Justin Giuliano is a Risk Advisory Partner in Deloitte Australia and leads the firm’s 300-strong Workplace Integrity team. He is passionate about assisting some of Australia’s largest organisations as they navigate Australia’s complex industrial relations systems to help them build trust with their employees.
For Justin, trust simply means doing what you say you’re going to doMaking trust integral to the employer-employee relationship is about ensuring employers deliver on their contractual obligations and the promises they make to employees. This is at the heart of workplace integrity and at the heart of how Justin advises clients.
“It’s all about turning words into action,” says Justin, explaining how the projects of Deloitte’s Workplace Integrity team invariably engender trust. “We focus on helping clients retain, gain or regain employee trust. For employees, it’s about making sure they are given a fair go.”
Integrity and trust at work are hot topics, putting the relationship between employers and their employees under intense scrutiny. Questions of workplace integrity have been at the epicenter of industrial relations in Australia in recent years as a swathe of big-name brands across the sectors have hit the headlines for underpayment of wages. The Fair Work Ombudsman recovered over half a billion in wage underpayments for 384,000 workers in 2021-22, with that figure tipped to soar in the future.
Notwithstanding, the global pandemic has been a catalyst for reimagining how bosses and workers interact, with the upsurge in remote working likely to endure for about 30 per cent of the workforce at least some of the time. In this new paradigm, nuanced trust angles should continually evolve.
Trust in the new work paradigm
Justin observes that, traditionally, managers wondered what their people were up to when they worked remotely, but a government mandate to work from home during pandemic lockdowns flipped the dynamic.
In just a few years, the evolution has gone from Australian employees weighing up if they could trust their companies to deliver on their contractual obligations at the outset of the pandemic, to those same workers facing a serious risk of burnout.
"Depending on the industry, we’re seeing employees who are both under- and over-utilised,” Justin says. “We’re asking our clients questions about both of these extremes, because there are a variety of ways in which we can look at demand, supply and job design to make sure everyone achieves a healthy balance."
A key theme of Deloitte’s recently published report, Reset, Restore, Reframe: Making Fair Work FlexWork, reveals how COVID-19 has accelerated expectations around workplace flexibility – with 78 per cent of hybrid workers still wanting choice about where they work. The report also highlights employee concerns about unsustainable workloads, along with the need for leaders to reimagine how they connect with the organisation, with a focus on meaningful collaboration and developing trust.
Trust goes both ways
Employers need to trust employees to set appropriate boundaries for themselves so they can deliver long-term productivity, Justin says. “And employees need to trust their employers will give them the freedom to do their best work so they can prioritise their lives, too.”
Until 2020, Justin spent his career working from the office and admits he’s found adapting to the new hybrid work paradigm an eye-opener. The key now is to be more intentional about going to the office for the right reasons.
From his own leadership and management perspective, he says it’s taking time and effort to create those reasons for people to be in the office to build relationships.
It’s important to come into the office some of the time, because spending time together in person is what builds trust.
When trust goes digital
As a chartered accountant who honed a specialisation in technology and data analysis, Justin is an ambitious proponent of digitisation and data insights, and this has helped his team move clients more deeply into ‘prevention’ mode.
In the case of wage remediation, often caused by employers inadvertently falling foul of Australia’s highly complex industrial relations system, tech solutions can help to identify and therefore tackle underpayment issues early. “When we have developed a good understanding of what goes wrong, we can create or update a system, processes or controls to detect and fix problems quickly, so they don’t become systemic and pervasive,” Justin says.
Technology actually enhances trust, Justin insists, because it informs data-driven, quick decisions for the benefit of everyone.
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