How human resources can put steps in place to avoid workplace bullying

This is not the most palatable topic to discuss, but workplace bullying leads to a significant burden of harm. Workplace bullying is rife through many industries.  With the high burden that a lack of productivity brings to the workforce, workplace bullying is one area we can target to reduce this burden.
The impact of workplace bullying is considerable. Demotivated employees will cease to be productive if a bullying culture is not properly handled,  and the smear of an anti-bullying legal case is very damaging to a company’s reputation. In order to address this unfortunate potential behaviour, human resources should act proactively to prevent bullying from occurring. So what can be done to prevent workplace bullying and the negative consequences that come from it?

Appco was the prime example of workplace bullying

The most prime example of a bullying culture is that of Appco. Appco is an Australian company specialising in Field Sales representatives for charities. The workplace culture within Appco has become the subject of a class action lawsuit. Through Appco’s unparrelleled toxicity, we can learn how to stamp out workplace bullying. The main reason Appco found itself in a toxic environment is simple. It didn’t have a functional human resources department, that was able to prevent workplace bullying by creating culture in which it is unlikely to survive.

How to prevent workplace bullying

  • Firstly, generate an anti-bullying policy which makes it clear what behaviours are unacceptable.  Define what bullying constitutes and what employee and employer rights and responsibilities look like.  Maintain this policy and regularly run refresher advertisement campaigns around the office to ensure the message is clear.
  • Have an Open Door policy and develop a good sense of rapport with your employees. Let them know they can talk to you about anything that troubles them at work, and regularly check in. 
  • Train managers to recognise and intervene in early warning signs of bullying behaviour. While one incident of inappropriate behaviour is not seen as bullying,  this can quickly escalate. Have workshops enabling managers to sit down and have difficult conversations around bullying behaviour.
  • Keep an eye out for employees in distress and act early by approaching them and referring them to counseling if necessary, whilst responding to the incident at hand, and those responsible for the bullying. 
  • Humour is a particularly tricky area. Whilst humour in the workplace can improve mood,  foster creativity and productivity and should not be discouraged, certain jokes can be offensive and contribute to a bullying culture. It should be obvious that racist, sexist and otherwise inappropriate  jokes will not be tolerated. 
  • Ensure performance feedback is respectful. Performance feedback with the goal of assisting employees to improve their work is an effective way to help employees be their best, and constructive criticism should come across this way. Ensuring that performance evaluation is unbiased and non-personal can prevent performance management being seen as bullying.

Following the above-described steps can assist in both preventing and dealing with bullying behaviour in the workplace. It is important to follow your own policy and set an example. Any bullying behaviour that does occur should be dealt with swiftly and fairly. Not only will this improve the culture of your workplace, and promote productivity, this will also help to reduce the significant issues that stem from having a toxic culture. 

WooBoard is a peer to peer recognition platform where your employees can send public messages of thanks and appreciation to their colleagues. Sign up for your free 14-Day Trial of WooBoard today.

Getting through EOFY: surviving the storm

It’s that time of year: everything is due, stress is through the roof, and the clock is ticking. End of financial year. There are many things you can do to deal with the stress that you are facing, but the most practical thing you can probably do is get the tasks that you need to get through completed. So what is the best way to survive EOFY storm? Here are some practical tips to get you through this busy season.

Ensure all details are correct

As you work through the paperwork for EOFY, you’re bound to find inefficiencies which are having an impact on you during the busy season. Little details such as change of personnel or different trading names can really have an impact on paperwork accuracy. It’s a little too late at the moment to tackle these issues for the current financial year, but it’s a good time to note these issues so that you can prevent them from repeating themselves in the next financial year. You may possibly like to bring in  an independent contractor to ensure that all these details are correct in the next financial year to make future EOFYs much less stressful.

Make an early start

Of course, we’re heading into crunch time now, so it’s possibly too late to make an early start right now. And, if you haven’t started on you EOFY paperwork as yet, you should probably get on that. For the next financial year, the best time to start preparing is at the beginning of the financial year. It’s also worthwhile considering whether your current staff profile have enough resources to manage their current work plus preparation of tax returns. If there is any concern that your team may be overworked, you should consider some short-term relief in the form of a contractor, and in the future, think about whether you have the resources to hire additional staff.

Organisation is key

Making plans to tackle EOFY time is the most effective way to deal with the mountain of paperwork to prepare. Ensuring that your team has all the resources it requires, researching changes to tax law ahead of time, and drafting calendars to ensure all tasks are completed expediently.

Ensure you back up

This may seem obvious, but if you’re not doing so already, all data should be saved in multiple locations. A loss of data becomes a huge set back at crunch time, and you really can’t afford to lose data due to technical errors. This should ideally be occurring regularly at all times through the year

Reviewing EOFY for the next year coming

Once you make it through this storm, ensure you take the time to review your progress through the recent EOFY period. Acquire feedback through meetings, survey staff or even just informally talk to your employees to gauge how effectively the EOFY tasks progressed and ask them to describe any areas where improvement may be made for future years. A contractor will be able to provide an objective review of the company functioning and will provide expert perspective on how to make next year more efficient. If you have hired a contractor, ensure the contract extends past EOFY so they can perform this function.

WooBoard is a peer to peer recognition platform where your employees can send public messages of thanks and appreciation to their colleagues. Sign up for your free 14-Day Trial of WooBoard today.

How to destress during End Of Financial Year

It will come as no surprise to you when I say that “End of Financial Year” is a time of heightened pressure and emotional stress. A Bank of Queensland survey conducted last year showed that a third of small business owners said that “End of Financial Year” was the most stressful time of the year.
The reasons for this are multifactorial, including increase paperwork and administration needs, sales targets, longer working hours causing reduced time for family and friends and social isolation. Small business owners are likely to be dealing with the highest burden of stress, as they feel very responsible for employees and they can feel isolated as they don’t have a large team to rely on.

Managing stress

As a result stress can set in, and often the warning signs are ignored.  Unmanaged, stress can lead to depression, anxiety and burnout. The following red flags are signs that you may need help and that you should reach out for further support, including:

  • difficulty concentrating
  • avoidance of tasks
  • irritability or teariness
  • difficulty sleeping
  • inability to switch off from work,  with thoughts of work intruding upon other time
  • Withdrawal from family and friends

Preventative measures

Prevent stress from taking over your life is busy period,  it is important to maintain a balanced and healthy lifestyle. If you’re having trouble keeping track of this, undertake the following steps to get things back on track:

  • incorporate relaxation into your routine schedule. Find a technique that works for you such as meditation, gardening or listening to music.
  • establish effective sleep hygiene. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends, and establish a “wind down” period prior to going to bed each night of 30 minutes without interruption from work such as laptops, phones and tablets. Use this technique particularly if you’re having trouble switching off from work  and going to sleep each night.
  • Build physical activity into your daily schedule. Physical activity is shown to reduce stress and promote good mood.
  • Ensure you do something outside of work that you can share with family or friends. This can be any hobby imaginable, just as long as it takes your mind away from work.

Increase productivity by focusing on the cost of time

Multitasking feels productive, but  unfortunately it has been shown to cause productivity  to plummet by up to 40%. So ensure you focus on each of your tasks that you need to  complete exclusively at one time. Many find lists with checkboxes that you work through each day to be quite helpful. Additionally, a useful strategy is to do the most important tasks at the beginning of the day when your brain is not fatigue and is at its most productive energy state.

Remember if you try all of these strategies and you are still finding yourself increasingly stressed or overwhelmed, it is important to seek help. A good place to start is Beyond Blue, which can provide information into the symptoms you’re feeling and what you may be experiencing. This website can also provide a wealth of information to help you cope and important resources to start you off in the right direction.

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WooBoard is a peer to peer recognition platform where your employees can send public messages of thanks and appreciation to their colleagues. Sign up for your free 14-Day Trial of WooBoard today.

EOFY Celebrations: How to let off steam in a Healthy way

Celebrations are a great way to build culture and a sense of teamwork and camaraderie in the office,  especially when your employees have been stretched to achieve all of their end of financial year deadlines. However, while it is important to have an end of financial year celebration to allow your employees to let off some steam, you should also be wary of the potentially unhelpful things that can occur when coworkers and alcohol mix. Building in some safeguards into your end of financial celebration planning can help you avoid some dangerous and potentially awkward situations. Here are our top 4 tips to make sure your end of financial year celebrations run smoothly.

Enforcing Policies around conduct

While policies around workplace behaviour are important and should be up to date at all times,  it may be an especially effective reminder to ensure all compliance training is up to date around celebration time. This is especially true when alcohol causes people to lose their inhibitions. Ensure that harassment policy, acceptable workplace behaviour and social media policy is clear in your employees minds by sending an email reminder in the days leading up to the celebration. If you feel it is necessary, you can also hold a workshop roleplaying various scenarios to ensure that all of your employees know what acceptable behaviour looks like.

Occupational Health and Safety matters

Don’t forget about occupational health and safety as a requirement of the celebration. Even if you decide to hold a celebration “off-premises”, you should ensure that occupational health and safety standards are up to scratch. This includes doing an inspection of the venue before the event, ensuring that there are no tripping hazards and that the fire exits and venue policies are well displayed.

Facilitate Safe travels

It’s not up to you to provide transport for the attendees at your end of financial year celebration party. However, for extra safety and that piece of mind, you can simply pre-order taxis, inform your guests of their public transport options or facilitate designated drivers and carpooling. This will help ensure everyone who attends your celebration has a safe route home.

So be sure to enjoy your end of financial year celebration party, and with these tips have a safe start to the new financial year, with stress behind your employees, refreshed and morale boosted!

WooBoard is a peer to peer recognition platform where your employees can send public messages of thanks and appreciation to their colleagues. Sign up for your free 14-Day Trial of WooBoard today.


The Domino Effect: Why Employee Engagement Matters

Most people find themselves at work with “dead periods”, or periods where they won’t be able to do a whole bunch of work. The most common manifestation of this is a term known as the “three-thirties” , a reference to the time of day that people seem to tune out of their work.
A friend of mine recently made a post on Facebook that went a little something like this:

Work is going nowhere this afternoon; I’ve been trading memes with my boss and replacing my colleagues name tags with mispelled versions of their names.

Though this might seem like a funny way to consume time at work, it isn’t helpful to the working culture, and ultimately brings others that are involved into the same space, minimising productivity and overall output.

If an employee is not engaged, they have the potential to disrupt their colleagues, creating a domino effect.

The Domino effect

When Nuclear Physicists were studying the effects an atomic bomb would have when it went off, they discovered that when a bomb went off, the protons that were released from the reaction bumped into other protons, causing an enormous chain reaction. From this point forward, science understood the mechanisms at which a single “stray proton” could cause significant damage. In our case, the stray proton is an employee that’s distracted, and not engaged.

How do we prevent the Domino effect?

The simple answer, however difficult it may be is to have roles in your company that people desire to be in, and match that by being a company people want to work for. It’s very difficult for companies to retain staff without having a good sense of culture, and a desirable company profile.

If this isn’t possible, Employee Engagement platforms like WooBoard are a great way to turn the tide, and keep employees engaged.

WooBoard is a peer to peer recognition platform where your employees can send public messages of thanks and appreciation to their colleagues. Sign up for your free 14-Day Trial of WooBoard today.

It’s the Vibe: Recognising the benefits of Employee Engagement

The 1997 classic Australian film “The Castle”, one of the most famous lines used to ever describe a court case on film; “it’s the vibe”. The film’s hero, Dale Kerrigan is represented in court by a local solicitor in regards to matters of the constitution, though he has no grounds to which to argue his point. Instead, his only justification is that the company that wishes to purchase Mr Kerrigan’s home is going against “the vibe” of the constitution.
Have you ever gone in to a company for a job interview and thought, “I don’t like this place” or “something about this place doesn’t sit right with me”, or on a more positive note “I really like this place”, “this place is where I belong” or even “I am proud to work here”. The reason you feel this way can be quantified in one simple phrase; the vibe.

What is a vibe?

A vibe is simply anything that creates an emotional reaction to the aura felt to belong to a person, place or thing. In real terms, all it really means is something that can be felt to generate an emotional response.
We as humans can gage any number of variable emotions from limited information. For us as humans, it’s a survival instinct. We need to be able to walk into a place and feel a sense that something is up, and have the correct emotional response to match that anticipated feeling.

How does your vibe relate to workplace?

We all spend the vast majority of our time at work. While at work, we all have moments of enjoyment, as well as moments that are not so great, but they all collectively form our experience at work. Added to this, we often see the same people on a day-to-day basis, and also generally sit in the same building on a day-to-day basis. All these factors form the “vibe”.
To put it into an easy to use analogy:

Vibe = People + Place + Culture X Value of Everyday Action

What does Vibe have to do with Employee Engagement?

Now, here is the real kicker. 

Employee Engagement, or the relationship that employees have with their respective organisation, is all about the vibe of the organisation. Employees don’t seem to engage with their place of work if the vibe seems to be off, and if the vibe is not-right they are much more likely to leave.

While talking about a “vibe” in one sense can sound like hippie jargon, it does go a long way in terms of company culture and company values, as having a positive vibe is one of the best ways to retain employees.

Consider your organisational vibe to be the apex of a very large pyramid of company culture, whose individual blocks are made up of everyday actions, people, place and culture.

WooBoard is a peer to peer recognition platform where your employees can send public messages of thanks and appreciation to their colleagues. Sign up for your free 14-Day Trial of WooBoard today.

How an organisation says “hello” says everything you need to know

The word “hello” might be the most well understood, yet misunderstood words in the English language (or for any language for that matter).
The word itself doesn’t actually matter, but it is the way you say it that will dictate not only how it will be received, but the entire perception that a person may have of us. If we know this is the case in a personal setting, why don’t companies offer the same approach with their initial interactions with people.
Having a “strategy for greeting” seems a bit far-fetched to some, but realistically it isn’t too far off what we do on a day to day basis. Every person at a networking event goes in knowing their personality, and by extension, knowing how they usually go about greeting people. Consequently it would make sense for companies to adopt a similar attitude when viewing their interactions with clients, prospective hires and so on.

Hello, World – A greeting or a mantra?

We’ve heard the term “hello, world” used in computer programming for many years. Though the statement might seem like something that a computer would say, it seems to have a deeper meaning when applied to organisations.
When a computer says “hello, world”, it is making a first impression. This first impression is so important to the overall perception that we first had of computers in the 1980s, when most people were afraid of the “robots taking over”. That small phrase, combined with some clever marketing campaigns from the likes of Apple and Microsoft formed the widespread adoption of computer technology. This probably wouldn’t have happened if computer programming used a more sinister phrasing, like “ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO US”.
The “hello, world” phrase is friendly, and puts a clear line in the sand to suggest that the computer was there to serve us as humans, and to be a “bicycle for the mind”. Consider the same greeting when we see certain companies in operation. For instance, Best Buy in the USA or Australia’s own JB Hi-Fi, every single person that walks in to the store must be greeted with a greeting as part of their company policy. This is designed to create intention to connect, which is very powerful in both sales and marketing.

Hello engagement

A greeting is a means of connection between companies and people. Greeting, isn’t really a greeting at all. For companies, a greeting is an initial contact from which everything else stems from. By having a policy on attempting to connect, you can make customers, clients, new hires, and even current staff feel considered. Building a greeting and welcoming culture has implications across the board.

The ultimate goal of all this is building engagement. By having a strategy on making initial contact, and how best to do it, you are almost certainly guaranteed a better chance at creating a sense of engagement and connection with whoever your audience may be.

WooBoard is a peer to peer recognition platform where your employees can send public messages of thanks and appreciation to their colleagues. Sign up for your free 14-Day Trial of WooBoard today.