Staff motivation and industrial relations reform (article)

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Please note: this article was written in 2005. However, the underlying themes are still relevant today.

The current industrial reform debate in Australia provides some examples related to staff motivation in this free article by Derek Stockley.

Industrial relations reform

In Australia, both the unions and federal government are mounting major advertising campaigns about proposed changes to the federal industrial relations laws by the Australian government. The changes are part of the government’s industrial relations reforms.

Whilst I do not want to debate the merits of the union and government cases, I do want to continue discussion of the theme of employee engagement covered in a previous employee engagement article.

The Australian union movement, through the ACTU (Australian Council of Trade Unions), has mounted a national advertising campaign.

One TV advert features a mother, obviously enjoying a healthy work/life balance, being confronted with the threat of dismissal by an employer requesting a change of roster.

Another union advert features an employee being forced under threat to change his employment status by the employer representative.

There is much debate in Australia about whether the scenarios depicted will actually be possible under the proposed reforms. The detail is still to be released, so I cannot comment one way or the other.

What I can comment on is the employer actions depicted in the two union ads. I believe that an employer who acted in the ways depicted would be, to use an old phrase, "cutting off their nose to spite their face".

Leading Australian companies and organisations are making real commitments to help employees achieve a healthy work balance. This includes trying to be flexible where possible, so that employees can arrange suitable child care.

In the second TV ad, the employee’s work status is changed from permanent to casual.

The casualisation of the Australian workforce, as for overseas, has been a major employment trend in recent years.

Casualisation has had major social and economic consequences. I recognise that some jobs can only be casual, because the work flow is subject to peaks and troughs based on customer demand. However, I also hear of employees working the same hours on a casual rate for many years.

Some employers argue that it is economically and legally safer to keep employees 'casual'. They can cite specific examples that have proved the point to them.

However, I wonder about the difference that being 'casual' or 'permanent' has on an employee’s approach to work and his or her personal productivity.

Regular readers of this newsletter will probably know where I stand.

I firmly believe that being 'permanent' is better for the employee, and consequently, better for the employer. Employment security is important, both from a wellbeing viewpoint as well as for practical reasons such as obtaining credit and loans.

If employees are not looking over their shoulders, and you have created the right environment, 'permanent' employees should have their focus on doing their job, rather than 'having a job'.

Personal reflection

What is the work environment like in your workplace?

Do you have 'casual' employees who should be 'permanent'?

Have you seen examples of poor treatment of employees?

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