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Breastfeeding in the workplace

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History was made in Federal Parliament recently when Australian Greens Senator Larissa Waters became the first woman to breastfeed in parliament. It’s a shame really, when something as natural as breastfeeding makes headlines across the world. But that is the state of play in 2017.

Unfortunately, this act of motherhood is often liable to stir up controversy whenever it is carried out in public, be that a workplace or at a café, for instance.

The benefits of accommodating breastfeeding at work

Many mothers successfully combine work and breastfeeding. Our work environment continues to change, and as many more women return to the work force, many workplaces now have greater awareness of the importance of individual family responsibilities, and include this in workplace policies. Legislation exists in most states to guarantee that no employer may discriminate against individuals with family responsibilities. Employers need to be aware of what obligations they have for woman wishing to continue breastfeeding while returning to work.

A progressive and we would add reasonable employer might think about going well beyond this though. It would certainly make the return to work easier at a time when it is difficult and may be appreciated with increased loyalty.

However, do warn others that the milk stored in those cute bottles is not for the tea and coffee!

Breastfeeding and the gender pay gap

A policy like this may also feed into reducing the gender pay gap. Despite there having been equal pay legislation for decades, females, in Australia are paid 23.1% less than their male counterparts, on average. To put that into dollar terms, men across all industries, on average earn $26,853 more than women every year.

The reasons for this are complex, but one of them could be described as the “motherhood penalty”. This means dealing with the challenges that a mother may face on their return to work after having a baby: the time away from the workplace (which may extend far beyond maternity leave), juggling childcare, and breast feeding, among others.

The government has been bringing in more proactive measures to try and reduce the gender pay gap. The Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act 1999 (EOWW Act) has been replaced with the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 (WGE Act). All non-public sector employers with 100 or more employers in their corporate structure (relevant employers) are required to report to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) annually.

Policies that support breast feeding could be helpful in closing the gender pay gap and in showing that a company is taking the issue seriously.

If you need help implementing any similar policies please get in touch with The HR Dept.

Tough interviews

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Interviews. The word itself is enough to stress some of us out. They are the Vegemite of recruitment – some people love them and others can’t stand them!

It’s probably because everyone’s had, at one point, the interview where everything went well. The interview where you can say nothing wrong. Where you can leave with your head held high, knowing you’ve really sold yourself. And of course, everyone’s had the interview from hell. The one that you can’t reminisce about without cringing.

Many employers resent the amount of time that interviews take. Therefore, they do not make enough effort in the pre-interview stage, meaning they do not get the most out of them.

The interview scenarios

Unlike many aspects in recruiting, the interview scenario is subjective and dependent on the organisation running it.

If you attended interviews at five different companies, you may have five completely different experiences. They all varying upon, we believe, two factors: people and process.

As a business, if you make either of those negative, you could push talent away. Or even worse –  put your organisation in the firing line of a Fair Work claim.

The people matter

Let’s start with people. The approach and style of an interviewer can have a real impact on a person’s perspective of the organisation. First impressions count and interviewers all too often forget that they’re selling the opportunity to the candidate as much as it is the other way around.

Quick-fire direct lines of questioning are great for seeing how candidates operate under pressure. They do not, however, give the employer an idea of what somebody will be like in their day-to-day working lives.

In short, don’t be Leigh Sales! She’s great at making politicians squirm, but maybe not so good at attracting talent to your business.

The interviewing method

Now what about process? This describes each step you take from launching job advertisements, interviewing, background checking, inducting and everything else in between. The process you undertake will vary upon the role you’re recruiting for, but please exercise consistency.

Although candidates are not yet employed by you, they can still make claims for discrimination on several grounds. Be consistent in how you select CVs, how you interview and the way that you compare candidates. This could be by preparing key questions in advance and asking each candidate the same ones – this allows you to be more objective.

Of course, you may want to have some fun and ask a quirky, out there type question like “If you could design a new musical instrument, what sound would it make?”.

Don’t go rogue in interviews

Sticking to the theme of interviews and process, be mindful that it’s in this sensitive phase of recruiting that most businesses fail.

Consider the girl rejected via text. The lady questioned about her age due to a concern that she wouldn’t have enough energy for the job. Or the woman asked if she was just going to get pregnant and leave. These are all examples of interviewers going rogue and landing the employer in trouble.

How The HR Dept can help

Consider your own recruitment practices. Are they appropriate? Could the process be introducing bias? Is your culture and image reflected accurately? Are they giving your business the talent it needs to meet its goals?

The HR Dept is, of course, here to help and advise. So, if you’ve got any questions for us, please get in touch.

Are you watching the glass door?

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The way we choose what to buy, and who to buy from, has changed. No longer do we trust the marketer’s word; we look instead to what other buyers are saying. Buying from Amazon? Your eyes probably skip the description, landing instead on the reviews. This is where the real purchasing decisions are made.

This new way of doing things spreads into other industries. Think TripAdvisor, and how it has swung SMEs’ footfall in the restaurant and leisure industries. It was only a matter of time then before employers would get their own reviews.

The review site for employers

Introducing Glassdoor. It does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a (albeit sometimes frosted) glass door into your workplace. It allows current/ex-employees to review their time at your company, for the world to see.

The benefits of this are clear. Great reviews could leave you with talent queuing out the door. Bad reviews though, could leave you struggling to recruit, increasing your costs in the long run.

Some of the reviews do get personal as well. They can knock the confidence of an SME owner who puts their heart into the business. Many individuals pay close attention to the personality traits of their employer.

These reviews are open for anyone to see. They are a perfect tool for applicants to ‘get to know’ the company a little better.

Keeping track is key

So keeping track of your company’s Glassdoor account is key. Being able to filter the negative reviews could save you the cost of recruitment after your newly recruited sales rep has just stumbled upon this:

Pros: No positive point. Everything is worst here.

Cons: Worst company to work for as sales guy. You are considered as an animal rather than a human being.

Advice to Management: Shut down the company if you don’t know how to behave to your employees.

Thankfully, we do not live in an era where everything is negatively reviewed. Glassdoor in fact could be a significant promotional tool for your company.

The power of positive reviews

Positive reviews could boost the interest in your company. Not only for potential employees, but even customers or suppliers. A positive review could encourage individuals to buy into the culture and experience your company provides.

It is important to just make sure you are keeping track of your reviews, and provide an active company presence on the site to avoid the pitfalls.

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