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Every workplace has its own culture and way of doing business. Part of this involves how staff are treated and what resources they have. This essay will focus on four issues such as EEO, Homour, Health and Safety, and IT in the workplace and compare and contrast with another workplace in New Zealand. However, this essay will firstly look at definitions of these four issues.
First of all, EEO stands for Equal Employment Opportunity which is defined as "a systematic, results-oriented, set of actions that are directed towards the identification and elimination of discriminatory barriers that cause or perpetuate inequality in the employment of any person or group of persons" (Human Rights Commission, 1989: 13). There is another explanation that EEO is simply "the reverse of discrimination and harassment" (Anti-Discrimination Board of New South Wales, 1999: 14).
EEO in NZ is described on Neon Website as, "Policies and practices intended to recognise and value the diverse skills and talents that people bring to their work. They are intended to eliminate workplace discrimination on the basis of age, colour, disability, employment status, ethical belief, ethnic or national origins, family status, marital status, political opinion, race, religious belief, sex, and sexual orientation" (Neon, 2008).
Most NZ companies support EEO, even if it is only on paper. Likewise, both Jireh School and SIM support EEO in their workplaces. Some way staff are treated equally and given opportunities at Jireh School is by being assessed by someone from outside of Jireh School every year to see how staff are doing and what they can do better. And once every 2 years they can go on professional development courses that the school pays for. Also they all have sick leave and so on. The school is very supportive of all employees.
At SIM they have a mix of male and females and have people of a non-European background working there. However, as they are a Christian based organization they have a desire to see people employed here to have a Christian faith so that they can support and encourage the basis of why they exist as an organization.
Concerning discrimination, neither Jireh School nor SIM staff have experienced or seen discrimination in their workplace. Jireh School's philosophy is about equality, and everyone being equal before God, and all made in His image. As a result of this philosophy, they work hard to make sure everyone has the same rights and treatment. Also, everyone is very supportive of each other.
Both these workplaces seem to support EEO. Even though they are different workplaces they both support staff well. However, because they are both Christian based workplaces they prefer Christian staff who can support and follow their philosophy. I think EEO is really good. As a second language speaker, if I want to find a job or develop my skills, protection from discrimination is really good. In Korea, many companies discriminate people and they cannot do anything about it.
Issue two - Humour
Sean from SIM defines Kiwi humour as, "A relaxed form of engagement with other people. It is often around jibes about situations or funny things or habits that people do or say. It is understood that when New Zealanders have each other on it is generally a sign of friendship." However, Miss Tato does not really know what Kiwi humour is because she is originally from Samoa.
At Jireh School, there is definitely a lot of humour between coworkers and some with children in class. Miss Tato knows the teachers like to laugh so they use a lot of humour. She thinks humour takes away stress and that the workplace would be boring without it. At SIM there is a lot of humour at work too. It is often about funny things in life or things that people do or say. It can also be about the strange things that people in SIM are involved with around the world.
With inappropriate humour, Miss Tato thinks we should not use any humour that puts down another person, another race, or any kind of discrimination humour. She thinks these kinds of humour are inappropriate. Sean thinks that humour should not be about our personal circumstances such as single, marriage, or struggles we are having, but more about the quirky things in our lives.
Some workplaces have too much or too little humour. Miss Tato said, at Jireh School, they know when to be serious and they know when to work. She thinks there is a good balance. Especially because there are only two fulltime teachers, they like to laugh a lot when it's just them and no parents around. However, in meetings, they are quite serious. This is because they need to actually complete what they need to do or say. SIM as a workplace is not too serious. As they are a small office (about 8 people) they know each other well and are comfortable with each other. Sean believes there does not need to be more humour as it is great the level it is at now.
Both Jireh School and SIM use humour at their workplaces. However, Jireh School humour seems gentler than SIM. I think using humour at workplace is really good because workers can let their stress out. However, sometimes I feel Kiwi humour is a bit rude and personal. It is important to use appropriate humour so all staff can get along well.
Issue three - Health and Safety
Miss Tato thinks it is a safe school because they are in a very good environment and in a good community where everyone knows each other. Kidswise, she believes it's very safe as they have a fence, teachers on duty during break times, regular fire drills, and a First Aid kit and health room. For staff, it's safe too but if they work after school it can be a bit scary because the school is open so a lot of people can walk in and out after 4pm. Because of this they lock all the doors after school. SIM is also safe. It is an office environment and their building is on two levels with provision for emergency escape if needed.
Workplaces in New Zealand are supposed to have someone who looks after health and safety. At Jireh School the person who is in charge of this is the receptionist. However, there is a new receptionist now so the teachers are sharing this role until she has settled in. This job includes organising fire drills and doing fire warden duty, because the teachers should stay with the children. SIM also has someone in charge of health and safety. Their duties are to update their health and safety procedures each year and to send an update of any perceived emergencies to their international office. They also have yearly practices for their emergency procedures and check their medical supplies
If there's a hazard or accident to do with children at Jireh School, depending on how severe it is, they have a health nurse who is the receptionist or a teacher who is not on duty who can care for the child. If it is serious they call the parents to come and get their children, and call an ambulance if they need to. But if it's a minor thing they fix them up in the health room and then move them back into class. If a child has a serious condition, the teachers are trained. For example, one child has a high allergy to nuts and eggs, so all adults in the school have gone through a course to learn how to use an EPP. At SIM they have an accident reporting sheet and they have a detailed list of responses to different accidents or hazards that may occur. They also have medical supplies at the office for treating minor injuries.
To improve health and safety, Miss Tato would like more bathrooms for the kids. At the moment there are only two toilets so she thinks this could be a health and hygiene problem in the future because they are growing. For SIM they have nothing that needs improving as their type of work is not related to machinery and the procedures they have now are fine.
SIM has a good health and safety system. However, for Jireh School, there was no mention about a health and safety register for recoding accidents and hazards. This is an OSH requirement. However, I think Jireh School staff do their job well and have more responsibility about health and safety than SIM staff because when problems occur at school they have to look after their children first, not just themselves.
Issue four - IT in the workplace
Jireh School have computers for children, a computer in each classroom, a laptop for each teacher, and SMART boards which are very useful. They also have access to internet and the network of their parent school, Kingsway. At SIM, staff each have a PC at their desks. About 3 of them also have our own laptops that they use for work. They have a central server that means they can all access the various parts of the organization such as personnel and administration files. The central server files are updated each night.
Miss Tato thinks using IT is very important because all her planning is done on the computer and she uses it every day. Teachers can also use the internet to look up sites to help with teaching. Technology is taught to children too, but not every term. Likewise, most of SIM's work revolves around using a computer for emails, writing material, and communicating with others. This is because most of the people their work connects with are based overseas. Most of them would probably say that about 70% of their role uses IT.
As IT is changing and improving all the time, it should also change in workplaces so people can work more effectively. Miss Tato said IT at Jireh School has definitely changed since she started there. At first they only had one old computer. Then once they integrated with Kingsway everything started changing. They now have network access to Kingsway, wireless internet access, twenty computers, laptops, a SMART board and so on. This makes life easier. SIM has also had lots of change. The impact of the internet has made their work easier regarding communication and the sharing of files and information. It has also meant that they have had to be more careful about how they store and share information on the server. It has meant that they have been able to access information from people a lot quicker and to help them process people faster
To improve how IT is used in the workplace, Miss Tato would love to teach her juniors (years 1-2) more about how to use a computer, how to type and so on. However, she thinks they need to include it in their programmes more often because children do not need to know a lot about computers, but it's important because they are surrounded by technology. Sean did not know if SIM could as they use IT well. Also, they have a person in their office whose focus is on the upkeep and development of their IT needs. This includes keeping them online, connected with each other and safe from computer viruses etc. If they have a need that person is able to help straight away.
SIM uses IT much more for their work than Jireh School. I think because their kind of works are different and it affects how much the staff use it. Both SIM and Jireh School's IT has changed but SIM is more sensitive to new IT developments in the world and stays more up to date. I think in 21st century IT is vital in the workplace because it helps workers to work more effectively. Staff can find good resources from the Internet and share with others, as well as keep in touch with people in other places.
In New Zealand there are many important issues at workplaces and this essay explored four particular issues at Jireh School and SIM such as EEO, humour, health and safety and IT. Through the interviews with staff, I could get a picture of how New Zealand workplaces deal with these four issues.