PositivePeople October 14, 2019 No Comments

Flexible Work – Making it happen.

Alan Pettersen, our Positive People Director, is open to flexible working arrangements as long it’s good for our clients, our company and ourselves. It’s about balancing everyone’s needs.

This comes into focus particularly during the school holidays as many of our consultants juggle work with the pressures of kids at home and the expense of holiday programs. No two situations are the same so Alan adopts the approach that as long as it works for everyone, complete flexibility is possible.

One of our HR Consultants, Chanel Finnigan, shares how flexible working arrangements during these school holidays have worked for her:

“In the first week of the school holidays I’ve really valued being able to take my children to New Plymouth to visit their cousins and check in with my Mum who has  had a couple of falls recently. Each day I’ve done work in the morning, managed to enjoy time with extended family in the afternoon, checked in with the needs of my clients again in the late afternoon and relaxed with my family in the evening. I worked additional hours in the two weeks leading up to the holidays so I was ahead of my project timelines and was therefore able have a week of no scheduled meetings.  I’ve valued being able to deliver my work with a flexi-time, flexi-place solution.”

Having a flexible approach to work is a key part of job satisfaction for the Positive People team, and one that is essential to the employment brand. Alan says

“I know I have a great team and I also know how hard it is to recruit and retain top HR professionals so it’s critical we live our employment philosophy  which is “to provide exciting opportunities for our people so that they work hard, love their jobs, love Positive People, have fun, are stimulated and challenged, and live a balanced life.”

Getting this right means all our clients have access to highly skilled HR experts, and we have a highly engaged team.

It’s a win for everyone.

PositivePeople August 28, 2019 No Comments

What we’ve learnt in 25 years of HR Consulting

It’s Positive People’s 25th Birthday!

So, this is a Special Edition.

Alan Pettersen, our Director, started Positive People working from a clunky computer placed on a dressing table. A year later and with the help of his son, Alan lined the garage and he had moved into his first office. The all year round air-conditioning came screaming in under the door. Great in summer, challenging in winter. A few years later and he was in a real office with space to meet with clients and hold meetings!

Now we are celebrating Positive People being in business for 25 years, with a dedicated, committed, talented and experienced team of 7 HR Consultants providing the best service that we can to businesses across Auckland and sometimes further afield. We would also like to take this opportunity to say thank you to all of our clients for your ongoing support.

So, what have we learned over the years?
  1. Tech keeps changing, but people don’t – HR is about people, first and foremost
  2. Communication stands at the centre of HR – Good HR is all about great communication
  3. Values drive the organisational culture – Develop good values and deliberately attach desired behaviours to them. A great culture will follow.
  4. Great employees choose you, not the other way around – Constantly develop and fine-tune your employment brand to stand out as a sought after employer
  5. The greater the flexibility the greater the employment attraction – Work hard to create an ultra-flexible workplace wherever possible
  6. Workplaces are diverse and becoming increasingly so – Embrace diversity in all its forms
  7. Organisations make changes faster than ever before – Develop solid selection processes and early performance interventions so you’re always at the top of your game
  8. Everyone is more knowledgeable – Solid employment documentation and systems are essential, now more than ever before
  9. Training and developing employees is non-negotiable –The on-going growth and development of individual team members is essential.
Want to know more about what we’ve learnt doing what we do? In coming newsletters we will explore these topics in more detail.
Contact us for any HR related assistance. After 25 years of HR Consulting, we can help. Contact us on 09 445 1077 or info@positivepeople.co.nz

Responsible Digital Communication in the Workplace

Responsible Digital Communication in the Workplace

Many employees today spend a large portion of the day sending and receiving emails, IMs, DMs, social media posts and text messages. However, it’s very easy to be tripped up by the rules of digital etiquette, especially when you take into account the huge volume of messages, we send every day.

Effective digital communication in the workplace requires attention to detail and professionalism — every time.

So, how to you manage digital communication in the workplace?

As always, we think it’s important to be clear about your expectations, communicate these and then manage accordingly. Here are our top tips for responsible digital communication in the workplace:

  1. Consider your audience

As the sender you must consider the nature of your relationship with the receiver and tailor your approach accordingly. Using emoji’s is usually fine with colleagues, not so much with the CEO of a key customer.

  1. Apply the ‘front page test’

Never include anything in an email that you wouldn’t be comfortable with being made public. The main reason for this is that it could be! Also, it’s easy to accidentally send an email to the wrong person. If the content is sensitive, a phone call or meeting may be more appropriate.

  1. Use formal emails when required

These days we often don’t need to post or attach a letter. However, if the matter you’re emailing about is important and requires documenting you should keep this in mind and write your email accordingly. In these situations, your message should read almost exactly like a letter would.

  1. Be on brand

You represent your company in all of your work communications. If you work for a lawyer or accountant there will be different parameters than for those working in a less formal environment. Your level of professionalism and formality should be consistent with the company brand and industry.

  1. Be careful with social media

Social media posts by nature usually reach a wider audience faster than emails or other forms of digital communication. Be aware of your privacy settings, who can view each post you make and how the post reflects on you.

  1. Keep the personal separate from the professional

Always bear in mind the line between personal and professional communications. If you are communicating from a work account, about work and/or during work hours – keep the entire message professional. If you have a personal relationship with the recipient, send a separate message (or use another platform like text or IM) to communicate about other matters such as your after-work plans.

  1. Understand the consequences

If the content of your digital communication breaches the Code of Conduct of your company in any way or is otherwise problematical, you should be aware that a disciplinary process may follow. Communications sent using company resources are not private. All messages should be written as if your manager has been CC’d.

Positive People have developed an interactive workshop covering Digital Communication in the Workplace. Contact us today via info@positivepeople.co.nz or 09 445 1077 to talk about how this module can be tailored to suit the needs of your business.

2018 Employment Legislation Changes

What the changes mean for you

Although the details of the changes haven’t been confirmed yet, here are our thoughts on what some of the changes might mean for your business.

Restriction of 90-day trials

For those that employ less than 20 people, there won’t be any change. However, if your numbers are creeping up towards 20, you will need to keep across that to ensure that you’re not including a trial period if you’ve become ineligible.

If you employ 20 people or more, you will lose the ability to use the 90-day trial. You will still be able to apply a probationary period. These were in play prior to the trial period being introduced and some employers have continued to use them instead of the trial.

For more information here on the potential changes to the 90 day trial period and probationary periods

Restoration of meal breaks

In 2015 there were changes to rest and meal break entitlements. Where previously there had been minimum entitlements, the 2015 changes made it up to employers and employees to negotiate when and how long rest and meal breaks should be. An employer is currently required to compensate employees where they cannot give an employee rest and meal breaks, but the legislation does not state what that compensation should be.

The upcoming change will see a re-introduction of required meal and rest breaks to be provided over a work day or shift. However, we don’t expect this to be a huge change for most employers. Many have chosen to continue to apply the same breaks as before the 2015 changes – either written into the employment agreement, or in practice. In addition, the current legislation does state that employees are entitled to breaks. If anything, this change will just provide clarity again on what this means.

Reinstatement restored as primary remedy for unjustified dismissal

Reinstatement as the primary remedy means that if an employee is dismissed and successfully challenges the dismissal (the Employment Authority finds that unjustified dismissal has occurred), reinstating the employee to their former role is the first remedy to be considered. In 2011 the Employment Relations Act was amended to remove reinstatement as the primary remedy for unjustified dismissal. However, since then it has still been available as an option and some commentators have pointed to a growing trend in reinstatement as a remedy in recent years.

It’s restoration as primary remedy is unlikely to have a widespread impact. Most employers rarely, if ever, end up in front of the Authority. Also, where reinstatement is genuinely not practical for either party, other remedies for unjustified dismissal can and will still be considered.

 

Month: January 2018

Employment Law Changes

This year we are expecting to see a significant shift in the employment legislation landscape, and last week’s announcement signals the start of these changes.

The following changes were confirmed last week:

  • Trial periods will be restricted to small business (up to 19 employees) only. All employers will be able to use probationary periods, but unlike the 90-day trial, these do not allow unjustified dismissal
  • Guaranteed rest and meal breaks
  • A number of changes relating to collective bargaining, including removing the ability of employers to opt out of multi-employer collective agreements.

The bill is expected to have its first reading before February 3rd. In addition, we have the following changes to paid parental leave and minimum wage coming up:

  • The minimum wage will rise to $16.50 per hour ($0.75 increase) from 1st April, with increases set to continue to a targeted $20 per hour by April 2021.
  • Paid parental leave will extend from 18 to 22 weeks from 1st July and to 26 weeks from 1st July 2020

Other changes being indicated include:

  • An increase in minimum redundancy protection for employees affected by restructuring. This could go as far as a statutory entitlement for redundancy pay of at least four weeks for the first year of service and two weeks for each subsequent year of service, up to a maximum of 20 years
  • Contractors who work under the ‘control’ of an employer, but are not employees are likely to see their rights extended for more statutory protection
  • Legislation may be introduced to make it easier for women to bring claims if they consider they are not being paid equally. In particular, changes are likely to give women in female-dominated industries better access to collective bargaining
  • Reinstatement is likely to be re-introduced (it was removed in 2011) as the primary remedy for unjustifiable dismissal claims.
  • Minimum employment standards being extended to apply to all employees working in New Zealand, including foreign employees working for foreign companies. This will impact employers with a globally mobile workforce.

It’s a case of ‘watch this space’ for the possible changes outlined above, followed by looking to see how changes will impact employers and industries when implemented. We’ll keep you informed via this blog, or follow us on LinkedIn or Facebook for regular updates. If unsure of anything, contact us.

 

PositivePeople October 30, 2017 No Comments

ARE YOU ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE LAW WITH YOUR EMPLOYMENT RECORDS?

As an employer, you must keep wage and time, and holidays and leave records that comply with the Employment Relations Act 2000 and the Holidays Act 2003. It sounds simple enough, but we all know that it’s often easier said than done. Most employers have a nagging concern that if audited there are likely to be a few gaps (or more than a few in many cases).

Earlier this year, a labour hire company working in the Waikato was fined $57,000 for failing to retain employment agreements or records of wage, time, holidays and leave. Stories like this are a sharp reminder for employers to address any gaps in employment documentation.

So, as a minimum, what do you need to keep on file?

  1. You must keep records for seven years – even if the employee has left. You can keep these records on paper or electronically, as long as the information can be accessed easily and converted into written form.
  2. For many businesses, your payroll system will keep the necessary wage, time, holiday and leave records. If you don’t have a system which contains this information, it is essential to keep your own accurate records.
  3. You must also keep a signed copy of each employee’s employment agreement, as well as current signed terms and conditions (if amended since the agreement was signed) and a clear description of all roles.
  4. In addition, it is recommended that you keep copies of work visas and drivers licences (if applicable), evidence of compliance with health and safety responsibilities, and contact details for each employee as well as their ‘in case of emergency’ contact.

What happens if you don’t keep employee records?

If you don’t have the required documentation, the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) or a Labour Inspector may issue an infringement fine. The minimum fine is set at $1000, with a maximum of $20,000 per three-month period if there are multiple breaches.

As well as being a legislative obligation, good record-keeping prevents misunderstandings and protects you and your employee if there is a problem. As such, it is also important to retain all documentation pertaining to performance and disciplinary processes and investigations, at least until such time as any formal warning expires. In a large proportion of cases before the Employment Relations Authority, although the outcome itself may be considered fair and reasonable, the employer has fallen short of the procedural requirements in running the disciplinary process. Hence, retaining evidence of your process is essential.

A recent example was an IT worker, awarded $40,000 after it was found that his employer did not provide all relevant information to him, conduct and/or document a thorough investigation process, or issue formal warnings prior to dismissal. Likewise, in July this year, a cruise ship engineer was awarded $44,000 in lost wages and compensation after the ERA found the dismissal process followed by the employer was flawed, and lacking evidence of a proper investigation or fair hearing.

Don’t get caught out! Please call us to discuss how we can help ensure your employee documentation is in order.

 

 

PositivePeople August 23, 2017 No Comments

GET YOUR BASES COVERED – GET YOUR HR BASICS RIGHT

In today’s busy life, with smart phones constantly buzzing and demands coming from every direction, it is normal and common for us to get really busy, for matters to become over complicated and for us to forget the basics. When you get pressurised and possibly even stressed, or things seem out of kilter, it is helpful to go back to the basics.  Are you getting enough sleep? Are you eating well and exercising regularly? These are the essentials which keep us grounded, keep us going and keep us sane.

HR is just the same.

Having employees is challenging as you never know what new situation or behaviour you will face each day. It is often in these situations or when we are faced with a crisis that we realise there are gaps in our HR policies or processes. These are the foundation of effectively managing your team, yet often they are overlooked.

The starting point for dealing with an employee issue is to reference back to your employment related documentation. What is in the job description? What is in the code of conduct? What is in the terms and conditions? What is in the employee handbook? What does the Employment Agreement say? What is in the policies?

Do you have a provision in your employment documentation that relates to the situation you are facing and could provide the solution as to how to handle the situation? Have you set clear expectations for your team members and have these been documented and well communicated?

Too often, however, when we reach for the Employment Agreement, appropriate policy or other essential employment documents, we realise that there are critical gaps. Given the particular circumstance at hand, this is no help to us. A person transgressing can wriggle free when there are holes in the employment documents, and the situation can be, or can become, difficult to remedy.

The key to being confident about handling whatever HR issues are in front of you is to ensure you have the HR  basics covered before you need them. A solid IEA, backed by comprehensive policies and a code of conduct is worth its weight in gold when you have a tricky employment situation. It makes sense for every employer to review these annually to make sure they are in line with legislative changes, and to ensure they have been well communicated to their team members. Communication in advance of an issue can avoid the occurrence of the issue altogether.

Most employees don’t deliberately break rules. When they do, it is often a combination of pressure, a difficult situation or a lack of understanding of workplace expectations and standards. Having sound employment foundation documents not only helps minimise risk, but also helps your team to feel secure and confident in the knowledge that they understand the behaviours and performance standards expected of them.

Just like lack of sleep, it is often not until we get cranky and stressed that we realise we need an early night. Don’t make the same mistake with your team. Make sure you have all your HR basics covered before you need them.

When was the last time you reviewed your HR employment documentation. Positive People can help you make sure you have the right foundations in place to manage your team well.  Call us to find out more. Click here for more information.

PositivePeople July 10, 2017 No Comments

How to improve team morale during national events.

The country has been obsessed with New Zealand sporting success over the past few weeks, as we have been treated to high intensity, highly competitive and exciting yacht races and rugby games.

All of New Zealand cheered when the Emirates NZ crew held the Americas Cup high, and we wondered how to feel on Saturday night as the Lions game ended in a draw. Such sporting events inspire New Zealanders, bring out our national pride and encourage us to see what is possible if we aim high.

And then the victory parade is planned…..and despite the exciting spectacle on offer, what about those of us that just can’t have the time off? It’s a fact that many New Zealanders work in industries where making up the time later just isn’t possible – think construction, manufacturing, distribution, retail and care workers. As understanding as Kiwis are, a sign on a shop front saying, “Closed for the Americas Cup Parade” just won’t cut it when you are in desperate need of sales (or groceries).

So, looking ahead, what can you do to make sure your team don’t miss out on important games and events, but also keep your business ticking over and customers satisfied. Here are a couple of ideas:

  1. If possible, change or adjust your roster around the timing of the event. Can your team start early or late and get their 8 hours done at a different time?
  2. Put the TV or radio on. While it’s not the same as a live game, watching or listening to an event together can inspire a team and be great team building. If it’s a short event, take a quick break and cheer your team on together, or put the radio on so everyone can hear the commentary.
  3. Add in an extra shift. We know a business that added a Saturday shift during the rugby World Cup so that their team could work shorter shifts on game days but still achieve their schedule. This was very well received by the team, meant they kept their hours, and customers still received their goods on time.
  4. Ask for volunteers to work for others. While we saw some team members get very excited about the Americas Cup parade, a good many didn’t see joining 50,000 people in the rain as a great way to spend their afternoon. Getting the team to work together to cover others can build team morale, and ensure no one misses out.

National events are a great way to build Kiwi pride and morale. We just need to be creative with our thinking and everyone on your team can celebrate the things which are important to them.

At Positive People we understand HR, the environment and your team, and we are happy to help.

If you would like to talk to us to see if a free HR Check Up is a good fit for your business, contact the team at Positive People on 09 445 1077, or email us at info@positivepeople.co.nz.

If you would like to check available times to book your HR Check Up click here.

PositivePeople July 6, 2017 No Comments

How to recruit and retain staff in the Auckland market

 With the election campaigns starting to get into full swing, plenty of media attention is being drawn towards the plight of Aucklanders – the unaffordable housing, worsening traffic problems, immigration issues….  the list goes on.

While the reality of these issues change, often dependent on which media commentator you listen to, the combination does add up to a huge impact for Auckland organisations and the attraction and retention of their people.

Over the next year smart businesses will consider these issues, seek to understand the impacts and start to make plans to support their people to overcome these.

Housing

Buying a home is still a Kiwi dream, and with the affordability challenges many people are facing in Auckland, the migration to the regions will continue. Many businesses have started to lose talented team members as they look to buy a house for their family in more affordable areas.

It is still possible to get on the housing ladder in Auckland, but it is a huge challenge for many. Businesses can support their team by investing in financial education, budgeting and property advice to help them save and be able to make a solid plan for their family’s future in Auckland.


Traffic

Traffic is an issue which has plagued Aucklanders for years with no solid plan in sight to rectify the situation. Aucklanders are becoming choosier with their work location in relation to travel. The increase in focus of work/life balance has also seen fewer people finding hours spent in a car travelling to work acceptable. People have started to look for options closer to home.

Travel should start to be a key interview question, to make sure you understand if candidates have considered this in advance of an offer being made. Consideration should also be given to your office location. Are you close to reliable public transport? Do you have a surrounding demographic of people who will want to work in your business? Can you hire locally where possible? Making sure you consider this will help you to retain staff and set your business up to meet future recruitment needs.

Immigration

With the tightening of immigration rules fewer migrants will be available for work, reducing a valuable pool of talent for employers. It’s a good idea to start now and make sure you have a clear picture of which roles will be impacted in your organisation, and how this will affect your hiring. This will allow you time to build for the future by developing internal career paths to fill some of your tough vacancies, and improve your recruitment offering to be more attractive to New Zealand candidates.

It will also be prudent to become familiar with the new immigration legislation and even seek help from immigration experts to help you retain the top immigrants that you might have already in your organisation.

Pressure on wages

Recent information has shown that despite the “rock star” economy, wages in New Zealand have failed to keep pace with economic growth and that lower to middle income households are still doing it tough. This information may embolden employees as they ask for wage increases or actively search for other roles at a higher rate. Market rates have increased significantly in some areas, and it is essential businesses continue to monitor market rates often so they don’t run the risk of being left behind.

Having a well-structured and clearly communicated policy on increases helps to reduce the uncertainty in this area and assists employees understand what they need to do internally to receive an increase. Having an open-door policy around remuneration is essential so your team speak to you first before approaching employers. No-one wants to end up in a bidding war.

Key Take Away Points

  • Provide your employees with financial planning, budgeting & property planning advice
  • Include travel as a key interview question
  • Have flexible hours of work policies in place
  • Develop internal career paths for key team members
  • Improve your recruitment offering
  • Understand the immigration laws
  • Monitor and stay in tune with the comparative job rates in the area

Thinking ahead can help you to be successful through improved retention and team productivity. Understanding the issues and pressures your team face will help you build loyalty and commitment, and some creative HR support focused in the right areas can go a long way to mitigating some of the risks you may face in the future.

At Positive People we understand HR, the environment and your team, and we are happy to help.
If you would like to talk to us to see if a free HR Check Up is a good fit for your business, contact the team at Positive People on 09 445 1077, or email us at info@positivepeople.co.nz.
If you would like to check available times to book your HR Check Up click here.

 

 

 

PositivePeople May 25, 2017 No Comments

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT WORK VISAS

Recently the government announced a number of changes to the rules for people applying for skilled migrant visas, effective 14 August 2017. The change predicted to have the biggest impact is the increase in the ‘remuneration threshold’. Applicants who will earn less than the median New Zealand income of $48,859 won’t get any points, even if their job was previously considered as skilled. It will also become harder for their families to relocate to New Zealand with them.

Although your current employees already on a skilled migrant visa will not be immediately impacted, when it is time to apply for a new work visa they will need to meet the new remuneration threshold to be successful. It is also important to note that people applying for a temporary “Essential Skills” work visa can earn less than the $48,859 threshold, but only for a maximum of three years. After this, they will need to ‘stand-down’ and re-apply.

With the recent changes, you may be wondering what can you do to help prospective employees navigate the visa application process? As an employer, you can:

  • Work with a licenced immigration advisor
  • Only provide information that comes directly from the Immigration NZ visa form
  • Direct them to the Immigration NZ website so they can complete the application themselves

You cannot:

  • Give any form of immigration advice, including advising on what type of visa to apply for or what they might qualify for
  • Give guidance on how best to answer questions on the form
  • Represent them to Immigration NZ

Remember the importance of doing your due diligence when hiring someone who already holds a valid work visa.

We recommend you always ask to view and also take a copy of an applicant’s passport and work visa. This allows you to check when the work visa expires and any restrictions that may apply. It is your responsibility as the employer to ensure that they can legally work for you. The maximum penalty for unknowingly employing someone who is not entitled to work in NZ is a fine of $10K. The maximum penalty for allowing or continuing to allow someone to work while knowing that person is not entitled to, is a fine of $50K.

How we can help

It’s likely that, as a result of the recent policy changes, employers will be increasingly interested in becoming accredited by Immigration NZ. The accreditation process involves collating your organisation’s HR information, and often requires background HR work to support and strengthen the application. Positive People can assist with this. We can also put you in touch with licenced immigration consultants and offshore recruitment experts.

 

Contact us today to discuss your needs.