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Motivating your Team

Motivating your Team

29 May 2020

There are thousands of books, courses, TED Talks and more dedicated to helping leaders to motivate employees and create a motivational company culture. We could literally go on all day – or all week!

Here is a targeted list of actions you can put in place today to increase the motivation of your employees.


  1. Have Meaningful and Worthwhile Goals in Place

Review your business, team and individual goals to ensure that they are fit for purpose in todays environment. Once they’re in place, communicate them widely and refer back to them often.


  1. Be a Leader Worth Following
  • Trust your team. Set the values, vision, purpose and framework within which employees are expected to do their jobs, and then empower them to do so.
  • Walk the talk. As a leader you must always be setting the tone and values for the company through your own actions. If you set a positive example in everything you do, employees will follow and the entire work culture will become more motivating.
  • Be a respectful, honest, empathetic and supportive manager. Bad management is one of the main reasons employees resign. Respect, honesty, support, and clear communication are fundamental in good leadership.


  1. Acknowledge Achievement and Effort

Often, all an employee wants is some recognition for a job well done. If people feel that their efforts are appreciated, they will feel ‘motivated to continue working hard. Recognition is high on the list of employee needs for motivation. Many supervisors equate reward and recognition with monetary gifts. While employees always appreciate money, they also appreciate praise, a verbal or written thank you and opportunities to lead or be involved in different work or a new project.

  • Write a thank-you note
  • Give verbal praise – either one-on-one or in front of the team
  • Consider a small token of your gratitude. A card, a chocolate bar, a new notebook or pen – whatever you think your employee would appreciate.


  1. Provide Opportunities for Autonomy

Employees gain a lot of motivation from the nature of the work itself – particularly autonomy and independence in how they approach accomplishing their work.

  • Allow employees to self-manage wherever possible
  • Delegate decision making where it makes sense
  • Look for opportunities for employees to contribute to leadership meetings or projects
  • Ask for feedback and contribution when setting goals and priorities
  • Include employees on emails that tell them about what is happening in other parts of the business
  • Look for opportunities to expand the job description to match the employee’s development


  1. Reward High Performance

Rather than try to guess what’s important to employees, sit with them and ask what they value and what would incentivise them. If adding a financial incentive is not possible in todays environment, consider more creative options – for example, offering additional leave for consistently over-achieving on targets.


  1. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
  • Team meetings provide one of your best opportunities to set the culture, build motivation and increase engagement. Hold them regularly, keep them short and don’t do all the talking. Ask people to share their challenges and successes, have employees give updates on projects, refer back to company and team goals and give progress updates on them
  • Good communication is a two-way street. Welcome feedback and ideas. Set up channels for this that will work for your team.
  • Be responsive. If an employee raises a concern with you via email, show that you care by replying or responding immediately – even if it is to let them know that you will consider their request/concern and come back to them.
  • Book in regular one-on-one meetings and stick to them. Show your employees you value them by dedicating this time to them. Understand each employee’s career and life goals. Discuss what they need to do to achieve these and help them to create a development plan accordingly.


  1. Team Work makes the Dream Work
  • Be caring and put your people first – expect your employees to do the same
  • Don’t miss an opportunity to encourage team work
  • Acknowledge when an employee helps their colleague out
  • If you know someone is struggling, ask one of their colleagues to help
  • Look for opportunities for some friendly competition – often the combined elements of fun and competition bring people together
  • Celebrate success and make having some fun at work a priority


  1. Don’t forget the Physical Work Environment
  • Make sure that your employees have the right tools to do the job. Struggling with out-of-date technology or damaged equipment can be very demotivating
  • No one feels excited working in a dingy space. Sprucing up your office does not need to cost a lot. A few plants and some comfy chairs/spaces can make a world of difference and bring the comforts of home into your office environment. If the walls need a lick of paint and the carpets could do with an upgrade, consider introducing colours as opposed to the standard office grey.
  • Are good snacks the key to employee motivation? Maybe. After all, nobody works well when they’re hangry. Think about providing some healthy food – it doesn’t need to be expensive or even a regular thing. A fruit bowl now and then or the occasional uber-eats catered learning lunch will always go down well.


Every business is different and, as such, will have different HR needs. Positive People is available to help. Call us on 09 445 1077 or email info@positivepeople.co.nz

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Reset and refine your HR Strategy and develop a plan for the times

Reset and refine your HR Strategy and develop a plan for the times

29 May 2020


Employees and managers will have already had to adapt and reset how they do their work, either in a work-from-home arrangement or on returning to their workplaces. Their working world will be different and their expectations will also have evolved during the lockdown.  

With the organisation chart set up to best deliver the outcomes required, and with employees having a slightly different view of the world, it is important to revisit the basics of your HR strategy and then to develop your HR plan so as to motivate, retain and also attract new employees into your team when the time is right.

  • It would be of value to review the Purpose and Vision for the business. It could be that the goalposts have moved somewhat and a re-appraisal of some of your business goals is required
  • Along with Marketing, Financial and other business strategies, the HR Strategy needs to be 100% supportive of your business Purpose and Vision.
  • Set some goals in the following areas:
    • The ”new” workplace environment and new workplace tools
    • The “new” culture
    • Policy development to reflect the times
    • Employee engagement and motivation
    • Talent and leadership development
    • Performance measurement
    • Retention of valued skills
    • Succession plans

Discuss and agree your HR Strategy and plan and make it an exciting vehicle for employees to support.


Every business is different and, as such, will have different HR needs. Positive People is available to help. Call us on 09 445 1077 or email info@positivepeople.co.nz

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Reviewing your Organisational Structure and Design

Reviewing your Organisational Structure and Design

29 May 2020


With changed circumstances it is smart to re-evaluate how your business is organisationally set up. Many businesses will have already taken this step and will have a lean but solid framework newly established. Steps to consider include:

  • Take an almost greenfields approach and evaluate what work you have in-house and what work you predict will come in through the door over the next period
  • Alongside any efficiency gains that could be achieved, work out the essential functions that you need and develop an organisation chart that can deliver the outcomes required
  • Establish job descriptions, skills and competencies required for each of the roles
  • Evaluate current resources against the ideal arrangement


Either rejig the organisation chart to accommodate current skills and competencies with some tweaks to roles. Any changes to encumbents’ roles requires discussion and agreement and formal changes to employment documentation


Decide to restructure the business along with the creation of new roles in a new organisation chart.


If a restructuring is decided upon, then a full restructuring process needs to be mapped out prior to commencing any action whatsoever. Assistance with mapping out and operational implementation is recommended. This is a complex and often fraught process that needs to be conducted to the letter of the law to minimise employment and reputational risk


Every business is different and, as such, will have different HR needs. Positive People is available to help. Call us on 09 445 1077 or email info@positivepeople.co.nz

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Adjusting to the New Normal

Adjusting to the New Normal

We’ve all learnt a lot through the Covid-19 crisis – and not just about how to make a sourdough starter. For many business owners and managers, it has been a time of reflection on what was working well pre-lockdown and what was already a problem that now needs to be addressed. Aside from the few industries that are suddenly booming, we’ve all realised that it’s time to dig deep and work out how to survive the recession. Below you’ll find some HR opportunities we’ve been thinking about.


Realising the benefits of long-term flexible work practices

Flexible work arrangements have a multitude of benefits for employers and employees.

Employer Benefits

  • Reduces absenteeism (as employees can often still work if they are at home with a dependent who is unwell). This assists with productivity with less disruptions to continuity of work
  • Better work-life balance increases employee morale, engagement and commitment
  • Reduces employee turnover
  • Builds your employment brand and attracts top talent
  • Increases your potential candidate pool to people who live in other locations or too far away to consider a daily commute
  • The opportunity to reduce your office footprint and associated costs

Employee Benefits

  • Reduces the time required to commute and the expense of petrol and parking
  • Better flexibility to meet family and personal needs
  • Increased control of work schedule and environment
  • Ability to work at times of highest energy and not during troughs – for example, starting early when energy levels are highest, and then having a longer break in order to exercise to re-energise

Flexible work practices can also make a positive contribution to environmental sustainability.

However, to make flexible working arrangements work for your business, you must look to overcome some of the disadvantages:

  • Employees who do not work well without supervision. It’s always important to set clear goals and expectations. If the employee cannot meet these working from home, this must be addressed. If the problem is ongoing, then it’s time to review the arrangement. Flexible working arrangements are largely a ‘privilege’ and not contractual, so going back to a traditional model is appropriate if it’s not working for either party.
  • Where the role is client-facing, client availability and relationships may suffer from the employee trying to compress their time in the office. Again, this is something to be addressed and discussed – this may include clear goals for client-facing time to ensure it doesn’t drop off. It’s not practical for all office-based roles to include work from home or flexible hours, however, this it can usually be accommodated to some degree. It’s about finding the ‘sweet spot’ that works for the employee and the business.
  • Feelings of unfairness when some roles are able to work from home or choose their hours and others cannot. This is probably one of the most difficult issues to address. Consider what benefits you could implement for onsite staff to help offset these feelings. For example, a well-stocked kitchen, or an upgrade to the coffee machine. Where work from home isn’t possible, consider if flexible start and finish times are. You may wish to also consider an additional benefit for 100% on-site based staff only (be careful to communicate to the team that this is to offset the travel time that flexible workers gain through working from home some days).
  • Health and safety concerns. If working from home is going to be a long-term and regular arrangement, you must be satisfied that the employee is doing so safely. You can review our guidelines for Safe Work from Home here 


Reducing cost and saving time through virtual meetings and other tech solutions

Video conferencing has been around a long time, but the use of video calling and virtual meetings for team meetings, training and recruitment seems to have taken a lot longer to gain momentum than perhaps we might have thought.

Why? Maybe it’s the belief that the human connection can only be fully achieved face-to-face. This is still true, but if lockdown has taught us anything it is that far more can be achieved via video calls than we ever thought possible.

As we all look to cut costs wherever possible, now is the time to re-look at all of your normal practices that require people to travel from one location to another (even if that is within the same city) and consider if that can’t be achieved through video call or another on-line solution to reduce time and cost.


Updating and streamlining your other processes and systems

Following on from the above, we must all examine where else we can streamline and improve our processes and systems. Get your employees involved in looking for more efficient and effective solutions to literally everything you do. Incentivise this focus on continuous improvement where possible.

Look at your organisational structure. If you’ve had reductions in employee numbers or needed to pivot your business and offering, does your current structure still make sense or does it need to change? Look at the functional responsibilities of roles and teams and re-organise where necessary.

Where changes to work practices interact with your employee policies, ensure that these are updated to reflect your new ways of working. For example, many businesses will need to update:

  • Flexible working policies that may have previously stated that working from home was to only take place on occasion and with express management permission.
  • Expense policies may need to be tightened
  • Travel policies temporarily updated to mandate that essential travel only is to take place and cost-reduction measures are implemented (e.g. lower budgets for accommodation, rental cars etc.)
  • Health and Safety policies will have temporary changes and a ‘Covid-19’ specific policy created with clear guidelines and expectations


Capture those Culture gains

If you’ve ever watched Survivor, you know that in times of adversity, groups of people can go one of two ways – we either thrive and come together or we fall apart and turn against each other. During the Covid-19 crisis you may have some employee behaviour from both camps and any divisions need to be addressed.

Whether you are looking to nurture those Company Culture gains or need to start to re-build, we have some ideas for you here


Employee development – why it is more important than ever

Many businesses are unfortunately in the position of needing to reduce hours, pay or carry out redundancies. This can have a very negative effect on productivity and reduce the trust within your work environment. One way that you can look to re-build this is through investing in employee development. This both demonstrates the value you place on your employees while also benefiting your business through increased productivity and performance.

Employee development does not need to be a costly exercise. Some ideas include:

  • Online and virtual learning options – on-line seminars and short courses, virtual conferences, TED talks
  • Coaching and mentoring – either an internal program (informal or formal) or involving external contacts
  • Increased one-on-ones and performance appraisals. Getting more disciplined in your focus on setting objectives and monitoring progress against these costs nothing. In return, it will deliver results to both the employees development and your bottom line
  • Give learning lunches a try – these can also be virtual. Use an external speaker (again, virtual may be a cost-effective option) or simply have employees share information and learnings from projects they’re working on. If an employee attends a seminar, have them share the knowledge with the team and distribute their notes and reference material


Positive People have been working with and helping to grow SME’s for 25 years. We have the experience and systems to guide, support and provide customised HR solutions for you.  We deliver a range of services across the full HR Management spectrum. Our services are tailored to meet the particular needs of your business and we take the time to get to know you and your business. Call us on 09 445 1077 or email info@positivepeople.co.nz

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Preparing for Alert Level 2

Preparing for Alert Level 2

The transition from Alert Level 3 to Level 2 will represent only a small change for some employers, but for others there will be a lot to do to prepare.


Staggered returns and shift/hours changes to allow physical distancing

Due to physical distancing requirements and decreased workflow, only a few employers have been in a position to have all of their staff return to site at the same time on the same hours as before the lockdown.

If you re-opened at Level 3 with a skeleton staff which will ramp up under Level 2, or if you are not able to open until Level 2, here’s what you need to know if you want to stagger your teams’ return to work:

  • You must establish a fair selection criteria for deciding who will return to work and for what hours:
    • Firstly, what are the roles that are required?
    • If there is more than one person in the same role, you may choose to base this on tenure (longest standing employees given the option to return first), or you may rotate – week about or some other practical arrangement.
  • You must then communicate with all employees regarding the proposedplan for their return to work. This letter should outline your plan, include the rationale for what you are proposing, and include a feedback form where the employee can accept the proposal and/or provide comment (ideally allow 24 hours for feedback). The letter should include all proposed changes to terms and conditions, including:
    • The payment arrangements for each employee. Consider what you will propose for people able to work full-time hours, people working reduced hours, and those still unable to carry out work – bearing in mind that if you received the wage subsidy, this must be passed on in full, regardless of hours worked or not.
    • Will you be requesting or directing (with 14 days’ notice) people to take their Annual Leave entitlement?
    • You may, for example, want employees to take one day per week, with half the team having a Monday off and the other half Friday off
    • Are you proposing a temporary change or reduction in hours? This may be to allow for physical distancing, a reduction in workflow, or both.
    • Are you proposing a change in role responsibilities? You may be able to re-deploy people into different roles or re-distribute work. Your operation may have changed to look quite different under Alert Level 3, which will change employees’ duties.
  • After allowing your employees to respond to your proposal, you must consider any feedback received
  • Confirm your final decision in writing and implement the plan


High-risk employees – to return or not to return?

At this stage, the recommendation at Alert Level 2 is that high-risk people should stay at home where possible. However, like at Level 3, the Covid-19 website outlines that high-risk employees should agree alongside with their employer whether they return to work or not. Our recommendation is that, if it’s practicable, allow your employee to make the decision and then build a plan around their preference. If they are returning to work, extra care should be taken to ensure that they are safe. Involve the employee themselves in the process of coming up with a plan that works for the business and the employee.


Planning and communicating for new work practices as a result of Covid-19

Good communication has always been vital and key to a successful business. It is even more crucial during times of change and adversity. We recommend that you:

  • Sort out your communication channels – ideally use as many as possible to ensure you reach everyone in a way that works for them. While meetings will be limited in size and frequency, use phone calls, Zoom, Whatsapp groups, emails, memos, letters and whiteboards/notices in the kitchen or work areas.
  • Remember that good communication is a two-way street – ask for feedback, ideas and responses. Take feedback on board and let the team know that you are making adjustments based on what you’ve heard from them
  • Finding ways to get the team to contribute is especially important in matters of Health and Safety and is a key requirement under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. If you don’t already have a H&S committee, now is the time to get one going. Your employees are the experts at what they do day-to-day and you will get a lot more buy-in when the messages come from within and not above.
  • Don’t just rely on training and memos – use signs and notices to communicate new ways of working as people take on new ways of working and break old habits. Consider language barriers and use multiple languages and pictures where required
  • Celebrate the bright spots and the wins. Consider instating (or re-instating) employee of the week/month, company newsletters and other ways of sharing good news stories. This is how you can reinforce your new work practises.


For those that have been working from home, we must consider if/when/how they return to office environments

Under Alert Level 2, we are still asked to work from home wherever possible. If you need the team to return to the office, think about how you can safely achieve this. It could be that people work from the office every second work day or for half of the week. These arrangements may be in place for some time, so before making a decision, seek feedback and ideas from your team.


Reducing hours, pay and carrying out redundancies

Despite best efforts, unfortunately many employers will need to look at pay/hours reductions and redundancies as a result of Covid-19 and the economic fallout. We’ve shared this before, but if you missed it, here are the steps:

  1. Plan
  • First, you will need to write a business case for why you believe change is required. Include important details such as sales figures and projections.
  • Next, write a communication plan – who is potentially impacted by this proposed change and how will you communicate with them? Individually, team meetings or a company-wide briefing? Will anyone be on leave during this time? How and when will you communicate with them?
  • Finally, get your ducks in a row. Review Individual Employment Agreements, read Job Descriptions, pull payroll information to double check details such as current pay, titles and hours. Run a risk assessment for each – is the role you are considering to be disestablished similar to another role in the business? If so, do both employees need to be included in the consultation process as two positions becomes one?


  1. Consult

Draft up letters for all affected employees. The letter must:

  • Explain the proposed change
  • Outline the proposed impact to their particular role
  • Give the reasons for this proposed change
  • Say what will happen to them if the change goes ahead
  • Include the details for how the employee can submit feedback and the deadline for this
  • Either propose a time for a meeting to hear feedback, or offer the opportunity for the employee to book a meeting if they want to ask questions or provide verbal feedback
  • Emphasise that no decision has been made, and that this won’t happen until you have received their feedback
  • Give details of a proposed timeline. Seek feedback on this as well
  • Hold your consultation meetings.
  • Ideally, where only a small number of people are impacted and redundancy is a possibility you will hold these face-to-face. You can set this meeting up ‘informally’ by simply inviting the employee to a meeting, but we recommend that you let them know that what you need to discuss may impact their role, and that they are welcome to bring a support person – allowing them time to arrange this. In large company-wide restructures, and with the Covid-19 restrictions, this ‘heads up’ will not always be possible.
  • Read through or summarise the letter
  • Answer initial questions, but try not to get into receiving feedback in this meeting
  • Hold feedback meetings. Often questions will be raised at these meetings. If you don’t know the answer, commit to coming back with it as soon as possible. You must remain open, honest and communicative throughout. If you take too long to respond to questions or do not answer them at all, you risk an argument that the deadline for feedback should be extended.


  1. Consider Feedback
  • It is important to consider feedback in good faith. If, as a result of the feedback, you want to make changes to the proposal you need to decide whether to go back and consult on the new proposal.
  • Give yourself time to adequately consider feedback – usually 48 hours
  • If you’ve received a lot of feedback from numerous employees, group it into themes and write out your response to each ‘thread’ and any changes to the proposal made as a result


  1. Confirm
  • Having considered any feedback and made a decision, you need to draft up a second letter outlining your decision. This should include:
  • A summary of feedback received and your response
  • Any changes made to the proposal as a result of the feedback
  • What your final decision is, and the outcome for the employee’s role, including timing. If applicable, you may include details around final pay
  • If redeployment is an option or a selection process will follow, provide the details for this
  • Consider what outplacement support you can offer and outline this in the letter – this could include career coaching, assistance with writing a CV, an interview technique workshop, and financial planning resources.

Note: If you have applied for the wage subsidy for an employee, you must retain them for the 12-week period of the subsidy. You may consult with the employee during the subsidy period and confirm your decision, but the last day of employment must fall after the wage subsidy ends. Otherwise you will be in breach of your obligations and will be required to pay the wage subsidy back. 


Every business is different and, as such, will have different employment issues and concerns presented by COVID-19. Positive People is available to help. Call us on 09 445 1077 or email info@positivepeople.co.nz