Home' HR Monthly : August 2015 Contents CEO MESSAGE
WHAT IS EXPECTED OF HR?
Over the past year or two, AHRI has taken a number of
steps to get a contemporar y fix on what is expected of
the HR function in Australia. We first asked practitioners
themselves what they believe business expects of them,
and we used the most recent data from professor Dave
Ulrich’s University of Michigan longitudinal study on
HR, as well as our own sur vey findings on the question,
‘What is good HR?’
More recently, we have worked with sur vey specialist
Insync to get an outside perspective on that research by
asking chief executives and senior public ser vants what
they want from HR.
Another outside perspective comes without us asking
anyone. I am refering to judgments in the courts and
tribunals that hear cases arising from within the nation’s
A case widely repor ted in the media last month
involved an unfair dismissal claim by a team leader on a
major joint venture project. His employment had been
terminated following disgraceful behaviour at the work
Christmas party, where he had engaged in random
drunken invective. His dismissal was based on
eight incident reports from that evening, the
factual basis of which were not in dispute.
That said, Fair Work Commission vice
president Adam Hatcher found in the
applicant’s favour because the case
mounted by the company was flawed.
He expressed ‘surprise’ that this was so
because he noted the company was able
to draw on HR expertise.
One flaw was that the team leader
was at no stage refused a drink at the
work function, despite being plainly
intoxicated. Another was that the most
serious incident was the aggressive
bullying of a young colleague with the
questions: “Who the f*** are you?
What do you even do here?” That
incident was not included in the letter
of termination, hence the applicant was
not given an oppor tunity to respond.
In mentioning this case, I am mindful
that HR practitioners too often
have to wear the ignominy of
decisions that were not of
their making, and there
are very good reasons
why HR should avoid earning the tag of corporate police.
I am also conscious that astute HR leaders take steps
to ensure they do not get caught in these corporate
crossfires. Indeed, taking those steps is part and parcel
of their stock in trade as professional business partners.
Nevertheless, the fact is the commission vice
president was clearly not impressed by having to find
in the applicant’s favour, and expressed his displeasure
directly by referencing shortcomings of HR.
AHRI’s Model of Excellence, on which we are basing
our new HR certification model, sets out the inside and
outside expectations of HR. Among other things, those
qualities include HR practitioners being credible and
solutions-driven, and being able to exercise influence at
the table in a way that benefits both the business and the
profession to which they belong.
Taking the case in question, that means HR advising
on the legal requirements with respect to employees
being given an opportunity to respond to an allegation
of misconduct. It also means procedures need to be in
place ensuring that work social functions are enjoyable,
but also positively contribute to a desired workplace
culture. It does not mean HR practitioners need to
stand guard at the beer tap.
Expectations about HR’s capabilities with
respect to procedural competence appear
to be an assumption at the Fair Work
Commission, and have come up, often
negatively, in the jurisdictions of other
courts and tribunals.
As we progress towards the
full implementation of AHRI’s
enriched certification model, we
will be communicating directly
with businesses to assist them
to find certified HR practitioners
who have demonstrated a
combination of knowledge
and skill that make them true
business partners. As one of our
state councillors recently put it,
“If we don’t convince business
that certified practitioners know
what they should be doing,
and can actually do it, it’s all
for nothing ”.
Chief executive officer
TURNS OUT A LITTLE
GREEN GOES A LONG WAY.
by the University of
Melbourne looked at
whether or not even
short glimpses of
certain colours improved
worker productivity. The
experiment involved a
called the Sustained
Attention to Response
Task (SART), in which
participants were asked
to complete simple but
repetitive tasks for a
prolonged period of time.
Afterward, they were
given a 40-second micro
break where either a
photo of a concrete roof
or garden roof appeared
on their computer screen.
returned to the SART test,
those who saw the green
roof outperformed their
counterparts with fewer
errors and increased
say this demonstrates
that even a modest green
space can be beneficial
to worker productivity.
“Our results are yet
another incentive to add
more plants into our
workspaces, to provide
real benefits for people
by creating healthy,
productive and liveable
spaces,” researchers say.
15/07/2015 10:14 am
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