Why you should prioritise communication and feedback right now

Wednesday June 3, 2020

A recent pulse survey by a consulting firm found over half of all employees surveyed feel ‘concerned’ or ‘extremely concerned’ about their job security. As a result, these feelings of insecurity are increasing their stress and anxiety levels.

The results around employer support and satisfaction are just as alarming. Three in five employees impacted by COVID-19 feel dissatisfied with their employer’s crisis management strategies. Around 25% of those not affected by the pandemic, feel anxious and unsupported by their employers.

Lack of feedback leads to uncertainty

In times like these, it’s common for lack of feedback and communication to fuel anxiety over job insecurity. The survey results highlight how essential it is to give employees feedback during times of crisis.

Pandemic or not, the uncertainty of not knowing whether you have a job, and how you are performing, can cause uncertainty and anxiety for any employee.

No job to go to

Early in May, the Fair Work Commission sought additional resources after claims for unfair dismissal rose by 60% compared to the previous year. Statistically speaking, a rise in job terminations will inevitably lead to an increase in unfair dismissal claims. But the facts paint a bleak picture, with employment dropping significantly.

The hardest-hit sectors are the arts with a 27.4% drop, and accommodation and food services decreasing by 33.4%. The number of available positions advertised on Seek also dropped by a whopping 68%. There’s a strong correlation between unfair dismissal claims and the ability to find alternative work. In other words, there is a higher risk of claims from employees who have no other job to go to.

Making time for feedback can be the answer

HR protocols and procedures around job terminations haven’t changed because we’re in a crisis. Performance and conduct based terminations are still subject to the same principles around procedural fairness as before.

If there are going to be potential redundancies, employers and HR need to be transparent about where the business stands. Where possible, employers need to communicate what measures they’ve taken before going down that route. Employers can also risk unfair dismissal claims if they dismiss an employee without first providing feedback and a chance to improve.

Gender bias a concern

Accurate feedback and communication are essential for employee development so be aware of the gender bias trap!

According to researchers Lily Jampol and Vivian Zayas, “underperforming female employees are more likely to receive kinder – albeit inaccurate – evaluations of their work than their male counterparts”. Employers can risk discrimination if they don’t provide factual feedback.

The role of JobKeeper

The statistics show that the number of JobKeeper related claims have decreased. However, it’s still unclear what will happen if an employee files a claim on the basis their employer didn’t apply for JobKeeper. The Fair Work Commission may take into account whether the employer looked at JobKeeper eligibility and the impact that has had on the capacity of the business to pay redundancies.

Prioritising feedback

Ensuring your employees receive clear communication and feedback, especially in a crisis, can help reduce stress and anxiety. Communication and feedback will also be necessary if terminated employees seek compensation through unfair dismissal claims.

Managing a business when things are normal is tough enough without adding a pandemic to the mix. You don’t have to do it alone. The HR Dept is here to help you ensure your business is compliant. Call us to discuss how we can help your business right now.


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