Does our Workplace Health & Safety spend get results?

Are we spending lots of money and effort for nothing?

Are we just propping up the nanny-state mentality of the millennials?

These are unfortunately the attitudes of some in this post-fact world in which we live where an opinion is substituted for, or believed to be, a fact.

Lets have a look at some scary things: facts.

Safe Work Australia undertook a study last year to look to the statistics on the incident of Workers’ Compensation claims from 2000-2016.

Now as we both know, the Workplace Health & Safety “movement” really hit its straps late in 2000 and has had the benefit of media coverage, zeitgeist communication and increasing attention from those good fellows at various SafeWork and WorkCover instrumentalities.

Whilst the figures I have focussed on show a dramatic drop in Serious Claims and a correlation can be drawn between this drop and the focus on safety, its by no means a proven fact – however, there must be some causation correlation between the two.

The Serious Claims are defined in this report – and subsequently this table – as an accepted workers’ compensation claim for an incapacity that results in a total absence from work of one working week or more, excluding compensated fatalities.

What this table is not showing are the “small” claims and issues that also can and will result in time off, fines, increases in our Workers Compensation premiums, so these facts are merely scratching the surface.

We all spend a lot of time, money and sleepless nights worrying over the safety of our business and the staff within. The question we all ask is: are we spending our dollars wisely? Is any of this legislation and compliance actually making a difference?

Again, if we listen to the common complains, we worry that this money is being wasted – the facts tend to dispel this assertation.

Here is a summary of the table on Page 23 of the Safe Work Australia Australian Workers’ Compensation Statistics 2015-2026 here, by the way is the link to the full report:

This table – not reproduced in full – shows a marked decline in the number of serious claims against Workers Compensation across Australia.

By whatever metric you choose, there has been a significant reduction in serious claims over a period of intense public and business focus on OHS & WHS issues. To this, we can reasonably assert that the implementation of these measures have reduced not only claims but significant loss of work hours.

Quite apart from the legal requirements to be compliant with the WHS act, for which non-compliance itself results in significant dollars flying out of our business accounts and bottom line, we have a duty of care for our staff.

If we can save 36% of the hours lost to business from serious claims, what does that mean to your bottom line. “Do the maths” – yes “maths” – on your own business. Look to how many days you’ve had off in the last year due to injuries that could have been avoided with staff being trained in and aware of just how you want them to act within the business? Having the money you spend on their wages, the increased insurance premiums – what does that do to your bottom line?

You haven’t lost time? Great work & well done… so what is it worth to you to ensure you avoid the fines and keep your safety record intact? Will training and having documented systems and policies help?

Wouldn’t it be great if you could provide your staff with all this knowledge, be able to track their understanding and be able to show you have complied with your legal requirements?

Our research showed that the biggest issue for most business owners is the time it takes to create these processes and policies.

That led us to develop revolutionary software that will gives you the ability to create programmes and policies that are applicable to YOUR business by taking 15 minutes and 5 steps.

Simple. Common. Sense.

For more information or a complimentary demonstration, please give me a call on (02) 9011 8100

Common Sense is not Common

How many times do you hear (or say) what’s happened to Common Sense, why don’t people have Common Sense?

This, unfortunately, is the only thing common about common sense: It isn’t common. Here I will try to provide an insight into how this is the case.
When do you most commonly exhort your mantra about Common Sense? Usually when you see someone doing something you consider to be “stupid” and “obvious” – the key phrase I want you to concentrate on here is: “you consider”.

As an example, I live in a semi-rural location, whilst not quite “country” we do have a large proportion of roads without footpaths – or for our American friends: sidewalks. I also walk every morning in a valiant attempt to thwart the onset of aging and horizontal growth.

On these walks on roads without footpaths, I often see people walking on the road on the same side as the traffic – that is, they walk on the road in the same direction as the car traffic. Now, to myself this is a plain lack of common sense!

Surely they should know to always walk towards oncoming traffic so that they can see that you can see them… I know I learnt this as a kid! Were they away on the day this was taught? Are they simple? Do they lack Common Sense?

Now in my old-man rant of incredulity, I need you to concentrate on two words used: “learnt” and “taught”. It is these two words I am sure we have all used when decrying peoples lack of common sense that the key lives: We are all taught common sense! Common Sense is a skill or awareness that we have learned – albeit sometime in the dim dark recesses of our individual pasts, but again, something we have been taught.

Let’s turn this around: for most Australians those funny red and yellow flags found on beaches mean this is the safe swimming zone and we have had rammed down our collective youthful minds to “swim between the flags”. Makes sense, doesn’t it – common sense you might say.

Now reach into your inner self as you watch shows like Bondi Rescue where our international visitors ignore those flags and swim into rips, get carried out towards New Zealand as we sit on our couches passing judgement on these hapless tourists and their lack of common sense in not seeing the flags and not swimming in between them! I am sure most of us have said at least once: “Don’t these silly people have any common sense – damned lucky for them our brave lifeguards were there” – sound familiar?

Let us now board an international flight to France, to the beaches of the Cote d’Azur as we live out our fantasies brought on by grainy European movies of yore. On this beach we see a Yellow triangular flag… to our Australian mindset this is confusing – firstly its triangular, secondly only one colour, but you’re a strong swimmer, there seem to be a lot of people on the beach and it’s a sunny day.

As you casually saunter towards the water you notice a gallic film crew with smirks on their faces following you – you think to yourself “ah, that time in the gym and fake-tan booth has paid off”. What you don’t realise is that “common sense” for our French cousins tells them that the beach is polluted and that swimming in this water may provide us a more permanent fake-tan. Luckily the lads from Biarritz Rescue stop you short of a chemical breakdown and in a few months a family in Nice will be sitting on their couch watching the TV saying: “Don’t these silly people have any common sense – damned lucky for them our brave lifeguards were there”.
Yes, gentle reader, Common Sense isn’t innate, its learned intelligence and the only way Common Sense becomes common is that we have had a common learning.

Now turn your thoughts to the “nanny state” brought on by Governments fearfulness of Workplace Safety and their needing of us to inform and teach our staff basic common-sense things that will stop them killing or injuring themselves, tut…. Tut indeed!

I mean, nobody in their right mind would weld using newspaper as a facemask or wearing open-toed sandals, would they? Surely not, I mean its just common sense!

In case you’ve missed it, Common Sense is a misnomer, common sense is the baseline of what you know and are aware of. The only way you have the “Common” sense is because at some time you have learned this to be true – why would we assume our staff are any different?

At the very least we need to set a baseline of knowledge so that our Common Sense can become just that: Common. Never mind the fact that our staff will understand without question what is expected of them from a safety perspective, but as an added bonus we will have fulfilled our legal responsibility to train and inform our staff.

Here is where the problem starts: we aren’t trainers, nor are we safety experts, we build things, we provide a service, we ply our trade, but now we have to author training programmes and policy documents to teach common sense… where do I find the time and requisite knowledge to perform this “non-core” task?

Let’s look at the pros and cons of providing these programmes and policies into your workplace:

PRO: You empower your employees with processes to ensure their safety in your workplace and in doing so you get to sleep soundly at night.
CON: There would be nothing more horrific than feeling the weight of the death or permanent disability of your staff member that could have been avoided with a simple common sense process that could have saved their life.
PRO: You get satisfaction that you have ticked all the boxes and will pass any Workcover inspection with flying colours.
CON: While giving the regulatory bodies the proverbial finger does feel good, you could find yourself facing a massive fine or even having your business closed permanently.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could provide your staff with all this knowledge, be able to track their understanding and be able to show you have complied with your legal requirements?

Our research showed that the biggest issue for most business owners is the time it takes to create these processes and policies.

That led us to develop revolutionary software that will gives you the ability to create programmes and policies that are applicable to YOUR business by taking 15 minutes and 5 steps.

Simple. Common. Sense.

For more information or a complimentary demonstration, please give me a call on (02) 9011 8100

Focusing Learning on the Business

In the first post in this series we showed how there was a demonstrated link between good HR/Training practices and improved Business Results.

In fact it is even more critical than that. Joel Henning in his book “The Future of Staff Groups” comments that “the future of staff functions (HR/Training) will depend on the direct and explicit contribution to positive business results”. So, helping the business is in fact helping yourself. We are sure most of you are aware of this but it is important to reinforce this here as it reminds us on why we do what we do and how important it is.

Before talking about the tools and practices needed to link HR/Training to Business Results, it is first necessary to explore the dynamics of this linkage.

From the last post we showed the basis of the linkage between HR/Training and Business Results in this diagram below:


What this diagram is showing is that there is a direct relationship between Business Performance and Workplace Performance. This linkage has been shown again and again in the research on this matter.

When we are developing people we are interested in how this relationship changes over time. Firstly as we improve Workplace Performance from Now to the Future it shifts as shown below:


Now, because of the known link between Workplace Performance and Business Performance, the change in Workplace Performance from Now to the Future will, by definition, lift Business Performance from Now to the Future. This can be seen in a more complete Performance Relationship Map shown below:


This may seem obvious, but keeping this relationship clear is important. You would be surprised how many people misunderstand this simple fact.

So what you should now ask.

Well now we look at HOW we move from the Now to the Future. i.e. the HR/Training practices that are needed.

Firstly, how do we move Workplace Performance from Now to the Future?

Well that is our bread and butter. This is called the Learning Process. i.e. By whatever methods we use that help people to learn new skills. These new skills will lift their Workplace Performance over time from Now to the Future (as shown above).

This is one of the HR/Training practices identified in the research that leads to improved Business Results. An effective Learning Process has a direct impact on Business Performance. So time spent making your Learning Process as effective as possible will improve Business Performance.

You will notice that there is a causal relationship between Business Performance and Workplace Performance. i.e. in this case, you change one and the other will also change. Thus, if the Business changed its performance it can also change Workplace Performance. This causal relationship is our next point of focus.

Getting the most from your Learning Systems

Recently we have been asked more and more about the approaches we use to better align learning with the business and how we get more from the Learning Management Systems (LMS). It seems that many organisations have now implemented an LMS of some form or another. They are now trying to leverage the substantial investment in time and resources to get more from their LMS. This is not as easy as it sounds, but following these requests we would like to showcase a number of different approaches that have worked for us over the years to get the best from an LMS.

Our approach to this issue has been built up over a numbers of years. Instrumental in the approach are the thoughts of Dave Urlich as he writes for the Harvard Business Review book “Delivering Results”. Here Urlich argued that traditionally Training and HR measured their results by “Activity”. Now this approach can be very seductive. It is easy to observe and count BUT this is clearly incomplete. We also need to focus on “Results” as well as “Activities”. However, a “Result” focus alone is NOT 100% effective because the methods (“Activities”) used to deliver these “Results” are also important. So a focus on “Results” is critical but you must also monitor the “Activities” of learning.

Linking Learning to the Business

There is a great deal of research that has shown the link between HR/Training and Business Results. Two of the most influential were the studies conducted firstly by The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and CCH and the other being by Mark Huselid out of Rutger University.

The first study evaluated the financial impact of HR/Training practices in 260 firms. Four financial measures were selected for the evaluation. At the end of the study it was found that all four measures increased dramatically with the quality of HR/Training practices. It proved that an internal alignment of Business Strategy, HR/Training Practices and Management Philosophy contribute to business success.

In the second study Huselid looked at how various HR/Training practices impacted on three organisational performance measures (Turnover, Productivity and Financial Results). He found that there was a strong link between good HR/Training practices and lower employee turnover and greater productivity and financial performance in the 968 firms studied. Huselid commented that the magnitude of the return of investment was substantial. One standard deviation increase in good HR/Training practices lead to a 7.05% decrease in turnover plus a 16% increase in productivity. This yielded a financial performance increase of $27,044 in sales, $18,641 in market value and $3,814 per employee.

These studies demonstrate a strong relationship HR/Training investment and Business Results.


This basic relationship is shown above. Now there is always debate about why this relationship exists and how it operates, but it is enough to say that it does. Further discussion on it would be more academic than useful

Now many HR/Training practices will have very little impact on your LMS and your ability to get the most from it. The key here is to put in place practices that STRONGLY link Workplace Performance and Business Performance. In this way an improvement in Workplace Performance (such as learning a new skill) can lead directly to improved Business Performance. The better the practice the tighter the link will be. During our work for a number of organisations we have developed a number of tools and practices that we use that, when implemented properly, directly link Workplace Performance to Business Results. In the next post we will discuss these tools and show you how they can work with any LMS you have and how you can use them to maximise the investment your organisation has made in this resource.

Selecting Learning Management Systems

Selecting a Learning Management System can be a burden, can be a chore, can be a mindfield, or it can be a pleasant experience – the choice is yours and yours alone!

Now, before we get off on the wrong foot, yes, we sell and implement DOTS, so I do have a bit of a bias towards DOTS Talent Solution’s excellent offering, however, years in eLearning and experience in the “big end of town” does provide me, personally, with a unique perspective… I was the Country Manager for one of the LMS “Gorillas”, so have seen just how big and arduous this selection process can be.

Fear not, this article is not a lecture from on high on how to select an LMS, nor is it a thinly veiled sales piece for DOTS, what it is, is very, very brief look at 16 years experience in Learning Management Systems and over 20 years experience in eLearning and a couple of the more “interesting” things I have seen along the way. So, sit back and enjoy a light trip through the mindfield of your choosing.

The most important thing to realise when selecting an LMS, or any other thing for that matter, is that you are the buyer and should know what you need and most importantly: why!

For this reason, you need to understand just what you want and (hopefully) need an LMS for. This is somewhat like when buying a car, for instance, don’t walk into the Ferrari dealership and start looking around at the options list when all you need is a four-door runabout that will pickup the kids and the odd bit of shopping on your daily runs around the suburbs.

So, lets understand what you need an LMS for and just what an LMS is.
Unfortunately, nobody – and yes, I mean nobody – can tell you what you need an LMS for. Many can advise you, many can direct you, even more can tell you why they implemented and what they are using theirs for, but only you can specify your why.

One of my clients was rung by a rather eager salesman who didn’t understand this, fortunately she did. This rather eager young man rang my client and suggested that selecting an LMS was “a complex task that you at don’t have the skills to accomplish”. So, not only was this company trying to sell their particular LMS, but they were trying to sell Consulting business to select their LMS – somewhat cheeky, but I am afraid, not rare! Fortunately, my client told this young man just where to go and how far to jump when he got there.
An LMS at its most simple is a database that stores your Staff’s educational experiences and knowledge assets.

Just what is a “Knowledge Asset”? It is a record of knowledge gained by your staff – yup, that’s right, a simple record in a database that says Johnny has completed the Excel course successfully – don’t be fooled, that’s all it is. The real secret is being able to get at this data in a meaningful and easy way so that you can see just where your assets are and start to make decisions based on fact rather than feeling.

The LMS should also, at least be able to launch and manage training courses, both for offline and online use.

I remember a phonecall I received not that many years ago from a colleague who worked for one of the “Gorilla” LMS’s. This was a somewhat prolonged phonecall, as my colleague couldn’t speak too clearly as his speech was punctuated by howl of derisive laughter… now, what, dear reader, you may ask was the source of such derision, well, allow me to elucidate: He was calling me to inform me that the LMS he had just been employed to support didn’t store Staff’s learning results. Not that that was his source of mirth, his source of laughter was the fact that he had just been informed by the head developer of said LMS that the holding of scoring data was not “core” to a Learning Management System.

In short, selecting your LMS can be a mindfield, but if you keep in mind these three simple an unalienable facts, you wont go wrong:

  1. Know what you want the LMS for
  2. Know what data you are going to report on
  3. You are the buyer

Don’t be bullied and if the salesman starts with the white-belted, check-panted version of “let me tell you what you want”, show them the door.

If the salesman starts with “tell me what you want”, sit down, get comfy and tell all. If they are good, they will listen, if they are great they will let you know what they can do, if they are honest, they will tell you what they cant do. Remember, trust is a two-way street and the most important basis for any ongoing business dealing.
You are the buyer, its your decision, so only select what works for you! Remember to ask questions, ask questions, then ask some more. Be honest in your telling. If both sides are honest, then all will be well with the world and the implementation will be a smooth and pleasant experience.