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Workforce

Managing your workforce is particularly challenging in the current economic climate. If your company is having to make redundancies, this feature article from BCI will help you consider how to do the right thing by the people who are losing their jobs. Or for some quick suggestions, try this checklist.

Keeping morale up among remaining staff or staff in general even if you're not making redundancies is also important. There is a general sense of insecurity in the community and your employees may be under pressure at home with family members or friends losing jobs.

Australia's skills shortage hasn't gone away though, and as the economy improves and the population continues to age, you are still well-advised to make your company a place where people aspire to work.

You can do this by: being flexible, particularly for those workers with caring responsibilities (for children or for sick or elderly relatives); by helping employees achieve a reasonable balance between work and the rest of their lives; and just by implementing good CR strategies generally.

Generation Y - born between 1976 and 1981 - are looking for more than just remuneration from their employers; they seek out companies with values they respect.


Dead-Set Winners (low cost/effort - every company should do these)

Employment

  • Ensure women make up: 50% of staff; 25% of executive managers; 20% of board directors
  • Stipulate that at least one woman must sit on interviewing panels and and that at least one woman must appear on a list of candidates.
  • Strive to have your workforce profile (gender/race/disability/age) match that of the broader community
  • Encourage people with disabilities, mature-age workers, the long-term unemployed, disadvantaged youth and indigenous Australians to apply for jobs you advertise - and ensure existing staff members are genuinely open to employing them
  • Include corporate responsibility-related matters in employment reviews
  • Retain employees who acquire a disability, working with them to enable them to continue in their original role or to develop a new role
  • Ensure employees know what their options are if they feel they have experienced or are experiencing discrimination.

Health

  • Establish and enforce stringent health and safety guidelines
  • Ensure desks are set up ergonomically - see this guide from the University of Melbourne
  • Ensure safe working conditions for manual labour
  • Have regular safety audits of factories or other sites of manual labour
  • Encourage staff to stretch regularly and take regular breaks from looking at computer screens
  • Provide nutritious food in the cafeteria, if you have one
  • Provide fruit as an alternative to vending machines
  • Discourage irresponsible consumption of alcohol at office functions
  • Measure rates of absenteeism and injury, and set targets to reduce them

Work/life balance

  • Offer at least six weeks' paid maternity leave in addition to that which is provided by the government
  • Offer the same leave to women who miscarry late in a pregnancy - after 20 weeks, for example
  • Offer at least two weeks' paid paternity leave
  • Have the maternity/paternity leave policy in place even if you don't currently have any staff who you expect to make use of it
  • Discourage excessive overtime - reward performance rather than hours
  • Quiz employees about what could help them achieve a sustainable work-life balance
  • Be flexible about whether roles can be part-time or job-share arrangements
  • Be flexible in allowing employees to work from home at times if necessary
  • Try to ignore convention and assess how effectively any given staff member could do their job without face-to-face contact every day with other staff, managers or clients
  • Assess whether a culture of long hours and heavy workloads negatively impacts productivity
  • Ensure all managers are open to requests for flexible work arrangements
  • Make sure it is widely known that flexible options are not just there for working mothers
  • Encourage men to take paternity leave and to take advantage of flexible working options
  • Ensure that if someone opts for reduced hours, their workload is reduced accordingly
  • Survey employees to find out about any concerns they have about flexible working
  • Be careful that when someone returns to work after a period of parental leave it is not presumed that they will take a demotion or a pay cut Endeavour to accommodate them at their pre-leave level, or promote them if a promotion is due
  • Offer all staff, but particularly new parents, mentoring opportunities to learn about balance and managing stress from others
  • Give staff on parental leave the option of staying connected to the office via the internet and/or regular telephone conversations
  • Monitor staff absenteeism - if you think people are taking days off when they are not actually sick, consider why they are feeling the need to
  • Encourage employees to pursue other interests and hobbies outside the office

Management

  • Ensure your CEO is involved in corporate responsibility initiatives - it's a good way to embed CR into the heart of your business
  • Have dispute resolution procedures in place and make staff aware of them
  • Provide staff with fair and constructive feedback
  • Ask employees to give you fair and constructive feedback, and act on it
  • Communicate your CR strategy to your workforce
  • Provide anyone who is active or influential in the hiring process with training in how to recognise and address unconscious bias
  • Invite and encourage staff involvement in setting the CR agenda
  • Provide a staff suggestion box to find out how you might better manage your workforce
  • Reward good performance in CR-related areas with increased financial benefits
  • Ensure partner companies and companies in your supply chain know how you expect workers to be treated


Good Practice (require moderate investment and will provide moderate return)

Employment

Health

  • Encourage exercise by subsidising staff gym memberships, or financing classes such as yoga in the office (but don't pressure staff to participate - some will not feel comfortable exercising in front of colleagues)
  • Arrange for staff to participate in events such as fun runs, bike rides and treks, which are good for their health and can double as fundraisers for the community
  • Offer on-site health education and screening for conditions like high blood pressure, cholesterol, smoking and stress
  • Provide free flu injections
  • Provide staff in developing countries with other medicines (such as HIV medications in Africa)
  • Provide staff in developing countries with access to health care
Work/life balance
  • Offer at least 8 weeks' paid maternity leave (and offer it also to women who miscarry late in a pregnancy - after 20 weeks, for example)
  • Offer at least 6 weeks' paid paternity leave
  • Offer carers' leave to staff who are responsible for sick or elderly family members
  • Make arrangements for staff to access childcare near the office
  • Offer extended parental leave to anyone who will be a child's primary carer
  • Monitor the culture in your workplace to ensure no-one who takes advantage of flexible working options is harassed bullied (in fact that no-one is harassed or bullied at all)
  • Endeavour to have senior managers, including men, demonstrate the use of flexible working options
  • If there is resistance to flexible working, institute three-to-six month trial periods to allow everyone concerned to assess whether or not a given arrangement fulfils their needs
Management
  • If you decide to move work off-shore, thereby making local workers redundant, give plenty of notice and offer counselling, training and assistance in finding a new job (particularly those workers already disadvantaged by age, disability, etc)
  • Make sure good working conditions and fair pay extend to overseas staff
  • Provide staff with regular opportunities for training and development
  • Provide anyone responsible for managing staff with guidance and training on managing people working with flexible arrangements
  • Actively encourage partners and companies in your supply chain to treat their workers appropriately
  • Pay accounts as quickly as possible
  • Introduce faster payment of accounts for small businesses (which are less able to cope with a delay)


Cutting Edge (high cost/effort with high returns)

  • Have women make up: 50% of staff; 50% of executive managers; 50% of board directors
  • Offer at least 12 weeks of paid leave to whichever parent is a new baby's primary carer
  • Provide an employee assistance program, with access to services such as psychologists
  • Consider making significant adjustments to your workplace to allow better access for people with disabilities, such as installing lifts alongside stairs.
  • Offer childcare on site
  • If that is not possible, offer a childcare allowance
  • Provide a space (and allow time) for women who have returned to work after having a baby to express and store milk
  • Offer to subsidise some health initiatives - such as helping employees to quit smoking
  • Cut ties with business partners or suppliers who do not treat workers appropriately


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(PO Box 354 North Melbourne 3051 Victoria)
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