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News & Highlights in the SHR Space

October is Australia's National Work Safe Week


We all know someone impacted by a work-related injury and illness – whether this be physical or psychological. Preliminary data collected by Safe Work Australia in 2021 show that around 163 people died while doing their job, and over 120,000 people made a workers’ compensation claim for serious illness or injury in 2019-2020.


Each year in October, Safe Work Australia asks businesses and employers across Australia to participate in National Safe Work Month. During this month, we are encouraged to identify and act on opportunities to build safer and healthier workplaces.


This year, there will be a focus on a different health and safety area for each week of National Safe Work Month:

  • Week 1 – Injuries at Work

  • Week 2 – Mental Health

  • Week 3 – Managing WHS Risks and Preventing Harm

  • Week 4 – Safe and Healthy Work for All

Our challenge to you is to choose just one or two (or more if you’re feeling motivated) things you, or someone in your team, can do each week that focuses on improving health and safety. Come up with your own ideas, or choose from our list below. Either way see this National Safe Work Month as an opportunity to make your workplace a healthier, safer and happier one.

  • Identify & Minimise Hazards: Take a walk around the workplace and observe potential hazards. Act on straight forward problems straight away and make notes of others that need to be dealt with.

  • Develop a Hazard Checklist: This can be specific to your workplace, and help you find and make note of hazards on a more regular basis.

  • Consult with your Team: Hold a Toolbox Talk, or survey your team, and ask about any health and safety problems they have encountered when doing their work. Then bring together a team of people that are responsible for workshopping solutions; empower them by defining their role and level of responsibility.

  • Create a Space for Conversation: Schedule some 1-1 time with your team to specifically ask them how they are, and identify psychosocial risks (e.g., poor supervision, lack of support, high work demands, conflict). There may be some quick fixes in here, or some areas that require more thoughtful and careful consideration. Seek advice if you’re concerned about a team member.

  • Bring in the Experts: Recommend the services of Lifeline, Beyond Blue, or Black Dog Institute to individual team members that are struggling, or consider engaging an expert to come to your workplace and speak on wellbeing or mental health with your team.

  • Review your Policies: Review (or develop) any health and safety related policies. These could be your typical Anti-Bullying or Hazard Identification & Management, through to more recent Working From Home and Wellbeing policies. Roll out new or updated policies through targeted training or at your next team meeting.

  • Consider the Future of Work: The last few years have completely redefined the way we work, and teams have high expectations on their employers to adapt to new ways of thinking. With this comes opportunity and complexity from a health and safety perspective.

So, get on the front foot and consider how your business can improve the health of your team (and business) by incorporating new (operationally viable) ways of working.


This October, ask yourself –

what one or two things can you commit to, to make your workplace a healthier and safer one all year round? Don’t forget to download some campaign kit items, host a #SafeTea event, or follow along on Safe Work Australia’s social media accounts to stay across all of their National Safe Work Month content.

 

Our Rundown of the Australian Jobs & Skills Summit 2022

In early September, the Jobs and Skill Summit brought Australians together to work constructively on the challenges and opportunities facing the Australian labour market and economy. We know that one of the biggest challenges facing our clients (and let’s face it, businesses all around Australia and New Zealand) right now, is the talent shortage.


Here’s some quick highlights on the immediate action that was agreed to at the Summit:


  • An additional $1 billion in funding for fee-free TAFE, and an additional 180,000 TAFE places will be provided in 2023, while a longer-term solution is negotiated.

  • The Migration Program planning level has been increased to 195,000 in 2022-23 to allow skilled people to enter Australia and ease critical skills shortages.

  • Recent graduates with select degrees will be allowed to stay in Australia for an additional two years, and visa relaxations allowing student to work before their course commences, and work more than 40 hours in a fortnight, will continue until 30 June 2023.

  • $36.1 million in funding has been committed towards accelerating visa processing and resolving the visa backlog.

  • Updates will be made to the Fair Work Act (FWA) to create simplicity, flexibility, and support in relation to good faith bargaining and agreements.

  • Further updates to the FWA will see stronger access to flexible working arrangements, unpaid parental leave and stronger protections against adverse action, discrimination, and harassment.

  • Pensioners will be provided a temporary upfront $4,000 income bank credit to allow them to work and earn more before their pension is reduced.

  • Gender equality reporting standards will be strengthened to improve gender equality in workplaces.

  • A Carer Friendly Workplace Framework will be implemented to allow businesses to be recognised as a carer friendly workplace.

  • Career pathways for those with a disability will be improved through several initiatives, including embedding employment in NDIS plans and connecting job seekers with employment service providers.


The Job and Skills Summit Outcomes, which can be read in full here, also summarised existing commitments, and areas for further work that have not taken immediate priority.

If this doesn’t give you a lot of hope or clarity about how your business is going to find your next employee, like, yesterday (!), check out our February Newsletter where we shared some of our talent sourcing strategies. Alternatively, reach out to your Streamline HR Consultant for specific advice tailored to your business.

 

Want to Know the Highest Growing Area of Interest in Employee Benefits? …. The Answer May Surprise You…. Earlier this year, Job search site Lensa reported Menopause Leave as the top trending employee benefit search over the past five years - a whopping 1,300% year-on-year increase in searches since 2018.


Most women will experience symptoms of perimenopause and menopause between the ages 45 and 60, whilst andropause aka ‘Male Menopause’ is known to effect 30% of men in their early 50s. The impact of menopausal symptoms such as brain fog, anxiety, and poor quality of sleep, will often lead to a significant change in someone’s disposition and confidence in the workplace.



In March 2022, a New Zealand study found that of the 400,000 women in New Zealand aged between 55-64 years:

  • 75% are actively engaged in employment,

  • 70% experienced significant symptoms of menopause; and

  • 5% of those women had considered leaving their jobs as a result.

Whilst, in Australia of the estimated 2.5 million women in the same age bracket:

  • 58.8% are actively employed,

  • 83% felt their work was adversely affected,

  • 25% considered leaving the workplace or taking a demotion, and

  • 5% resign due to menopause.


So, how can we ensure that we place more emphasis on supporting, understanding and retaining our people going through this life change?


Education via short, interactive workshops and seminars is a great place to start and can assist with designing more accommodating policies and practices within the organisation. Many organisations are starting to recognise the value in offering more flexible working arrangements such as reduced hours, whilst others are taking a more progressive approach and introducing Menopause Leave.


Australian-based company, Future Super, introduced a menstrual and menopause leave policy for employees which allows staff up to 12 days leave per annum to use at their discretion. Furthermore, this policy also allows employees the flexibility to work from home or in a designated ‘quiet space’ in the office away from distraction. Future Super stated that the purpose behind implementing this policy was to "support employees in their ability to adequately self-care while not having to deplete their sick leave".


Policies like this will no doubt cause some questions about equality for other groups such as men who, for example, are at a higher risk of serious mental health concerns than women. Balancing the needs of one employee group with another is no easy task for an employer.


If you would like more information on workplace education or if introducing such policies is the right fit for your organisation, you may find the following resources interesting:


 


R U OK Day September 2022

R U OK? Day in the workplace was a great success with fundraising, team activities and webinars taking place all over Australia to raise awareness and normalise the conversation around mental health. These events are an important reminder on how to approach the subject when we can, at times, feel limited in our power to help someone close to us.


Employment Hero led the 'Supporting Employee Mental Health and Wellbeing' webinar and provided some easy tips on support and prevention in a work environment. If you missed out or wish to continue the conversation with your teams, please check out these fantastic resources:


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