselves above average when it comes to, well, just about everything. For example, labour statistics repeatedly show we overestimate the amount of time we spend working by nearly 10%.

And in a self-evaluation study, 87% of Stanford MBA students believed they were in the top 50% of their class.

Paradoxically, the more incompetent someone is, the more extreme their bias of themselves. The reason for this is simple: incompetent people are incompetent at measuring their shortcomings.

This phenomenon is known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect. A recent real-world example, Netflix’s Behind The Curve documentary, showcases classic Dunning-Kruger Effect in action by following leaders of the flat earth conspiracy theory.

If you can’t identify your entrepreneurial Achilles heel and improve upon it, you run the risk of falling short of your goals. In order to succeed, you’ll need to disarm your illusory superiority.

Data and feedback loops are your best friend in achieving that. So here are three ways to measure your progress objectively and effectively.

1. Define your data points

Whether you’re immersed in your daily grind or learning a new skill, having data points can help keep you out of your head.

Even for seemingly immeasurable pursuits, we know from illusory superiority that you’re likely to talk yourself into thinking you’re more productive than you actually are. Measuring windows of time, words written, or phone calls made can keep you honest.

For example, I track my daily writing and articles published each week. These simple measurements, while small, give me insight into my progress and whether or not I’m on track to achieve my monthly goals.

(I also implemented this because I thought my writing was above average, which we’ve now learned is illusory superiority in action. I reach my goals faster and sideline my ego when I focus on the numbers.)

Choose something to measure that you know will move you in the direction of your goals.

  • Trying to get clients? Embrace networking and reach out to a certain number of new people each day, or pick up the phone and start making calls.

  • Adding a new skill to your repertoire? Measure the minutes or hours each day you spend educating yourself or practicing your craft.

Be prolific rather than perfect. If you don’t take the time to think through what you want to measure, it can be easy to let feelings run the show and succumb to inconsistency as a result.

2. Follow a ritual that historically serves you

Resist the urge to go by how you feel — this is like candy for your illusory superiority, and you’ll begin to inflate your sense of self. Instead, look for ways to systematize your flow state, that glorious headspace popularized by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

For most of us, we need triggers or a daily ritual to help get into flow state. Once you’ve begun measuring your output, you’ll be able to review data and make adjustments that put you in your sweet spot more often.

It’ll take practice, but over time you’ll build awareness. Maybe your best work comes when you’re in a certain room, wake up at a certain time, or watched a certain inspiring video before the day begins. For me, some triggers include the same coffee beverage each day, the corner seat at my local coworking space (to minimize distraction), and the same song playing in my headphones on repeat.

Document these details. Then recreate them and craft a ritual that delivers results. These small tweaks can be the difference between hundreds or thousands of words written, minutes or hours saved, or even profitability.

(If you’re a rituals nerd like me, Daily Rituals by Mason Currey is a fun and easy read about the routines of 161 great thinkers throughout history.)

3. Have a contingency trigger

You’re investing time and effort, measuring your output, and optimizing your environment. Gold star.

Now, what if you wake up one morning and just can’t seem to get into the swing of things? Your one guarantee is that you’ll have days where things just don’t seem to click, yet you’re still on the hook to deliver. Have a backup plan.

For my example around writing, if things aren’t flowing, I take a moment away from my computer, pick up a physical book (usually a fiction bestseller), and read a few pages to recall the feeling of easy prose I want to recreate.

This sort of ‘contingency plan’ can be the difference between having a small blip in your morning or letting feelings take you off the rails for the entire day. Consider a simple trigger that you can pull in when it’s taking longer than usual to hit your sweet spot.

Don't let imposter syndrome derail you

It’s important not to let impostor syndrome get in the way of your entrepreneurial pursuits. To make real progress, though, it’s good to be firm and factual with yourself. As Henry Ward Beecher said, “ Be a hard master to yourself — and be lenient to everybody else.”

Look for new ways to measure and optimize your progress, and you’ll develop a variety of tools you can use each day to achieve your goals.

10 Jan, 2020
10 Top Techniques for a Terrific 2020
Entrepreneur

The new year has begun. But what if we avoided more lame resolutions, instead aspiring toward real, actionable results. Here are 10 top tips for a terrific 2020 for you and your business, based on my experience as a motivational speaker and executive coach.

1. Aim big.

Stop thinking so small. I often coach executives, and one point I make is they need to expand their thinking. I was once coaching a senior director and asked about her long-term career goal and she said, “I want to be a vice president in this company." I paused and asked her, “Why not CEO?” We then had a long conversation about expanding her thinking. How about you? As T. Harv Eker once said: “The biggest obstacle to wealth is fear. People are afraid to think big, but if you think small, you'll only achieve small things.”

2. Have goals in writing.

Too few people have concrete goals, and an even smaller percentage write them down. Create goals for every area of your life, and this year, make sure to put them in writing. Research has shown that goals are much more effective when they are written down, so make that effort to finally put pen to paper.

3. Learn something new.

Think about this coming year and identify three things you want to learn, be it personally or professionally. Find the resources and sign up. You can hire an executive coach, take an online course, go to a live class or read a few books on the topic. When you are constantly learning, you will be reinvigorated, excited and fired up.

4. Give back.

Work with a charity, volunteer at an animal shelter or Habitat for Humanity, or maybe become a Big Brother or Big Sister. When you give back, you help others, but also help yourself by feeling good about how you can change a life.

5. Practice stress management.

When you think about the term stress management, it implies that stress can be managed, and guess what? You are the stress manager. Make a list of all the activities you can use to de-stress in everyday life. Maybe it's meditating, gardening or working out. Experiment with what works best for you.

6. Start or join a mastermind.

A mastermind is a group of five or six people who are all interested in growth and development for each member. You get together once a month and discuss ideas and how you can help each other. I was in a mastermind for a few years and found it to be an extremely powerful experience. As Will Rogers said, “A man only learns in two ways: one by reading, and the other by association with smarter people.”

7. Limit negative content.

To have the right mindset, you need to be very careful about consuming negative content. Avoid negative TV, negative news and most of all negative people. I decided years ago not to have any more negative friends. It was transformational. If you have any super-negative friends, stop associating with them in the new year. Be careful, because they will pull you down with them into the abyss.

8. Stay connected to loved ones.

Your family loves you unconditionally, and you need to show that you love them back. One way is to make sure you call, email, text, visit and connect with your family regularly. Call your mom, your grandfather, your daughter, etc. Take your spouse out on a date. You get the idea. Connect.

9. Find a new hobby.  

Hobbies are a great way to get you to stop thinking about work. Create a bonsai tree, take up sailing, start oil painting, write the next great American novel. It doesn’t matter what the hobby is, so long as you enjoy it. I play the drums and find beating something with sticks to be very therapeutic.

10. Vacate.

The biggest mistake many of my clients make is they never take time off. They are always “on,” which leads to burnout and less productivity. Commit to taking a vacation this year. Here is a new idea: Pick somewhere to go you have never been to. The novelty of new places and experiences can be very refreshing. Secondly, make sure when your employees are on vacation, they don’t work.

As Gretchen Bleiler once said: “With the new year comes a refueled motivation to improve on the past one.” Happy New Year. You can do this.

23 Dec, 2019
Three things employees want from their organisation in 2020
SOURCE:
HR Online
Hr online

The start of a new year is often a time to turn over a new leaf. But what kind of changes do employees actually want to see? 

As we pile back into work come mid-to-end January — looking a little more relaxed and perhaps sporting a tan — our to-do lists will slowly start growing and our 2020 agendas will begin rolling out. For many leaders, that to-do list will be to build on the successes of last year and to do even better this time around.

As HR professionals often play an important role in forming these agendas, here are three things you should encourage your leaders to be thinking about.

1. Carve out time for learning

How many hours do we need to spend learning in order to close a skills gap? Five hours per week, according to a study from the IBM’s Institute for Business Value.

The 2018 study, which surveyed more than 5,600 executives from 48 countries, extrapolated this to 36 days. That’s ten times greater than the time it would have taken just four years earlier.

The drastically changing skills required to perform many of today’s jobs, paired with outdated, traditional approaches to training, means that global talent shortages are becoming more of a concern than ever. IBM predicts that more than 120 million workers across the globe will need to retrain or reskill within the next three years due to intelligent and AI-enabled automation.

This isn’t just a concern for employers; staff are becoming increasingly more worried about skills shortages too.

New research from the Centre of New Workforce at Swinburne University of Technology, in partnership with YouGov, surveyed more than 1,000 Australian employees and found that 61 per cent of Australians don’t think they’ve got the right knowledge and skills necessary for the next five years of work. This is a five per cent increase since 2018.

Respondents said the opportunity to learn and grow was the second highest motivator to work (34 per cent) behind the nature of the work itself (46 per cent), yet more than half said they didn’t have enough dedicated learning time during work hours and nearly 40 per cent said their organisations had ‘unsupportive environments that stigmatised learning’.

“As technology advances, routine work will increasingly be displaced. Only learning more functional skills is not enough for a worker to secure their future,” says Dr Sean Gallagher, director of Swinburne’s Centre for the New Workforce and research lead.

Gallagher says employers don’t need to send their staff to expensive external training courses and risk losing valuable productivity in the process. These skills, he says, are best cultivated in the workplace.

“Three things differentiate humans from technology. We are first and foremost social creatures, we can see over the horizon, and we can create new knowledge. By working collaboratively to solve complex problems or identify new opportunities, workers create new value. This is learning for the future of work. It is supported by online learning or more formal programs, as required,” says Gallagher.

2. Build a burnout strategy

You’ve no doubt heard the startling fact that burnout was declared an occupational phenomenon by the World Health Organization this year. Despite this fact, some people still place the onus on the employee to come up with a solution to their own burnout

Workers are plagued with advice like “Learn how to say no”, “Speak up when you feel like your workload is getting too intense”, or “Have you tried practicing mindfulness?” The latter is about as effective as telling a starving person to “just eat more food”.

While individuals should absolutely take responsibility to improve their own quality of life (and yes, there is a time and a place for mindfulness), the buck does not stop with them. If 2019 was the year of finally acknowledging the severity of burnout, 2020 should be the year organisations do something about it.

In a recent Harvard Business Review article, workplace expert Jennifer Moss said, “Leaders take note: It’s now on you to build a burnout strategy.”

So what would such a strategy look like?

Moss points to research from Gallup that breaks down the causes of burnout into five categories:

  1. Unfair treatment at work
  2. Unmanageable workload
  3. Lack of role clarity
  4. Lack of communication and support from a manager
  5. Unreasonable time pressure

With this in mind, Moss says leaders need to start asking smarter questions around these points. Questions like, ‘Are our work hours reasonable?’, ‘Am I asking too much?’, ‘How can I make this work environment psychologically safe for everyone?’

It’s of utmost importance that these questions are asked in consultation with staff. If you don’t, you run the risk of disappointing them even further. 

For example, if you notice morale is low and spend thousands on a flashy new coffee machine (the really good kind that lets you froth your own milk) as a way to try and get staff back on side, what you could be doing instead is planting a constant reminder of just how out of touch you are, smack bang in the middle of the office. 

Every time Jenny walks into the kitchen that coffee machine might remind her of the end of year bonus she was denied because the company couldn’t afford it. John might see it and feel disgruntled that his request for funding for a new program was spent on a fancy milk-frothing, latte-making, ristretto shot-dripping contraption.

Of course, you can’t make everyone happy, but by taking a consultative approach you can at least make some happy.

Another tip Moss suggests is to refer to Frederick Herzberg’s dual-factor, motivation-hygiene theory when forming a burnout strategy.

Herzberg’s theory suggests that satisfaction and dissatisfaction are not mutually exclusive; just because satisfaction rates increase, that doesn’t necessarily mean dissatisfaction decreases. Managers need to keep this in mind. One way to do this is by looking at your staff’s hygiene factors and motivating factors. 

3. Find your business’s purpose

Organisations’ leaders are becoming beholden to the values of their staff, according to Gartner’s Playbook for a New Talent Deal. This means employers need to create a company purpose that aligns with staff’s values in order to create an emotional bond between leaders and their people.


This Gartner playbook is free to access and has plenty of informative case studies and research included. Some of Gartner’s other great research content is gated, however AHRI members received free access. Find out more here.


Importantly, purpose is not the same thing as culture, the playbook’s authors say. And it’s more than having a mission statement that sits somewhere on your company’s website. It’s something that sits behind every decision your company makes and, again, it should be created in consultation with your people.

“Energising internal and external stakeholders around a purpose creates a self-fulfilling prophecy, leading to more rapid achievement of that purpose through unified effort. A clear purpose attracts and retains employees who are willing to go above and beyond. Employees can more readily realise their potential and drive the organisation forward,” says the report.

The report offers advice from Gartner’s CHRO Global Leadership Board members for employers who want to become more purpose-driven, including:

  • Emotionally connect from the get-go. During the hiring and onboarding stages, make sure you talk about the difference they can make by working with you, not just the details around their pay and role responsibilities.
  • Your purpose can’t be set in stone. It’s important to consistently revisit (and sometimes re-write) your company’s purpose to make sure it still aligns with your company’s evolving mission and your staff’s shifting values.
  • Walk your talk. If environmental awareness is a strong part of your business’s purpose, for example, then that should play a role in determining the clients you will and won’t work for.
  • Use your HR as PR. If your company has a great purpose-led approach to work through various HR policies and frameworks, shout it from the rooftops (figuratively, of course). Getting together with your PR and marketing team and developing ideas to share HR’s successes is a great way to attract new talent and clients that align with your ethos.

By including these three points in your 2020 agenda, you’ll ensure your company starts the year on the right foot and you’ll be one step closer to a happy, engaged and productive workforce.

12 Dec, 2019
How to increase your recruitment success strike rate from 50% to 90%
SOURCE:
Inside HR
Inside HR

Most organisations get the recruitment equation right just over 50 per cent of the time on average, however, a more focused, strengths-based approach can increase talent acquisition success rates to around 90 per cent, according to an expert in the area.

Organisations get recruitment right “slightly more times than they get it wrong” said Alex Linley, co-founder of Cappfinity, which is a global leader in strengths-based talent acquisition, assessment and development.

“If you look at all the statistics around retention, engagement and satisfaction at work, for example, the overall average is just over 50 per cent when it comes to successful recruitment,” he said.

Hallmarks of organisations which fail at talent acquisition
“There is quite a wide range in there, because some organisations do a really bad job of finding and recruiting the right people, while others do a really good job.”

The first hallmark of organisations which usually fail at recruitment is failing to understand what talent they require in the first place: “if you don’t know who you are looking for then chances of selecting the right person are not good,” said Linley.

The second most common challenge involves selection processes, which can sometimes be subject to personal biases on the part of agencies and hiring managers.

“Sometimes a hiring manager will make a decision based on whoever they feel is the right fit for the culture of the organisation,” he said.

“But if they get the selection process wrong, this can reinforce a culture of command and control because the hiring manager then needs to work extra hard to try and get the new employee to get the job done.

“This then leads to resentment, low performance and disengagement – and ultimately the employee leaves the organisation,” said Linley.

Hallmarks of organisations which succeed at talent acquisition
However, organisations which have a better handle on talent acquisition basically do the opposite of the above.

They have a solid understanding of who they are looking for, what it will take for someone to succeed in a particular role, and who would be a good fit for the organisation.

“They understand what high performers already do well, what their best people are like and what it is that differentiates them,” he said.

“Knowing this, then they can design for consistent, replicable, objective selection processes that allow them to hire more people who are like that.

“I say consistent, replicable and objective because they are likely to use some sort of assessment, structured interview process or group exercise – so they are able to compare like with like and compare people against a standard, as opposed to organisations in which selection processes are forever shifting based on how the hiring manager feels that day.”

“Some organisations do a really bad job of finding and recruiting the right people, while others do a really good job”

Organisations which are good at talent acquisition are typically very good at bringing new starters on board – not just from a process perspective, but also in terms of giving them work which matches their expectations and what they are interested in and want to perform.

“When people are doing things they want to do, they are more likely to enjoy it more and stay with an organisation that enables them to do that,” said Linley.

Hiring based on strengths
Similarly, organisations which understand this tend to perform much better in terms of recruitment, retention, performance and productivity.

“We certainly see across our client organisations that when are recruiting based on strengths, they consistently get it right around 90 per cent of the time,” said Linley.

“There might be a figure of about 10 per cent of attrition in the first year, because 90 per cent would be a very realistic benchmark we could be aiming to meet and exceed.”

With a strengths-based approach to recruitment, Linley said companies spend time understanding what success in a particular role looks like, who they’re looking for and who would be a good fit on a number of levels.

This allows the organisation to recruit based on a success model or framework, in which candidates are screened against exactly what is required to deliver high performance in a role.

“We are looking for an authentic match with consistency and rigour, and this flow through the recruitment process all the way, so there are no surprises,” he said.

Linley observed that a strengths-based approach to recruitment also delivers improved diversity and inclusion outcomes.

“Because strengths are inherently human, we are helping recruit from a wider pool and find people that might have overlooked through traditional methods of recruitments,” he said.

“Using strengths in recruitment goes beyond the surface and looks to find candidates who are going to shine and be successful with an organisation because of their strengths.”

However, there is no “silver bullet” when it comes to effective recruitment, and he said this simply come back to the hallmarks of organisations which are clear about who they are looking for, and steps and processes to find such candidates.

“There is a lot of hype but not a lot of substance in terms of what is actually being delivered and meaningful results”

Pros and cons of technology in recruitment
Technology is playing an increasingly important role in talent acquisition, and Linley observed that it is a tremendous accelerator of recruitment – when done well”.

“I think the best results will always be achieved through a combination of authentic human experience and technology, and using the data in a way that can make the process more efficient and effective,” he said.

“It’s about the right balance and combination of technology and the human experience; that’s where the magic happens.”

Linley said technology is playing an important role in reducing the amount of administrative work in the recruitment process.

However, one way that technology can get in the way is where biases are unwittingly built into the algorithms, and this can negatively impact the shortlisting and selection process.

“It’s about finding the right ways to deploy technologies and using data in combination with strengths and that human experience to ensure this delivers the best recruitment experience,” he said.

“It should make it more efficient for the organisation, and more immersive and authentic from a candidate experience as well.”

There is a lot of talk about artificial intelligence and machine learning in the recruitment market, said Linley.

“There is a lot of hype but not a lot of substance in terms of what is actually being delivered and meaningful results,” he said.

Ideally technology has to deliver a faster, better and more cost-effective outcome for organisations, however, this can be limited by existing processes which can hamper the full potential of technology in the recruitment process.

“Some larger organisations which have been around for a while try and reposition themselves as digital, tech-focused and ready for the future, but when you get into their recruitment processes they are quite traditional and there is a lot of scope for improvement,” he said.

12 Dec, 2019
Inside the holistic HR strategy that drove ghd’s business turnaround
SOURCE:
Inside HR
Inside HR

A holistic HR strategy has played a critical role in the business turnaround of boutique hair product business ghd with significant increases in both operating income and employee engagement, according to ghd’s people manager for Australia and New Zealand, Symeon Leslie.

Prior to 2016, there was no HR presence within the company, and it was suffering from all-time high turnover rates, low employee engagement, low productivity and a lack of policies and procedures.

“This was costing the business thousands of dollars,” said Leslie.

“It was clear that there was a lot of work to be done, from the basics like policies, procedures and position descriptions, to ensuring we had the right people in the right places.”

ghd (Good Hair Day) employs around 65 people and makes a range of hair products that are sold to around 4200 regular salon customers, and in August 2016 it conducted the first of its annual engagement surveys.

This survey clearly highlighted employee concerns with recognition, communication, culture and opportunities for promotional and L&D opportunities within the business, Leslie explained.

“This was a turning point for ghd, prompting a much-needed period of change involving all employees, but most importantly, a re-established and reinvigorated HR function,” she said.

Key elements of ghd’s HR strategy
Attracting and retaining a high-performing team is a key part of the business’ global values for success, according to Leslie, who said that the HR team has every responsibility to deliver on this promise.

“When creating our local HR strategy, we asked our team to first create a clear vision that they were excited and motivated by, ensuring that it aligned with the global vision and could be supported with measurable results,” she said.

The strategic goals were split into 3 key pillars: (1) attract and retain, (2) engage and (3) train – each of which contain solid, defined, ‘SMART’ goals which are measured frequently.

Leslie explained that one of the key strategic elements that sits within the engagement pillar is “ghd life” which is the company’s holistic health and wellbeing program.

“It was clear that there was a lot of work to be done, from the basics like policies, procedures and position descriptions, to ensuring we had the right people in the right places”

Introduced in January 2018 following the previous year’s engagement survey, this engagement program was “created by ghd employees, for ghd employees” and has four pillarslive, grow, drive and feel; “each containing initiatives designed to support our team in all facets of life”, said Leslie.

The “live” pillar promotes healthy living and encompasses initiatives that are focused on teams’ mental, physical and nutritional wellbeing, and ensuring all team members are able to achieve work-life balance.

The “grow” pillar places a focus on teams’ personal professional learning and development and includes initiatives around technical and soft skills training, leadership training, onboarding, competency and succession planning.

The “drive” pillar ensures employees have a clear purpose and are rewarded and recognised for their achievements, explained Leslie, who said the final pillar “feel” helps to improve the way we people coming to work every day.

“We know how employees feel about work and those around them has a huge impact on their state of mind and happiness,” said Leslie, “so initiatives for this pillar include community and charity involvement, team building, employee benefits and providing platforms for our team to have a voice and have an impact on how we do things.

“ghd life represents the way we care for and treat our employees, both personally and professionally.

“By helping our team to become healthier and happier versions of themselves and offering opportunities for continuous self-development, we can be confident in providing an environment where they can reach their goals, our goals, and enjoy themselves along the way.”

Adoption and implementation of strategy
One of the keys of success to any people-related strategy or initiative is to provide a level of consultation with all team members, Leslie said.

Prior to the creation of the HR strategy and ghd life, input from the entire team was sought through the annual engagement survey and ongoing pulse checks.

“We quickly adopted our communication to highlight that everyone was responsible for driving cultural change – it was a two-way street”

These short monthly surveys are designed to gain a quick snapshot of how employees are currently feeling at work and provides them with a platform to deliver feedback and have their say on a variety of topics.

Key themes include understanding what is important to the team, their values and where they feel improvements could be made.

“There was no point in creating something that our teams did not care about, so we used the results of these surveys to shape the ghd life program we have today,” said Leslie.

Adopting and communicating new initiatives and or processes to all levels of the business has been relatively easy for us with the introduction of an online hub and mobile app called “ghd world” which serves as the home for e-learning, policies, workshop bookings, communications, weekly newsletters, how-to-videos, forums, frequently used documents, photo uploads and more.

“It’s frequently updated, and even more so alongside the launch of new initiatives to ensure all levels of the business have new and engaging content available and kept informed throughout their journey at ghd,” said Leslie.

Challenges and lessons learned
Along with the typical challenges around budgets for new initiatives, Leslie said the most prominent challenges were around HR-led activities and a large proportion of the company’s broader team which are based in the field.

“When we started shaking things up a little and introducing initiatives such as ghd life, there was definitely a mindset among our team that it was the newfound HR team’s job to improve engagement and culture alone,” she said.

“We quickly adopted our communication to highlight that everyone was responsible for driving cultural change – it was a two-way street.

“We could launch initiative after initiative but unless our teams were getting involved ‘you spoke, we listened’ and placing an onus back onto the team, no-one would get anything out of it, and we certainly wouldn’t get the engagement we needed to reach our goals.”

Having a geographically dispersed team bring other challenges, and one-third of ghd’s employees work remotely across Australia and New Zealand, “so we were challenged in thinking of innovative ideas that could engage these team members as well,” said Leslie.

“I can tell you now: it’s a lot easier to drive engagement when your team is all within the same four walls, rather than spread across two countries and five different time zones.”

Not all strategies would have the same effect on the field team as they would on office-based team members, so to counter this ghd world is utilised as much as possible for communications and competitions, while team members are flown in numerous times a year for teambuilding and training sessions are offered in virtual formats.

“I can tell you now: it’s a lot easier to drive engagement when your team is all within the same four walls, rather than spread across two countries and five different time zones”

Results and outcomes
There have been some notable outcomes from both a business and HR perspective over the past 12 months, according to Leslie.

On a business level, operating income is up by 72 per cent while it is also attracting 4.5 per cent more candidates this year compared to last year.

Staff turnover has reduced by 11 per cent for the same period while there has also been an 80 per cent increase in tenure among employees with 2-5 years’ service.

Overall engagement score is sitting at 90 per cent (which is right on the company target), said Leslie, who noted that there has been a 16 per cent improvement in the overall ghd team engagement score over the past year alone.

Results from employee pulse checks show a 7 per cent increase in “promoters” internally and a 5 per cent decrease in detractors.

In terms of training, two-thirds of employees are involved in some form of non-mandatory training and 87 per cent are satisfied with the amount of L&D offered (a 12 per cent increase on the previous year) and 95 per cent of employees are participating in at least one elective activity through ghd life.

“We are also seeing results due to the focus we place on L&D through internal promotions and advancement,” said Leslie, who added that there has been an 18.5 per cent increase in promotion or advancement opportunities in the business (a 7 per cent increase on the previous year).

Over the same period, ghd has been named finalists as an ‘Employer of Choice,’ ‘Australian HR team of the year’ and ‘Best Learning & Development Program’ in the Australian HR Awards.

“We are really proud of the work we are doing here at ghd and of the results we are seeing – we always have room for improvement, and we are excited at the prospect of some of the initiatives we have planned for the future to do so,” said Leslie.

12 Dec, 2019
How to increase your recruitment success strike rate from 50% to 90%
SOURCE:
Inside HR
inside hr

Most organisations get the recruitment equation right just over 50 per cent of the time on average, however, a more focused, strengths-based approach can increase talent acquisition success rates to around 90 per cent, according to an expert in the area.

Organisations get recruitment right “slightly more times than they get it wrong” said Alex Linley, co-founder of Cappfinity, which is a global leader in strengths-based talent acquisition, assessment and development.

“If you look at all the statistics around retention, engagement and satisfaction at work, for example, the overall average is just over 50 per cent when it comes to successful recruitment,” he said.

Hallmarks of organisations which fail at talent acquisition
“There is quite a wide range in there, because some organisations do a really bad job of finding and recruiting the right people, while others do a really good job.”

The first hallmark of organisations which usually fail at recruitment is failing to understand what talent they require in the first place: “if you don’t know who you are looking for then chances of selecting the right person are not good,” said Linley.

The second most common challenge involves selection processes, which can sometimes be subject to personal biases on the part of agencies and hiring managers.

“Sometimes a hiring manager will make a decision based on whoever they feel is the right fit for the culture of the organisation,” he said.

“But if they get the selection process wrong, this can reinforce a culture of command and control because the hiring manager then needs to work extra hard to try and get the new employee to get the job done.

“This then leads to resentment, low performance and disengagement – and ultimately the employee leaves the organisation,” said Linley.

Hallmarks of organisations which succeed at talent acquisition
However, organisations which have a better handle on talent acquisition basically do the opposite of the above.

They have a solid understanding of who they are looking for, what it will take for someone to succeed in a particular role, and who would be a good fit for the organisation.

“They understand what high performers already do well, what their best people are like and what it is that differentiates them,” he said.

“Knowing this, then they can design for consistent, replicable, objective selection processes that allow them to hire more people who are like that.

“I say consistent, replicable and objective because they are likely to use some sort of assessment, structured interview process or group exercise – so they are able to compare like with like and compare people against a standard, as opposed to organisations in which selection processes are forever shifting based on how the hiring manager feels that day.”

“Some organisations do a really bad job of finding and recruiting the right people, while others do a really good job”

Organisations which are good at talent acquisition are typically very good at bringing new starters on board – not just from a process perspective, but also in terms of giving them work which matches their expectations and what they are interested in and want to perform.

“When people are doing things they want to do, they are more likely to enjoy it more and stay with an organisation that enables them to do that,” said Linley.

Hiring based on strengths
Similarly, organisations which understand this tend to perform much better in terms of recruitment, retention, performance and productivity.

“We certainly see across our client organisations that when are recruiting based on strengths, they consistently get it right around 90 per cent of the time,” said Linley.

“There might be a figure of about 10 per cent of attrition in the first year, because 90 per cent would be a very realistic benchmark we could be aiming to meet and exceed.”

With a strengths-based approach to recruitment, Linley said companies spend time understanding what success in a particular role looks like, who they’re looking for and who would be a good fit on a number of levels.

This allows the organisation to recruit based on a success model or framework, in which candidates are screened against exactly what is required to deliver high performance in a role.

“We are looking for an authentic match with consistency and rigour, and this flow through the recruitment process all the way, so there are no surprises,” he said.

Linley observed that a strengths-based approach to recruitment also delivers improved diversity and inclusion outcomes.

“Because strengths are inherently human, we are helping recruit from a wider pool and find people that might have overlooked through traditional methods of recruitments,” he said.

“Using strengths in recruitment goes beyond the surface and looks to find candidates who are going to shine and be successful with an organisation because of their strengths.”

However, there is no “silver bullet” when it comes to effective recruitment, and he said this simply come back to the hallmarks of organisations which are clear about who they are looking for, and steps and processes to find such candidates.

“There is a lot of hype but not a lot of substance in terms of what is actually being delivered and meaningful results”

Pros and cons of technology in recruitment
Technology is playing an increasingly important role in talent acquisition, and Linley observed that it is a tremendous accelerator of recruitment – when done well”.

“I think the best results will always be achieved through a combination of authentic human experience and technology, and using the data in a way that can make the process more efficient and effective,” he said.

“It’s about the right balance and combination of technology and the human experience; that’s where the magic happens.”

Linley said technology is playing an important role in reducing the amount of administrative work in the recruitment process.

However, one way that technology can get in the way is where biases are unwittingly built into the algorithms, and this can negatively impact the shortlisting and selection process.

“It’s about finding the right ways to deploy technologies and using data in combination with strengths and that human experience to ensure this delivers the best recruitment experience,” he said.

“It should make it more efficient for the organisation, and more immersive and authentic from a candidate experience as well.”

There is a lot of talk about artificial intelligence and machine learning in the recruitment market, said Linley.

“There is a lot of hype but not a lot of substance in terms of what is actually being delivered and meaningful results,” he said.

Ideally technology has to deliver a faster, better and more cost-effective outcome for organisations, however, this can be limited by existing processes which can hamper the full potential of technology in the recruitment process.

“Some larger organisations which have been around for a while try and reposition themselves as digital, tech-focused and ready for the future, but when you get into their recruitment processes they are quite traditional and there is a lot of scope for improvement,” he said.

12 Dec, 2019
Inside the holistic HR strategy that drove ghd’s business turnaround
SOURCE:
Insidehr
inside hr

A holistic HR strategy has played a critical role in the business turnaround of boutique hair product business ghd with significant increases in both operating income and employee engagement, according to ghd’s people manager for Australia and New Zealand, Symeon Leslie.

Prior to 2016, there was no HR presence within the company, and it was suffering from all-time high turnover rates, low employee engagement, low productivity and a lack of policies and procedures.

“This was costing the business thousands of dollars,” said Leslie.

“It was clear that there was a lot of work to be done, from the basics like policies, procedures and position descriptions, to ensuring we had the right people in the right places.”

ghd (Good Hair Day) employs around 65 people and makes a range of hair products that are sold to around 4200 regular salon customers, and in August 2016 it conducted the first of its annual engagement surveys.

This survey clearly highlighted employee concerns with recognition, communication, culture and opportunities for promotional and L&D opportunities within the business, Leslie explained.

“This was a turning point for ghd, prompting a much-needed period of change involving all employees, but most importantly, a re-established and reinvigorated HR function,” she said.

Key elements of ghd’s HR strategy
Attracting and retaining a high-performing team is a key part of the business’ global values for success, according to Leslie, who said that the HR team has every responsibility to deliver on this promise.

“When creating our local HR strategy, we asked our team to first create a clear vision that they were excited and motivated by, ensuring that it aligned with the global vision and could be supported with measurable results,” she said.

The strategic goals were split into 3 key pillars: (1) attract and retain, (2) engage and (3) train – each of which contain solid, defined, ‘SMART’ goals which are measured frequently.

Leslie explained that one of the key strategic elements that sits within the engagement pillar is “ghd life” which is the company’s holistic health and wellbeing program.

“It was clear that there was a lot of work to be done, from the basics like policies, procedures and position descriptions, to ensuring we had the right people in the right places”

Introduced in January 2018 following the previous year’s engagement survey, this engagement program was “created by ghd employees, for ghd employees” and has four pillarslive, grow, drive and feel; “each containing initiatives designed to support our team in all facets of life”, said Leslie.

The “live” pillar promotes healthy living and encompasses initiatives that are focused on teams’ mental, physical and nutritional wellbeing, and ensuring all team members are able to achieve work-life balance.

The “grow” pillar places a focus on teams’ personal professional learning and development and includes initiatives around technical and soft skills training, leadership training, onboarding, competency and succession planning.

The “drive” pillar ensures employees have a clear purpose and are rewarded and recognised for their achievements, explained Leslie, who said the final pillar “feel” helps to improve the way we people coming to work every day.

“We know how employees feel about work and those around them has a huge impact on their state of mind and happiness,” said Leslie, “so initiatives for this pillar include community and charity involvement, team building, employee benefits and providing platforms for our team to have a voice and have an impact on how we do things.

“ghd life represents the way we care for and treat our employees, both personally and professionally.

“By helping our team to become healthier and happier versions of themselves and offering opportunities for continuous self-development, we can be confident in providing an environment where they can reach their goals, our goals, and enjoy themselves along the way.”

Adoption and implementation of strategy
One of the keys of success to any people-related strategy or initiative is to provide a level of consultation with all team members, Leslie said.

Prior to the creation of the HR strategy and ghd life, input from the entire team was sought through the annual engagement survey and ongoing pulse checks.

“We quickly adopted our communication to highlight that everyone was responsible for driving cultural change – it was a two-way street”

These short monthly surveys are designed to gain a quick snapshot of how employees are currently feeling at work and provides them with a platform to deliver feedback and have their say on a variety of topics.

Key themes include understanding what is important to the team, their values and where they feel improvements could be made.

“There was no point in creating something that our teams did not care about, so we used the results of these surveys to shape the ghd life program we have today,” said Leslie.

Adopting and communicating new initiatives and or processes to all levels of the business has been relatively easy for us with the introduction of an online hub and mobile app called “ghd world” which serves as the home for e-learning, policies, workshop bookings, communications, weekly newsletters, how-to-videos, forums, frequently used documents, photo uploads and more.

“It’s frequently updated, and even more so alongside the launch of new initiatives to ensure all levels of the business have new and engaging content available and kept informed throughout their journey at ghd,” said Leslie.

Challenges and lessons learned
Along with the typical challenges around budgets for new initiatives, Leslie said the most prominent challenges were around HR-led activities and a large proportion of the company’s broader team which are based in the field.

“When we started shaking things up a little and introducing initiatives such as ghd life, there was definitely a mindset among our team that it was the newfound HR team’s job to improve engagement and culture alone,” she said.

“We quickly adopted our communication to highlight that everyone was responsible for driving cultural change – it was a two-way street.

“We could launch initiative after initiative but unless our teams were getting involved ‘you spoke, we listened’ and placing an onus back onto the team, no-one would get anything out of it, and we certainly wouldn’t get the engagement we needed to reach our goals.”

Having a geographically dispersed team bring other challenges, and one-third of ghd’s employees work remotely across Australia and New Zealand, “so we were challenged in thinking of innovative ideas that could engage these team members as well,” said Leslie.

“I can tell you now: it’s a lot easier to drive engagement when your team is all within the same four walls, rather than spread across two countries and five different time zones.”

Not all strategies would have the same effect on the field team as they would on office-based team members, so to counter this ghd world is utilised as much as possible for communications and competitions, while team members are flown in numerous times a year for teambuilding and training sessions are offered in virtual formats.

“I can tell you now: it’s a lot easier to drive engagement when your team is all within the same four walls, rather than spread across two countries and five different time zones”

Results and outcomes
There have been some notable outcomes from both a business and HR perspective over the past 12 months, according to Leslie.

On a business level, operating income is up by 72 per cent while it is also attracting 4.5 per cent more candidates this year compared to last year.

Staff turnover has reduced by 11 per cent for the same period while there has also been an 80 per cent increase in tenure among employees with 2-5 years’ service.

Overall engagement score is sitting at 90 per cent (which is right on the company target), said Leslie, who noted that there has been a 16 per cent improvement in the overall ghd team engagement score over the past year alone.

Results from employee pulse checks show a 7 per cent increase in “promoters” internally and a 5 per cent decrease in detractors.

In terms of training, two-thirds of employees are involved in some form of non-mandatory training and 87 per cent are satisfied with the amount of L&D offered (a 12 per cent increase on the previous year) and 95 per cent of employees are participating in at least one elective activity through ghd life.

“We are also seeing results due to the focus we place on L&D through internal promotions and advancement,” said Leslie, who added that there has been an 18.5 per cent increase in promotion or advancement opportunities in the business (a 7 per cent increase on the previous year).

Over the same period, ghd has been named finalists as an ‘Employer of Choice,’ ‘Australian HR team of the year’ and ‘Best Learning & Development Program’ in the Australian HR Awards.

“We are really proud of the work we are doing here at ghd and of the results we are seeing – we always have room for improvement, and we are excited at the prospect of some of the initiatives we have planned for the future to do so,” said Leslie.

12 Dec, 2019
Grill’d accused of using government program to underpay staff
SOURCE:
HRM Online
HRM Online

Is it offering worthwhile training opportunity or has it found a clever way to skirt around workplace law?

Burger chain Grill’d has come under scrutiny for its government-subsidised training program, which some workers say is being strategically used to get around paying staff award wage rates.

The program has netted Grill’d more than $7 million from the federal government’s Apprenticeships Incentives Program, which is designed to “contribute a highly skilled and relevant Australian workforce that supports economic sustainability and competitiveness”.

Grill’d promotes its program as “12-month training to ensure consistency across all our restaurants in delivering the Grill’d Experience,” which culminates in workers being awarded, depending on their state, a Certificate II or III in Hospitality or a Certificate II Retail.

 The company is permitted to pay workers less — as little as $14.50 an hour — while they are conducting the training.

 “The training we provide at Grill’d, including our qualifications, are an essential part of developing our people and providing them with the important knowledge and skills to deliver on our promise,” the company says on its website. “It’s this training that provides our team members with long term career opportunities — here at Grill’d and in the broader community.”

However, workers with the company have told news.com.au that their training was rudimentary and dragged out over a long period of time so workers could continue to be classified as trainees.

They say the company would not roster workers on to particular jobs that they needed to complete the training — keeping them working at the counter, for instance, rather than in the kitchen.

 “[The training] was really, really easy — literally like four hours’ work — (but) it took me almost two years to get it completed,” news.com.au quotes one former employee as saying. She also says the company delayed allowing her to complete the training and qualifying for the award pay rate.

 “I wasn’t able to log onto the system, you would contact the regional guy, he wouldn’t get back to you. There was a lot of blatant stalling from the company.”

Grill’d has denied using its program to underpay staff, telling The New Daily that all the company’s jobs are permanent and the stores seek to commit to their team.

“Our traineeship program is accredited and administered by qualified external training providers and those completing it receive nationally recognised qualifications,” the New Daily quotes a Grill’d spokesperson as saying.

“It enhances the skills of trainees not just for Grill’d but for the trainee generally. Trainee contracts for those under 18 years of age are co-signed by a parent or guardian.”

The criticism of the burger chain comes amid reports that it is being investigated by the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO). An FWO spokesperson confirmed to that it is “conducting inquiries in relation to Grill’d” but would not provide further details.

 

Damage control

Prior to the news.com.au report, Grill’d founder and managing director Simon Crowe sent staff an email saying that the company was “aware of a pending media story that will wrongly claim we have worked against the interests of our franchise partners, and our restaurant teams, including how we conduct our training.”

The email was posted to Twitter by University of Technology Sydney journalism student Alex Turner-Cohen.

The email also included a video message from Crowe, in which he says the company will “always try and do the right thing by our people, by our franchise partners and the many stakeholders in the Grill’d eco-system”.

“It’s actually come to our attention that there’s a media article about to be released about Grill’d challenging who we are relative to our treatment of franchise partners, the treatment of our teams and even the culture at Grill’d,” Crowe says in the video.

“The intent of this is to give you an insight to what might lie ahead. But I also wanted to point out that our values of passion, leadership, ownership and trust have been part of our fabric since the beginning and they remain. It’s how we will engage with you; we will listen, we will learn, and we will always strive to make Grill’d a better place than she is today.” 

Getting grilled

Whether the Grill’d training program has the legitimacy the company claims for it or whether it is a workaround designed to keep wage costs down, the episode highlights some of the risks involved for businesses that must balance developing their workforce’s skills with taking advantage of the subsidies and savings that are designed to promote such activity.

Grill’d told news.com.au that the government grants are offset by its own costs in providing the training.

“The net cost to Grill’d of running the traineeship program as it relates to government subsidies has averaged in excess of $450,000 each year over the last three years,” a spokesperson said.

“Grill’d appreciates the government’s efforts in providing nationally accredited qualifications and promoting the professionalisation of the hospitality industry. This provides a pathway for young people to establish careers in either hospitality or other industries.”

Presumably, however, Grill’d benefits from having a more skilled workforce operating its restaurants. It is also questionable whether hospitality accreditation is of particular use to staff, many of whom are young workers or students who have no long-term desires to remain in the industry.

This is not the first time Grill’d has been under scrutiny for its employment practises. In 2015, Kahlani Pyrah launched unfair dismissal action  against the company, saying she was fired for seeking the award entitlement for her job. She had been paid under a Work Choices-era agreement that include overtime, weekend penalty rates, or meal and uniform allowances.

Grill’d has previously been criticised for dragging out its traineeships. Commenting on this in 2017, law firm Rouse Lawyers published an article noting that, “This incident comes as a timely reminder for employers to regularly consult with employees to identify issues which could intensify or grow if left unresolved”.

It’s yet to be seen to what extent the company will regret choosing to ignore what appears to be a three year old warning sign.  

20 Nov, 2019
How your non-work mates help you love your job
SOURCE:
The age
The Age

Has there ever been a better sitcom than The Golden Girls? OK, wrong question. I’ll rephrase. Has there ever been a better sitcom that showcases the power and beauty of strong friendships than The Golden Girls? I reckon not. It’s a message proclaimed loudly even in the catchy theme song: "thank you for being a friend".

There’s another reason, beyond the benefits of companionship and solidarity, for being thankful of friends and that’s the way they make you happier at work. I’m not referring to friends at work, though that always helps. I’m referring to friends outside of work whose influence, you might be surprised to learn, extends beyond your social life and into the confines of your workplace.

Which is interesting when considering the extent to which we sacrifice friendships, or at least the time we spend with friends, because of the extended hours we’re devoting to work. Just last week I was remarking to a colleague that I’m content with only one social engagement per week. But according to research due to be published next month, that is evidently not enough.

In an initial study of more than 700 respondents, the scholars from George Mason University analysed the impact that friends, as opposed to family, have on self-esteem and wellbeing. Friends came out "substantially" on top because to be someone’s mate is a voluntary act, unlike our family who we rarely get to choose.

"When people choose to cultivate and maintain supportive friendships with us – because they want to and not because they have to – it conveys that we are valued and worthy of their limited time", write the scholars. Such sentiments of value and worthiness boost our self-esteem. The better we feel about ourselves, the more likely we’ll perform our job confidently and competently.

That last sentence was proven in their second study, which this time comprised more than 300 participants. It found non-work friends even improve our job satisfaction. They have as much of an impact on how much we love our job as do the friends we have at work. (Despite not actually being at our place of work.)

That’s because, according to the researchers, "we consider their perspective trustworthy and reliable, which is not necessarily the case for all coworkers".

These types of friends also tend to be our preferred outlet for venting about work-related matters, which is an avenue that may not be available at the office.

So even though friendships can be easy to neglect when confronted by pressures at work (or even pressures at home), neglecting our friends can turn out to be harmful and counterproductive. That’s why, when determining how to create a better work/life balance, we need to consider "not only how to balance work and family demands but also how to cultivate and sustain supportive friendships".

It’s for that reason I never discriminate when it comes to requests from my employees for flexible work arrangements. It’s irrelevant whether their need for a desired schedule is due to, say, parenting responsibilities or a craving to hang out with a best mate. What matters is the opportunity to engage in a nourishing activity outside of work that will definitely have a flow-on effect at work.

So even though we might not sit around a kitchen table eating cheesecake like Dorothy, Blanche, Rose and Sophia, there’s a lot we can learn from the golden girls. Here’s how Dorothy described their friendship in the final episode:

"It’s been an experience I’ll always keep very close to my heart and that these are memories I’ll wrap myself in when the world gets cold and I forget that there are people who are warm and loving."

What research has now proven is the power and beauty of friendship when it’s not so much the world that gets cold but the workplace.

19 Nov, 2019
Accent Group acquires Stylerunner, plans to open bricks-and-mortar stores
Inside Retail

Footwear giant Accent Group has acquired Stylerunner, an online activewear retailer that went into voluntary administration three weeks ago, for an undisclosed sum.

Accent Group CEO Daniel Agostinelli said the acquisition would enable the company to reach a new, predominantly female, audience and tap into the booming activewear and wellness categories.

“Activewear is a style trend that isn’t slowing down and we plan to encourage its momentum through strategic moves like this one,” Agostinelli said in a statement released to the ASX on Thursday afternoon.

Until now, Accent Group has played purely in the footwear space. It owns and operates the Hype DC, Platypus, The Athlete’s Foot and The Trybe footwear chains and distributes brands such as Skechers, Vans and Dr Martens.

But Stylerunner presents an opportunity to expand into complementary categories. Roughly 40-50 per cent of the online retailer’s sales are footwear, with the other 50-60 per cent coming from its activewear and wellness products, according to Agostinelli.

“It was more attractive to us that they had a great position with yoga wear and outerwear, and we’ve seen the wellness piece as a big growth market,” he told Inside Retail.

Agostinelli sees an opportunity for Accent Group to start selling these products in standalone, Stylerunner-branded bricks-and-mortar stores in future.

“We think the name resonates with the consumer, and the market position it has is something we feel the market is missing at the moment,” he said.

Agostinelli said he didn’t know how many stores would be opened, or when, but said they’d likely be in A-grade shopping centres and CBD sites.

“We’re literally one day in; we want to strengthen the back end of the business and introduce all the smarts Accent Group has to offer in the tech area,” he said.

500,000 loyal customers

Founded by Julie Stevanja in 2012, Stylerunner sells exclusive and limited-edition sneakers, apparel and accessories from the likes of Nike, Adidas, P.E Nation and Jaggad, as well as various supplements.

The online retailer has a loyal and engaged customer database of well over 500,000, according to Agostinelli, which doesn’t cross over with Accent Group’s existing customers.

To drive efficiencies, Accent Group plans to innovate Stylerunner’s category and customer experience, strengthen its supplier relationships, build on its current digital, CRM and marketing capabilities and grow collaborations with its vertical brands.

The retailer said it would expand the brand by leveraging its supply chain capabilities and economies of scale as well as developing a strategy for bricks-and-mortar stores.

Stevanja has joined Accent Group to lead the Stylerunner business going forward, and will report to Accent Group’s chief digital officer, Mark Teperson.

The deal was structured as an asset sale on a cash-free, debt-free basis and is not expected to have a material impact on Accent Group’s FY20 earnings.

18 Nov, 2019
'It's all fake': Beauty giant Mecca facing bullying claims
SOURCE:
smh
SMH

Beauty giant Mecca is locked in a battle to protect its reputation as one of Australia's best workplaces with former and current employees accusing the business of discrimination, bullying, and favouritism.

The popular Australian retailer has been rocked by a stream of allegations published on an anonymous social media account, prompting founder and owner Jo Horgan to pledge reform and review the company's policies and practices.

In an email to staff, Ms Horgan said she was "deeply saddened" to learn of the numerous allegations, and said the company was taking the claims seriously.

"If we are not meeting these standards, we need to acknowledge this, apologise, and make the necessary changes," she said.

The complaints stem from an anonymously-ran Instagram account with the handle @Esteelaundry, which last month began collating and posting employees' accounts of working at the beauty giant.

More than 50 accounts of alleged mistreatment from people claiming to be former Mecca employees were posted to the page, detailing experiences of harassment from managers, racism towards staff, and a "toxic" culture of favouritism and nepotism.

Current and former employees have backed the anonymous complaints, telling The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald their experiences with the company were vastly different to the positive, fun, and "gloss and glamour" way Mecca presents itself.

Mecca is a beauty powerhouse in Australia, owning around 25 per cent of the $2.4 billion top-end cosmetics market, with 100 stores across Australia and New Zealand and over 4000 staff.

In the 2018 calendar year, the company reported revenue of $444.4 million, a 20 per cent increase on the year prior.

The business has been named as one of Australia's top workplaces in the Great Place to Work survey six times in the last six years, most recently taking out the fourth spot for companies with more than 1,000 employees.

Narita Salima, a former retail worker, initially expected her experience would reflect these accolades, believing her time at the company would be "fun and exciting" after landing a casual job at the retailer in 2016.

But, after just a few weeks, the then 22-year-old employee found herself dreading coming to work. She says she was bullied and ridiculed by managers over trivial issues, often on the shop floor in front of customers.

"It was traumatic. That whole Mecca culture, that positive workplace, it's just so fake."

After working for a month and a half, Ms Salima says she raised concerns with her line manager about the bullying she was experiencing. She was fired from the retailer shortly after.

Another former employee who worked in the head office said the environment was "cult-like". She says she was asked to quit simply because she was not "passionate" about her work.

"My manager pulled me into her office and said 'I know you're not passionate about your job, I think it's time for you to give me your resignation'," the employee says. "I'd never had any performance issues in the history of my job there. I was shocked."

Another employee claims Mecca workers weren't regularly paid for overtime at the end of their shifts, with the company having a policy of not closing the store's doors until all shoppers had left.

This would lead to employees staying back as much as an hour overtime, often unpaid, and at other times paid with leftover test products.

Employees say attempts to resolve these issues with HR were futile, with one worker labelling the department "toothless". Others say their time at Mecca significantly affected their mental wellbeing, with one former makeup artist saying the constant "bullying and belittlement" prompted her to visit a psychologist.

"I already had anxiety and [Mecca] made it so much worse," she said.

Following the complaints, Ms Horgan, a former entrepreneur of the year recipient, sent a number of emails to staff recognising and addressing the claims and saying she would take action in both the short and long-term.

In these emails, seen by The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, Ms Horgan says she was surprised to hear of the concerns, claiming just 0.2 per cent of Mecca's retail workforce had made a bullying complaint in the last two years.

The messages also disputed the claims of unpaid overtime, saying the company's pay policies were regularly reviewed and were "guard rails" to help build the business' culture. The company says staff are paid overtime in line with legislation and all product benefits are in addition to standard pay.

Mecca has appointed an external culture specialist to commence a "listening tour" around stores and make recommendations to the company on what it can do better. It has also established a new anonymous workplace complaints hotline.

In response to a detailed list of questions from The Age and The Herald, a spokesperson for Mecca said the company did not believe the allegations represented the views of the company's 4000 staff, but was striving to "do better".

“It is our aim to ensure each and every one of our team members has a positive working experience," the spokesperson said.

"To anyone for whom that has not been the case, we are truly sorry. We are listening to and taking seriously any issues raised and I recognise there are always things we can, and will, do better.”

* This article has been updated to include the total number of Mecca staff and additional comment from the company.

 
18 Nov, 2019
Employee ‘honeymoons’ and ‘hangovers’ are weirder than you’d think
SOURCE:
hrm
hrm

Given the right circumstances, job satisfaction among new staff peaks about 3 months in, then it drops. What this means for onboarding is neither simple nor obvious.

The ‘honeymoon’ and the ‘hangover’ dynamic has a lot of explanatory power for a certain emotional journey humans take. 

That journey begins with finding a new thing that we like. Swept up in joy, we feel that it’s perfect. But the feeling can’t be sustained and soon we experience a growing realisation it’s actually quite flawed. Clear-eyed, we can now assess how we truly feel. 

The journey happens in romantic relationships (obviously – it’s called a honeymoon after all), but it turns out it also frequently describes changing feelings about a new job.

The funny thing about the journey is that it’s hard to avoid, even when you’re very aware it’s happening. Just ask anyone who’s been in love more than once.

One of the better research papers on this topic comes from Wendy Boswell, Abbie Shipp and Stephanie Payne from Texas A&M University and Satoris Culberston from Kansas State University. It was published in the Journal of Applied Psychology in 2009.

They checked in with over 132 newcomers in a public sector business in the US (with a budget of US $79 million and 1,500 employees) over a period of a year, and tracked how each individual’s sense of job satisfaction changed.

What made their findings so interesting was what they entailed for onboarding. The type of onboarding HR might call best in class doesn’t seem to have the effect you would think.

Is there a honeymoon?

The quick answer is yes, employees tend to experience a honeymoon period followed by a hangover. 

It’s worth mentioning that the researchers found that 24 per cent of the variance in job satisfaction was accounted for by between-individuals variance. That is, personality differences make a difference.

New horizons

Who has the bigger honeymoon, the person whose last partner jilted them, or the person who did the dumping?

The researchers hypothesised it was the latter – that people who left their last job voluntarily (so quit and looked for new work) would have a stronger honeymoon and a worse hangover. High on their decision to do something for themselves, job leavers would begin a new role with more enthusiasm, only to crash when they realise it is not that much better.

But the research didn’t support this at all. There was no significant difference between those who quit and those who were let go. 

For recruiters, that seems to suggest you a) shouldn’t expect more optimism from people who quit their role to join you, and b) shouldn’t be worried that hiring someone who was made redundant will hurt morale.

Coming out of a bad thing

If your old partner treated you like dirt, it makes sense that you would treasure a new partner who acted decently. You would overvalue being treated adequately, and have a harsher crash when you realise it is just adequate.

This was the theory of the researchers. They speculated that the same pattern (better honeymoon, worse hangover) would be true for people who hated their last job, as compared to those loved their last job.

This hypothesis was only partially supported. People who had high satisfaction with a previous job experienced essentially no honeymoon or hangover, while those who had low satisfaction elsewhere did experience a slight honeymoon in the first three months and a slight hangover afterward.

For onboarding, this suggests it’s a good idea to pay a little extra attention to a new employee who told you they didn’t like their last job. Because chances are that their satisfaction with their new role could diminish within a year.

The power (or lack thereof) of a promise

Just as each relationship is informed by previous relationships – our new partner inevitably gets compared to old partners – we don’t come into a new job as a blank slate. 

Our previous experiences of work, our values system and every step of the recruitment process all inform our assumptions.

The researchers hypothesised that if a job met the expectations of the employee, they would have a better honeymoon and hangover. It’s simple enough. If implicit and explicit promises are kept, the employee will be happier.

So they tested this, asking people whether they subjectively felt commitments (development opportunities, concern for wellbeing, etc) were fulfilled.

Turns out they were dead wrong.

You can see that those who felt promises were kept had a classic honeymoon to hangover journey. Their love for the job bloomed and faded (the solid line). On the dotted line, you can see those who felt promises were broken didn’t really go on a journey at all (the minor movement upwards you see on the chart is not statistically significant). 

And while the researchers stressed caution with the interpretation, it does seem that fulfilling promises resulted in a lower level of job satisfaction one year into the role. Read that last sentence again, because it shows how complex humans are. More on this in a bit.

How well do I know you?

The researchers also tested more classic onboarding stuff around orientation. This is making sure the employee knows the what, where, why and how of their new job. It can be captured with statements like: “I know where to get things”, “I know what I am required to do” and “I understand how my tasks fit into the broader mission of the company”. 

The researchers reckoned that the better an organisation was at “socialisation” – their term for that orientation experience – the higher the peak of the honeymoon, and the less precipitous the hangover.

Again, it didn’t really turn out to be true.

Those who felt they had a better understanding of the organisation had both a honeymoon and hangover (solid line). Those who felt they didn’t, experienced a hangover, but no honeymoon to justify it (dotted line).

According to the report, it seems that positive experiences in terms of both fulfilled commitments and socialisation perhaps serve “as a prerequisite for newcomers to experience the honeymoon and the hangover. Conversely, without these experiences, newcomers are unlikely to experience the high of the new job.”

In other words, good onboarding is a cause of the honeymoon to hangover journey. Lacklustre onboarding means employees never experience higher levels of job satisfaction. But the corollary of that is the higher you go, the more significant your crash.

What does this mean for onboarding?

You might be asking if good onboarding is worth the effort then. The answer is that of course it is. Not only did people who had that experience more job satisfaction, but later research shows they are less likely to quit.

Indeed, the more recent research, published in the Journal of Vocational Behavior in 2017, found that “extremely high social tactics” – specifically high-quality mentoring and encouraging “authentic self-expression” – can make the hangover far less severe.

AHRI offers a one day in-house course to help your company establish a mentoring program.

It’s become a standard at many organisations to have regular check-ins with new employees to track their satisfaction. What the honeymoon/hangover research shows is that those check-ins should take into account the typical emotional journey of employees. A few further points the researchers make are below:

  • Around the three to six months mark is a turning point for newcomers.
  • Employers shouldn’t be alarmed that job satisfaction decreases in the first year.
  • You can mitigate lower satisfaction levels by addressing employee expectations and socialisation. 
  • If the employee is not experiencing initial high job satisfaction – if there is no honeymoon at all – chances are they feel you haven’t given them what they expected and/or you haven’t adequately conveyed the nature of their role and the workplace.
  • More comprehensive socialisation, such as giving someone a mentor and a sense of where their career with your organisation could go, seems to result in a more significant honeymoon and less severe hangover.
15 Nov, 2019
Wages growth slows further through September
SOURCE:
SMH
SMH

Annual wage growth has slipped to its slowest level in more than a year, falling well short of Reserve Bank and federal Treasury expectations and pointing to a sluggish jobs market.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics on Wednesday reported the wage price index rose by 0.5 per cent in the September quarter, taking annual growth to 2.2 per cent.

It was a step down from the 2.3 per cent annual growth reported to the end of June, and is now the slowest annual rate since the middle of last year.

Private sector wages grew by 0.5 per cent in the quarter, the third successive quarter at that rate. Annual growth is now at 2.1 per cent.

Public sector wages lifted by 0.5 per cent in the quarter for annual growth of 2.5 per cent.

ABS chief economist Bruce Hockman said while wages growth had slowed it was still ahead of price increases.

"The rate of annual wage growth eased slightly in September after being stable over the past year, continuing to grow at a slightly faster rate than consumer prices over the past year," he said.

"The largest contribution to wage growth over the quarter was jobs in the health care and social assistance industry."

Wages in health care, which has enjoyed some of the strongest jobs growth in the country, are the only ones lifting at more than 3 per cent. Several sectors, including retail and manufacturing, are experiencing wage growth below 2 per cent.

Last week, the Reserve Bank downgraded its wage growth forecasts over the next two years, tipping them to stay around 2.3 per cent.

Treasury's forecasts, which underpin the budget, are much more bullish. It expects wages growth to lift to 3.25 per cent next financial year and to 3.5 per cent the year after.

The annual rate was affected by this year's minimum wage case. Low income earners were awarded a 3 per cent lift in wages by the Fair Work Commission, a drop on the 3.5 per cent they received last year.

Wages growth remains strongest in Victoria where over the past year they have grown by 2.8 per cent. The slowest growth is in Western Australia where they have lifted by 1.6 per cent over the year.

The Reserve Bank, which has openly admitted it wants wages growth above 3 per cent, has urged all governments to lift caps on public sector wages to help lift overall incomes. WA's public sector wages growth is the slowest in the country at 1.1 per cent.

7 Nov, 2019
What 3 activities should HR focus on to maximise customer & shareholder value?
SOURCE:
Inside HR
Inside HR

HR departments which focus on three HR activities will have a more significant impact on customer and shareholder value than HR departments that focus primarily on HR metrics themselves, writes Wayne Brockbank

A number of leadership and management thinkers and institutional economists have posited that the “enemy of the great is the good”. This has been eloquently stated by Vilfredo Pareto, popularised by the 80/20 rule and formalised through Pareto Analysis. I suggest that an additional dimension might aid us in HR to focus our efforts to create greater value through three particular HR activities. The additional dimension is ease versus difficulty.

Might I suggest both logically and empirically that it is frequently the case that the 20 per cent of value is relatively easy to achieve; whereas the 80 per cent of the value is difficult to achieve albeit through 20 per cent of our efforts. Thus, the easy/good is the enemy of the difficult/best.

Before giving three examples, let me first state that the 20 per cent activities create good value but they are frequently justified because they do create some value. However, I suggest that we may focus on the 20 per cent activities not because they create greatest value but because they are easy to do.

On the other hand, the 80 per cent activities that create greatest value may be overlooked because they are more difficult the achieve. They frequently lie outside the HR comfort zone. The following is an initial checklist of three easy/good activities that may deter our focus from the difficulty/best activities.

First: internal customer focus versus external customer focus
HR has traditionally conceptualised internal leaders and employees as its “customer”. This focus strongly contradicts our other mantra which is to be business partners or partners in the business. Since the customer of the business is the external (i.e. buying customer) then if we are to be a partner in the business then the buying customer should dominate our line of sight as we design and develop our HR practices.

“In the past few years, the HR field has been swept along by the tsunami of the talent agenda”

Our ultimate goal is to create and sustain human and organisational capabilities that enable our firms to meet customer requirements better than the competition. We can only achieve this goal if we have a clear and complete understanding of and focus on the requirements of the eternal, money-paying customer.

Second: talent focus versus organisational focus
In the past few years, the HR field has been swept along by the tsunami of the talent agenda. Ensuring the availability of talent is clearly a good thing.

However, if we overemphasise the talent agenda, we may forget that focusing on individual talent may sub-optimise our contributions. A focus on individual talent will result in the human whole being equal to the sum of the parts. But competitive advantage is found in making the organisational whole greater than the sum of the talent parts. In addition, over time the leading competitors in the same industry will have approximately the same level of raw talent.

Therefore, you must have raw talent, or you lose. But competitive advantage is not found in the raw talent that you have but rather what you do with it after you have it. And that is primarily an organisation challenge. Plus, research at the University of Michigan strongly indicates that individual HR talent will have one-quarter the impact on business value when compared with the impact of the integrated HR organisation.

“A key organisational capability is the orchestration of the total flow of external information about customers, competitors and technology throughout the firm for competitive advantage”

Third: focus on HR information versus business information
Another hot HR topic is HR analytics, that is, the application of information logic to measure and drive HR-related issues. This is clearly a good thing to do. However, in the information age, a key organisational capability is the orchestration of the total flow of external information about customers, competitors and technology throughout the firm for competitive advantage. When the information agenda is appropriately framed as an organisational capability, HR shoulders heavy responsibility for this agenda.

However, conceptualising and implementing a comprehensive information strategy may be extraordinarily difficult. It is a difficult/best activity. Our research at the University of Michigan is clear. HR departments that focus on designing and implementing a comprehensive business information strategy will have twice the impact on customer and shareholder value than HR departments that focus primarily on HR metrics themselves.

What this means for HR
HR professionals should be vigilant in focusing thoughts and actions on the difficult/best activities while maintaining the easy/good activities. We should not allow the easy/good to displace the difficult/best.

3 action steps for HR

  • Identify what constitutes the difficult/best HR activities.
  • Develop the capabilities to design and deliver the difficult/best HR activities including emphasising line-of-sight to external customers, building organisation capabilities and orchestrating the flow of business information.
  • Continually rebalance HR’s focus from easy/good activities to difficult/best.

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