Author Archives: Susan Toole

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Avoiding Workplace Bullying

Workplace bullying can occur in any work environment, from offices to shops, community organisations and government departments. Employers have a legal responsibility under Occupational Health and Safety and anti-discrimination law to provide a safe workplace and one which is free from verbal, physical, social or psychological abuse. Bullying can have serious effects on the health and safety of individuals, which in turn can result in a loss in productivity with legal ramifications for the employer.

So how do we avoid bullying in the workplace?

Every organisation should have policies which outline how people are to treat each other at work. Commonly called a ‘Code of Conduct’, the policy should be easily accessible to all staff and outline what is (and is not) appropriate behaviour. In addition, the actions that will be taken to deal with unacceptable behaviour should also be detailed in workplace policies, as well as internal grievance procedures.

Is there a better way to address bullying?

At the recent 22nd Labour Law Conference in Sydney, Jonathan Hamberger (Senior Deputy President of Fair Work Australia) told the audience he believes “the key to tackling bullying in the workplace lies with line managers”. This will only be effective if the manager has an appropriate level of authority to resolve these issues, combined with superior people management skills and interpersonal skills.

An effective line manager should have the following people management skills:

  • great communication skills
  • the ability to build relationships
  • willingness to take responsibility
  • being open and transparent in their actions

Through the use of external assessment tools in the hiring and/or promotion process, these skills can be identified and assist the decision making procedure. Being able to identify the behaviours you are after, is the first step to ensuring you have the right candidate for the role and who will suit your organisation. There are also many training opportunities for managers to develop anti-bullying strategies to cover obligations, responsibilities and leadership skills.

Managers can be held liable for acts of unlawful discrimination, harassment or bullying even if they were not directly involved in the actual incident. Managers not only need to protect their employees, but also themselves against future lawsuits!

When line managers have the opportunity to deal with bullying issues at a workplace level, the social and psychological costs (to both the victim and organisation) are reduced. Not to mention the financial costs. The formal channels will always exist, supported by the Fair Work Commission, as well as legal processes.

With more effective and skilled line managers, staff making claims of bullying and harassment can be a very rarely used last resort.

What are you doing in your organisation to avoid workplace bullying?

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

How can assessments assist low SES students?

This is a question we were asked recently. We are sharing what we found out so you can use it too.

Often students from low social economic status (SES) backgrounds may lack access to the types of career decision-making support that comes from growing up in a family where professional educations are taken for granted. If the students are first-in-family at tertiary studies, they often don’t have good role models to talk with and rely heavily on the university, TAFE or school careers advisers to inform them about what to expect from careers that require tertiary qualifications.

Why would you use psychometric assessments with low SES students?

  • In order to give them an accurate and timely awareness of their workplace preferences and personal strengths, so that they can fully capitalise on their abilities, skills and suitability to their careers so that they can be productive and financially independent as soon as possible.
  • The combination of assessments, career counselling and education allows low SES students to fully appreciate their most preferred career options at an early stage.
  • Providing accurate, objective assessment that matches them against the right career, at the beginning of their careers is the ultimate gateway to help them move out of their current SES grouping.

Why would you use Harrison Assessments in particular?

  • “The system is designed for all levels, including low income students.” Dr Dan Harrison, 3 September 2014.
  • There are no questions in the assessment that could be viewed as discriminating against low SES background.
  • Although we do not collect data for SES when using the questionnaire, data for other factors indicates there are no adverse impacts of the assessment. Harrison Assessments keep a close eye on any potential for adverse impacts in order to ensure EEO legislation compliance.
  • It has been used successfully with students of low SES background in a recent US case study.
  • If required, the questionnaire can be delivered via a ‘simplified English’ questionnaire and/or a pencil and paper test.
  • Harrison Assessments does not measure personality alone. The questions also relate to a person’s interests, preferred tasks and work environment, decision making, management styles, motivations and values, communication, leadership, interpersonal styles and workplace cultural fit.

With many thanks to Patricia Parish, Careers Education Consultant at University of Western Sydney, for her valuable insight in this area.

Do you have any experiences working with low SES background clients that you’d like to share?

We look forward to reading them below.

"The last couple of years at batyr has seen incredible growth and the Balance at Work team has supported us along the way. They have helped us improve leadership skills across the team by helping us source and manage mentors, and even engaging as mentors themselves. As a young and fresh CEO Susan has also supported me personally with genuine feedback and fearless advice to achieve great things. "
By Sam Refshauge, CEO, batyr
"We used the Harrison Assessment tools followed by a debrief with Susan, for career development with staff, which then allowed us to work with Susan to create a customised 360 degree review process. Susan has a wealth of knowledge and is able to offer suggestions and solutions for our company. She is always ready to get involved and takes the time to show her clients the capability of Harrison Assessments. "
By Jessica Hill, Head of People and Culture, Choice
"Balance at Work are the ideal external partners for us as they completely get what we are trying achieve in the People and Culture space. Their flexibility and responsiveness to our needs has seen the entire 360 approach being a complete success. The online tool and the follow up coaching sessions have been game changers for our business. The buzz in the organisation is outstanding. Love it! Thanks again for being such a great support crew on this key project."
By Chris Bulmer, National GM Learning and Development, ISS Australia
"We use Harrison Assessments with our clients to support their recruitment processes. We especially value the comprehensive customisable features that allow us to ensure the best possible fit within a company, team and position. Balance at Work is always one phone call away. We appreciate their valuable input and their coaching solutions have also given great support to our clients."
By Benoit Ribe, HR Solutions Manager, Polyglot Group
"The leadership team at Insurance Advisernet engaged Susan from Balance at Work to run our leadership development survey and learning sessions. Susan was very professional in delivering the team and individual strengths and opportunities for growth. Susan's approach was very "non corporate" in style which was refreshing to see. I can't recommend Balance at Work more highly to lead, employee and team development sessions."
By Shaun Stanfield, Managing Director, Insurance Advisernet

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