Congratulations! You have made it to mid- May 2020

You have now reached Level 5 of Jumanji! 

The workplace and business environment are still dominated by confusion and anxiety – and the with the constant changes it really is starting to feel like we are in a game of Jumanji.   Unfortunately, with these changes introduced the industrial relations environment has become even more clouded and uncertain.

We’ve tried to re-cap below the best that we can:

Stand Downs 

Are you a business that has decided that the ten-person rule just means that it is uneconomical to re-open at this stage?

  • The Pre JobKeeper Stand Down that you have issued your staff (so those stand downs that you issued when the restrictions were first put in place, prior to JobKeeper even becoming a word!), now needs to be replaced with a JobKeeper Directives Letter (contact us if you do not have these and have not sent these out to your staff, they are a Fair Work requirement)
  • The Stand Down is no longer relevant as it can be argued that you are not closed for “reasons outside of your control”

ATO Notification Details

  • It is now become clear that the Employer has an obligation to notify all employees that their details have been provided to the ATO for the payment fortnight, within 7 days of that payment fortnight
  • Our recommendation is that you can add a note to your payslip to state this
  • Suggested wording (thanks to our friends at CCIQ):
    • In accordance with section 6(4) of the Coronavirus Economic Response Package (Payments and Benefits) Rules 2020 this memorandum is to confirm that [insert business name] has given information to the Australian Taxation Commissioner, including your details, and details about your entitlement,  confirming you are an eligible employee to receive JobKeeper payments for the payment fortnight/s to [insert end date of payment fortnight].  
    • We will continue to make JobKeeper payments to you in accordance with the eligibility rules.

JobKeeper Nomination Notices (ATO has amended the form)

  • The ATO have amended the nomination notice (around juniors and their eligibility)
  • If you have a workforce that includes juniors, we recommend re-issuing these forms and getting them completed again by employees

Covid Safe Workplace

We needed some new words in our vocabulary – and this week’s catch phrase is a “Covid Safe Workplace”.  What is a Covid Safe workplace?   It is simply having a workplace plan in place that ensures that you have identified all of the risks of Covid when reopening and protect your customers and staff.

The absolute best website with industry specific details is:

I would also just like to re-cap on my last post where I talked about some of the anger that we are starting to see. 

I touched on the fact that we are starting to see employees react with anger and frustration and management is becoming even more difficult and leadership is even more important during these times.   The part of our brain that is response for the fight or flight response is also responsible for fear.  Fear in turn is then responsible for higher levels of agitation which and very quickly turn unto anger and annoyance and conflict.   When dealing with staff, remember that they are feeling a very primary emotion – fear.  Bring out your best management skills, pushing your employees into a corner and then making them come out swinging is not going to solve anything at this stage. 

Mental health experts are starting to study the fact that our response to the virus may outlast the virus and the ramifications of the virus itself.  We are lucky that we have been (to date) able to control the virus as we have, we now need to make sure that we are setting ourselves up mentally to be able to cope with the constant changes and changes in our lives.  There is no one size fits all, we just need to ensure that we have times of mindfulness in our days, structure, routine and that we still connect with those close to us to ensure that we maintain a sense of meaning and purpose.  Do what works for you.

As a final note, one of the things that we are totally enjoying is watching John Krasinski (of “The Office” fame) SGN… channel on YouTube.  SGN stand for Some Good News –  Highly recommend this channel as a bit of light relief in these times.  YouTube it – you won’t regret it!

Leadership in Corona Recovery – Phase 1

Phoebe Kitto

Musings of Phoebe Kitto, Director, Human Resource Dynamics

Now we are seeing the next stage, the anger.

We’ve managed to get through the first stage of Corona, the anxiety, the ‘what is going to happen?’ stage –  This was the stage where we were watching the virus and it’s devastating rates of infection across Europe and the most that it impacted us was our next trip overseas and some cancellations from international visitors.  

Then… Corona caught a ride to our shores and we had border shutdowns, mass shutdowns of all of the things we as humans love – the places we gather, places we socialise.  We had new words invented, the #stayathome was plastered everywhere, and we banded together as one – #weareallinthistogether.  During this stage we all stood a little taller, paid respect to the Anzacs from our driveways, held our shoulders a little broader and have smiled to each other (well we can’t shake hands or get close enough to pat backs) and have felt good that we are flattening the curve. We’ve all said to each other what a great job Australia has done.

During this phase employees understood that their jobs were going to be impacted and were supportive of the difficult decisions their employer had to make. There were tears shed on both sides and the grief of what was ‘taken’ away/lost was fresh.

Now we are seeing the next stage, the anger. 

The anger phase is starting to impact the decision making, mental health issues are spotlighted during isolation and everyone is absolutely fatigued. Wow, Friday rolls around and I feel like crawling under the covers and hibernating. Stuff the 5 visitors’ rule, I’m too tired to see anyone!

It’s a perfect storm in a corona test tube.  

So, when you are feeling fatigued and just can’t face another new piece of legislation to understand, another rent negotiation conversation with your landlord, or another decision to make about your business, how do you show leadership?

The irony is that staff are wanting and needing leadership more now than ever.  All of the feelings that you have around loss of income and what is going to happen next they are feeling too, and maybe even more so – you have a degree of control over your business and the reopening phase, they don’t. 

The key is to not change your style – during a crisis people need familiarity. Now more than ever you just need to be genuine and honest.  Listen to your staff, listen to their concerns.  You might not have any answers yourself and you can say this to staff. There is nothing wrong with not having all the answers.

Have a plan and engage with your team to help build your new plan. You aren’t an inspiring leader if you are so chaotic you can’t see any path (if you can’t see a path ahead, how will your team?), if you don’t have faith in your product/service. You need to believe what it is that you do, even if you are looking at coming back in a smaller footprint and have used this time to take stock of what is really important. No one trusts a leader that doesn’t believe in their own business or themselves.  Be genuine but take time to reassure your staffing body that you will be better than ever after Corona.

One business I spoke to said that they are making less income, but they have less bills, less stock to carry and less staffing worries, less customer complaints.  They are the least stressed they have been in five years and loving life.  They are using this time to plan their comeback and what their reduced footprint will look like.  No longer is their forecast growth, it is about consolidating what they have and working on their core business.  They are engaging with staff via meetings and letting them know their plans and thoughts. Staff have had some great ideas – which they have put into place already.  Staff feel like they are on the journey with the business and are more committed and excited than they ever were prior to Corona.

My last point is look after yourself.  If you are snappy, tired and just plain old fatigued you need to take some stock of what is important and make sure that you are ok. You don’t have to exercise like a maniac, but you do need to have some time out to do an activity that you like. Whether that is hiking, taking long walks along the beach or relaxing yoga – it’s not a ‘nice to do’, it is important that you have some time out.  There won’t be a comeback if you are so burnt out that you can’t see straight.