Find your local office

Author Archive

Why every business needs a social media policy

Posted by

With 18 million Australians of the population being avid social media users it’s safe to assume that some, if not all, of your employees have an online persona.

You may even have put the most socially savvy of them in charge of your own business social media accounts, to manage your brand reputation online.

Whilst it’s advantageous for your business to have a team proficient in digital communication skills, it can become a problem if an employee overshares online or impulsively pushes an inappropriate photo out to their extended network.

Since the dawn of social media, we have seen numerous faux pas play out. From big brand cringe moments like when an HMV employee live tweeted from the brand account about a company restructure with mass redundancies. To celebrities losing jobs or opportunities after making controversial comments online, most recently including Roseanne Barr, Kevin Hart and Danny Baker.

With the world so easily accessible at employees’ fingertips, how can you maintain your brand reputation and protect your business from being caught up in an awkward situation?

Protect your business with a social media policy

Although you cannot manage what employees are sharing on their personal social media accounts, you can set rules regarding usage at work and provide guidance on expected behaviour online.

Your policy can remind employees that their actions reflect on your business and that impulsive or thoughtless posts could get them in to trouble at work.

What should be included in a social media policy?

Usage – Unless being active on social media is essential to an employee’s role, it’s a good idea to make it clear in your policy that personal use during working hours is not permitted.

Confidentiality – You’ll certainly want to restrict employees sharing or publicly discussing any confidential details related to your business. Specifically, any trade secrets, financial, operational or legal information and private client data.

Boundaries – Set boundaries for employees and explain that discriminatory posts by them on social media will not be tolerated and could be classed as gross misconduct.

You can also ask them to add a disclaimer to their personal profiles which reminds other users that the employee is an individual and their posts are not a representation of their employer.

Representation – If you have employees in charge of your business social media accounts, it would be wise to mention this specifically in your policy. Provide guidelines on what is and isn’t appropriate for the business account and mention that any mismanagement will be in breach of the company social media policy.

How does a social media policy work?

The policy makes your expectations on social media activity clear to employees. It must also point out consequences and processes in the event of a policy breach. By implementing and following official processes you can protect yourself and your business if ever taken to a Fair Work tribunal. With this in mind, it is important to be able to demonstrate that all employees have seen and understood the policy.

Some difficult conversations can arise from addressing conflict. So if you would like to know what you can do rather than what you can’t, get in touch with your local HR Dept today. We’ll give you peace of mind so that you can move forward with the best decisions for your business.

An employee is looking for another job. What can I do about it?

Posted by

Times have changed since most employees would stick to one job throughout their career, looking forward to their retirement gift. The job market has developed and moved on.

Age can remain a factor with some employees content sticking with one employer. But younger generations, such as millennials and below, are already accustomed to scouring opportunities for greener grass.

When you discover that an employee is looking for another job, whether they openly told you themselves or you found out some other way, it can instigate reflection: “What is it they’re unhappy with? What can I do with this information? Can I begin looking for a replacement?”.

Perhaps you already suspected that they were unhappy. You may even be relieved if your employment relationship has been a trying one. But when it’s a top performer who is well liked by management and co-workers, you’ll likely be pondering what it is that’s made them look elsewhere.

It’s important to remember that between three to five years is quite a normal length of time for someone to spend with one employer, so it could just be a natural time for an employee to move on. But if you are experiencing less than this on a regular basis, you may want to review your employee retention strategy.

What can you do when you learn of an employee looking for another job?

As you’d expect, there is good and bad practice that you could follow. So let’s look at some tips to take on board and pitfalls to avoid.

Have a contingency plan.

It’s not a bad idea to assume that most of your employees at any given time could be looking for another job. This can help you to consistently develop their working environment and form a contingency plan. Think about who in the business might be ready to step up (or sideways) into new roles if they become vacant, and ensure you have a succession plan for business-critical roles. Review job specs regularly as your business grows and build a knowledge base of useful information that could be made readily available to a new hire.

Don’t jump the gun.

Before you go and ask them when their leaving date is, remember that they haven’t officially handed their notice in yet. Presuming a resignation can be risky. It would be best to schedule a 1:1 with the employee to discuss their workload or suss out happiness levels to get a better idea of the situation.

If they told you they were looking elsewhere, be open with them and ask them if they still feel this way. It may have been heated and they could have changed their mind. If you found out some other way, don’t ask them outright. Try some open-ended questions to better understand their position.

Move on and gain from it.

Accept that sometimes they just need a new challenge. Sometimes people need to move on for career progression and you might not have an available opportunity for them. In addition, keeping an employee who doesn’t really want to be there can end up being detrimental to your business and disturb the culture.

When they do leave be sure to conduct an exit interview. This can be hugely beneficial intel for you. It can help you to understand who else in the company might be feeling a similar way and if there is anything you want to do about it.

Ask the experts.

Making sudden moves can be risky in a situation such as this. You’ll want to steer clear of anything that could instigate a claim for unfair dismissal. If you want to find out what you can do rather than what you can’t, speak to your local HR Dept today.

 

What to do when an employee is always late for work

Posted by

Employee timekeeping can be a major concern to employers. Particularly in businesses which require staff to clock-in. Lateness, absenteeism, even keeping track of sick leave can all act as a distraction to the time-pressed manager.

There can be occasions when an employee’s time keeping goes awry and your attention is taken away from other important tasks to manage their lateness. Didn’t you have enough to do already?

Whilst it might seem like a waste of your time to address it, an employee’s persistent lateness can lead to even bigger problems within your business.

The importance of addressing poor timekeeping

When an employee is late for work it is frustrating and can upset the order of events for that day.

Co-workers who can make it to work on time may start to feel put out if they see a colleague constantly turn up late without reprimand. Not only can it affect morale but can disrupt their own work if they have to delay meetings, postpone projects or keep clients waiting.

You’ll want to nip it in the bud. But what do you do? Jumping from your seat having had enough of it and demanding an explanation in front of everyone could become a very awkward situation. Most importantly, there could be a very good reason for the lateness that the employee does not wish to be made public.

How to address poor timekeeping

There are a few simple steps that you can take to effectively manage employee lateness in your business. Following a fair procedure and having a company policy in place will help.

  1. Let the employee know that you are paying attention. If it is a one off and they have provided a valid reason, such as a bad commute, you may not feel the need to take any further action. However, if it was poor judgement that made them late, you could ask that they make the time back.
  2. If the lateness continues, book in an immediate 121 with them to ask why it is happening and point out how it might be affecting their work or colleagues. If their excuses seem just that, excuses, and they don’t have a valid reason, you should issue a warning and initiate disciplinary procedures. Refer to your company policy on lateness.
  3. When an employee reveals to you that there is a reason behind their lateness, such as family problems or health concerns, we’d advise that you discuss this with them to see if and how you might be able to support them. Flexible working could be helpful here.
  4. Have a process in place to record lateness. If employees are working at multiple sites or locations, it can be difficult to manage timekeeping and attendance. You can’t be everywhere at once after all. Consider a cloud-based clocking-in system for accuracy and peace of mind.

 

Need further support?

If you’re too time pressed to address an employee’s persistent lateness or want to implement a timekeeping policy, we can help. Contact your local HR Dept today.

“Life Admin” Is it ok to get personal at work?

Posted by

Written by Lee-Anne Hunt – The HR Dept Ringwood

On Friday I spent a good hour and a half on hold with a government department. During that time, I googled a little, replied to a few emails but I admit it was difficult to concentrate with that awful hold music and helpful messages about using their online services (which was the reason for my call; my online account doesn’t work)

It got me to thinking about life admin during worktime. And how much is ok?

We all do it. From a quick call to change an appointment with the dentist to lengthy searches on realestate.com. How much is ok? I polled a few people I know, and the average was between 3 and 7 hours per week. Not something I think most employers would want to hear and not something many employees would admit to.

So, is this a problem?

To some degree it depends on your job. If you are on the tools or in retail, hospitality, health/child care or any kind of customer facing role it would be obvious and very difficult to take time out to do any life admin while you’re working. And that would be a problem as your attention would be diverted and the appropriate care not taken.

So, I guess that leaves our colleagues in the office and behind their screens or closed doors furtively making a call or doing their internet banking.

Is it ok? What if those same workers start early, work back late or work though lunch to make up the time. Is it ok then?

I would have to say probably not. I’m not a fan of working through lunch as we all need a break. And I can say from experience that attention diverted to my personal life takes away more than just the minute or two it takes to make the call. It distracts me and takes away from the momentum of my work day.

So, what can we do? We could take a lead from Perpetual Guardian NZ and just acknowledge that life admin needs to happen and pay five days work for four days? They found that employees completed their work and were happier.

Or if that’s not possible do we consider implementing RDO’s, so our team know they have at least one day a month to get stuff done?

Or should employers be outcomes-focused (instead of micro managing) and be happy if the job gets done and only worry if it isn’t?

Or (at the risk of sounding like a penny pincher) should our employees work during work time and leave the life admin for after hours?

Interested to hear your thoughts. I figure there could be a little bit of give and take here as lets face it, not everything can be done out of hours and life happens, but it seems to me, just from those I’ve asked, that the pendulum may have swung a little too far in the ‘life admin’ favour.

It’s the new year – Are your employees already thinking of their next break?

Posted by

As the new year is now upon us and the shiny new 2019 diaries make an appearance, it’s likely that your team-members are already planning their next breaks.

January is the busiest time of year for booking holidays as we long for our next escape. As an employer, it is therefore good to get yourself prepared for the potential surge of annual leave requests over the coming weeks.

Prepare for a rare calendar quirk

If your staff can’t wait until later in the year, there is also a rare opportunity to have 16 consecutive days off work whilst only using seven days of holiday! This is due to three public holidays falling close together this year over the Easter break and ANZAC Day (19th April, 22nd April and 25th April).

It is likely that some will look to take advantage of maximising their precious holiday entitlement. This will be applicable for all industries where public holidays are not counted as a normal working day.

Managing the ‘Holiday Hack’ as an employer

It is worth being aware of this as an employer. Make sure that your acceptance of holiday requests is done fairly. Some staff-members may look to jump on the band wagon and bag themselves this extended period of time off work before their colleagues.

Before making the decision to sign off on this, think about the impact that this extended period of time off may have. How will the rest of your team left in the office feel? Is there a potential dip in service delivery to your customers?

One way to assist with this is to use an HR management system tool. The holiday management element of the system will enable you to clearly see who else has requested time off over the same period before you approve any requests. It can also avoid the confusion of the growing pile of paper requests.

If the Easter break is a busy time of year for your business, perhaps think about communicating this to your teams beforehand. This will help to avoid any last-minute disappointment if plans have been made without your approval.

If you need help with workforce planning or are interested in implementing a holiday management tool contact The HR Dept today.

Is HR really the Grinch?

Posted by

We’re not, not really. At the HR Dept Ringwood we love the Christmas Spirit. What we don’t love is the inevitable problems that arise when people indulge in too much Christmas spirit.

Starting with the office Christmas Party; should be a time of joy and celebrating the past year right? Well, not so much for HR. We’ve learnt the hard way that Christmas is often for everyone else not HR. As HR you are expected to fix every little problem. “The starter is seafood and Jane is allergic.” “Susan is crying in the toilet and won’t come out.” “You need to take Brian’s keys off him as he is way to drunk to drive home.” And that’s all before dinner’s even served!  And then come the office romances and the practical jokes – it all seems like harmless fun until Monday when you can’t meet each other’s eyes or there’s a hotline to the HR office as complaints come in thick and fast!

We don’t want to be the “fun police”, we actually want to relax and celebrate the year with our colleagues, rather than keeping our eyes and ears to the ground ready to catch the first drunk and whisk them away in a taxi before their boss sees. There’s some simple solutions, and it starts with ensuring your employees are aware of acceptable behaviours, have safe options for getting home from events, are provided with enough food, limited free alcohol, and that there are allocated people (who are sober) to supervise the event and know how to appropriately manage any issues that do arise.

To all our corporate HR colleagues – we hope you get your workplaces through the celebrations without a loss of licence, sexual harassment claim or any grievous bodily harm. And better yet, we hope you get to relax too and celebrate another year of hard work. Merry Christmas!

A laugh a day keeps HR away!

Posted by

Written by Lee-Anne Hunt, HR Dept Ringwood

Yep, I know I’m HR so I probably shouldn’t be writing this but the more businesses (and people) I’m in touch with the more I reflect on what makes a business successful.

All of the successful businesses I know ( including ours) share many characteristics but today I want to focus on one. Laughter!

As a HR professional I have been called in many times to counsel employees/teams because they are having “too much fun”.

I have to ask: “Are they achieving their goals? Are they contributing to the business growth? Are they team players? Are they being appropriate (not bullying)”

If the answer is “Yes” then what’s the problem? I’ve been told “it doesn’t look good to other departments or they’re too loud or they don’t look professional”.

I disagree. There is so much evidence bombarding us that happy employees are more productive and stay longer. It’s time for some of the “old school” to rethink what the workplace looks like.

For our little team at the HR Dept – Ringwood, well, we laugh every day! At ourselves, our families (mainly our kids!) and yes, I admit it, sometimes at the silly things people do at work.

We are happy professionals who are successful. I challenge you all to bring a little happy to your workplace ( and perhaps because you spend so much of your time at work; to your life).

Reducing bullying in Australian businesses

Posted by

Workplace bullying can have a devastating effect on individuals and an equally horrible and pervasive impact on the culture, happiness and wellbeing of the wider workplace.

It has no place in our businesses and business owners must work hard to ensure the right standards and conditions are set so that any bullying is called out and dealt with quickly.

So during #AntiBullyingWeek, we look at ways that businesses can reduce bullying in the workplace and stamp out intolerance.

Anti-bullying policies are widespread, but the problem is becoming worse, not better. In 1998, managers in 7% of workplaces reported grievances raised concerning bullying. This rose to 8% in 2004, and to 11% in 2011.

What is bullying?

It’s important to take into account that bullying is distinctly different from harassment. Bullying can be described as “offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means that undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient.

Bullying can involve conflict and rudeness, but can also be more subtle, such as excluding and ignoring people, making unacceptable criticisms and overloading people with work.

Why should employers take action to combat bullying?

Bullying is unacceptable in the workplace and can cause real issues such as:

  • Poor morale and employee relations.
  • Loss of respect for managers and supervisors.
  • Reduced performance and productivity.
  • Increase in absenteeism.
  • Higher staff turnover.
  • Damage to company’s reputation.

For the individual, it is even more damaging and is a major cause of stress and low esteem.

Aside from the cost to people’s wellbeing and your company culture there is a financial impact too! It costs the Australian economy up to $36 billion each year, with the average case amounting to $17,000-24,000 for employers.

What can businesses do about bullying and harassment?

Bullying is most common in organisations with poor workplace cultures. An anti-bullying policy works best as part of a company-wide strategy to build a positive workplace culture.

Make sure everyone knows and understands the anti-bullying policy so it becomes part of the way your workplace functions. This is then supported with clear procedures for dealing with grievance and disciplinary matters, making it known to everyone what the consequences are and that may be dismissal.

Provide managers with training so that not only is their management style improved but they learn to recognise the signs and can step in quickly. Managers that are good role models can go a long way.

Make sure you aren’t the bullying boss! Keep your eyes and ears open, your staff might not always raise a grievance, listen to conversations, rumours and pay attention and look into to any trends i.e. if a manager has higher sickness or turnover in their team than others.

How can I protect my business?

Grievances and disciplinary meetings can often be a difficult and overwhelming task for any manager. Making sure you get the process right can avoid a costly and protracted employment tribunal through the courts. With our monthly retained Advice Line service, you get a local HR professional and the market-leading insurance against all legal costs and any award. Get in touch to find out more.

Can you imagine how awful it would be to tell an employee’s family they won’t be coming home tonight?

Posted by

It’s a conversation no-one wants to have and certainly no family wants to hear that someone they love has been injured or died at work. Yet according to SafeWork Australia, 120 Australians have lost their lives in a workplace accident so far this year.

It’s not just the worker and their immediate family that are affected by a workplace accident. It also affects fellow workers, passers-by who may have witnessed the accident, managers and business owners who genuinely care for the health and safety of their staff.

The more serious the accident, the more traumatic it is for everyone.

The saddest aspect of a workplace accident is that it can often be prevented if only someone had noticed there was a potential problem. It could be as simple as missing a safety step in the rush to complete a project. Or it could be something you have been meaning to fix for a while – and just never got around to it.

Whatever the cause, most workplace accidents are preventable and that’s what National Safe Work Month is all about.

Being vigilant about safety and looking out for each other is something we should all do every day. But October is the month where we recommit to creating a safer, healthier workplace.

How could your workplace improve its safety standards?

Here are 5 simple ways to start you off.

  1. Talk to your team about how important it is to you that they return home safely after every workday.
  2. Consult with your team. They may have noticed a problem or two that need addressing.
  3. Walk the talk. Throughout the year, if you see a potential trip hazard or some other safety issue, address the problem with your staff and get it fixed promptly.
  4. Be mindful of the pressure some projects or workloads place on your staff and look for ways to alleviate that stress. If you don’t have the answers, your staff might so consult with them.
  5. Review your Work Health and Safety Policies and Procedures to ensure they are up to date and reflect any changes that may have occurred in workflows or equipment usage.

 

Unless you have experienced it yourself, you cannot imagine how guilty you will feel if one of your team members is injured (or worse) at work. So don’t risk it. Use October to kick-start a more focused approach to workplace safety and if you would like help, give our expert team a call on (02) 8052 3082.

Public holiday entitlement – The in’s and out’s and the impact on SMEs

Posted by

As a business owner, it can be tricky wading through the rules and regulations of public holiday entitlement. So, we’ve decided to provide an overview of the in’s and out’s.

When are the public holidays?

Public holidays vary depending on the state or territory your work in, but the days listed below are recognised public holidays across Australia:

  • New Year’s Day (January 1).
  • Australia Day (January 26).
  • Good Friday.
  • Easter Monday.
  • Anzac Day (April 25).
  • Queen’s birthday holiday.
  • Christmas Day (December 25).
  • Boxing Day (December 26).

In addition, there are state, territory and regionally declared public holidays.

Employees are protected by the National Employment Standards (NES), providing them with an entitlement to be absent from work on a public holiday, and guaranteeing them payment if they are absent from their normal hours of work due to a public holiday.

However, under our complex legislation, coupled with the blurring of what constitutes “normal” working hours, questions arise over the circumstances of when an employee is entitled to be paid for a public holiday.

The average Australian worker receives 11 days public holiday per year. These holidays take their toll on business whether they stay open or chose to close.

There is much debate about the cost of public holidays to business. Controversy surrounds the public holiday this Friday in Melbourne ahead of the AFL Grand Final. Business leaders claim that they and the Victoria economy cannot afford the financial impact with estimates at $15,000 lost trade per business that closes and for those that stay open $6,700 additional costs for increased salaries due to penalty rates.

Asking your employees to work on a public holiday

You can ask an employee to work on a public holiday –  and the employee can only refuse to work if your request is unreasonable or they have a valid reason not to. Typically, you may pay them a higher rate – a penalty rate – or offer them an extra day off in lieu of the public holiday.

However, you should think about several factors when asking an employee to work on a public holiday. You should consider their family responsibilities, the type of work they do, their usual hours of work and the notice period you give them about working. Partially to ensure your request is reasonable, and because it also shows consideration for your employees’ lives outside of work.

The Christmas, New Year break

Many businesses impose a shutdown period over the Christmas and New Year period, giving employees the chance to enjoy some well-deserved time off. The legislation provides for businesses to implement this across the entire business or a defined group. The business must, however, give its employees reasonable notice that you will be doing so – this allows workers to adequately plan their annual leave through the year and not be obliged to take unpaid leave.

How The HR Dept can help

Managing public holidays and leave requests in general, can be tricky business, that’s where HR Dept PeopleHub can assist by making and granting leave open and transparent while keeping a track of who has taken what! If you need any help, please do not hesitate to contact The HR Dept.