Keeping Staff During Covid-19

Some organisations can operate under the current conditions, and some of them will be able to afford to continue to pay their staff wages and keep staff gainfully employed.

However, with the social restrictions that are currently in place, we have had less face to face customers, and for some, that means less workload.

So, what are some things we can be doing within our businesses and organisations to keep our staff on track with meaningful tasks to get us through this unprecedented time?

It’s time to get creative, think outside of the box, and it’s time to clean up, take stock and brainstorm what we can do and look at how else can we do business. What can be completed or conducted over the phone or via tele/video conferencing?

Now is the time we can physically and electronically clean up, have time for staff training and development, review and update policies, procedures and to be creative.

Think of all the tasks that you never get a chance to do or to get on top off. Think of the tasks that you may get a work experience student or a volunteer to do while with you. Think of the cleaning out, archiving, scanning, review of documents, and those projects that keep getting put onto the back burner that you just ever get a chance to get to or that collection of paperwork on your desk.

Think of tasks that having them done will add value to the business in the long run, this means you are also preparing yourself, your staff and your organisation for when this is over, and things go back to some type of normality.

NOTE: All suggestions below take into account social distancing rules that are currently in place and ensuring staff are trained, and it’s safe for them to conduct these tasks.

Physically Clean up

  • Clean up and organise hard copy files
  • Clean out the stationary, archive, storage room/shed/warehouse/cupboards etc
  • Throw away unused materials, furniture, equipment, papers etc. anything that is broken, unrepairable and sell or give away (if you choose) anything that you no longer want or need.
  • Wash and vacuum work vehicles/windows/desks
  • Reorganise, rearrange the office space, desks, meeting rooms, lunchrooms etc
  • Conduct a workplace inspection
  • Scan hard copy files for electronic storage

Electronically Clean Up

  • Clean Up
  • Clean up your desktop, save files to their appropriate folders and place, create desktop shortcuts for files and data you access regularly
  • Clean out and organise your email inbox
  • Organise your other electronic files
  • Defrag and back up your computers
  • Clean up the files and applications on your work phone or tablet

Utilise Time for Training

  • Re-induct your staff
  • Online training staff can do either when working from home or at work, that will benefit them in their positions. This does not have to mean an entire qualification, it could be some helpful and relevant stand-alone units being completed
  • Learn how to do something new on the computer, Google and Youtube is great for this
  • Catch up and watch relevant workplace or WHS Webinars. Safework NSW has some great ones, I will definitely be doing this!

Review and Update

  • Your WHS and HR policies
  • Workplace forms, registers, checklists and reports
  • Your voicemail messages
  • Workplace presentations

Be Creative

  • Turn your staff induction into an online or electronic training program
  • Create some templates
  • Update or create processes that need documenting that will help you with training staff in the future
  • Implement tele/video conferencing processes in your work where possible
  • Research that new product, supplier, software
  • Streamline your workplace processes further, by creating shortcuts and macros
  • Create some workplace videos, “how to’s” for staff, you can do this with only a smartphone
  • Draft or create some marketing material
  • Map out your social media strategy and content
  • Update or write some new content for your website
  • Create a new playlist for your organisation’s background music, or on-hold music or for training and presentations
  • Start building a “when this is over” list. Some great ideas will come up, and you don’t want to lose them.

Some businesses are implementing reduced hours; some are introducing a four-day week to help with the downturn in work, while still keeping staff gainfully employed. You will find that once you really think about what CAN be done, ideas will come forward.

Just remember whatever tasks you ask of your staff, ensure it is meaningful, safe, and they are trained in doing the task safely.

New Learning Management System for Online Students

We are pleased to announce that we have a new Learning Management System (LMS) for our students who study with us via correspondence online.

Students currently studying with us online will be transferred to the new system once they finish their current unit. Don’t worry; there is no extra cost and no additional units for anyone who is already enrolled. With all new students will be enrolled directly to the new LMS.

The new online LMS has some excellent resource and system benefits for students. It has higher quality images, easier to read layout with student-centric terminology and the ability to check your understanding via quizzes at the end of each topic. Plus knowledge questions are directly related to performance criteria, and repetition has been reduced, meaning less work for students.

Online students can now:

  • Record video observations directly inside the system.
  • Find terms inside the learning resources by using a “search function.”
  • Students can now automatically return to where they left off or can bookmark pages themselves and add their notes.
  • Upload any number of files to any answer fields, including via drag-drop.

Additionally, the new LMS system has clean, intuitive screen designs and the improved navigation helps focus on the things that matter. Plus the system has support for mobile devices (a significant improvement from the last system).

If you have ever thought about studying online with Dowell Solutions, with the new LMS system and student payment plans that Dowell Solutions offer, now is the time to kick your study off!

Need some more encouragement? Then read our article on The Benefits of Studying Via Distance.


How I got a Sit-Stand Desk for $70

I work with many clients that have implemented Sit-Stand (elevated) desks for their staff, and I always admired the choice of functionality they provide for those working at a desk. The reduction in fatigue, stress, shoulder and neck strain, RSI and back pain with the added benefits of improved energy levels in staff, increased concentration, productivity and creativity also make them very attractive and worthy of consideration.

Being conscious of how much time I spend sitting at my desk. I have several tasks that I do standing, including when on the phone to reduce the amount of time I’m sitting at my desk.

During January 2019, I watched an online training webinar on the NSW Safe work website, even got a beautiful little certificate. After the webinar, I received a notification to say that the webinars met the requirements for the NSW SafeWork Rebate and a link to apply for $500 to go towards a safety solution in my workplace.

After further checking my eligibility and the types of items it could cover, I was excited that I could use it to go towards a sit-stand desk for my office. I had to purchase the sit-stand desk first, and then I had to send a copy of my receipt to my application, I received the rebate in my account in about three weeks.

These (NSW SafeWork Rebates) are still available for different safety solutions in small businesses, and I encourage you to have a look and see if you are eligible and for what types items that could benefit your workplace.

Things to consider when deciding on a sit-stand desk

  • Some are electronic, and some are manual, many manuals ones don’t get used as often as it’s not as easy to raise them.
  • Monitor and computer cords will need to be longer, power points may need to be relocated, or extension leads or power board may need to be used with them. To ensure you have the cord length for when the desk is raised to a standing position.
  • Correct ergonomics for typing and desk work still needs to be adhered to when in the standing position
  • Staff need to slowly migrate to standing, i.e. 30 mins of standing followed by 30 mins of sitting. Then grow on these times. For if staff go from sitting all day to standing all day, some may become quickly uncomfortable and fatigued and will not utilise the desk to its potential.
  • Be aware that not all sit-stand desks come with a cradle or basket to hold or manage cords; in some cases, these are additional items that are purchased.
  • Be aware that if cords are not managed correctly, there is potential for them to get caught or pinched in the desks mechanisms and damage them.

Although known for health benefits and increased productivity in workplaces. Sit-stand desks are not a magic pill that is going to turn your organisation into a steam engine of productivity.


Training Calendar 2020

Health and Safety Representatives Course – NSW

Location: Wagga Wagga

  • Monday 9th March to Friday 13th of March –  BOOK NOW
  • Monday 1st of June to Friday 5th of June – BOOK NOW
  • Monday 24th August to Friday 28th August
  • Monday 16th November to Friday 20 November


Benefits of Exit Interviews

We interview people when they enter our organisations, so why not interview them when they leave?

I recommend all my clients to conduct Exit Interviews with their staff before they leave the organisation.

Exit interviews play a significant role in helping organisations to get a better picture of how the whole hiring, training, retaining and terminating cycle of employees is working and how it can be further improved to support the goals of an organisation and employee expectation or satisfaction.

They can highlight internal issues with leadership, training inadequacies, technology deficiencies, outdated or unlawful policy or procedures and cultural issues that are festering. That otherwise would have remained hidden or unattended to and could result in more employees leaving or internal issues exploding.

Exit interviews can assist in finding out if any loophole exists in the recruitment process. Recruitment is a costly and complicated process where room to improve is always present. Exit interviews can reveal whether the leaving employee was hired rightly for the right job or if the position description used in the recruitment process was a true reflection of the position.

Many industries conduct exit interviews. They can be undertaken in several ways depending upon the type of termination and type of industry in which employee works. The main objective of the exit interview is to get an insight into causes and reasons that made an employee leave the organisation voluntarily. Where employees are terminated forcefully due to downsizing, forceful mergers or other global and economic reasons, Exit Interviews can help soften the concerns of terminated employees and can assist them in finding new avenues and paths to further their careers.

Most organisations conduct exit interviews face to face so that the reasons for unhappiness are determined.  These interviews can also be done online or through survey-based online forms which mainly help employees to give more candid and honest opinion where they are reluctant to provide a negative image of management.

Exit Interviews can be conducted internally or externally by a consultant before the employee leaving. When performed internally, it is often the cheaper option; however, depending on who is doing the interview, it may not be as effective as someone externally conducting the interview.

When conducting the interviews, it’s essential to have a robust set of questions that look at the positives and negative experiences the employee may have had during their time with the organisation. Having a balanced set of questions about the job, the employee’s satisfaction, its tasks, the manager they reported to and the organisation will give you a better picture of the underlying issues other than just the one question “Why are you leaving?”

Your interview will be more effective if the employee involved in the Exit Interview knows that the outcome of the Exit Interview will not be reported back to the organisation until after they leave. This lessens the fear of any retribution from their comments, and you will get honest responses and feedback during the interview, plus a higher participation rate.

I find if you provide them with a copy of the questions before the Exit Interview. This settles their nerves, give them time to think about their responses. When they see there are a format and a process it sends a message of integrity and appreciation in their participation in the process. It also removes the sense that it’s only going to be a session to air dirty laundry.

Additionally, I have found that most Exit Interviews are completed in less than an hour. However, it can be a valuable hour when you learn about issues or deficiencies within the organisation you haven’t yet seen or been advised.

Exit Interviews can save you money; therefore if you haven’t implemented them yet in your organisation, it’s time to consider them today.