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The Punnet – October 2023

By October 11, 2023October 12th, 2023Newsletter
The Punnet

What is happening in the world of HR for small businesses?

Introducing our new ‘Food For Thought’ series!

We are excited to introduce our newest training and development offering, Food for Thought.

What is Food for Thought?

They are bite-sized learning opportunities that effectively promote continuous learning, collaboration, and team building that can be held at a time that works best for your business. Designed to allow your team to learn and discuss various topics related to their work, industry, personal development, or other relevant subjects. Sessions usually last for an hour or so, fitting within a typical lunch break or whenever you choose.

Who are they for?

Food for Thought is for any business focused on its people’s continuous growth and development. Whether you are a small business looking for an intimate, in-person team-building session over a meal or a large company seeking sessions that can be delivered at different times online, we have a topic for everyone.

How do they work?

You can choose to hold your Food for Thought session online or onsite. Our team is flexible and can work with you to make it work for your unique needs. Not everyone can have their whole team come to a stop at the same time during business hours. Holding a Food for Thought session is completely up to you and what works best for your circumstances!

  • Schedule an evening pizza session
  • Host a lunch and learn
  • Start the day with a morning breakfast briefing
  • Add it to the agenda of your team development day

What topics can I choose from?

The current topics include:

  • Leadership: More than just a title – No matter your title, we can all be leaders in the workplace.
  • If I could turn back time – Tips and tricks to improve your productivity and time management.
  • Improve team collaboration (or how to play nicely in the workplace) – Ideas to work better with each other for the whole team’s benefit!
  • Thriving at Work: Mastering Healthy Habits – how to create healthy habits at work.
  • Mental Health – We have a range of Mental Health related topics to choose from.

For further details, download the brochure here.

Want to learn more? 

Learn about the benefits of hosting a Food For Thought session here.

Book in for a chat with one of our team to learn more about our Food For Thought series. Discounts may apply to existing clients.

World Mental Health Day – Managing mental illness at work

We are all increasingly aware that mental health is an approachable and acceptable subject and that there are new laws and practices in place (such as psychosocial risks and hazards) and first aid programs (such as the MHFA course we run at Strawberry Seed) that are developing to educate further and protect employee’s mental health.

Businesses are experiencing the magnitude and complexity of mental illness in the workplace, from declaration to reasonable adjustments to managing employees who declare mental illness during a performance management process.  This is the reality of the current climate that we are experiencing at Strawberry Seed.

Mental illness is real, and it’s essential to understand that there is a difference between an ongoing diagnosable mental illness and a person’s response to life’s usual stress and strains.

Employees are protected from discrimination and any adverse treatments in the workplace if they declare that they are experiencing a mental illness.  However, this doesn’t mean that a business doesn’t have rights and processes that they can access to support an employee with a mental illness.

So, what happens if an employee has declared they are experiencing a mental illness?

Firstly – is this declaration made before employment, during employment or a performance management process? If the declaration is during a performance management process, pause the performance management process until you can address the declaration.  Their illness may have a direct impact on their performance.

Step 1:  Once you have received a declaration from the employee, it’s essential to discuss the options and reasonable adjustments that the employee may need to have implemented to help them complete the inherent responsibilities of their role.

Adjustments are usually quick, simple, and easy to implement. They can include flexible hours, regular breaks, workstation changes, ergonomic set-up, processes for certain situations, etc.  As a business, it is the law that you need to consider and make reasonable adjustments for an employee.

An employee doesn’t have to tell you details of the illness, but you can ask questions about the condition/medication in direct relation to the inherent requirements of the role.

Suppose you have concerns about the legitimacy of the illness or would like more specific information, especially if the illness is complex or adjustments requested may not be reasonable. In that case, you can request (with the employee’s consent) medical information from their GP or treating physician.

Always document any discussion, decisions or adjustments made.

Step 2: Decide the boundaries of confidentiality – who needs to know what, if anything? Do you need to implement a personal situation plan, or is there an advanced care directive that may require other people’s involvement? There are many positives to being open and supportive in the workplace with like-minded employees.

Step 3: Continually support and check in with the employee – ensure that if you notice any changes, these are raised as part of a mental health conversation.  Don’t assume that adjustments that have worked in the past continue to work for the employee.  Don’t bubble wrap them either – involve them in decisions about upcoming work, responsibilities, or stressors, and don’t assume what capacity they do or don’t have for these challenges.

These situations are complex and nuanced; you don’t need to navigate them alone. The Strawberry Seed team are here to help. If you need assistance, reach out to (03) 4216 5200.

Looking for other ideas on managing Mental Health at work? Check out the latest article from Frances Orr, our Principal HR Advisor and MHFA Instructor, 3 Steps for Supporting Mental Health in the Workplace.

Parental Leave

This year, there have been changes to the Parental Leave provisions under the Fair Work Act to strengthen access to and provide greater flexibility to parents taking unpaid parental leave. We thought it was worth highlighting some of the most important points for employers to be aware of.

The key changes are:

  • Employees can now take up to 100 days of their 12-month unpaid parental leave entitlement flexibly during the 24 months after the birth or placement of their child. This is an increase from the previous 30-day entitlement.
  • Pregnant employees will also be able to access their flexible unpaid parental leave up to 6 weeks before their child’s expected date of birth.
  • Employees will no longer be prevented from taking more than 8 weeks of unpaid parental leave at the same time as their spouse or de facto partner (known as concurrent leave).
  • Both parents can take up to 12 months of unpaid parental leave at any time within 24 months of their child’s birth or placement. They can also both apply for an extension of up to 12 months beyond the initial 12-month leave amount.

We understand that there have been a lot of changes, and it is hard to keep up. The Strawberry Seed team are here to help. If we have previously compiled your HR documentation, we can review and update it with all the changes. If you are a new client, there has never been a better time to take up one of our HR Packages to ensure compliance.

If you want us to help you get up to date, call us for a quote at (03) 4216 5200.

2024 Training and Development

Help us set our training agenda for 2024 by completing this survey

We are in the process of finalising our training calendar for our public training courses in 2024 and would love to get your input!

Please take a moment to complete this survey to ensure we continue to meet your needs.

Upcoming Training and Development

Final Leadership Training Workshop for 2023 – Melbourne

One of our popular HR services is to develop and deliver customised in-house Leadership Training for our clients. However, we realise that not all small businesses are large enough to have a session independently.

Our Leadership Training Workshop is designed to bring together people managers from the small business community to share their experiences and develop their knowledge and skills to be better leaders. This workshop aims to ensure leaders get the most out of their people, improve productivity and reduce organisational risk.

Next Available Workshops

Melbourne – Friday, 20th October 2023 

Discount codes are available for HR Package clients. For more information and details on how to book, click here.

Final Webinar for 2023

101 of HR for Building and Trade

The last of our free webinars will be held on the 15th of November, 2023, at 7.30 pm.

Our ‘101’ webinar series is designed to get into the nuts and bolts of managing employees in specific industries, allowing us to go deeper into the details that matter.

Please join our Principal HR Advisor, Helen Dodd, as she explains what businesses in Building and Trade need to know regarding HR and Employment.

Bookings can be made here, and please feel free to pass this on to other business owners. Don’t worry if you can’t attend on the night. You will receive a recording to watch at your convenience.

Mental Health First Aid Training

Undetected mental health issues have a long-term negative impact on your staff and the wider workplace. Recognising the signs and symptoms of mental health issues is the first step to supporting a struggling employee or workmate.

Our Principal HR Advisor and Mental Health First Aid Instructor, Frances Orr, is an accredited MHFA trainer who has delivered in-house MHFA training for many clients since 2021.

We now have a regular schedule of public face-to-face and blended online MHFA courses, and we currently have spaces available for courses in October and November.  The public courses allow businesses to send a smaller number of their team to attend the course.

Blended Online Workplace Course

The blended online course is split into two components.  In the first component, your team will undertake a self-paced eLearning component (4-6 hours online directly with MHFA).  This is followed up by component 2, two 2.5 hour instructor-led webinar sessions. Each attendee will receive an MHFA manual and a certificate of attendance and can gain mental health first aid accreditation. During this course, we can address current industry issues or concerns you are experiencing in your organisation. This public delivery is limited to 12 participants in each webinar session.

The cost of this course is $250 plus GST for each attendee.

The dates for the upcoming instructor lead webinar sessions can be found here.

Face-to-Face Standard MHFA Course – Melbourne

The face-to-face course is conducted over two full days.  All attendees will receive an MHFA manual and a certificate of attendance and can gain mental health first aid accreditation. During this course, we can address current industry issues or concerns you are experiencing in your organisation. This public delivery is limited to 20 participants; refreshments, lunch, and afternoon tea will be provided.

The cost of this course is $350 plus GST for each attendee.

The dates for the upcoming face-to-face sessions can be found here.

Why is Mental Health First Aid training important?

As a manager or business owner, you will likely have been confronted with mental health issues at your workplace. Do you know how to talk to a team member who’s struggling? Maybe you hold back because you don’t know what to say or worry about saying the wrong thing.

Mental Health First Aid training teaches practical first aid skills to help a team member or co-worker experiencing mental health issues. We’ll teach you how to approach someone struggling, ask the right questions and help them access professional help.

To learn more about our in-house training options, click here or contact Frances for an obligation-free customised quote at




Carli Saw

Author Carli Saw

Carli is a Human Resources professional with more than 20 years of experience across a range of industries and a passion for supporting small business.

More posts by Carli Saw