Taking the bull of change by the horns

by 18 Sep 2007

By Craig Donaldson

In this issue, our lead news story, “Poor communication’s high cost”, looks at the issue of why CEOs and managers need to take a more proactive approach to WorkChoices and industrial relations changes. Since the introduction of WorkChoices, many companies have not opted for this approach given uncertainty around legislative changes, increased red tape, fears about increased union involvement or a simple ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ mindset.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that a not insignificant number of firms have adopted this approach in responding (or not responding) to recent industrial relations changes. While there are risks associated with being an early adopter of reform, CEOs and managers who fail to take responsibility for change and take a proactive approach to management also face possibly longer-term risks.

Regardless of the laws of the day, a company’s leaders set the culture and tone of management of a place. And regardless of industrial relations changes, the labour market still continues to operate and CEOs need to take the bull by the horns in making the most of this labour market.

As the skills shortage continues to bite across an increasing number of industries, employers need to do their best in attracting and retaining good employees. Employers need to have good employment policies and procedures in place, they need to pay employees fairly, they need to foster a positive workplace culture and managers need to inspire their employees.

If employees (especially generations X and Y) perceive they are being treated unfairly, there are an increasing number of other employment options available to them.

WorkChoices does provide for a certain amount of increased flexibility, and it looks like Labor’s industrial relations policy will not be overly onerous on business. Government legislation is no reason to be timid about making the most of employment opportunities for good employees. If your company’s management prefers to take a more reactive approach, it might be worth considering companies who are more proactive and willing to embrace change.