Are Yellow Cards and ORANGES the future of mental health for our industry?
Giving more thought to the End State and providing an environment of safer mental health and a more enjoyable work environment, I have concluded that a Yellow, Orange and Red Card system may be of assistance.
I have written about the ‘Communicating with your Strata Managers Guide’ that SCA (WA) had put together and had asked me to review, and that culminated with the Levels of Expectation article that I wrote a few months ago.
Simply put, if a Strata Manager receives an email that has derogatory, defamatory, bullying or other inappropriate language then (subject to the concurrence and support of their employer) that Strata Manager can simply issue a Yellow, Orange or Red Card depending on the level of inappropriateness that the Strata Manager believes that email to contain.
The benefit of this approach is that it would cater to the wide range of experience of Strata Managers in that a newer, less experienced Strata Manager may feel more comfortable to issue a Yellow or Orange Card where a more robust or experienced Strata Manager may choose not to and simply deal with that lot owner or committee member in the way that they have done so in the past.
As we know, Principals of companies have a duty to ensure the health and safety of their workers as well as other persons in the work place. In addition, lot owners, committee members, contractors and others are s29 ‘Other Persons’ at a workplace and are bound by the harmonised Work Health and Safety legislation (similar provisions in VIC), and have a duty to ensure that their acts or omissions do not adversely affect the health and safety of any other person. Penalties for an individual range from $55,000 to $5M and 20 years imprisonment.
No longer can a lot owner feel that they are somehow exempt from prosecution or sanctions for unacceptable behavior regardless of how hungry, angry, lonely or tired they may be, and the temper (pun intended) of their emails must meet appropriate standards.
This proposed system builds upon the great work carried out by SCA (WA) team and should roll out further in due course. The Yellow Card System is a simple graphic that is placed upon a return email to the original sender requesting that they modify and adjust their language within their email before their email would be read. In addition, a copy of the ‘Communicating with your Strata Manager’ and ‘Levels of Expectation Guide’ would be provided in the same return email so that the lot owner, committee member, contractor or other person may be aware of the expected decent level of communication within each strata management company.
In my earlier articles, I have already provided the Fair Work Commission as an avenue for unacceptable behaviour. See Ms A (A chairman of a strata scheme was ordered to limit the content, volume and timing of his emails). Civil cases dealing with defamation are also an available avenue with two in WA at $50,000 and $20,000 standing.
“I believe a line in the sand must be drawn somewhere so it may as well be today and we are all familiar with the saying that “the standard you walk past is the standard you accept”.
It is a decision for you of whether you want to accept rude, derogatory defamatory, self-serving emails.
I haven’t yet considered telephone conversations or face to face issues at meetings and that will come about through SCA training and expanding upon the five levels of identifying and dealing with mental health (1. as a Principal responsible for employees and other workers; 2. as a Strata Manager dealing with lot owners who may have mental health issues. 3. dealing with family and friends, 4. dealing with people in your broader social circles and 5. work colleagues).
The short to medium term training in my view should encompass the ORANGES* approach to strengthening business, personal and social relationships which have been successfully adopted by Safework SA (see the link below). publicsectornetwork.co/insight safework-sa-case-study/
*Optimism, Resilience, Attitude (mindset), Now (mindfulness), Gratitude, Energy and Strengths.
I trust the Yellow Card System provides a significant and beneficial tool for Strata Managers and others and to utilise this idea in their work, social and private environments. Orange and Red Cards to follow this work in progress. © Wal Dobrow 2022