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People Matter August 2017

Joint responsibility for employment practices on the horizon for franchisors and franchisees

There are 79,000 franchise units in operation in Australia with a whopping 470,000 people employed within the sector. That’s a lot of small businesses and a vast amount of employment practice to get right, and unfortunately many franchisees in many franchise systems have fallen way short of the mark.

So, the Senate has recently been debating the Protecting Vulnerable Workers Bill which aims to provide mutual responsibility, with Franchisors to be held accountable for franchisees’ conduct regarding employment practices.

The Bill has come about due a number of high-profile cases involving franchise businesses underpaying workers. If the bill passes un-amended franchisors will be held liable for the breaches committed by their franchisees “where [they] should reasonably have been aware of the breaches and could reasonably have taken action to prevent them from occurring” likewise franchisors will be held accountable where their business model leads to bad employment practice.

Take the much publisised 7-Eleven case; according to former consumer watchdog, Professor Allan Fels, “The [existing]Fair Work Act system just imposes fines and very limited compensation on the individuals whose cases are considered. But the court system works quite badly for systematic underpayment of thousands of people”. While 7-Eleven’s head office was not held responsible for the conduct of its franchisees that had underpaid workers, it volunteered to repay workers what they were owed in back pay. Fels went on to say “The far stronger deterrent effect for others is if they know they have to make up the underpayments in full – in this case $110 million plus, compared to if they just have to pay a fine.”

If you are a franchise owner your franchisor will be looking to limit their liability and may start to expect a lot more from you in terms of your compliance and reporting when it comes to your employment matters.

In reality, franchise owners should be ensuring they get this stuff right anyway, whether the franchisor wants evidence of it or not! It is the right thing to do by staff and the business. If you want to get ahead of the game before this bill passes, get in touch for a free HR health check today.

Science of seating plans 

How much thought do you put into where employees sit? If the answer is not much, then you could be missing a trick. Mixing things up can have a dramatic effect on productivity. Flexi-desks, also known as hot desks, are one way to ensure that people do not get too cosy in established spots.

However, if you want to get more scientific, research from Cornerstone On Demand – a US-based consultancy – will be of interest. They categorised workers into three camps:

1. High productivity, low quality

2. Average productivity, average quality

3. Low productivity, high quality

They found that if you sit 1’s and 3’s together it helps them bring out the best in each other – improving quality in 1’s and productivity in 3’s. The same benefit was not seen in 2’s, so they are best seated together. They found that adopting this method could lead to a significant 15% boost in organisational performance. Worth investigating!

What’s causing the absence?

It’s essential for a well-run organisation to manage absence effectively, and often helpful for employees’ well-being too. However, the cause of absence may not always be down to the employee.

When examining absence data, it’s helpful to look for patterns beyond the behaviour of individuals. For example, do people from one team display more absence than average? That could point to a bad line manager, causing absence through poor management technique.

Where this, or other factors, might be the underlying cause, the quicker it’s identified the better. We run training courses on managing absence. Get in touch for more information.

Employers recount the worst interview

A recent Reddit post asked employers to reveal some of their most painful experiences with interviewees. And the results might astound the most seasoned of hiring managers. We selected some of our favourites to highlight just how interesting the world of HR can get!

One manager asked a candidate, “What would you do if you had a conflict with another co-worker?”. The applicant responded with an anecdote about how a previous co-worker had had an affair with his then-girlfriend and he’d had to encounter him every day at work and “resist beating his ass”. The candidate then felt the need to follow this statement with, “I mean, I got him outside of work, but I never touched him at work!”.

Another hiring manager reported the downright brashness of one candidate who said, “You guys would be lucky to have me. Google is trying to recruit me too!”. The manager promptly wished him the best of luck at his job at Google.

During an interview for a restaurant position, one candidate was asked to give an example of his leadership abilities. The candidate replied by telling the interviewer how, in his previous job, he disliked the head chef so much that he organised the kitchen staff to walk out during the Friday night rush. There’s no denying this shows leadership qualities – but maybe not the right kind!

The hiring process can be just as frustrating for those on either side of the table. If you need advice on how to avoid car crash interviews, contact The HR Dept.

A Coffee a day means productivity is here to stay

Want a 7% increase in productivity? Get a coffee machine! That’s according to Survey Partner ONE. And there are plenty of other indications that coffee can be the lifeblood of the workplace:

It fights off sluggishness – It’s well-known that caffeine is a stimulant that enables employees to remain focused for extensive periods of time.

It can lower the risk of depression – Of course it is a serious condition, but a Harvard study found that women who drink four or more cups of coffee per day have a 20% lower risk of developing depression.

It improves employee relations – A chat over a coffee is the perfect way for employees to develop good relationships – and that’s according to MIT.

It could even maintain integrity – Fortune reports that employees are less likely to adopt unethical practices if they are awake and alert

 Flexible working 

Working from home is a great perk. Although sometimes we can get distracted – perhaps the TV or the cat wanting to be fed.

Several millennials believe they do their best work outside the office. Flexible working has also become an identifier of a good employer, demonstrating their compassion for employee needs – particularly for those with families or a difficult commute.

You may be a little anxious about introducing flexible working, due to the potential for your staff to push the boundaries of their freedom.

But, having a consistent approach in line with your documentation is recommended. Also, keeping in touch regularly, allows you to identify if any changes to the arrangement are needed.

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