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Summary of PClasseS Session: Dealing with Employees and their Needs
Joydeep Hor, Founder and Managing Partner of People + Culture Strategies (PCS), recently presented our first interactive online PClasS, “Dealing with Employees and their Needs”. PClasseS are highly interactive masterclass workshops that form part of the broader PCS Education and Thought Leadership program.
This PClasS was the second instalment of “The New Normal” Series which was commenced to assist participants to understand and navigate the challenges that will arise in a post COVID-19 world.
PCS Quadrant Methodology
The session commenced with a reflection on the PCS quadrant methodology and a discussion on the advantages of adopting a holistic approach to people management challenges. This requires consideration of not only commercial goals and the applicable legal framework, but the reaction and feelings of affected employees and any message a decision or action will send about an organisation and its brand. The use of PCS “Quadrant Methodology” provides a foundation for effective people management and the development of associated strategies.
Employee Needs vs Wants
It is important for employers to identify the difference between what an employee “needs” and what an employee “wants”. Provided an employer operates within the limitations of the law, they have a great deal of autonomy and latitude in establishing workplace rules and polices, and can determine to what extent an organisation may accommodate a needs-based decision-making process. This will likely coincide or connect with the values and branding of an organisation.
An example of this is requests for flexible work arrangements, which will be a particularly poignant issue for employers transitioning their workforce back into the workplace. While there are obligations in respect of flexible work arrangements in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), there will likely be an increase in requests to work from home that fall outside of those obligations.
The group discussed common concerns, such as the creation of unhelpful precedents in dealing with requests from employees, and managing the optics of a refusal of an employee request. The group explored effective communication techniques to assist in overcoming/managing these concerns such as:
• the use and creation of a “considered narrative” to justify and explain a specific decision; and
• the acceptance of a workplace change on a trial basis and subject to conditions.
The above can assist in maintaining a sense of fairness and consistency should a decision be challenged or allow changes to be wound back if deemed inappropriate for the organisation in the future.
Employee Needs in a Post COVID World
This is a time of great uncertainty for both employers and employees. By reason of the separation from their workplace, employees have additional access and time to consider third party information on the COVID-19 response and the steps undertaken by other organisations.
As a consequence, there is a greater need for active engagement and communication with your workforce that connects with the information your employees are exposed to and creates certainty.
It also is important that employers consider (and have open conversations about) concerns that may have arisen as a consequence of the COVID-19 separation. In addition to changes in the way people work, there are other consequences such as the perceived or actual deprivation of career progression that should be addressed.
Strategies for Managing Needs
As we approach the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia, PCS has seen an increase in claims and grievances relating to bullying, non-compliance with directions, role and environment adaptability and safety and non-compliance consequences.
We suggest that organisations consider our “Quadrant Methodology” in their approach to these challenges to assist in managing the risk of a claim or grievance.
Kathleen Douch, Associate