Gender reporting

According to the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012  if your organisation employs 100 or more people, it needs to report, publicly and in writing, on over 50 topics in six areas, called gender equality indicators:

  1. the gender composition of its workforce
  2. the gender composition of its governing bodies (e.g. board of directors, councils, management committees, trustees)
  3. relative remuneration between men and women
  4. its employment terms, conditions and practices regarding flexible working arrangements and other arrangements that support employees with family or caring responsibilities
  5. how it consults with employees about gender equality
  6. other matters specified by the Minister, which allows the Minister add other reporting topics through a legislative instrument, such as how employees are selected, promoted, transferred, trained and developed, and terminated; conditions of service; arrangements for dealing with pregnant or potentially pregnant employees and mothers breastfeeding their babies; and how sexual harassment complaints are dealt with.

The report must be made available to employees, shareholders and other interested parties. Organisations failing to report cannot tender for federal government work and some state government work, will not be eligible for some Commonwealth government grants, and will be ‘named and shamed’ — not good for workflow, employee engagement or employer brand!


Another study tip

How do you prefer to study or work on an assignment?

  1. in short bursts scattered throughout the day
  2. to allocate a chunk of time in the morning and another in the afternoon to devote to study or working on an assignment.

If you’ve read Chapter 8 yet, you know that multitasking reduces your productivity. Studying or working on an assignment in short bursts scattered throughout the day is akin to multitasking — too much switching between tasks uses too much time and energy.

Discussion questions

What can you do to improve your learning routine? How often and for how long do you need to work at something to optimise your results?

Why the ‘sandwich technique’ for feedback doesn’t work

Once upon a time, managers were taught the sandwich technique for giving (negative) feedback: sandwich your criticism in between two bits of praise. The thinking was that you softened the employee up with the first bit of praise, which helped them hear the negative comment, and then buoyed up the employee with another bit of praise.

But it doesn’t work. In a recent HBR blog, Roger Schwarz explains why:

  • Employees discount your positive comments.
  • You might save up your positive feedback to use as part of a sandwich and delaying it reduces its value. (All feedback, positive and constructive, is best when provided soon after the event concerned).
  • ‘Easing into’ negative feedback with some praise makes employees uneasy and uncomfortable (even if it makes it easier for you!).

The sandwich technique is also ‘sneaky’ because it hides your real aim. Better to be transparent and just give people the meat, not the sandwich.

  1. Flag your purpose in speaking with the employee; for example: ‘Lee, I’d like to discuss a concern I have about …’ (See pages 847 to 848 of the text for more examples.)
  2. Explain your concern and ask whether the employee has similar thoughts or shares your concern. (There may be factors of which you are unaware and which alter your thinking.)
  3. Discuss and explore the situation and the factors contributing to it.
  4. Agree improvement steps.

This approach allows you and the employee to work together to improve performance; you aren’t just telling people what they do wrong and how to do it better, which makes sense because you can’t be in possession of all the facts. This approach also shifts your mindset from controlling and bossing to coaching and working with employees to help them improve.

(See page 452 of the text for when to effectively use the sandwich technique and pages 447 to 454 for how to give effective feedback, both positive and constructive. The blog link above also gives a good example of transparent constructive feedback.)

Discussion questions

Are you giving enough positive feedback? Are you up front, or transparent, when offering constructive feedback? Do you think through your goals before meeting with an employee to give feedback? Would you describe your mindset as one of controlling and bossing or one of coaching and working together to improve performance?

Preventing employee burnout

Stressed out employees are generally cynical and disgruntled; they have depleted their stores of emotional resources to cope with their work environment and have given up trying to do more than the bare minimum. Here are seven ways to make sure you don’t burnout your team members:

  1. Make sure everyone knows precisely what is expected of them and why it’s important.
  2. Be realistic when you delegate tasks; it’s okay to challenge people but not to overwhelm them.
  3. Delegate according to peoples’ areas of interest.
  4. Don’t insist on or expect unpaid overtime as a matter of course.
  5. Discourage a culture of working through breaks; that does nothing for productivity and prevents people from recharging their batteries.
  6. Provide the resources (time, tools, equipment, information etc.) people need to do their jobs properly.
  7. Remember that a little bit of fun goes a long way to a productive work environment.

Encouraging healthy employees

Life is hard enough without making it any harder, right? Here are six ways to make employees’ work lives that little bit easier and more productive.

  1. Let them work from home once in a while. The longer the commute, the more stressful it is. Long commutes are associated with higher divorce rates, higher weight, reduced fitness, all predictors of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some cancers. None of which encourages productivity.
  2. Make sure peoples’ workstations and chairs are set up ergonomically to reduce stress and strain on the joints, which leads to back pain and other problems.
  3. Most of us sit for more hours a day than we sleep and sitting for long periods can lead to some cancers, diabetes, heart disease, and blood clots. So encourage walking meetings to get the blood circulating and even encourage creativity.
  4. Budget allowing, set up a few standing work stations. Standing is healthier than sitting because it takes more energy and gets your internal organs working.
  5. Be a caring boss. Know what makes each employee tick and assign work to their areas of interest. Support people with honest, helpful feedback, both constructive and positive. Make sure everyone knows how their work contributes to the team as a whole and to the organisation.
  6. Don’t encourage the ‘unpaid overtime syndrome’. No one should feel compelled to put in extra hours as a way of showing their commitment to their job.

Discussion questions

Which of these ideas can you put to use right now? What other tips do you have for making employees’ working lives easier and more productive?

How to generate interest in your meetings with spiffy agendas

Whether they’re actual or virtual, how would you like people to look forward to attending your meetings,come prepared and actively participate?

You’ve seen in Chapter 27 (pages 875 – 876) that using verbs to write results-oriented agendas helps people focus on what each item is intended to achieve. Another idea I’ve recently come across is to pose each agenda item as a question, for example: What progress have we made on designing the customer survey? What improvements could we make to increase our efficiency in processing orders? This engages peoples’ thought processes.

Another idea is to state who is leading each agenda item. For instance, you could write: Keith to bring us update on the progress have we made on designing the customer survey; Amy to lead us in brainstorming ideas for increasing our efficiency in processing orders.  This opens up meetings and makes them a bit more interesting.

Discussion questions

What interesting ways of writing agendas have you come across?

Intangible Assets

Intangible assets are those things that accountants don’t measure. But some businesses do measure them and improve upon them, and those businesses are richly rewarded.

Christina Boedker, a senior lecturer at the University of New South Wales’ Australian School of Business recently studied five hard-to-measure intangibles across 78 organisations over several years:

  1. leadership
  2. innovation
  3. employee engagement
  4. customer orientation

Boedker and her research team found that organisations  performing well on those intangibles also have higher levels of productivity and profitability. In fact, the higher-performing firms achieved an average of $40,051 more in profit per full-time employee.

So managing and measuring your intangibles pays off.

Find out more and listen to the audio from The Australian School of Business, UNSW here.

Discussion questions

How well do you manage the intangibles? How do you know? What improvements in the way you manage your intangibles have you made in the last three months?

If you need to better manage the intangibles you’re responsible for, Boedker suggests selecting one intangible and concentrating on measuring and improving that one; then move onto another; then another.