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Our RTO, ACIM Solutions is pleased to announce that we will be conducting the Certificate IV Government (Investigations) PSP 41512 course in Newcastle. 

This course is often only available in the face to face format for people in organisational groups, however due to interest from of individuals seeking to undertake the qualification in a face to face format we are now offering it open to the public.

Career opportunities:


Tuesday, 22 September 2015 – Thursday, 24 September 2015 (3 days) Block 1

Tuesday, 29 September 2015 – Wednesday. 30 September 2015(2 days) Block 2


$2800 per person (GST free)

This course is part of our suite of development programs that we tailor for organisational groups. All are offered in blended formats that include face to face workshops, RPL, credit transfer and assessment only options.

Please contact us for more information or enquire online at ACIM Solutions.

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All successful organisations know that developing employees makes good business sense.  However tight economic times have put training budgets under pressure. Fortunately there are a range of options organisations can explore to improve the skill sets of their teams.

The key to ensuring a good return on your development dollar is to ensure programs are focused on:

  • What are the gaps in the business that training and development can impact on?
  • How will the training add value to the business?
  • Which team members will benefit most?
  • What format of development activities best suits both the organisation and the learner? 
  • How will we evaluate the learning and development activity?


Why developing your staff makes sense

Training helps organisations run better

Trained employees will be better equipped to manage technology improvements, handle customers, keep up to date with legislative changes and perform their duties safely for example. 

A learning and development culture is a recruiting tool

Staff members are looking to develop their skills now that many people are working for longer periods. Similarly, research shows younger workers are more likely to be recruited to organisations that can demonstrate ongoing learning values. In short, you are more likely to attract and keep good employees if you can offer development opportunities.  

Investing in your people builds loyalty

Well thought through learning programs send a clear message to your teams that you value them enough to invest in them. 

Learning and development promotes job satisfaction

Nurturing employees to develop more rounded skill sets will help them contribute to the company. The more engaged and involved they are in working for your success, the better your rewards.

Training is a retention tool, instilling commitment from good workers

Team members who may be looking to pursue their next challenge will be more likely to stay if you offer ways for them to learn and grow while with your organisation. This directly affects costs and disruptions through reduced turnover.

Training adds flexibility and efficiency

You can cross-train employees to be capable in more than one area of the organisation. This flexibility can be applied horizontally and vertically. Succession planning across the organisation and in management structures can be facilitated through targeted learning programs. The organisation is risk managing around absence and the team member is being challenged by developing valuable new skills. Cross-training also fosters team spirit, as team members can begin to appreciate the challenges faced by co-workers in a new light!

Development and training is essential for knowledge transfer

It's very important to share knowledge among your staff. If only one person has special skills, you'll have a tough time recouping their knowledge if they suddenly leave the company. Spread knowledge around — it's like diversifying your investments.

What options are available to develop staff?

  • Group training - delivered in house/with other organisations by internal trainers/external providers.
  • elearning programs conducted both internally and externally
  • Mentoring – structured or informal programs.  Internal/External mentors can be involved
  • Job rotation
  • Work shadowing
  • Self study – Partial or full sponsorship for staff undertaking external programs with relevance to the business.  Study leave options for staff in lieu of financial support.
  • Peer training
  • Opportunities to grow skill sets through projects
  • 1:1 training programs
  • Cross organisational training – developing relationships with other organisations to provide opportunities to staff members to learn skills in other businesses.

Choosing the right program structure will depend on your team members, your operational requirements and the learning outcomes you are seeking.

For more information on options for learning and development in your organisation, please contact us. 

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How to make the most of this important investment in your new staff.

This is the second blog in a 2-part series. The last blog focused on the value of effective onboarding and induction processes to build staff engagement. 

To project a professional image and maximise the opportunity, recruitment, induction and onboarding should be conducted as a cohesive effort!

Tips for effective onboarding

While the formal induction program may start when the employee first arrives to begin work, the actual onboarding experience should begin well before the first day.

Some basic tips for an effective induction and onboarding program include:

Before the start date:

Contact the new starter by phone prior to their first day. First-day nerves can be eased by providing the new starter with some basic information which can be easily sent to them and include information such as:

    • How to get to work (maps, bus routes, etc)
    • What time to arrive
    • Where to park
    • How to dress
    • Where to go/who to ask for and contact details
    • What activities to expect on their first day.

Upon arrival:

People will feel welcome if their arrival is expected. This can be seen as a small detail but it does send a very powerful message about an organisation and their internal communication processes. It sets up the first day in a positive way so inform reception or other relevant staff when a new employee is starting so that they are welcomed. 

Ensure immediate team members are updated so they are not taken by surprise when introduced to the new person but, rather, also offer a warm welcome.

Take the time to have a workstation prepared. For example, secure a telephone and computer prior to the employee starting work. Set up email addresses and prepare network access where appropriate so employees can get to work immediately.

Give the new employee a task to start working on that is relevant to their ongoing work. This will ensure the employee is being productive and feels useful from the start. The task should be easily achievable, yet meaningful.

Expectations of performance and behaviour

Ensure that the new employee’s position description is accurate and current. The manager should spend time discussing the position description with the new employee, explaining the work in the broader context and providing clarification where necessary.

Further to that, provide an overview of how the new employee fits in with the rest of the team, how the team fits in with the department, and how the department contributes to the overall effectiveness of the business for example. It may be useful for the new employee to spend some time with other members of their team to learn more about workflows.  When people understand their role in the wider organisation they are more likely to be engaged in the business and their work.

Ensure you clearly explain performance expectations and also behavioural expectations of the business. You can then clarify any concerns at this point. 

Discuss the Code of Conduct and ensure a clear understanding of what is required. Agreeing on the performance criteria at the outset will ensure that the new employee is clear about your expectations of them.

This is critical given the provisions of a probationary period.

Ensure regular communication opportunities. Managers should meet the new employee ideally at the beginning and end of their first day. Include time regularly in the initial days and weeks to check in with how they are finding the new position.

The information ‘dump’

Induction processes can often become an information dump. Do not bombard a new employee with too much information at once. They will be overwhelmed and will be unlikely to retain very much. Instead, deliver information in stages, depending on priority and relevance. Try not to accomplish too much on the new starter’s first day.

Make the process as interactive as possible. Generate discussion to ensure understanding. People are less likely to retain information from an experience they were not engaged in.

Documenting the process

Documenting the date, content and attendance of staff taking part in induction processes is critical. The agenda should ensure all legislative obligations (e.g., safety) are all addressed.

New employees should sign as acknowledgement of their understanding of relevant organisational documents such as Codes of Conduct, Employee handbooks and performance arrangements.  Any equipment or security clearances should also be acknowledged.

Finally, always actively source feedback from new staff on the induction and onboarding process. It is the key to driving continuously improving these important phases.

For more information on your onboarding and induction processes so that your organisation can meet its goals, please contact us.

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The value of effective ‘onboarding’ and induction systems for new staff

(Part 1 in a 2-part series on the benefits of cohesive and holistic staff entry programs.)

How staff are introduced into a workplace can often set the tone for their level of engagement and contribution to the organisation in both the short and long term. 

How we manage these important phases in the employee life cycle directly reflects on our professionalism as a business. New staff are forming their first impressions on the organisational culture and the aim should be to create, and maintain, a positive impression.

Disputes can later arise over what information was provided by an organisation during induction/onboarding phases, particularly in terms of the quality of safety information provided or expectations around KPI’s and performance. 

Some legislative requirements must also be met and an inadequate process often comes back to haunt businesses as standards and practices fall short of expectations on both sides of the ledger.

A systematic and well thought out program will avoid all of these potential pitfalls!

What is onboarding?

Onboarding is a broad term that discusses how organisations acclimatise new staff. 

The goal is to accommodate and assimilate new staff into the organisation so that they may start contributing as early as possible. 

Onboarding is a continuous process which extends beyond the initial induction and ensures new staff are supported during the early part of their careers.

How does onboarding differ from induction?

Induction is an important part of the overall onboarding process, but is typically more focused on the procedural aspects. 

Induction phases are usually shorter term in nature and provide information, guidance around procedures and support to new employees.  Addressing ‘how things work’ will enable a speedy adjustment to the new environment so they can begin productive, meaningful work as quickly as possible.

To be effective, induction should be a structured program that is implemented consistently across an organisation to provide orientation, organisational knowledge and initial on-the-job training requirements, safety information and attend to administrative functions such as computer access and payroll.

Why is it so important to get these steps right?

There is a direct correlation between induction and onboarding (or the lack of) and early employee turnover. Turnover in the early stages of employment is costly in both tangible and intangible terms to the employer due to the following reasons:

  • Cost of recruitment | Re-recruitment doubles the cost.
  • Loss of return on investment | If an employee leaves within the first three months of employment, the company will receive little, if any, return on investment for the training and resources provided.
  • Loss of productivity | Turnover is disruptive to staff and your business operations.  The duties/priorities of other employees will need to be reorganised to cover the duties of people leaving prematurely.
  • Cost of temporary replacement | Temporary staff may be hired to fill the gap, bearing an additional cost to the company. Temporary staff will need to undergo initial training and, depending on the nature of the work, may be unable to work on long-term projects, thus affecting productivity further.
  • Reflection on the organisational brand | Often people leaving due to inadequate processes will often discuss their experience negatively.

Probationary Periods

The probationary period is designed to assess an employee’s competence and professional behaviour before making a commitment to their ongoing employment. However this period is also an opportunity for an employee to assess the organisation and how you perform in onboarding and induction will be critical!

Benefits of effective induction and onboarding

In addition to reducing early employee turnover, effective induction and onboarding offers the following benefits:

  • Strong programs reinforce the decision of the new staff member to join the organisation. Positive, professional experiences validate their choice and turn the lust into love!
  • Makes new employees feel welcome and valued which will underpin engagement
  • The structure of the process and open communication reduces a new starter’s anxiety by assisting them to adapt to the new environment quickly and clarify concerns.
  • The appropriate levels of productivity and efficiency are reached earlier
  • There is less reliance on the direct supervisor/manager for direction
  • There are organisational benefits as the opportunity is presented for existing employees to mentor new staff while simultaneously developing their own skills.
  • Builds a culture of professionalism and positive communication.  These processes should encourage feedback so that employee dissatisfaction can be addressed early on.

Please see Part 2 -, Tips for Effective Onboarding and Induction - for practical tips on how to make the most of these important staff development opportunities.

For more information on your onboarding and induction processes so that your organisation can meet its goals, please contact us.


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I was pleased to announce the launch of my new RTO, as part of ACIM Solutions. This news was recently featured on business news website Hunter Headline

ACIM Solutions (RTO #41002) offers a valuable opportunity to develop and deliver high quality competency and non-competency training programs, for both the public and private sectors. 

If you would like to read the article, please click here.

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I have now collaborated to establish a niche Registered Training Organisation (RTO) which provides an exciting extension of the HR consultancy, PSW HR Solutions. 

ACIM Solutions (RTO #41002) offers a valuable opportunity to develop and deliver high quality competency and non-competency training programs, for both the public and private sectors. Our programs focus on investigation, emergency management, developing compliance skills and includes a range of short course people management programs.

Like many of you, as an experienced HR professional and senior manager, I have shared the frustration of only being able to access generic training programs for team members, which failed to positively return on the significant training investment costs.

We were committed to developing a registered training company that was flexible enough to truly recognise individual organisational needs and challenges and one that could tailor the content, delivery and evaluation processes accordingly.

ACIM are dedicated to developing quality programs that empower teams and add real value to the organisation. Now that we have the added benefit of delivering competency-based training as part of our own RTO we have greater scope to assist organisations to fulfil their team development goals.

All of the programs offered by ACIM Solutions have the key features:

Why choose ACIM Solutions:

  • The experience of the facilitators with strong backgrounds in law, people management, risk management, investigation and HSE.
  • Personalised programs that target individual organisational needs
  • Close alignment with your organisations’ policies and procedures
  • Opportunities for participants to practically apply new skills
  • Relevant case studies to reinforce learning outcomes
  • Training that creates positive behavioural and culture change in teams

ACIM Solutions have already delivered training programs to organisations and a range of business units from with the government sector, financial services, local government, mining, heavy industry and retail sectors.

For more information please visit www.acimsolutions.com.au

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The transition into a leadership role can often be a challenging time for both the individual and the organisation.  It is in everyone’s best interest that this process be managed to create the smoothest possible move to the new role.

Below are just a few strategies for those leaders in the organisation supporting people making the transition, and also those newly appointed leaders.

Positive strategies for organisations

  • Recruit wisely for your leadership roles. 

Many organisations will promote the next in line and this can sometimes be problematic.  Some people are very technically strong, but do not necessarily have the people management skills, or desire, to assume responsibilities inherent in leadership roles.  Consider the leadership skill set the business needs carefully.  What are your priorities as a business unit? Based on the current business goals, has your candidate demonstrated enough capability to validate the decision to move into staff management responsibilities? Being technically strong does not equate to skills in people management.  The skill sets are very different!

  • Clearly outline what the new role will involve.

Clear communication of expectations from the outset avoids problems down the track.  Be specific for example on issues such as, additional hours, increased responsibility, management of budgets, travel requirements. 

  • Clearly outline how their performance will be evaluated.

Specify in what ways will their performance be measured, how regularly and any bonus or incentive scheme provisions.

  • Provide (meaningful) coaching and mentoring support. 

Particularly in the early stages,  provide regular access to the right people to ensure the new leader has an opportunity to discuss any concerns, outline their progress, ask questions or seek advice. Coaching and mentoring is a very powerful form of staff development and will give the new leader confidence to respond to their new challenges positively.   

  • Provide leadership training

Quality training and development, particularly in relation to people management skills, is a crucial part of building confidence in newly appointed leaders.  Training programs help leaders to build and develop positive leadership behaviours which directly value add to the organisation. 

Positive strategies for the new leader

  • Ensure you are clear on the commitments involved with your new role.  This can be critical if you are already within the organisation.  Issues such as maintaining confidentiality,  performance management and disciplinary responsibilities are part of a leadership role.  There is often a big difference between being one of the team and leading the team.
  • Understand the organizational expectations of your performance and how that performance will be evaluated. 
  • Assess your own strengths and focus on areas where you can grow skills.  Building self awareness is an important skill for a leader and it is a positive habit to develop. Be as objective as possible; consider specific examples that validate your self appraisal. For example, how do I know that I am communicating to my teams positively? Is my communication style engaging the team to perform at their best, or could I develop my skills to achieve even better outcomes?
  • Invest your time in creating networks and relationships with people who can give you constructive guidance and feedback.
  • Commit to ongoing professional development to keep enhancing your skill set.  Continued learning in leadership will build your confidence, broaden your network and allow you to add value and maximise your contribution to your team and the organisation. 

For more information on how to support your organisational leaders to achieve better outcomes, contact us.

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The ongoing training and development of staff is an important characteristic of successful businesses.

Investing in your people has direct and positive implications for your organisation through improved productivity, increased performance and innovation, and growing staff engagement which positively impacts on employee retention. 

Notwithstanding, quality training and development does require the use of valuable resources and that allocation demands a return on the training investment that directly adds value to the business.

The first step in ensuring any Learning & Development (L&D) strategy delivers is to undertake some planning. The Training Needs Analysis (TNA) is a critical part of that process that allows you to proactively evaluate and prioritising your training requirements at any time.

A TNA is a contemporary review of the learning and development needs for leaders, staff and volunteers within your organisation. It considers the skills, knowledge and behaviours that your people need in the short/medium term future, and provides a plan on how to develop them effectively.

The L&D planning needs to be closely linked with the strategic business goals. This part of the process is all about looking forward and focusing all the energies and resources to meet those objectives. 

Other linked components of your L&D people management strategy include accurate position descriptions, meaningful performance systems and a competency framework that aligns with where the organisation is heading.

Planning is all about the future so the key considerations for assessing your training needs are:

  • Where do we want to be?
  • What skills and competencies will our teams need to meet those organizational goals?

It makes sense to engage specific layers of the organisation and approach the TNA on a number of levels:

  • Organisational level
  • Team/department level
  • Individual level linking in with your performance development or management process

Once you have established what the desired abilities are at each level, you are better placed to evaluate the current position of the business through a skills audit. 

When assessing the skills of your current team, ensure the process is as objective as possible and uses impartial criteria. Explore the possibility of the potential of your current staff to develop new skills. Depending on the organisational culture you are trying to create and skill sets required, developing from within can save valuable time and money in training costs and create opportunities for current staff to develop with the organisation.

The TNA process allows you to then focus your development areas in a targeted way. This reduces costs associated with training people in skill sets where the organisation enjoys sufficient capacity. The TNA also assists in decision making around recruitment v training in order to acquire the skills and competencies the organisation requires moving forward.

In short, the benefits of conducting a TNA include:

  • The ability to accurately identify specific performance or skill gaps aligned to future goals
  • The alignment of staff development to overall organisational goals
  • Enabling the identification of cost-effective training solutions to meet your needs
  • Capitalising on ROI for upskilling spend by ensuring a targeted and measurable focus
  • Facilitates wider HR strategy planning and discussion particularly around recruitment and retention initiatives.

For more information on conducting a training needs analysis for your organisation to assist you to meet your goals, please contact us.

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How well would the stakeholders in your organisation rate your performance management program?

Do your teams find it motivating and engaging?

Does the program have credibility with team members or managers?

All organisations aim for a performance management process that adds value to a business, encourages positive performance and provides an effective framework to deal with performance gaps.

The previous blog focused on the first three parts of an effective performance management framework:

  1. Ensuring integration of HR Policies that directly impact on performance
  2. The use of position descriptions in building accountability
  3. Goal and performance indicator setting

The Performance Management Process

The next part of the program relates to the way the performance management process is conducted.

To assess how well you are travelling, please consider the following questions:

  • How regularly do you review performance in a structured way? 
  • Does your existing process encourage engagement from both the employee and the manager?
  • Are you acknowledging your teams in a meaningful way?
  • Do you seek genuine two-way feedback?
  • Does the (resource intensive) process motivate or disengage the stakeholders?
  • Do you gather useful information for the team member to reflect on their performance, but also to provide the organisation information to undertake more strategic HR analysis (for example, L&D, succession planning)?
  • Are the scoring systems transparent and accountable to build confidence and integrity in the system by the stakeholders?

Organisations need to regularly seek feedback on the way performance is ‘managed’. 

 In light of that feedback, review your process and ensure that your program includes: 

  • Adequate timeframes so that both manager and team member can reflect and prepare for the discussion
  • Provision to address past performance and focus on future goals
  • The integration of relevant data
  • Sufficient opportunity for both manager and team members to contribute and make comment
  • An acknowledgement of high performance and achievement of goals
  • A mutually agreed plan for addressing opportunities for improvement
  • Development goals for the future
  • A format that is streamlined and maximises data capture for both the team member and the wider organisation

Skills in the performance management conversation

The last, and most important part of the framework, is ensuring managers and supervisors are equipped to make the most of the opportunity to engage people around performance management. 

This can be a very difficult conversation for many to have and unfortunately I see that lack of confidence manifest in ways such as delaying or avoiding performance conversations for extended periods. This usually creates further problems for the workplace as both good and poor performance is not appropriately addressed.

Fortunately many of the skills can be taught! If you would like to know more about how to maximise performance management in your organisation, please contact us.

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Generating and maintaining high performance of our teams is a critical characteristic of successful organisations. 

Teams that are performing at optimum levels drive competitive advantage, create positive work cultures and differentiate ‘great’ from ‘good’ in achieving the organisational outcomes.

It is crucial for businesses to have effective systems in place which:

  • determines performance parameters,
  • acknowledges and recognizes positive performance
  • provides a framework to monitor performance
  • builds accountability of all stakeholders
  • proactively and positively manages performance issues in a timely manner

Many organisations and managers find developing and implementing an engaging and productive performance management system very elusive.

Sometimes even when we have all the components of a constructive performance management framework in place something gets lost in translation. Performance management can become synonymous with an expensive and disengaging waste of time for managers and team members. Rather than turn people on to perform better, the process turns them off!

So, we know it makes sense to have a strong and meaningful performance management framework, but how do we create it? How can you build in accountability and also motivate the team in an integrated and streamlined process?

It is critical to identify the key components of the performance management framework for all organisations;

HR Policies

There are a range of HR policies that can directly impact on managing performance in an organisation. For example,

  • remuneration policies may outline bonus or incentive schemes,
  • employee performance policies may list a process of how regularly performance will be reviewed, the method and the basis of any scoring system,
  • the Code of Conduct and Disciplinary policies will discuss the consequences of unsatisfactory performance or conduct.

All policies should be reviewed to ensure they are working in synergy. For example, the incentive scheme cannot encourage behaviours that could possibly breach organisational Code of Conduct provisions. This sends mixed messages around performance expectations to the teams and undermines the framework.

Position Descriptions

Ensure the position descriptions are accurate and reflective of current duties. Use the performance management process as a regular opportunity to discuss the current roles to identify any changes to the duties involved.

The accountability in the framework is platformed on accurate position descriptions and performance indicators that provide a consistent and clear description of the responsibilities involved. 

Setting indicators and goals

Define the indicators and goals in clear and concise language. Ensure these goals align with the overall business goals and objectives and create a ‘clear line of sight’ through the organisation. This linkage is very important in building understanding of the business direction and priorities and how each individual is contributing to those goals.

The other area where I see organisations struggle relates to effective goal setting. This can often be an area that disengages people rather than motivates teams.

Take some time to get this part right. Engage your teams in setting the goals to build engagement. The SMART goals formula works very well in creating goals that are: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time bound.


The above components of the performance management structure create a shared understanding of the expectations of performance and how it will be measured.

The next blog relates to the two final components of successful performance management:  that is, the actual process used and also the importance of developing skills in our managers to maximise this important opportunity to drive continuous improvement in the workplace.

In the meantime if you would like to know more about creating and implementing an effective organisational performance management process, please contact us.

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In the previous blog post we discussed the importance of undertaking a professional and timely workplace investigation and the first steps to start the process.

Once the need for an investigation has been established, the following are our suggested steps when conducting an investigation.

Conducting the investigation

Step one when conducting a workplace investigation is to determine if your organisation is able to conduct the investigation internally or whether it would be more appropriate to use an external investigator.

The answer to this question will depend upon a number of factors including, the seriousness of the allegation and whether there is anyone in your organisation with sufficient skill, and independence from the parties, to be able to carry out the investigation with credibility.

A consideration of these factors will enable you to determine if the investigation should and can be undertaken “in-house’ or whether it should be outsourced to experts who have experience in conducting workplace investigations. 

Don’t forget, depending on the outcome, the conduct of the investigation process may come under as much scrutiny as the original allegation!

The investigation should cover not only whether the alleged act or behaviour actually occurred, but also whether the employee accused or complained about was actually involved, and whether there are any mitigating circumstances.

You should only approach witnesses or other parties that you are definitely aware can help you and you must instruct them to treat the matter as confidential.

When speaking with witnesses ensure you collect facts around the specific allegation. A workplace investigation is not the appropriate process for 'fishing expeditions'. Poor investigative practices such as these can undermine the entire investigation, jeopardise the investigation and potentially embarrass the organisation.

As part of the investigative process adhere to the principles of procedural fairness. For an employee to defend him or herself against allegations or complaints, you must provide them with sufficient details of the allegations or complaint to do so. The employee is entitled to seek assistance from an appropriate person, such as a union delegate, to defend him or herself.

After the investigation

If an investigation finds that an employee's complaint is substantiated, inform the employee in another interview and advise him or her about what action you intend to take to resolve the matter.

Inform the employee (in the presence of a witness if he or she prefers) of your findings and advise what action you intend to take.

If the complaint is not substantiated, you must still inform the employee, providing some details of the nature of your investigation and the basis for your decision. Be careful not to take sides in this process, just provide the facts.

Ensure you update the complainant on the outcome of the investigation.

Keep a record of the complaint, your investigation findings and the final interview, in case the employee or complainant decides to pursue the matter through other avenues, such as legal proceedings.

If you would like assistance in conducting or managing investigative processes in your organisation, please contact us.

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Managing workplace complaints can be challenging. The impact on the workplace during and post the investigation can be negative and long lasting and can affect not only those involved but also team members on the periphery. 

Poor investigation processes can result in disengaged staff, low morale, lost productivity, poor performance and workplace relationship breakdown that can take years to rebuild. 

Facilitating a professional investigation in a timely manner using investigative processes consistent with best practice and compliant with legislative frameworks can offer a valuable opportunity to minimise the additional human resource risks to your workplace.

There are several underlying principles to positively managing workplace investigations. They are:

  • Developing and implementing consistent policies and processes around workplace investigations
  • developing strong communication practices with all those involved,
  • ensuring confidentiality,
  • recording your actions and
  • documenting decision making processes. 

When are workplace investigations required?

The need to conduct an investigation into an employee's behaviour in the workplace or otherwise in relation to his or her employment may arise in the following circumstances:

  • Where an employee lodges a complaint about the behaviour of another employee, for example sexual harassment, bullying, micro-management or various other issues.
  • Where management becomes aware of conduct by an employee that, if substantiated, may justify disciplinary action or even dismissal.

Investigative first steps

The first action to undertake is to discuss and record the information accurately from the complainant or source.

Ensure that the allegation is clearly articulated and all information to substantiate an allegation is collected. You should then advise the complainant of your proposed action to speak to the team member.  Confirm that you will keep them updated as the investigation progresses.

Following this, and in a timely manner, inform the team member of the allegation and allow them an opportunity to respond and explain any mitigating circumstances that may exist.

If the employee denies the allegations or claims mitigating circumstances, inform him or her that you intend to investigate the matter, and that your investigation will include contacting other people, including other employees and, where relevant, external parties.

You should now commence your investigation without undue delay. Any investigation of an employee's behaviour should be conducted as soon as practicable. Delays may suggest that management does not regard the matter as serious, or even condones it.

Further, some tribunal and court cases have found that a significant delay was unfair to the employee, in that it made it harder for the employee and witnesses to recall accurately what really happened. There is also a strong argument that the unreasonable delay in investigating allegations can exacerbate the stress for those involved which can increase any subsequent workers compensation claims.

Despite the need for a timely response, the investigation still needs to be thorough. As part of this process you need to communicate the process and the timeframes you envisage to both the complainant and the team member. Be sure to highlight that any delay does not imply that the employer condones the conduct either alleged or complained about.

The next step is to conduct the investigation, which will be detailed in the next blog. In the meantime if you would like to know more about investigating complaints, please contact us.

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Feedback from customers, as well as internal and external organisational stakeholders, provides us with a valuable opportunity to identify ways to continuously improve human resource management across the business. 

The opportunities are available only if the private and public sector organisations are brave enough to capture the feedback, analyse the trends and proactively drive improvements!

Organisations can use a number of methods to source and channel customer feedback, for example;

  • internal and external surveys,
  • feedback cards,
  • complaint processes,
  • blogs or service comments and testimonials. 

Much of that feedback inevitably relates to staff performance, both good and poor.

On the upside, positive feedback can provide a valuable opportunity to reward and acknowledge teams in a timely manner.

Just as significantly, negative feedback should be seen by organisations as a thermometer of the business unit. Effective complaint management can be a powerful early warning system of deeper people management issues that need to be addressed.

The key then becomes how to efficiently capture the data, and use that information to identify and implement sustainable improvements in people management processes and systems.

Stakeholder complaints

Complaints from internal and external stakeholders often indicate one or more of the following people management processes needs review;

  • Recruitment processes
  • Induction processes
  • Training and development
  • Workforce planning affecting service delivery (staffing or deployment models)
  • Performance management
  • Conduct management
  • Work, Health and Safety
  • HR policy design and/or implementation
  • Welfare management

What do you need to do?

The first thing to do is to ensure you have a structured process around regularly sourcing and capturing complaints and feedback.

The next step is to analyse that data objectively and really consider the various issues that may sit behind the negative comments.

Build the discussion on feedback into your regular team meetings and communication processes. This depersonalises feedback in many situations and helps to focus on the issues, rather than the person. Issue-based resolution will often result in more long term and positive outcomes. Actively involve your teams in the process as they will offer a valuable and different perspective in problem solving.

If you would like assistance in developing a complaint management system and training and development in this important area for your from a team that has experience managing this issue, please contact us.

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What are the implications for the new bullying legislation for my business?

There has been a great deal of discussion in the media with employer groups and employee advocates concerning the introduction, on 1 January 2014, of new legislation around allegations of bullying in the workplace and the involvement of the Fair Work Commission.

Bullying is about health and safety and is directly related to the obligation of employers to provide a safe work environment. 

Regulators, such as Workcover NSW, have the responsibility for investigating and prosecuting bullying complaints as part of a breach of health and safety legislation.

What is new however, is that starting this year, an eligible employee who reasonably believes that he or she has been bullied at work may now, for a $65.50 fee, apply directly to the Fair Work Commission (FWC) for an order to stop the workplace bullying. 

Most workplace relations commentators, and in fact the President of the Fair Work Commission Iain Ross,  are envisaging a significant number of  bullying complaints to be lodged as a result of the new provisions.  The potential for flow on costs to organisations is enormous.

What is bullying?

Workplace bullying occurs when a person or a group of people repeatedly behaves unreasonably towards a worker or a group of workers and the behaviour creates a risk to health and safety


What do you need to do?

The first thing to do is to ensure you have effective policies in place around bullying behavior.  Review and confirm that they clearly identify expectations in the workplace and also the process for staff to follow in the event of bullying conduct.

However, having good policies is only part of the solution in preventing these types of costly allegations and complaints for your organisation.

Equally as critical is  

  • Ensuring the policies are implemented effectively
  • educating your teams and
  • developing your teams to identify indicators of bullying, investigate and then manage complaints

Quality training around key policies is critical at the induction phase and supported by regular follow up programs in the following areas:

  • The organisational bullying policy and related documents
  • Developing skills to respond quickly and appropriately when a complaint is lodged or bullying behavior is identified
  • Investigation skills
  • Communication skills
  • Management skills during an investigation and post incident.

Training and developing your teams will build resilience and a positive culture in your organisation.

If you would like assistance in developing an appropriate bullying policy or to discuss training and development for  your staff from a team that has experience managing  this issue, please contact us.

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The start of the year is always a great opportunity to take stock of your organisation. As outlined in the previous article the first step in working out what your staffing requirements will be in the short, medium and long term is clearly identifying where the organisation is heading and what internal and external drivers are shaping your business direction.

Some questions to ask include:

  • What strategies can you use to ensure your staffing mix meets your requirements? 
  • How can you ensure you have the right capacity in terms of staff numbers, structure and skill set?

Where are you now?

After determining where you are heading, you need to establish where you are currently. A comprehensive audit is the best way to establish a baseline. 

Some of the information that can be used to objectively review the current position includes:

  • Staff demographics and staff turnover trends
  • Current roles, grades or classifications in the organisation
  • Staff numbers and employment mode (eg. full time, part time)
  • Employment status (eg. permanent, casual, contract)
  • Short term or temporary staff
  • Qualifications held
  • Skills and competencies currently held
  • Number of employees in training positions
  • Locations of staff
  • Salary rates and HR budget figures
  • Awards and agreements

Gathering this information will help identify the areas on which to concentrate your strategies.

Some of the HR options available to align your staff with your overall business goals include;  

  • Development or improvement of a retention strategies
  • Training and education
  • Restructuring
  • Succession planning
  • Targeted recruitment
  • Redeployment
  • Redundancy program
  • Retrenchment program

Remember, it is always important to review how effective the HR strategies have been in facilitating your overall business objectives.  Evaluating and modifying regularly will ensure you are using all the resources available to you to meet your organisational goals.

If you would like to know more about human resource planning for your organisation contact us.

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No matter what size organisation you may be working within, or whether you are in the Government or private sector, the beginning of the year is always a great time to consider where a business is heading in the short, medium and long term. 

This is a critical part of managing human resources so I have dedicated the next two blogs to workforce planning. This one specifically focuses on what is helpful to consider when planning your HR requirements and the next blog discusses strategies you can employ to create the right staffing mix.

Over the last two years, I have worked with organisations in the private and public sector analysing how their human resource planning links in with their business goals. I know it can be a bit overwhelming, but in my experience it does help to break the process down into manageable pieces and work through from there.

Where are you headed?            

Reflecting on the direction of the business unit and what your key goals and objectives are will then lead to a contemplation of what the human resource requirements will be to support those goals in the short, medium and long term. 

Successful organisations understand that planning is critical to ensure they have the right people, with the right skills in the right place and the right time to maximise every opportunity, respond to changes in the operating environment and stay on track to meet, and even exceed, their goals.

The fundamentals of workforce planning involves considering the following questions as a starting point:

  • What external factors are occurring in your industry or sector that could potentially impact on your organisation and therefore your team? (eg. technology, unemployment levels, economic growth/downturn, changing skill sets,  ageing workforce)
  • Where can you readily source the most credible data on industry or sector trends to make informed decisions about the staffing mix?
  • Are there any legislative or political issues that may be relevant?
  • Do you need to adapt the types of services and products you provide?
  • Are you intending to expand/reduce and/or restructure?
  • What are the skills your organisation needs? (including technical, operational management and people management skills)
  • Do you have enough people with those skills?
  • Can you grow those skills internally or do you need to recruit them in? What are the timeframes involved?
  • What internal information do you need to source? ( eg. demographics, retirements, predicted staff turnover, succession plans, planned absences)

 If you would like to know more about human resource planning for your organisation contact us.

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A workplace Code of Conduct is a documented set of standards that describe the behaviours that are expected of those in the organisation. 

It provides a ‘roadmap’ for your employees and should be designed to be a seamless part of your overall business practice. It is critical that the standards described in the document apply to every level in the organisation.

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Well-written position descriptions are a foundation in building  positive organisational culture and are an invaluable tool in managing people.

Position descriptions offer clarity to your team by outlining a position/role in terms of why a job exists, the position objectives, the responsibilities and outcomes, the capabilities and behaviours required and under what conditions the job is performed.

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Conflict is inevitable in the workplace, and when managed effectively, can be a healthy and integral part of your organisational culture.

However in my experience as a HR manager and nationally accredited mediator, I have seen firsthand how damaging workplace conflict can be for many organisations.

Unfortunately the reality is that many managers and leaders are not confident in positively managing conflict. 

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