PositivePeople July 3, 2019 No Comments

Managing your Team with Empathy

Managing your Team with Empathy:

Providing real support during traumatic times

 

Life events wash over all of us.

Keeping a team engaged and enthused despite outside personal pressures can be challenging for even the most skilled Manager. No matter how great your culture or team environment, when employees are faced with a major life event how you support them through this period can make or break their commitment to you and your business.

We have all had team members who have children with serious illnesses, overseas bereavements or other traumatic events to deal with. Company policies often don’t provide guidance on how to balance the organisation’s needs and the needs of the individual.

There can be a lot of pressure and stress involved in traumatic personal situations.

In circumstances like these, employees need to deal with the personal situation facing them, ensure they keep earning, as well as making sure they are not letting you and the team down. How you manage this is critical. No amount of future development opportunities offered can ever recover the loss of trust that occurs if their situation isn’t empathetically managed.

Building a business that balances empathy, fairness and overall standards, while allowing flexibility to manage at an individual level is key to making this a success.

 

To do this well we suggest:

  1. Know your team

Encouraging genuine relationships where your team are comfortable to let you know about personal challenges. This helps you to manage these situations for best results for the individual and business. If you have a team member who suddenly starts disappearing at 5pm on the dot this should raise questions – perhaps they just have a gym class to get to but also, could they be getting home quickly to help a sick partner with the kids? Do you know and would they feel comfortable telling you?

 

  1. Encourage the use of EAP or specialist support services

Managers aren’t counsellors and there is no expectation that you can help your team process grief or deal with complex mental health issues. You do however want to make sure expert support is available for these situations, so that your team members are able to return to full health.

 

  1. Allow Management discretion in the application of policies

Having fair guidelines for everyone ensures an even playing field in your organisation. However, there must be room to make exceptions. If you have a team member having important medical treatment do your Managers have the flexibility to change shift patterns to accommodate this? If a team member suffers the loss of a child can extended bereavement leave or AL be taken? We don’t think any of us would expect 3 days leave would be enough to cope with a situation like this. Company policies should not hamstring Managers from making sensible, compassionate decisions.

 

  1. Consider extensions of leave entitlements for special circumstances

You can allow anything that is over and above minimum statutory entitlements. You don’t have to wait until 6 months for bereavement or sick leave and you can give additional leave in special circumstances. You have a range of options available to you should it be needed, so making sure you consider this and have flexibility to support your team members through tragedy or traumatic events can make the world of difference for them.

People have long memories, and even though work is important it quickly takes a back seat when something personally traumatic happens.

Having Company standards but managing individual pressures will help to gain future commitment and engagement from your whole team and is – in the end – the right thing to do.

Positive People have 24 years’ experience helping organisations develop policies that provide clear expectations and help to get the best from your team. Contact us now if you need help.

Winter Wellness and Managing Sick Leave

Winter Wellness and Managing Sick Leave

As we approach the shortest day (hello 22 June!), winter illnesses have inevitably made their presence known. This can create challenges for businesses as we stretch to cover the increase in unplanned leave. But what can be done?

Our advice is twofold: 

  1. Promote Wellness – this is the ambulance at the top of the cliff approach
  2. Manage sick leave effectively – this requires knowing some of the ins and outs of the relevant employment legislation

Ideas for Promoting Wellness

  • Focus on prevention:
    • Offer free flu vaccinations
    • Have a Doctor visit your workplace and speak to your team about managing common health issues
    • Have a wellness day where you supply some healthy food to encourage healthy eating to support the immune system – it could be as simple as a cup of good quality pumpkin soup and a fruit platter
    • Have a speaker come in to talk about the importance of sleep for wellness, and how to get a better night’s sleep
  • Encourage exercise:
    • Offer a rebate towards a membership at the local gym or subscription for a winter sports team
    • Offer free entry fees into a fun run and enter as a team
    • Encourage people to use their meal break to go for a walk
    • Start a step challenge and provide (or possibly loan) basic step trackers for participants who don’t already have one
  • If people are unwell, encourage them to stay home. Where possible and practical, that may include some or all of the day working from home.
  • Check with your cleaners to ensure they are putting extra time into cleaning door handles, light switches and common areas such as the kitchen and bathrooms to avoid germs spreading.

 

Managing Sick Leave – Answering your FAQs

Sick leave for casual, fixed-term and part-time employees

  • Like permanent employees, fixed-term employees are also entitled to five days sick leave after six months’ current continuous service
  • Casual employees are entitled to five days’ paid sick leave if they have worked an average of 10 hours per week, and at least one hour in every week or 40 hours in every month over a six month period. They will also be entitled to five days’ paid sick leave in each subsequent period of 12 months that follows provided that the above criteria continue to apply.
  • Sick leave entitlements are not pro-rata. For example, even if a part-time employee only works three days a week, they still get five days’ sick leave a year

Payment for sick leave where the employee has an irregular work pattern

  • Payment for sick leave is at the rate the employee would ordinarily be paid on the day leave is taken. This means:
    • If the employee’s agreement says they work 8 hours per day, but they regularly work an additional 30 minutes that day of the week and are paid for this, they should be paid 8.5 hours for their day off sick
    • If the employee has an irregular pattern, sick leave is payable if the employee was rostered to work on the particular day leave is taken, or could have expected to be rostered

Payment for part days off Sick

  • The Holidays Act describes sick leave in ‘days’ – so if an employee works for part of the day and then goes home sick, technically this may be counted as using a whole day of sick leave, no matter how much of the day the employee has worked before going home.
  • However, many payroll systems describe sick leave balances in hours and the employee and employer can agree to translate this to describing the entitlement in part days. For example, if an employee worked a half day then went home sick, their employer could agree to only deduct a half day of sick leave.
  • It is up to the employer to decide on an approach regarding part days of sick leave – for example you may choose to only allow whole or half days (not quarter days or exact hours). However, if this represents a change to the status quo we recommend consulting (if appropriate), communicating clearly and then applying the rule consistently

Medical Certificates

  • You can request a medical certificate after three consecutive days (regardless of whether these are all working days or not) at the employees’ cost, and you can request one earlier (even for 1 day) if you cover the cost.
  • You can request evidence (which may be a medical certificate) at the employee’s cost if they take any Domestic Sick Leave
  • You can request a medical certificate at the employee’s cost for any sick leave (even a day) if they have no remaining paid sick leave balance

Sick Leave while on Annual Leave

  • If an employee falls sick before or during scheduled annual holidays, the employee can take the portion of annual holidays they’re sick for, as sick leave. You can request a medical certificate before transferring the leave from Annual to Sick.

Managing sick leave well can make a significant difference, not just to your total efficiency but also your employee engagement and retention.

Positive People have 24 years experience helping organisations to get the best from their teams. If you need support with winter wellness or managing sick leave call us now.

Building Resilience in the Workplace

Resilience:

Why it is so important in the Workplace

In today’s ever changing environment, the need to build resilience alongside diversity is paramount. A meeting or workplace today is a melting pot of different perspectives, ideas and thoughts. While we all know these differences can help to make your good business great, it also raises challenges within our teams as we ask people to work collaboratively and not only accept, but embrace each others’ differences.

Our workplaces have grown from hierarchical environments, with teams sharing common views and backgrounds, to places where we value critical thinking and innovative solutions from all members of the team. This change opens the door for less resilient team members to become disengaged or fearful of expressing their viewpoint as they know it may be different from those around them.

Putting strategies in place to build resilience helps you to harness everyone’s views and create an environment where everyone does their best – and the results speak for themselves.

Key methods to build resilience in your team are:

  • Reframe your problems
  • Make change the norm
  • Encourage well-being
  • Build self esteem

Reframe your problems

People who lack resilience are likely to feel threatened and overwhelmed by problems that come their way. Helping your team to reframe and see problems as challenges or opportunities to make things better helps everyone to come together on business issues in a positive way. The next time you have a team together to discuss a business problem, try reframing the meeting to be a team challenge and see how positive the reaction is.

Make change the norm

We all know change is hard, and for some people it is harder than others. Making small positive changes in your business on a regular basis can assist your team to be ready for larger change and helps everyone to look towards change positively.

Encourage wellbeing

It’s hard to be resilient if you are tired, unhealthy or stressed. Small issues become big issues and you often can’t move into problem solving mode. Having a wellbeing plan for your team will help you to ensure you have employees fighting fit and ready to get stuck into whatever the day brings.

Build Self Esteem

Personal confidence is clearly reflected in the way we face conflict, overcome challenges and accept feedback and different points of view. Making sure you and your leaders take the time to give genuine positive feedback and recognise your team’s contributions can go a long way towards helping them increase resilience. If they believe in themselves, one small set back can be overcome. If they don’t, it can be the last straw.

Our workplaces are changing, and business success is reliant on every single member of your team performing well. Building resilience will improve performance as well as engagement, improve your employees’ wellbeing and help your business grow.

Positive People can help you to build resilience in your workplace through learning and development programmes, culture and engagement initiatives and policies that support mental health and wellbeing. Contact us today.

Mental Health and the Workplace

Mental Health and the Workplace

Recently there has been a lot in the news regarding mental health. The passing of Greg Boyed prompted an outpouring of tributes by his journalist colleagues. One, by Rawdon Christie, called for managers to take more responsibility for the wellbeing of their employees.

There are some important reasons to make mental health a priority in the workplace:

  1. In NZ one in five adults experience some form of common mental health issue in any year. Almost two in five adults have experienced a mental health issue over their lifetime.
  2. Employee health affects the workplace and the workplace affects the health of employees. It is important for employers to understand the difference between pressure, which keeps us all going and makes us productive, and stress, which makes unmanageable demands that damage both employees and the business. There should also be an awareness that life outside of work affects the wellbeing of workers when they are at work.
  3. Workplaces are legally required to take all practicable steps to ensure the health and safety of their employees. Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, workplaces have a role to play in the prevention of harm to all people at work. This includes mental harm caused by work-related stress.
  4. A healthy work environment increases productivity and reduces employee turnover, stress, and personal grievance claims
  5. Workplaces feel the effects of poor mental health of employees through increased absenteeism and increased ‘presenteeism’ – when employees are at the workplace but not mentally engaged with work. It is estimated that on average, employees have nearly three times as many ‘presentee’ days as absentee days

Source: www.mentalhealth.org.nz

Your role as a manager

It’s crucial that managers are equipped to act or know where to turn if they have concerns about the mental health of an employee. There are a number of onsite and offsite courses from a variety of providers that teach the basics of ‘Mental Health First Aid’.

In addition to crises management, it’s also important to consider:

  • What support can and should you provide when an employee is struggling with their mental health?
  • How will you manage misconduct or disciplinary processes when there are mental health concerns?
  • How will you manage the return-to-work of an employee after time off due to a mental health issue?

Once you’re ready and prepared to support employees experiencing mental illness, then it’s time to consider how you can proactively promote mental health in the workplace. This might be as simple as organising a shared lunch, entering a team in a local sporting event, or organising a charitable donation for some of your team to deliver on behalf of your business. Check out five ways to wellbeing for employer resources, put together by the Mental Health Foundation.

Contact us to find out how we can partner with you to implement a mental health and wellbeing programme that suits the needs of your business and employees.