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New Legislation Allows Casual Workers to Request Permanent Employment

Jun 18, 2024


  • 3min

New Legislation Allows Casual Workers to Request Permanent Employment

Industry News, Legislative Changes
As of August 26, 2024, a significant shift is underway in how businesses handle casual employees. The Fair Work Amendment (Closing Loopholes No 2) Bill introduces an ‘employee choice’ framework, shifting responsibility onto employees to notify their employers if they wish to convert from casual to permanent status.

Redefying Casual Employment

One of the cornerstone changes of the new legislation is the redefinition of casual employment, which now hinges on the practical nature of the employment relationship rather than contractual terms alone. This can be equated by considering work patterns, as well as the similarity in work between casual and permanent employees. This shift aims to clarify the status of casual employees and streamline the process for those seeking permanent roles.

Changes to Casual Conversion Responsibilities

Under the new framework, employers are no longer required to proactively initiate casual conversion assessments. Instead, employees must notify their employers if they believe they no longer qualify as casual and wish to convert to permanent status. This change is expected to reduce the administrative burden for employers, particularly in industries where casual employment is prevalent and often preferred by workers for its flexibility and higher pay rates.

Employment Requirements

  • Length of Employment: After six months (or twelve months for small businesses) of continuous service.
  • Dispute Resolution: No ongoing disputes with the employer regarding previous conversion requests.
  • Response History: No prior employer response to conversion requests within the past six months.

Upon receipt of a conversion request, employers must respond in writing within 21 days, either accepting or providing reasons for refusal. This process does not supersede any existing casual conversion procedures in modern awards or enterprise agreements, and disputes can be arbitrated by the Fair Work Commission (FWC).

high performing team - body image

Reasonable Grounds for Refusal

Despite the employee’s right to request conversion, employers retain the ability to refuse these requests under specific circumstances deemed fair and reasonable:

  1. Casual Definition: Under the new legislative framework, the employee still meets the criteria for casual work. This assessment must consider the actual work relationship, not just the terms stated in the contract. Factors like the ability to decline shifts or irregular work hours will be crucial in determining casual status.
  2. Operational Disruption: Employers may refuse a conversion request if transitioning a casual employee to permanent status would significantly disrupt business operations. Industries with fluctuating demands or weather-dependent work, such as retail and quarrying, are examples where maintaining a flexible workforce is essential for operational continuity.
  3. Advance Commitment: Employers can also consider whether there are full- or part-time employees performing the same duties as the casual worker requesting conversion. If such employees exist, it may indicate a firm advance commitment to ongoing work, potentially justifying a refusal to convert the casual employee.

Best Practices for Employers

To prepare for these upcoming changes, Employers should focus on these practices:

  • Understanding the New Definition: While regular work patterns may suggest a move towards permanent status, employers must assess each situation based on the practical realities of the employment relationship, not just the hours worked. This nuanced understanding will help make informed decisions regarding conversion requests.
  • Communicate Clearly: Provide a detailed written explanation of the operational reasons for refusal, emphasizing how permanent conversion could impact business flexibility.
  • Legal Compliance: Maintain accurate records that reflect the casual nature of employment, including clear contractual terms and records of casual loading payments. These records are crucial in demonstrating compliance with the new definition of casual employment and justifying any refusals.

These changes aim to balance the needs of businesses for operational flexibility with the rights of casual workers seeking greater job security. By effectively understanding and applying these new laws, businesses can navigate the complexities while minimizing legal risks.

Check Out our Leading Others Workshop!

Leading Others is an eight-week workshop series designed to help you get the most out of your team and build your leadership skills. Contact our team for more information or discuss building high-performing teams on 1800 868 254, or set up a meeting.

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How to build a high-performing team

Jan 31, 2024


  • 2min

How to build a high-performing team

Candidate Sourcing
Maybe you’ve heard the term ‘high-performing team’ used by HR professionals on LinkedIn, in an industry report, or included in a job ad. It’s a term that, at first glance, could describe groups of people who seem just to get things done. That’s the definition of ‘high-performing’, after all, pumping out the work and focusing on quantity over quality. Isn’t it?

High-performing teams are the exact opposite. They don’t simply churn out work and move on to the next task and the next, and the next. While improved productivity and efficiency are desirable outcomes for high-performing teams, there is much more to it than meets the eye.

High-performing teams are groups of people aligned to the same business goals and focused on moving everything along in the same direction with purpose. Members often have specialised skills and can collaborate to get the job done. Individuals will have a clearly defined scope, and there are clear channels of communication. They work with the utmost clarity and have the tools, resources and freedom to deliver meaningful work to the best of their ability.

high performing team - body image
Effective leaders are excellent communicators who know how to get the best out of their teams.

Organisations can benefit from building high-performing teams in a number of ways, including increased productivity and efficiency, improved employee wellbeing and engagement, lower employee turnover, and improved decision-making and problem-solving among team members.

Start with the right foundations

You need to start with the right foundations to build a high-performing team. This might look different for every organisation, but there are some commonalities that should be considered.

Clear vision, goals, and job requirements 

When you don’t know where you’re going, how can you get there? You can get in the car and start to drive, but you might get easily distracted by roadside attractions. 

The same is true for organisations without clear vision and goals and employees without clear job descriptions. Without these resources to guide you, you can still get things done, but it won’t be as efficient, and the quality of the work will be lower.

High levels of trust

Trust is a fundamental component of the team dynamic. Team members rely on each other, and trust in leadership is established through consistency and transparency. When team members are confident that everyone else is doing what they need to, they can focus on their work without distractions.

Effective leadership

Leadership is about much more than telling people what to do. The most effective leaders don’t tell people what to do – they coach, provide feedback, mentor, and inspire those who work with them to do their best work. Effective leaders are excellent communicators who know how to get the best out of their teams.

Focus on resilience and sustainability

The Covid-19 pandemic has forever changed how we approach work and presented once-in-a-lifetime business challenges. Employees were either faced with the prospect of losing their jobs due to shutdowns and operating restrictions or became busier than ever as organisations tried to navigate the ever-changing situation. 

For many, the lines between work and home blurred as remote work became the norm, leading to hyper-productivity, and the idea of being ‘on’ and available all the time started to take hold.

While there may have been an initial boost of productivity in the short term, working at full speed was never sustainable. 

One of the hallmarks of high-performing teams is working to a sustainable and predictable cadence. Likewise, investing in programs and policies that help employees build resilience – the ability to recover from setbacks or other challenges – contributes to a performance-focused culture. 

Building a high-performing team requires a strategic approach, emphasising collaboration, trust, and effective leadership. High performance is not merely about achieving quantity over quality; it’s about aligning individuals with a shared purpose, providing them with the right tools and resources, and fostering an environment of clarity and communication. Organisations can benefit from cultivating such teams, ranging from increased productivity and efficiency to enhanced employee wellbeing and engagement.

Leading Others is an eight-week workshop series designed to help you get the most out of your team and build your leadership skills. Contact our team for more information or discuss building high-performing teams on 1800 868 254, or set up a meeting.

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Meet the Team: Dave Griffiths-Brown

Jan 10, 2024


  • 2min

Meet the Team: Dave Griffiths-Brown

Meet the Team
Total HRM team in August 2023. From L-R Amelie, Dave, Alison, Felicity, Kim, Linda, Rebecca, Sarah, Ashly and Caitlin.
In our workplace, there’s Dave, a versatile team member in Business Services with a rather unique journey. Originally an electrician from Western Australia, Dave moved to North East Victoria with Linda, and they bought Total HRM. His role evolved from a small business contributor to handling various tasks as the business grew, including payroll, invoicing, maintenance, IT support, building supervisor and gardening.

Growing up, Dave wanted to be a geologist, but now he finds joy in simple things like tending to his raspberries and taking care of chickens and enjoying a gin.

Dave has been in the region for about nine or ten years and has a strong connection to the community. He loves the mountains and feels a bit out of place without them. He used to live near the coast, but now he appreciates beach holidays.

David Griffiths-Brown
Having once had a dream of being a geologist, Dave now finds in life’s simple pleasures, like gardening and roasting his own coffee.
Dave enjoys reading, especially Jack Reacher books and sci-fi by authors like Peter F Hamilton and Andy Weir. He’s not great at golf, but he enjoys playing every chance he gets. Dave and Ash usually try and organise their work days in Mt Beaty to allow for a quick evening round of golf..

According to Dave, the best coffee is the one he roasts at home using a makeshift setup. He has been doing it for years and doesn’t see himself stopping anytime soon. He also thinks the best food in the region is at his house; Linda is an amazing cook, and Dave is a willing taste tester.

One of Dave’s memorable experiences was a U2 concert in Stuttgart in 1993. He and Linda were in Italy and saw someone wearing a U2 concert t-shirt with the tour dates on the back. They saw there was an upcoming concert in Stuttgart and decided then and there that they would go. They managed to get there and find some last-minute tickets and saw an incredible show. After the concert, they camped under an overhang at a caravan park due to a lack of a tent and the pouring rain. All in all, they called it a success.

Outside of work, Dave has various hobbies, including golfing and fishing. His reluctant answer to his go-to karaoke anthem is “Bow River” by Cold Chisel.

Dave’s travel plans include Japan next year, and he dreams of seeing the Earth from space. If he could instantly become an expert in something, he’d choose to be an astronaut. He’d like to be able to know that the flat earthers are wrong, for his own peace of mind.

If Dave had to spend a day in someone else’s shoes, it would be his wife’s, just to see what she deals with daily and understand her perspective better. His philosophy in life is straightforward: “I’m along for the ride.”

In our team, his unique background and perspective contribute to our collective success, making him an integral part of our professional family. We also enjoy all the fruits of Dave and Linda’s garden – and he makes a good gin too!

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Australia’s bold step toward gender pay transparency in large organisations

Jan 10, 2024


  • 2min

Australia’s bold step toward gender pay transparency in large organisations

Industry News, Legislative Changes, Talent Operations
A groundbreaking initiative to close the gender pay gap is set to take effect in Australia early this year.

Data from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency shows that as of May 2023, women in Australia earned, on average, 87 cents for every dollar men earned. Legislative changes will compel larger organisations of 100 employees or more to disclose their gender pay data, marking a crucial step in promoting transparency, accountability, and ultimately closing the gender pay gap.

Mandatory gender pay reporting will be required for organisations with workforces exceeding 100 employees starting in 2024.

Key provisions

Mandatory gender pay reporting

Starting in 2024, organisations with a workforce exceeding 100 employees will be legally required to disclose their gender pay gaps. This disclosure will encompass data illustrating the disparities in earnings between male and female employees, shedding light on any existing inequalities.

Transparency in remuneration practices

The legislation is not solely focused on revealing the pay gap but also emphasises transparency in remuneration practices. Organisations will be obligated to provide insights into their salary structures, ensuring a clear understanding of how pay decisions are made within the organisation.

Inclusion of bonuses and benefits

Unlike previous reporting mechanisms that might have excluded bonuses and benefits, the new legislation mandates a comprehensive approach. Organisations will be required to disclose not only base salaries but also additional forms of compensation, providing a more accurate representation of the total remuneration received by employees.

Sector-specific benchmarks

Recognising that pay disparities may vary across industries, the legislation allows for the establishment of sector-specific benchmarks. This tailored approach aims to facilitate more nuanced assessments and comparisons within specific sectors, fostering targeted strategies for improvement.

Expected impact 

Heightened accountability

With mandatory disclosure, organisations will face increased accountability for their gender pay practices. The transparency brought about by the legislation will empower employees, investors, and the public to hold companies accountable for fostering an equitable workplace.

Identifying and addressing disparities

The detailed data on gender pay gaps, including bonuses and benefits, will enable organisations to identify specific areas of concern. Armed with this information, organisations can implement targeted strategies to address disparities and promote a more inclusive work environment.

Catalyst for change

The legislation serves as a catalyst for cultural and systemic change within organisations. By making gender pay data publicly accessible, there is a collective push for organisations to reassess their policies, promote fairness, and work towards closing the gender pay gap.

Australia’s decision to mandate gender pay disclosure in organisations with over 100 employees from 2024 signifies a landmark move toward workplace transparency and gender equality. 

As organisations prepare for compliance, the spotlight on gender pay gaps will undoubtedly drive a renewed commitment to fair remuneration practices, creating a more inclusive and equitable workforce for the future. This legislative shift reinforces Australia’s dedication to fostering gender equality and sets a progressive example for other nations to follow.

Our team can help you create and manage your own policies and procedures. Call us on 1800 868 254 or set up a meeting to discuss how we can help you.

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Five ways to reduce the impact of New Year resignations

Jan 10, 2024


  • 2min

Five ways to reduce the impact of New Year resignations

Candidate Sourcing
For many people, the new year is a time for self-reflection and setting goals for the year ahead. For business owners and HR teams, this sometimes means an uptick in resignations as employees re-evaluate their careers and look to make changes related to job satisfaction, remuneration, and work-life balance.

Depending on the size of your business, one or two resignations at the start of the year can mean the difference between starting the year off on the right foot and spending the first quarter frantically recruiting to fill vacant positions.

The good news is that you can reduce the impact of, or even slow down, the dreaded January Great Resignation. It all comes down to proactively managing your employees throughout the year and creating a positive work environment. 

Here are five tips for managing (and reducing!) New Year resignations.

two team members reviewing feedback on a laptop
Use each resignation as an opportunity to gather and review feedback to find areas where there may be room for improvement or update policies to keep up with employees’ expectations

1. Prioritise personal and professional development

Needing more of a challenge, a higher salary, or wanting to learn something new are often the catalysts for New Year resignations. Working proactively with your employees to understand their aspirations, goals, and motivations can help them feel valued throughout the year. 

If flexible working arrangements are important to a team member, work together to find ways to implement working from home a few days a week or modifying start and finish times so they can better balance family commitments.

If a team member is ready for new or more responsibilities, provide training in a core skill or stretch opportunities to try something new within the organisation.

2. Document critical information to reduce knowledge drain

Filling a vacancy from a key employee who has resigned isn’t the end of the story. The new team member will need to get up to speed and learn the ins and outs of the business and their new role. Even highly experienced new hires will have some learning curve to navigate in the first few weeks and months. 

Encouraging employees to document their workflows and insights as a regular part of their role helps promote knowledge transfer. This is useful for new hires and makes it easier to cross-train employees in multiple areas and better manage coverage during annual or personal leave.

3. Support remaining team members

Resignations can create uncertainty and an increased workload for the remaining team. Providing support, reassurance, and, if necessary, redistributing tasks can help maintain a balanced workload and prevent burnout.

4. Create a workplace environment that promotes wellbeing

Team morale can take a hit when a number of employees leave within a short period. Open communication about why employees have left and how gaps in the team will be managed will help alleviate anxiety and keep everyone focused on meeting milestones and objectives.

A focus on workplace wellbeing can also help to reduce employee turnover. However, it’s more than just team-building exercises and free lunches and involves cultural and strategic changes to ensure all employees feel valued. It’s a strategic decision that requires buy-in from the entire organisation. 

5. Use each resignation as a learning opportunity

Resignations are inevitable, but they don’t have to derail your operations. Instead, each resignation can be used as a learning opportunity to refine your practices to reduce the impact on your organisation in the future. 

Take the opportunity to gather and review feedback to find areas where there may be room for improvement or update policies to keep up with employees’ expectations. 

Contact our team to discuss your recruitment and employee retention needs on 1800 868 254 or set up a meeting.

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Year in review – take a look at a few of our highlights of 2023

Dec 12, 2023


  • 2min

Year in review – take a look at a few of our highlights of 2023

Industry News
Total HRM team
If you’re a Spotify or Apple Music user, chances are you were eagerly awaiting your 2023 Wrapped or Replay 2023 year-in-review summary. It’s the chance to look back on what made the year memorable and maybe think about what you’d like to listen to more of next year.

For us at Total HRM, our year in review is about celebrating and reflecting on client and team milestones, additional ways we’ve supported our clients and broader business community and legal wins for our clients.

Here’s our 2023 year in review.

Total HRM team
2023 was a big year, and we’re looking forward to even more in 2024.

Team updates and milestones

There have been a few changes to the Total HRM team this year. We’ve welcomed Sarah and Rebecca to the team, each bringing a wealth of industry, HR and customer service experience. Kim celebrated five years with us, and we welcomed our youngest recruit, Amelia, to the Total HRM team, with doting dad Ash becoming a first-time parent.

As exciting as it is to welcome new faces to the team, we were just as excited to see our team members spread their wings. Tom, Felicity, and Caitlin have accepted new opportunities to further their careers. For us, it’s all about living our vision, enabling every person in every workplace to improve themselves, their team and their results.

Supporting our clients and the business community

Launch of the Training Space – our multi-purpose training, function and meeting room

The Training Space was designed to be a place for learning, connecting and sharing. It’s fully equipped with a projector, webcam and AV connectivity, so it has everything you need for a collaborative session. This year, we’ve hosted large 20 to 30-person training sessions, after-hours product launches, breakfasts, and events with in-person and virtual attendees.

Leading Others – a training series developed with the experience we’ve gained from our own leadership journeys

We’re excited to continue Leading Others in 2024. The feedback and response from this year’s session have been invaluable and overwhelmingly positive. The 10-week course helps participants develop the strong foundations to be influential leaders. Whether you’re new to a leadership role or looking to upskill, we share practical tips and best practice methods for getting the most out of your teams.

Some of the most valuable topics for participants include adding new tools to their leadership toolbox and learning to adapt their communication style based on the DiSC framework.

Onboarding new clients

In 2023, we’ve worked with around 40 new clients, from government agencies to small businesses. We’ve worked across a wide range of projects with new and existing clients, including board reviews, investigations, recruitment, process reviews, and legislation compliance. One of the largest projects we worked on involved an organisational restructuring, including executive and administrator consultation, employee structure creation, and union consultation.

Recruited over 100 new employees for our clients

Our clients trust us to find high-performing team members to fill their vacant roles. It’s no secret that 2023 was a challenging year for finding suitable candidates and achieving results like these is truly one of the best parts of what we do.

Client legal wins

A significant team milestone in 2023 was Ash’s first Fair Work case win. Ash worked on behalf of the client, guiding them throughout the entire process, including interviews, mediation and conversations with the other party.

“Because the client took our advice from the start, we were able to settle the matter with only an agreement of a statement of service to be provided by the employer. It meant that from the start, the client had a sound and defensible position in order to better defend their case and resulted in no monetary compensation being provided,” Ash said.

What’s coming up in 2024

We’re looking forward to working with our current clients and welcoming new businesses that need support across all HR functions, from strategic planning and recruitment to investigations and exit strategies.

Leading Others will continue in 2024, with the next 10-week course beginning on Thursday, 8 February. We’re running our Wraw – Workplace Resilience and Wellbeing workshops, helping you understand what resilience is, why it’s important and how to maximise your own.

Learn more about Leading Others and Wraw

Before we jump into the new year, remember to take some time to slow down so you can return to work refreshed and ready to help your team excel.

If you need help with recruitment or strategic planning in 2024, contact our team on 1800 868 254 or set up a meeting.

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Employment Innovations regularly runs webinars covering topics including HR, Payroll, Employment Law & Migration.

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Recent FW decision in a digitally connected age

Nov 28, 2023


  • 2min

Recent FW decision in a digitally connected age

Industry News, Legislative Changes, Talent Operations
A person using their work laptop for personal browsing in a digitally connected age
In today’s digitally connected era, the line between personal and professional life has become increasingly blurred. The recent case of a lawyer being unfairly terminated for personal internet browsing during work hours sheds light on the challenges employers face in addressing this crossover.

This incident highlights the importance of establishing clear guidelines and procedures to balance an employee’s personal activities and professional responsibilities.

three men sit over a work table using a laptop and a personal phone.
We are more connected than ever, our business policies need to be adaptable.

Understanding the Modern Workplace Dynamics

In the age of remote work and constant connectivity, team members often find themselves juggling personal and work-related tasks. Employers need to recognise this reality and adapt their policies to accommodate the evolving nature of the workplace. The lawyer’s case underscores the need for a nuanced approach that considers the challenges of the modern work environment.

Performance Concerns and Remote Work Issues

The lawyer’s situation included concerns about both performance and unauthorised remote work. Employers must proactively address performance issues and set expectations for remote work to avoid misunderstandings. Regular performance evaluations, open communication, and clearly defined remote work policies can help mitigate such issues.

The Dilemma of Personal Internet Browsing

The lawyer’s seven-hour personal internet browsing over four days raised questions about the acceptable boundaries of personal activities during work hours. While employers have a legitimate interest in maintaining productivity, it is crucial to establish realistic expectations and communicate them clearly to team members. Striking a balance between personal freedom and professional responsibilities is key to fostering a healthy work environment.

Procedural Deficiencies in Termination

The Fair Work Commission’s ruling emphasised the procedural deficiencies in the lawyer’s termination. Employers should ensure that any disciplinary actions, including terminations, follow a fair and transparent process. This includes notifying team members of specific concerns, providing them with an opportunity to respond, and considering the overall context of their performance.

Recommendations for Employers

Clear Communication

Clearly communicate expectations regarding personal internet usage during work hours. Establish guidelines that distinguish acceptable from unacceptable behaviour.

Regular Performance Reviews

Conduct regular performance reviews to address concerns promptly and provide constructive feedback. This allows team members to understand expectations and improve their performance.

Remote Work Policies

Clearly define remote work policies, outlining when and how team members can work remotely. Address concerns about unauthorised remote work through open communication and collaboration.

Fair Disciplinary Process

Follow a fair and transparent disciplinary process when faced with performance issues. Notify team members of specific concerns, allow them to respond, and consider the overall context of their performance.

Training and Awareness

Provide training to team members on acceptable internet usage and the company’s policies. Foster awareness of the impact personal activities can have on overall productivity.

As the digital landscape continues to shape how we work, employers must adapt their policies and procedures to address the challenges posed by personal and work internet browsing crossover. Striking a balance between personal freedom and professional responsibilities and fair and transparent processes is essential for maintaining a productive and harmonious workplace. By navigating these boundaries thoughtfully, employers can foster a positive work environment that encourages accountability and employee well-being.

Our team can help you create and manage your own policies and procedures. Call us on 1800 868 254 or set up a meeting to discuss how we can help you.

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Tips for Retaining Your Team Over the Christmas Break

Nov 28, 2023


  • 2min

Tips for Retaining Your Team Over the Christmas Break

Employer Brand, Recruiter Tips, Recruiting Metrics
Two people in suits meeting with their team, after using tips for retaining your team over christmas break
The holiday season is upon us, and while it’s a time for joy and celebration, it can also be a challenging period for employers concerned about retaining their team members.

It’s not uncommon for team members to return from the Christmas break with a fresh perspective and new resolutions, which sometimes include contemplating a change in their professional lives.

Here are some friendly and approachable tips for retaining your team over the Christmas break to help you keep your team intact and motivated in the coming year.

Woman with Christmas nails returning to work after Christmas break
Your team is your business’ biggest asset. Ensure you are proactive in their return to work.

1. Organise Feedback and Reviews Before the Break

Before everyone heads off for their well-deserved break, take the time to provide constructive feedback and conduct performance reviews. This not only gives employees a clear understanding of their strengths and areas for improvement but also shows that you value their contributions. It sets a positive tone for the new year, making employees feel acknowledged and motivated to continue their hard work.

2. Address Remuneration Reviews Transparently

Salary and compensation are significant factors that influence an employee’s job satisfaction. If you’ve promised a remuneration review, ensure it happens before the Christmas break. If adjustments are made, communicate them transparently, explaining the rationale behind the decisions. Demonstrating a commitment to fair compensation goes a long way in fostering trust and loyalty among your staff.

3. Follow Through on Year-End Commitments

If there were projects, promotions, or other commitments promised to be completed by the end of the year, make sure you follow through. Employees may feel disheartened if assurances are left unfulfilled. By delivering on your promises, you reinforce a culture of accountability and reliability, reassuring your team that their efforts are valued and respected.

4. Communicate a Vision for the Upcoming Year

As the year comes to a close, share your vision for the upcoming year with your team. Discuss exciting projects, potential opportunities for growth, and any changes in the company’s direction. Creating a sense of anticipation can boost morale and keep employees engaged during the break. When they return, they’ll be excited to be part of the business plan you’ve outlined.

5. Encourage a Positive Work-Life Balance

While the holidays are a time for relaxation and rejuvenation, they’re also an opportunity to reflect on work-life balance. Encourage your employees to take a break, recharge, and spend quality time with loved ones. A healthy work-life balance contributes to job satisfaction and, in turn, reduces the likelihood of post-holiday resignations.

By proactively addressing these points, you not only create a positive work environment but also increase the likelihood of retaining your valuable team members. The key is to show appreciation, provide clarity, and set the stage for a successful and fulfilling new year.

Contact our team to plan your business needs in 2024 on 1800 868 254 or set up a meeting.

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Five tips for hosting a fun and safe work Christmas party

Nov 27, 2023


  • 2min

Five tips for hosting a fun and safe work Christmas party

Employer Brand
A woman working at a laptop planning a work Christmas party with a Christmas tree and holiday bear in the background.
The festive season is almost here, and that means you’re probably in the throes of planning the work Christmas party. The annual work Christmas party is an opportunity for your staff to relax and socialise with colleagues and foster a positive team culture.

It’s a busy time of year with lots to do in preparation for end-of-year shutdowns, additional leave, and an increase in customers or requests from clients in the lead-up to the holiday season. With everything going on, it can be easy to simply book a venue and send out the invitations. However, there needs to be careful consideration and planning to ensure it’s a fun and safe event for everyone.

Here are five things to consider when planning your work Christmas party:

Four colleagues sitting around a table eating pizza with Christmas hats on.
One important tip: Don’t forget to have plenty of food available at your Christmas party.

1. Identify possible risks and set clear guidelines for your employees

Whether you’re hosting a Christmas party on your premises or choosing an off-site venue, you’ll need to conduct a risk assessment. Have a plan to identify, assess, control and review Christmas party hazards before, during and after the event.

Some common Christmas party risk areas include alcohol consumption, transportation to and from the event, employee behaviour, venue accessibility and activities or games happening during the event.

Your employees must also be aware of their responsibilities during festive season events. While a Christmas party is typically a more relaxed environment, it’s still a work event. The usual rules around harassment, discrimination and social media use still apply to ensure everyone has a safe and enjoyable time. Communicate these expectations early with your teams so everyone understands the expectations.

2. Understand your responsibilities as an employer

Planning your Christmas party is a good reminder to review relevant workplace policies, such as your code of conduct, drug and alcohol, health and safety, anti-discrimination and harassment, social media, and grievance handling policies.

Revisions to the Sex Discrimination Act at the end of 2022 placed a legal obligation on employers to eliminate sex-based harassment connected with work – including Christmas functions. So, if you haven’t updated your relevant employment policies, now is the time to do so.

It’s your responsibility to ensure you meet your WHS requirements and other legal obligations, such as responsible service of alcohol and accessibility during your Christmas event. Employers have a duty of care to their employees’ health and safety that extends to third-party venues hosting work-related functions.

3. Organise transport options to get employees home safely

Consider including vouchers or reimbursement for taxis or public transport in your Christmas party budget. Helping employees safely get to and from the event contributes to a positive workplace culture and overall wellbeing.

Some local councils offer vouchers or subsidies for businesses to help with the cost of providing transport for workplace Christmas parties. Check to see what’s available in your local area and communicate in advance that vouchers or reimbursements will be available, along with party start and end times, so that staff can plan accordingly.

4. Have alcohol-free options and plenty to eat available

If you plan on having a bar tab or providing drinks, set a clear end time for the tab and include plenty of non-alcoholic options. The rise in zero-alcohol beer and spirits over the last few years coincides with a decline in alcohol consumption, particularly among young adults. This means it’s easier than ever before to serve alcohol-free beverages while still enjoying the festive spirit.

Whether you’re planning a sit-down meal or finger food during the event, it’s important to have enough food to go around. Your venue or caterer will be able to guide you on how much food is needed based on the duration of the party and how many people will be attending.

5. Don’t forget to have fun

While there’s a lot to plan and prepare for, end-of-the-year Christmas parties are about having fun. Why not think outside the traditional cocktail party or dinner and incorporate an activity or experience? For any team members who don’t celebrate this time of year, you could provide time in lieu or offer another option so everyone feels included.

It’s also a perfect opportunity to take stock of the year, recognise significant achievements, and set intentions for the year ahead.

These tips aren’t just good for Christmas parties, keep them handy for any work functions you have throughout the year.

Contact our team to discover how you can have a fun, safe holiday season on 1800 868 254 or set up a meeting.

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