Over the last decade, Australia has increasingly moved away from the conventional nine-to-five working day.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ most recent quarterly labour force statistics, for example, shows full-time work is decreasing, while part-time and shift work is on the rise.
Australian employers, however, too often think about workplace culture only in relation to full-time employees. It’s time businesses reconsider their approach to workplace culture for the shift workforce as well.
Although the traditional definition of work is evolving, the assumption that shift workers and full-time staff have different needs is deeply entrenched. But there shouldn’t be a difference between full-time salaried employees and shift workers.
All workers should continuously feel the values of the businesses they work for — whether they work four or 40 hours a week. Simply feeling like a valuable part of the team can have a significant impact on workplace culture, and, ultimately, the employer’s business performance.
There are some easy steps that Aussie businesses can take to keep workplace culture positive and morale high.
1. Focus on people from the very beginning
For all employees, the relationship with their employer starts at the recruitment journey. First impressions matter and employees want to feel like a vital part of the company from day one.
For hiring managers and HR professionals, this can be as simple as allowing candidates to let their personalities shine by creating a friendly atmosphere and engaging candidates by asking interesting questions about more than just work.
2. Onboarding gets your employees onside
Just as first impressions are vital, onboarding is an essential step to connect with new employees. Given it’s how businesses welcome new team members, onboarding should set the tone for how businesses treat their employees. Having everything ready before new starters arrive must be a priority.
Investing in onboarding demonstrates that a business cares about the success of new members. From tech inductions to ‘speed dating’ with teammates, a well-planned onboarding process is a great way to foster an inclusive, cooperative environment.
3. Keeping lines of communication open
While most bigger businesses invest comprehensively in internal communications, they often ignore shift and part-time workers in the process. Too often, these employees miss out on important updates.
Employers need to find a way to ensure their whole team — regardless of how many hours they work a week or where they’re located — is across what’s going on within the business. From sending out a weekly newsletter with business updates to embracing communication platforms such as Google Hangouts or Slack, investing in a culture of transparency will ensure all employees feel valued.
4. It’s about work-life integration
Something that’s been spoken about for years is the importance of work-life balance — but is this still relevant?
We know work and personal lives are becoming increasingly entwined and an integration is taking place as the two are no longer separated.
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Still, Aussie companies regardless of size, must recognise their employees have lives outside of work and offering flexible working options should be a priority.
By its very nature, shift work is an incredibly flexible working arrangement, but it’s important employers do not abuse this flexibility by making outlandish requests of their team, such as excessive overtime days or inflexibility when employees wish to mark themselves unavailable for a shift.
From encouraging working from home to having part-time positions available, flexible working keeps employees motivated and also promotes productivity.
After all, isn’t it better to work effectively and spend an hour on a task than drawing it out over several days?
5. Compliance is key
The most important step to maintaining a great workplace culture is simple: pay your staff correctly. While salaried workers have less to worry about here (when speaking about wage compliance), we see every day how many businesses are accused of underpaying their part-time and shift workers.
A huge part of a happy workplace with a good culture is investing in the relationship between employer and employee. And without trust between the two parties, developing a good culture is an impossible feat.
It’s clear that keeping employees happy and fulfilled will help inspire this positivity, but what’s most important now, as the very definition of work transforms, is that businesses keep culture top of mind — regardless of if employees work a single shift or full-time hours.