Retail, like other industries, is facing challenging times. As we mentioned in our recent ‘HR Now’ blog, employers are facing a world characterised by:

  • continuous change – including rapid digitisation and globalisation of service offerings,
  • doing more with less – this is especially so in retail, where customers continue to demand more value for lower expenditure, while wage costs continue to rise, and
  • the emergence of ‘retailtainment’ – not just engaging with customers in-store, but using tools like brand ambassadors to get customers interested and in the mood to buy. The name of the game is to create a ‘customer experience’, which goes beyond merely the hard sell.

What does this mean for employers in the industry? There are three key issues facing retail employers in the next 12 months:
Continue Reading The top 3 HR issues in the retail industry

Last year, we wrote about the 7 lessons for successful bargaining which highlighted that “tit for tat” communications rarely lead to a successful bargaining outcome.  We regularly see that leading the communication agenda with employees is imperative in achieving any workplace change including enterprise bargaining.

Unfortunately, some union officials see enterprise bargaining as a fight between the union and the employer. Invariably the ‘campaign’ arrives.  Flyers put a spin on what’s happening inside and outside the negotiation.  Employers feel compelled to react and this plays into the ‘tit for tat’ game that the union thrives on.
Continue Reading Achieving change – active employee engagement is crucial

The Bargaining Coach rarely comments on decisions of courts or tribunals. Plenty of others do that. This is a rare exception.

Many of you will by now be aware of the Aurizon decision where a Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission constituted by Vice President Watson, Deputy President Gostencnik and Commission Spencer terminated 12 enterprise agreements. Fundamentally, this decision recalibrates the approach taken to the termination of expired enterprise agreements.
Continue Reading The Bargaining Coach: FWC provides bargaining reality-check

Aurizon, previously a government owned entity, operates in the rail industry. The company had been bargaining in relation to numerous enterprise agreements. Part of the company’s bargaining platform was to be relieved of onerous restrictions on management, many of which were legacies of its public sector origins. The changes were resisted and the bargaining became intractable.

In an effort to overcome the legacy arrangements, Aurizon applied to the Fair Work Commission to terminate the agreements.
Continue Reading Aurizon: Operating in perpetuity not in the public interest

In the 6 January edition of the Australian Financial Review ANZ Bank CEO Mike Smith described the effects of digitisation as being “as significant as the changes imposed by the industrial revolution”.

This comment is supported by a deep and diverse data set and important research from organisations such as McKinsey & Company and we have previously written about the Business Council of Australia’s discussion paper from last year. 
Continue Reading The new industrial revolution – digitisation in the workplace

Penalty rates are a critical issue for Australian businesses – they already make up a significant proportion of many organisations’ total labour costs. Penalty rates will take on even higher importance in the future, as Australians continue the move towards working ‘flexibly’ – which often means performing work outside the traditional ‘business hours’ of 9am to 5pm, and regularly working at night, on weekends and during public holidays.
Continue Reading Who will score from the ‘penalty’ spot?

Employers connected with the construction industry will be aware that in April the Minister for Employment issued an advance release of the Building and Construction Industry (Fair and Lawful Building Sites) Code (Draft Code) as part of the proposed reforms of the building and construction industry.  The advance release coincided with attempts by construction unions to pre-empt the new code by making agreements preserving non-compliant content before it commenced operation.
Continue Reading Proposed reforms to the building and construction industry: draft Commonwealth Code changes bargaining behaviour

The Productivity Commission has produced an extensive two volume draft report into major public infrastructure.  Not surprisingly, industrial relations features in the draft report. Relevant here is the impending Productivity Commission review of workplace regulation which we have written about previously.  The two volumes comprise almost 600 pages. Industrial relations is dealt with specifically in some 50 pages, but to varying degrees influences much of the analytical backdrop to the report.  This is not surprising given the report’s focus on the scope for reducing costs and improving productivity when it comes to the construction of major public infrastructure.
Continue Reading Lessons from the Productivity Commission, Public Infrastructure & IR