AHRI Brisbane Young Professionals Wrap Up

The AHRI Brisbane Young Professionals is a subgroup of AHRI, supporting the ongoing education to early career HR professionals.

Last Tuesday (23rd July) we had another successful event for the Brisbane Young Professionals Group where we looked investigations. We were lucky enough to have Mills Oakley Lawyers sponsor the event and facilitate the event too! Employment law related events are always popular. People are always eager to learn more about this area, and we attract people from all levels of their career.Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 2.49.28 am

Despite most the YP’s in that room having Bachelor Degrees in HR / Business / Law or a related field, employment relations is still the area that generates a lot of conversation. Maybe it’s because whichever way you look at it there is always something you haven’t considered. Just when you think you know it all, something changes in the legislation and you get a weird question.

Having studied at a post-graduate level I can tell you nothing I learned about conducting workplace investigations came from my university studies. Maybe my ability to write reports in my sleep does, but that about it. Yet, it’s one of the areas that people really get stumped on, or a the very least lack confidence in! Even though it’s mostly following a process and having a sense of enquiry, determining an outcome at the end can be nerve-wracking –  what if I haven’t considered everything? Even more challenging if you are a solo practitioner.

I have been lucky enough to work in large HR teams where I wasn’t the sole HR person. That means I could learn from those more experienced than me. But sometimes people don’t have that luxury, so who do you learn from? Who do you seek support from when you need it, even if it’s just an idea to bounce off? There are an alarming amount of cases where unfair dismissal has been ruled due to an investigation being inadequate, whether it be on a technicality or because it blatantly disregarding procedural fairness.

I was particularly interested in this case summarised here which talked about a bullying complaint which was investigated and found to be unsubstantiated. As a result the employee made a complaint that the employer had not done it’s due diligence to resolve the matter. Particularly interesting in those cases of he /  said, she / said. Further curious was the point that if you do decide that you don’t have the evidence to rule either way on an investigation you need to consider the support you will offer as a result. If the employee rejects this support make a note, notes, notes notes! (your can check it all out in the linkedin article).

Even if you are the worlds best investigator at the end of the day you still need to make a decision. So with that in mind how up to date are you on your case law? Where do you get your case law information from? Are you reading the FW judgements? Do you have a subscription? Before you make a decision I would recommend asking yourself how clued in you are into what’s happening at the moment. Which is why these sessions are so good! Everything you need, explained to you, free to ask questions.

I’ve had a couple of requests for some strategy HR sessions which will be a nice change of pace. I am always on the hunt for great speakers in Brisbane, particularly an experienced Talent Management Specialist, Change Manager or HR Business Partner. If you know anyone be sure to send them my way!


AHRI (Australian Human Resources Institute)


Do you need a uniform policy?

Uniform policies for me fall somewhere in-between the policies I really think you need and the completely useless fear driven policies. I started in the working world within a quick service giant and worked my way through to becoming a Store Manager, so I feel I know first hand the pain and agony implementing this policy. Working with Team Members who are in their teens, constantly telling them to do their top button up, tuck their hair up, wear the right shoes, taking out their piercings was a daily part of the job as was the passive aggression they exuded after you told them no.

At the end of the day, I didn’t really mind if they had multiple ear piercings or blue hair. If they were excellent team players friendly to customers and looked showered and tidy, I was just like, yeah cool – I’ve got better things to do. Then my Operations Manager would come for a site inspection and I would see on my action list “address blah’s appearance, has a visible tattoo”. ehhhhhhhhhh.

I think in the grand scheme of business issues uniform adherence is not something I rate highly, as in it’s not a conversation I have much time for. It’s a simple a conversation I want to exit quickly. I don’t want to sit there discussing how you feel about a specific part of company uniform – just do it, you accepted the job, it’s not exactly a surprise that we have dress standards. If you genuinely have no idea what I mean when I say professional dress I am more than happy to go to google and show you pictures. Every minute we discuss uniforms is a minute I can’t spend on developing tools and systems to help you develop your career or have access to great benefits.

Are you creating a policy because you are too awkward to talk to that one person in that one site….

…..so you have declared WE NEED A POLICY (so you can hand it to them and they will subtly get the hint), that’s what is comes down to. I am struggling to have a human to human conversation so allow me to get my A4 paper to navigate these tough waters. Maybe that the purpose of a policy is to help you have those discussions, but too often we throw down the policy in place of the conversation….

Is it enough to just say “employees are expected to dress professionally and managers may provide feedback on your appearance in line with brand standards”. Should you just have a couple of pictures of role model employees in uniform with a blurb in the handbook.

The more prescriptive you make the policy the more you have to police it. When drafting a policy I would think about your brand and your customers. Who are your customers? Are you high-end or down to earth? Are they going to be offended by an arm tattoo? Would you benefit from company issued compete uniforms? Is blue hair the end of the world? Most of the time people will do the right thing, we spend a lot of time policing the 1% hmmm……..