On Tuesday the Australian Human Rights Commissioner, Kate Jenkins released Set the Standard : Report on the Independent Review into Commonwealth Parliamentary Workplaces (2021)which was a report on the review of workplace standards at Australian Parliament House.
The results of the report, at first glance, are sobering. It found (among other things) that 37% of people in commonwealth parliamentary workplaces have personally experienced bullying and 33% of people have personally experienced sexual harassment in commonwealth parliamentary workplaces.
As the Prime Minister and other Leaders in Parliament House grapple with how to respond to the stories, statistics, and to the 28 recommendations made by the report, we thought this is a good time to discuss how other employers should respond to the results of workplace reviews.
What is a workplace review?
A workplace review is an independent inquiry into the culture of a workplace. We use a combination of quantitative and qualitative questioning including policy review, surveys and qualitative interviewing. The goal of a workplace review is to explore and understand the situation, and to give practical and strategic advice to resolve workplace problems. A workplace review identifies problems, risks and opportunities to improve the morale, efficiency, functioning and ethics of the team.
Employers have different motivations when commissioning a workplace review. Some are wanting to do a health check on what is a basically well-functioning workplace as part of good, proactive management processes. Some employers have reason to be concerned about workplace culture, perhaps high turnover of staff, or unspecified complaints. Other employers are dealing with known concerns about workplace behaviour. They know that they have a problem with bullying, or nepotism or sexual harassment and they want to understand how big the problem is.
For all employers, though, how you react when the results of the review come in, will influence the value of the review process. To maximise the value of the process, we have 7 suggestions for what to do with the results of a workplace revie
To get the best out of a workplace review, you need to set it up properly. Ensure that you are asking the right questions, at the right time and of the right people in order to get a good, representative picture of what is going on. Don’t assume you already know the answers.
Communicate the Process
Let you staff know why you are doing a review, when you are doing it, the methodology of the review and when it will be finished.
Respect the efforts of your staff
Most of the time, employees participating a workplace review have spent (at least) a thoughtful hour of their time engaging with the reviewer, giving their ideas, opinions and sometimes dredging up painful stories. This is an effort of good will on their part, an expression of hope and engagement that their workplace can change for the better.
Recognise that the bar has been raised!
The fact that you have conducted a workplace review and asked employees what they think, means that you have created an expectation that they will be listened to and that things will change. This is a great positive because you have momentum and some degree of good will to make the necessary changes to the culture. But there is a real danger of losing your credibility and fostering cynicism if you are not seen to act on the issues that your employees have identified for you. One of the negative things we hear in a review is “What’s the point, we said all this last year and no-one has taken any notice”
Prioritise your response to recommendations.
When you read through the recommendations there will be some recommendations that you can implement straight away, some that will take time and/or more thought and resources. If there is “low hanging fruit” that is – simple fixes to problems that are driving your employees mad – make a commitment to fix them within a short time frame. Effort spent on these issues will continue that cycle of positive engagement started by the review and generate good will.
Put in place a timetable for implementing recommendations
Not everything can be done straight away. Communicate with your staff about the medium and longer term recommendations. What are the steps you are going to take, when will they be taken and who is responsible? Communicate with staff on the progress of the review recommendations.
Benchmark results in future review processes
Once you’ve made the changes recommended in the review, you can use the results as a benchmark for future reviews to measure your progress and to strive for bigger and better things.
Worklogic conducts comprehensive insightful workplace reviews for clients of all sizes. If you would like to talk about a review for your workplace, get in contact with me, or with our Practice Leaders in Culture and Coaching, Angela Seach and Simon Thorne.