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Department of Premier and Cabinet

Chapter 6 - Increasing Human Resources and Industrial Relations Capability

One of the workforce priorities identified last year was the need to increase the capability of Human Resources (HR) and Industrial Relations (IR) employees and sections in agencies, so that workforce policies, practices and management are well supported across the State Service, including the provision of support to senior managers, line managers and employees.

Industrial Relations (IR) Capability

The IR Capability Program, delivered through TTC, was developed to support State Service HR Practitioners with workplace relations responsibilities to enhance their skills and knowledge. Following feedback from previous participants and agencies, the IR Capability Program has remained practically-focused with strong theoretical foundations, and participants are supported to enable them to more effectively undertake their role and to transition to expert practitioner level.

In 2014-15, the IR Capability Program comprised four one-day workshops, scheduled over a five-month period. A two-month ‘’practical application’’ period between workshops three and four provided an opportunity for the participants to undertake a range of individual and team-based activities to apply and consolidate their learning and build strong networks. Participants who attended all workshops and successfully completed all set tasks graduated from the IR Capability Program received certificates of completion. The key content areas were Legislative Framework and Policies/Tribunals; the Employment Relationship/Terms and Conditions; Advocacy and Case Preparation before a Tribunal; and Performance Management/Investigating Grievances. Fifteen people from ten agencies participated in the IR Capability Program, which was held twice in 2014-15 during the reporting period.

In addition to the IR Capability Program, agencies reported that a number of other measures were used to support the development of their IR capability, such as mentoring or coaching; involvement in IR negotiations; research; preparation of Tasmanian Industrial Commission (TIC), union or Executive briefing documents; attendance at TIC conferences; on-the-job training and undertaking grievance investigations. Other activities to increase IR capability development included seminar presentations by external providers/TTC, mentoring and coaching; investigation skills training, attendance at TIC proceedings, and participation in the IR Practitioners Network (convened by SSMO).

Three agencies reported that they were supporting employees to attain relevant degrees, and four agencies reported that they had supported 17 people with non-tertiary IR-related development opportunities. Eight agencies reported that their focus for the coming period would be on building capability in the areas of tribunal representation, union negotiations and dispute resolution. Other comments provided related to participation in the IR Practitioners Network, resourcing levels and ongoing support from SSMO.

Another initiative during the reporting year has been the formation of a Tasmanian State Service Industrial Relations Network Group consisting of SSMO and agency representatives to promote best practice, information sharing and improved communication across the Service for Industrial Relations. Meetings of the network focus on generating discussion and communicating information on current Industrial Relations and employment-related issues. It is also intended that this network would assist to build IR capability and provide skill development opportunities for IR and HR practitioners to build on current IR knowledge and skill sets.

Human Resources (HR) Capability Framework and Program

The Tasmanian State Service HR Capability Framework (the HR Capability Framework)provides structure to build the capabilities, skills and knowledge of Human Resource professionals, as well as staff with people management and supervisory responsibilities. The Framework was specifically designed for the Tasmanian State Service and was accredited by the Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI). The seven capabilities are designed to meet the objectives of a high performing, capable and competent HR workforce in the Tasmanian State Service, delivering quality people services.

During the reporting period the HR Capability Program (which draws upon the HR Capability Framework) continued to be delivered via TTC and brought together a series of unique learning and development opportunities that address many of the core knowledge and skill requirements for people working in the HR area.

The HR Capability Program consisted of a series of six workshops that are relevant to HR practitioners in all organisations, and drew on HR case studies, systems and practices from a broad range of organisations. The  HR Capability Program also supports the HR Capability Framework and was last held in October 2014. The six workshops covered:

  • communication and HR;
  • introduction to HR and the law;
  • professional HR in Practice;
  • achieving effective HR outcomes;
  • enhancing HR practices and skills; and
  • advanced HR practices and skills.

The HR Capability Program is currently under review and an SSMO-led project is underway to evaluate the HR Capability Framework and to determine how the framework is used in agencies. This project will also examine aspects of HR functions and roles with the aim of strengthening HR capability across the Service.

Agencies indicated that opportunities were available to the participants of the HR Capability Program and HR staff to continue developing their HR capabilities through project work and experience in working in other HR areas.

Supporting line managers’ HR capability has also continued to be important, and agencies reported that the following activities were undertaken in the reporting period:

  • coaching/mentoring;
  • the development of a manger’s toolbox;
  • HR specific training;
  • investigation skills training;
  • selection panel training; and
  • project work.

A number of agencies noted that they had specific plans to assist HR capability development or that they were currently being developed.

The areas of focus for agencies in the coming period include:

  • managing underperformance
  • change management
  • conflict resolution
  • case management
  • data analysis and trends
  • culture diagnosis
  • recruitment and selection
  • cross-skilling specialist HR staff to generalist HR tasks
  • performance improvement capability for line managers
  • business partnering
  • client service improvement
  • WHS training for managers

SSMO and TTC support the ongoing development of Human Resources and Industrial Relations capabilities, given the important role they have in supporting effective and essential workforce management policies and practices. This has benefits for agencies, employees, officers and the Service generally.

Continue reading: Chapter 7 - Improving Workforce Management Frameworks