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People Matter February 2018

Why the gender pay gap matters

Do celebrity gender pay squabbles over millions of dollars get on your nerves? It’s easy to roll your eyes and scroll down the page. But the truth is, the salary itself isn’t the issue. It’s the persistence of the national gender pay gap in like-for-like jobs across all industries.

So, when a celebrity like Lisa Wilkinson is forced to put her job on the line for equal pay, it’s relevant for everyone. It draws widespread attention to an issue that’s still prevalent in Australia,100 years after women won the right to vote.

And while the gender pay gap is sometimes hotly contested, its existence is well documented. The Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) monitors the gender pay gap, drawing on data from the ABS.

In 2017, WGEA’s figures revealed that the national full-time gender pay gap was 15.3%. In states like WA and the NT, it was around a third higher. The Financial and Insurance sector was the worst performing industry with a gender pay gap of 29.4%. The Public Administration and Safety industry led the way at 5.9%, but it seems clear that gender pay parity is still a problem.

In fact in 2017, the World Economic Forum predicted it could take more than 200 years to reach gender pay equality globally.

In the lead up to International Women’s Day on 8 March, people are being encouraged to use #PressforProgress to share how they’re helping gender parity.

This is relevant because when you examine the gender pay gap, you find it’s not so much a workplace issue as a societal one.

Three of the issues that disadvantage women in the workplace are:

  • Leaving employment to have a family
  • Fewer flexible work options for women in senior roles
  • The continuance of gender stereotypes around work suitability

According to WGEA, if you run or manage a small business, tackling gender pay parity can be more difficult. You have to deal with:

  • The significant impact of parental leave costs
  • Challenges in implementing flexible work options
  • Limited resources to develop gender strategies and management systems
  • Limited data collection systems and processes
  • Limited or no human resource support or function

The HR Dept can assist with developing a gender pay policy for your workplace. We’ll help you avoid unconscious bias and manage the complexities of the gender pay gap. Call us on 1800 473 378 or email


Can longer hours at work mean less productivity?

Death by overwork has become so common in Japan that people have invented a name for it – ‘karoshi’.

The Japanese government wants businesses to encourage employees to work fewer hours. Some Tokyo local governments have resorted to turning out the office lights at 7pm to force staff to leave!

At the heart of the issue is a workplace culture that values workers who stay later than their colleagues – especially their bosses.

In Australia, the average working week has recently decreased. But in 2017, we still ranked 9th compared to other OECD countries, for our share of long-hour workers –doing 50+ hours per week.

Some employees wear working longer hours like a badge of honour. As a manager, you can inadvertently create a workplace culture that appears to value the ‘workaholics’ over the people who stick to regular hours.

Casual praise for someone who’s always first in and last out can send the wrong message. Likewise, emailing your team outside working hours sets up an expectation they must be available to you 24/7.

The reality is, a workaholic culture can harm your workplace. Employees who constantly work long hours, forego lunch breaks and rarely take leave, can be ineffective or struggling in their role. Tired employees are less engaged and more impatient with co-workers or customers.

If you want a team that’s productive and focused at work, rather than simply present for long hours, here are some steps you can take:

  • Encourage regular breaks and discourage working through lunch
  • Discreetly ask employees why they’re consistently working long hours
  • Use performance reviews to discuss high leave balances and encourage taking leave

Are you risking data security when staff use their own devices for work?

We’re more connected to our laptops, phones or tablets, than ever before. It’s one of the reasons Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) options are gaining popularity with employees and employers.

There’s a potential cost saving for your business if you don’t need to provide IT equipment for your workforce. And, because they’re already familiar with their device, employees will be more productive and efficient.

But have you considered the risks of introducing BYOD to your workplace?

  • In the beginning, your employees might view BYOD as a bonus – but this could change if their use of some programs or apps is restricted.
  • How well is your data protected on a personal device? Can you rely on individuals to keep security up-to-date?
  • How quickly can you remove system access when employees leave? Your data could be left unprotected or shared with your competitors.

If in doubt, get help to develop a comprehensive BYOD policy.

Why jargon-free job titles speed up recruitment

Recruiting the right people for your team can be a tough gig. A little bit of creative writing can give your ad the edge that attracts your dream applicants.

But in recent years, some recruiters have gone to extremes when inventing new titles for simple jobs. Apparently, newspapers are delivered by media distribution officers and your rubbish bin is collected by sanitation engineers!

The problem is when you include ‘gobbledygook’ in recruitment ads, the applicants you attract won’t be the people you need for the role. Meanwhile, the person seeking work as a rubbish collector will never apply for the role of sanitation engineer. So, you’ve missed the mark, wasted everyone’s time and you still have a vacancy to fill.

We can help you attract the right talent for your business. Speak to us about our plain English approach to recruitment.

Smart bosses care about staff commute times

Did you know long journeys to work are a significant reason people change their jobs.

Long commutes can be damaging to an employee’s health, relationships and workplace productivity. When your employees face a long journey between home and work, it leaves less time for exercising and keeping fit.

Similarly, the longer the trip to work, the longer your staff are away from their families which can increase tensions or stress at home.

But when your employees have a daily travel time that’s under 30 minutes, not only are you more likely to retain them, but they’ll be more productive.

So, how can you reduce commute times without reducing the distance your employees have to travel? One time-saving option is to introduce flexible working arrangements that combine working from home and travelling outside of peak times.

Is poor lighting dimming your bright sparks?

Did you know that workplace lighting can impact your staff’s morale? According to research by Michigan State University, poor lighting can negatively affect people’s ability to learn and remember new things.

This study reveals how spending time in different light alters the structure and function of the brain.

Rats that were subjected to four weeks of exposure to dim light demonstrated reduced learning abilities and poorer memory performance. This was remedied by returning them to bright light for the next four weeks.

If you want a workforce bursting with lightbulb moments – make sure your workplace is brightly lit.

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