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  • 06-May-2020 13:00 | Tracy Dawson (Administrator)

    Australia’s Construction sector is one of the country’s leading industries in terms of growth, employment and profitability, but it has also been identified as one of the highest occupational risk groups for suicide.*

    Talking about suicide can prevent suicide. So too can categorising the shame around mental health and encouraging open forums of communication in the workplace, or on the job site.

    It’s time to break the cycle of mental health in the construction industry and here are 3 simple ways we at Interior Construction Group address the topic, show compassion to our team and build a trusted network for people to speak up and show up:

    1. Minimising stress through a 3-step process

    Stress is one of the leading causes of human illnesses. Minimising stress is essential to mental, physical and emotional well-being and when it comes to construction, our process includes:

    Planning → Managing → Helping

    Planning ensures the overall scope of work and associated methods are considered early on, providing an overall overview; Managing ensures time is executed effectively, avoiding overworking and burnout; and Helping is the involvement of cross-departmental teams to assist one another, rather than drowning individuals with work… that’s right, we collaborate.

    2. Utilise technology

    We often come across the non-physical items to alleviate stress, but nowadays, we should make use of the automation available to us.

    With today’s tech evolution, the systems and software in place play a big role in efficiency. Managing projects, communicating with stakeholders and implementing project management tools are a valuable way daily processes are streamlined - saving time and energy.

    3. Open spaces, open forums

    With an open-plan office, and a “door always open” philosophy, our approach is centred around welcoming open platforms of communication through trust and transparency. In engaging in team bonding activities, weekly check-ins and community involvement initiatives, we’re built on solid foundations that encourage our team to express how they feel, raise concerns they may have or simply to show gratitude for anything and everything they’d like.

    These simple steps play a big role in our daily experiences, and have proven to be successful and helpful in our workplace. The most important thing to take away from this is to first address that mental health is a concern, we all have a right to a workplace to be happy and as businesses, we have a responsibility to create a workplace, culture and environment that fosters this.

    Joe Taouk

    General Manager, Interior Construction Group


    *Source: A Longitudinal Assessment of Two Suicide Prevention Training Programs for the Construction Industry, International Journal of Environmenal Research and Public Health 2020

  • 28-Apr-2020 11:45 | Tracy Dawson (Administrator)

    As part of City of Parramatta’s commitment to support small businesses during this difficult time, Council is offering grants of up to $2000 for businesses who need to modify their operating model to continue to generate revenue. A funding pool of $100,000 will help businesses to adapt and diversify, to continue trading during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    To be eligible, businesses:

    • Must be located within the Parramatta LGA
    • Must be an existing business (trading for more than 6 months as at 20 March 2020)
    • Must have an ABN
    • Must be a business that can transfer/adjust service/trade and/or goods to online/delivery/take-away
    • Must be able to implement change in service within 6 weeks of receiving grant funding
    • Must use funding purely for expenditure related to adapting service/trade to online/delivery/take-away

    Applications open 9am, Monday 27 April 2020 and close 4pm, Monday 4 May 2020.

    For more information and to apply, please visit Council's website.


  • 22-Apr-2020 09:13 | Tracy Dawson (Administrator)

    Every parent across the country is doing whatever they can to keep their children entertained and educated while they work – and now they have the opportunity to get them away from the screen and stimulated with some science fun!

    Children’s Medical Research Institute based at Westmead, the charity behind Jeans for Genes, is selling a Future Scientist Kit that is packed with loads of educational and entertaining resources from pipettes to beakers, craft items to colouring-in, clay, pencils and even a bouncy ball! They also have Future Scientist lab coats available to foster a love of science in your little ones. They can have fun at the same time they’re learning about the importance of research.

    Julie Gravina is the mother of Charlize who is one of the faces of this year’s Jeans for Genes campaign. Charlize lives with genetic disease every day and has had to undergo two liver transplants in her short lifetime. She knows what it is to spend long hours in hospital or at home being sick. Julie is experienced at keeping Charlize busy and loves the Future Science Kit.

    “We could all do with a little help keeping our children occupied right now and I think the Future Scientist show bag is a fun way to entertain and educate our kids,’’ Julie said. “My girls really enjoyed pretending to be scientists by setting up their own lab at home and pipetting coloured water. The craft supplies and other creative activities are especially welcomed at this time.

    “I also love that all the money raised goes to help the scientists who are trying to find cured for conditions that will help children like my daughter Charlize.’’

    Now, more than ever—during an international pandemic—Australians realise how critically important investment in research is. When you pop online and buy a kit for the kids you are supporting future generations.

    Just as our scientists never give up when they face an obstacle in their lab, we know that you will stand beside them and the 1 in 20 children facing a birth defect or genetic disease—and it’s as easy as going to shop.cmri.org.au


  • 21-Apr-2020 13:45 | Tracy Dawson (Administrator)

    Article by Michael Page

    A company working remotely, or with only essential staff in the office, will still have hiring and headcount needs. Although growth may be lower due to the economic uncertainty of COVID-19, it doesn’t mean you can’t hire – it just means it’s more crucial to be agile and adapt the hiring process to your current situation.

    RELATED: COVID-19 to test Australia’s WFH agility and performance

    The first step in ensuring organisations can still function during uncertain times is to adapt current business continuity plans. It should include the framework for infrastructure that can support working remotely, how team structures will adapt, and how essential support will work.

    Many first-round interviews are already conducted virtually as a normal part of the hiring process, whether over the phone or through email. And with social distancing, many recruitment firms like Michael Page immediately switched to virtual interviews and meetings for candidates and clients – demonstrating that we can utilise technology that we’ve always had.

    And prepare to make the entire process virtual – like onboarding and induction – as our country’s lockdown continues.

    RELATED: How to: Manage remote teams effectively

    Tips for conducting successful virtual interviews

    Test your tech

    Especially if you’re using technology that’s new to your organisation, set up a test call with a colleague to ensure that microphones and cameras are working properly, and that you know the ins and outs of the new software and how to troubleshoot if needed.

    Prepare the candidates

    Ensure the candidate is well-prepared by including essential details in the interview invite. Include technical tips, ensure the time zone is correct, let them know of any programs they need to download. Also send them a backup audio line to dial into if something goes wrong with the program you are using.

    Be precise and detailed

    Just like an in-person interview, prepare the candidate with an outline of what to expect, including information such as: how long the call will take, who they will be virtually meeting with, key points of discussion.

    Focus on the parts that matter

    One downside to video interviews is that you can’t rely as much on non-verbal communication or cues to evaluate a candidate. Keep in mind the factors that can make virtual interviews feel awkward, such as delays between the two parties speaking, a blurry video feed and miscommunications. Focus on what the candidate is saying and their experiences, not those awkward moments.

    Don’t ignore employer branding

    Even virtually, keep thinking of ways for your unique employer branding to come through. Be creative, this can mean creating a welcome video for candidates to view before or after the interview, or even something like using VR to give virtual office tours.

    Follow up

    As with an in-person interview, follow up with an email that includes information on: next steps in the interview process and the timeline. Also ask for feedback either directly or with a survey about how the virtual interview process can be improved.


  • 21-Apr-2020 13:26 | Tracy Dawson (Administrator)

    As business owners, sleepless nights are often part of the mix… but nothing could have prepared any of us for the impact of COVID-19. Undoubtedly, the game has changed forever. The businesses that will survive and emerge even stronger from this crisis are those that can pivot, innovate and adapt to the rapidly evolving situation.

    The worst possible thing you can do during these times is turn off your marketing and become invisible. Customers need to feel confident you’re here, you’re strong and in control and you’ve made plans to deal with the crisis.

    We all have a unique set of challenges... but it's become very clear that interacting with our markets digitally and allowing customers to buy products and services online is the new normal. Our markets will get used to doing everything online 24/7 over the coming months, enjoy the convenience and likely stick with their new habit.

    At Brilliant Digital we are offering a series of free webinars and 30 minute marketing consultations to help you navigate and respond to the unfolding situation. This is the time for strong messaging. The time to put your business under the microscope and review your end to end marketing. The time for laying the foundations of a solid online strategy that will see you through the crisis and beyond.


  • 21-Apr-2020 13:14 | Tracy Dawson (Administrator)

    Article by Matthews Folbigg Lawyers

    Commercial Leases

    National Cabinet has released the Mandatory Code of Conduct for Commercial Leases. The Code applies to tenants with a turnover of less than $50 million who are eligible for the JobKeeper programme and it is planned that state and territory governments will legislate the Code to give it legal effect.

    Key aspects of the Code:

    • landlords must not terminate leases due to non-payment of rent during the COVID-19 period (i.e. 6 months commencing from 1 March 2020 during which the JobKeeper programme is operational)
    • landlords must offer proportionate rent reductions (up to 100%) through rent deferrals or waivers based on the reduction in the tenant’s trade – waivers must be no less than 50% of the rent reduction
    • any deferred rent must be repaid over the balance of the lease term or 24 months (whichever is greater)
    • the landlord must not draw on the tenant’s security bond or bank guarantee during this period
    • any reduction in outgoings must be passed on to the tenant, and the rent must not be increased during this period
    • as at the time of writing of this article (20 April 2020), the Code has not yet been implemented as law by the NSW government
    • the Code requires landlords and tenant to negotiate “in good faith” and where the parties cannot agree, either party may refer the dispute to “binding mediation

    Takeaway

    Landlords should consider what financial information it is reasonable to expect a tenant to provide in support of any request for rental reduction or waiver and tenants should compile relevant information urgently if they are entering into negotiations with their landlord.

    Contracts

    If you are seeking to terminate a contract or alternatively to enforce it, force majeure and frustration are relevant.

    • for force majeure to operate there must be an express clause in the contract, whereas frustration does not require an express term to give it effect
    • both concepts apply to similar situations – a supervening event occurs which prevents or delays performance of the contract through no fault of the parties and in circumstances outside of their control
    • a force majeure clause will usually contain an exhaustive list of defined events, often including “acts or restraints of government authorities”
    • frustration requires the circumstances to be “radically different” from those contemplated when the parties entered into the contract
    • the consequences of force majeure and frustration differ – force majeure usually allows the parties to suspend performance and terminate the contract (without penalty) if the force majeure event continues for a certain period of time, whereas upon frustration occurring the contract comes to an end and the parties are discharged from further performance

    Takeaway

    It is vital that you seek legal advice before varying or terminating a contract or lease or walking away from your obligations under a contract or lease at any time and particularly if your business is affected by the Covid-19 crisis. Unlawful termination could amount to repudiation and may expose you to damages.


    Disclaimer: This article is provided to readers for their general information and on a complimentary basis. It contains a brief summary only and should not be relied upon or used as a definitive or complete statement of the relevant law. Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation. 

  • 21-Apr-2020 11:05 | Tracy Dawson (Administrator)

    If anyone is like me, they are most probably sick of hearing the word Coronavirus. However, our journey through the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. Whilst we are seeing positive signs of the spread slowing and the possible relaxing of restrictions, we still need a vaccine to provide certainty that work will return to some form of normality.

    Leading into Easter I found myself feeling very low on energy and now having time to reflect, regroup and refocus I am now ready to manage through the pandemic and come out stronger on the other side.

    • But what does the other side look like?
    • How can we be ready to take advantage of the opportunities that may present themselves?

    The last few weeks we have spent time helping our clients design strategies for every known situation that we could think of:

    • Plan a) Nothing changes – Hold steady and do what we do and weather the storm
    • Plan b) Restrictions in place – How do we adapt to the changes and continue to operate?
    • Plan c) Total shut down – How do I stop my business from bleeding to death?
    • Plan d) I need a new plan - None of the above will work for me. What should I do next?

    From changes that were happening daily to a more considered approach, people are now feeling less overwhelmed and are starting to look at options more rationally and calmly.

    One of the great things is that we have readily available volumes of information in addition to a number of Government assistance packages for employees and employers. However, this information is not easy to digest, then using it to form a strategy to help you and your employees manage through the pandemic and come out the other side.

    The recent changes to work have got me thinking about the parallels between the current situation and the GFC. Prior to the GFC the unemployment rate in Australia was 5.1% the lowest since 1976 and in November 2019 the unemployment rate was just 5.2%. Prior to the GFC and COVID-19 the economy was in great shape, but as the history books have documented the GFC was tough and took us a long time to recover. Some may argue that we never did really fully recover and as a result our workplaces were changed forever. It is highly likely we are again facing the same situation of reviewing how we work.

    Remember the” War for Talent” prior to the GFC where this is all we talked about. We put strategies in place to ensure that companies had a sustained pipeline of talent, then after the GFC investment in these initiatives disappeared. Was the “War for Talent” won or simply put on the back burner and as technologies changed it became too hard to keep up with? Prior to COVID-19 we spoke a lot about ‘the Future of Work” which has been thrust upon us much quicker than we had planned. Learning from the GFC how did companies manage through and continue to grow and be successful through times of crisis?

    At ChandlerWoods we use a contextualised version of Dr Robert Cooke’s Human Synergistics model on Organisational Culture to assess organisational effectiveness. The model highlights the drivers for organisational culture stemming from Cause to Effect. The model highlights the need to assess and address the causal factors first before you can achieve your desired outcomes. For example, to become more innovative, we need to ensure the environment is created to support and sustain an innovative culture. Simply attending a course on innovation will not drive a prolonged innovative culture.

    In 2010 Dr Robert Cooke studied financial data on earnings/sales ratios of 69 publicly traded corporations in various industries over a preceding three-year period. The results as documented in the book “In Great Company” 2011 (Jones, Dunphy, Fishman et al) showed a positive correlation between constructive cultures and profitability. They also found that there was a high correlation between companies with predominantly Aggressive/Defensive cultures and high levels of sales volitivity. This was predominantly due to Aggressive/Defensive cultures tending to focus on short-term transactions and relationships to drive earnings. Constructive cultures on the other hand tend to be in contrast focused on long-term strategies and relationships with sustainable revenue growth.

    Relationship between Earnings/Sales ratios and culture (Dr Robert Cooke’s findings)

    Strengths of culture Earnings Sales Ratios (n=69)
    Constructive   .217
    Passive/Defensive   .094
    Aggressive/Defensive   -.074

    Furthermore, Dr Cooke describes constructive cultures as being mission oriented, inclusive with a real emphasis on cooperation. A result of these behaviours was greater levels of engagement and cooperation by employees and most importantly in today’s environment, the ‘increased capacity to adapt to the changing market place through innovation and productivity. Does this look like a logical place to start for businesses wanting to push through the storm rather than trying to ride it out?

    Due to COVID-19 we are now adapting to the new normal of working remotely, businesses are thinking about what the future of work looks like in order to ensure they can be best placed to operate their businesses successfully and sustainably.

    Many businesses have been forced to accept the new normal and this has created some challenges as organisations can no longer look at their traditional ways of how they manage their people. Examples such as how to foster teamwork with a remotely dispersed team, setting credible and achievable goals, remotely managing staff performance and keeping them engaged requires a different approach to leadership.

    To be able to navigate in the new world of business, organisations need to be able to have answers on how to best manage their most critical resource, their people. This raises two questions:

    1. What’s your plan?

    2. Do you have the right talent for your business to take advantage of the opportunities that may come out of this crisis?

    Forbes recently published an article called ‘The bright side of COVID-19: Seven Opportunities of the current pandemic” in which they state:

    1. More time – to do the things we have been putting off

    2. Reflect and reconsider – how we do things and why?

    3. Speed and innovation – breaking through rigid systems and complex bureaucracies

    4. Better meetings – outcome based and no time wasters

    5. Reconnect and help - social bonding “we are all in this together”

    6. Cleaner Environment – significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions

    7. Modesty and acceptance – no matter how well we plan we are not in control of the crisis

    If we are to manage through the pandemic and come out stronger on the other side and have a successful and sustainable business, all the supporting research certainly helps, but ultimately, it’s up to you.

    There is quote which I think is very appropriate to the situation we are now facing:

    “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” — Theodore Roosevelt, 26th U.S. president.

    In summary:

    1. What’s your plan?

    2. Do you have the right talent for your business to take advantage of the opportunities that may come out of this crisis?

    You can be sure our method works….

    Our contextualised organisational effectiveness model assesses both the Drivers for Change, such as your current environment, innovation and what are your competitors doing differently as well as the Casual Factors, the way you do things in your organisation.

    Contact ChandlerWoods today to see how we can help you manage through the pandemic and come out stronger on the other side.

    https://www.chandlerwoods.com.au/contact-us/

    Or call:

    Melissa Powick – 0412 606 552

    Richard Brincat - 0418 485 876


  • 21-Apr-2020 10:42 | Tracy Dawson (Administrator)

    In response to COVID-19, the Federal and State Governments have introduced a range of relief measures for individuals and businesses to lessen the effects that the pandemic will have on the economy.

    Click here for the latest news and updates on COVID-19.

    Click here to view the latest webinars on topics including Understanding JobKeeper – how the rules apply to your business, calculating GST turnover under JobKeeper, financial modelling in a dynamic environment and working remotely with Microsoft teams.

    For further information please contact your Pitcher Partners representative:

    Raelene Berryman

    Partner | Private Business and Family Advisory

    raelene.berryman@pitcher.com.au

    +61 2 8236 7875

    View LinkedIn Profile


    Grant Parish

    Partner | Private Business and Family Advisory

    grant.parish@pitcher.com.au

    +61 2 9220 9105

    View LinkedIn Profile


  • 20-Apr-2020 17:13 | Tracy Dawson (Administrator)

    There is tremendous uncertainty in people’s lives at the moment due to the Coronavirus.

    Some people in your team will be coping, while others are not coping at all. They will be feeling anxious, highly stressed and their productivity will suffer significantly as a result. What can you do as a leader to help these people and maintain your momentum?

    Watch the 2-minute video below, to discover two top tips you can start implementing with your team today to help create certainty in a time of crisis.


    To discover exclusive ways WSBC members can rapidly upskill the leadership and management capabilities of their teams, get in touch with World Class Teams today by visiting www.worldclassteams.com.au or calling 1300 085 248.


  • 20-Apr-2020 10:58 | Tracy Dawson (Administrator)

    About now a Salvo’s Officer would normally be knocking on your door asking you to make a gift to support people in need.

    But this year is very different. They cannot knock on your door.

    As a result, hundreds of thousands of Australians on the edge are now in desperate trouble. They need you now, more than ever.

    Please make your online donation at www.salvationarmy.org.au/rsaws2 

    For further information or to get involved go to www.salvationarmy.org.au/doorknock


    If you are struggling financially, emotionally or psychologically because of the COVID-19 outbreak, please call 13 SALVOS.


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