Get ready for the new year and reset your HR approach for 2022

23 December 2021

The beginning of the year is the ideal opportunity to reassess your HR documentation and organisational strategy. This can include employment contracts, resetting expectations about standards of behaviour and revising working arrangements. In 2022, be proactive and confident to recast your existing approach with a new strategy.

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Employment Contracts

An employment contract is a formal, binding agreement between an employee and employer. Capable of being enforced through the civil courts, employment contracts are a vital aspect of any employment relationship, outlining the terms and conditions under which an individual is employed.

An employment contract should not contain any terms that are unfair, unjust or discriminatory, nor should it contain any terms that are in breach of any relevant legislation (e.g. the National Employment Standards (NES) or the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic)).

The Victorian Chamber Workplace Relations team can guide you through every step of the employment contract process, including:

  • Providing templates
  • Meeting minimum employment conditions
  • Reviewing other documents such as HR manuals, policies and procedures.

Explore our templates

Resetting staff behaviour and reasonable expectations

All businesses should aim for a strong workplace culture that thrives on efficiencies, safety and enjoyment. With this in mind, review your current culture and question what needs to change to get to where you want to be.

If you are a manager, aim to factor in time to regularly contact your team. It’s important your team doesn’t hesitate to pick up the phone and get in touch if they have a concern or complaint. If you don’t have a habit of regular contact, they will be less likely to reach out to you. It’s never too late to start. This approach is about keeping lines of communication open and building relationships with individuals and the team.

Meet regularly as a team. Encourage everyone to talk, debate, speak openly and challenge one another. This is going to strengthen relationships, build resilience and create an understanding of personal circumstances, leading to greater empathy. While getting these things right may not prevent conflict, if it does arise, individuals will be more willing to discuss the issue openly and agree on a way forward.

If you are in HR, aim to conduct ‘pulse checks’ on the organisation and with individual teams. Make the time to walk through the office occasionally, greet those in the office, and engage openly. Use virtual platforms like Microsoft Teams to involve everyone in the organisation and share success stories and updates. When a policy is updated (or at the beginning of every year), share the document and reiterate its relevance and key expectations.

Mediation

With businesses getting back to ‘normal’ and workers interacting more, the cracks may start to show. Many workers have been working from home, having little or no awareness of, and a low tolerance for, other team members’ working habits. If we don’t deal with these issues head on, they can spiral and create a challenging working relationship which, if unmanaged, will adversely impact the workplace culture.

Businesses want to succeed and foster workplaces where employees feel safe and enjoy attending. This means investing in working relationships is a necessity.

Where issues arise, avoidance is not a strategy. Often a conflict occurs because we may not have dealt with an issue at the relevant point in time. If you think a conflict is brewing, it’s time to confront the problem head-on!

Mediation can be the golden ticket to resolving the conflict and achieving a lasting resolution. The Victorian Chamber’s Workplace Relations team has nationally trained mediators and consultants who conduct mediations for many businesses across Australia.

The team has vast experience, ranging from private practice and in-house lawyers to human resources and business partners. It has worked across a range of industries, including finance, manufacturing, not-for-profit and charities, education and retail.

A workplace mediation can include any worker or stakeholder. Parties involved have included administrators, sales teams, teachers, professors, medical professionals, business owners, executives and board members.

Conflict has a habit of permeating its way through the workforce. It can have adverse effects on those involved, as well as the team around them. Each situation is unique, but we find any workplace conflict or disagreement typically lends itself to mediation. Any situation where an ongoing relationship will be important is often conducive to mediation as, unlike some other more formal processes, mediations are conducted with the specific objective of building a sustainable basis for parties to have a productive and professional ongoing work relationship.

VCCI Resolve

The Victorian Chamber prides itself on a ‘no surprises’ policy when it comes to costs. We offer mediation on a fixed-fee basis. To find out more or discuss if mediation may be an appropriate means of resolving a conflict in your workplace, call the Workplace Relations Advice Line on 03 8662 5222. For more information on the Victorian Chamber Employment Contact templates, call the Workplace Relations Advice Line, email the team, or visit the Victorian Chamber Website.

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