Use 2020 lessons to create a successful 2021!

Covid-19 hit us with a bang early in the year. Health, business and social effects are still a problem and a worry to all organisations.

This has lead us to reflect on this very unusual year and consider what we have learned and, critically, to work out what actions organisations need to take to ensure that they can survive and thrive in 2021.

What have we learned?

  • The health effects of Covid-19 have to be taken seriously
  • Government actions have a profound effect on the running of the economy
  • Every person is affected in some way
  • The Government aid packages have been of great assistance to many businesses
  • Many businesses have not survived
  • Many business owners and managers have had to absorb significant responsibilities and stresses of the year
  • Businesses have had to be resilient and prepared to do things differently
  • Flexibility, agility and innovation have leapt to the forefront of business survival
  • Remote working has become something for all organisations to get to grips with
  • Mental health and wellbeing has emerged as a “must have” focus
  • HR is not just about HR administration software and employment law compliance – it is much deeper and more relational
  • Regular communication and contact channels with your employees are non-negotiables
  • The importance and value of engaged and committed employees to organisations has never been higher

As an HR Consultancy servicing mainly medium-size businesses, over the last few months we have noticed a surge of enquiries from organisations wanting to develop and grow both individuals and teams, and to team-build. The importance of high performing dedicated and committed employees has never been more in focus.

This realization of the need to take positive steps to enhance individual performance and also creates a collaborative high-performance culture sets the scene for a successful 2021 HR strategy.

Amongst the top issues for a successful 2021 will be the quality of
HR in your business.

What HR things can you do to make sure your business survives and thrives in 2021?

  • Develop an HR strategy that has individual and group development, and collaborative teamwork at its core
  • Develop an annual HR plan that drives a disciplined approach to implementing the important People goals that you set
  • Review your communication channels with your employees. Are they properly set up and do they really work?
  • Ensure that you have groups set up for innovation and continuous improvement initiatives
  • Ask your team to let you know what you did well and what you could improve on in your 2020 Covid-19 response
  • Review the associations and partnerships that you have that potentially could help you out if further crises develop
  • Review/introduce Remote Work, Flexible Work and Wellness policies
  • Review your HR plan monthly to stay on top of these critical HR matters

2021 is just around the corner and the better prepared you are for what it may bring, the better you will both survive and be successful in your business.

Positive People have over 25 years’ experience guiding employers put in place HR initiatives that serve the business well. Call us today on 09-445 01277 to ensure you are well set up for a successful 2021.Teamwork

PositivePeople October 22, 2020 No Comments

Labour’s Landslide Victory = A Changing Employment Environment

Start now to think through the employment changes and challenges that will certainly confront you in the coming months.

The election was an historic one – Labour won 49% of the vote with a slam-dunk victory. This means Labour can choose to govern alone – the first time this has happened since New Zealand introduced a mixed member proportional (MMP) electoral system in 1993.

There are no doubt going to be many workplace challenges ahead – not least being able to afford the terms and conditions enhancements, as well as the ability to work constructively with Unions because it is a certainty that Unions will increasingly come to the fore in the next little while.

What does this mean for you? And what does it mean for workplace relations?

The Labour Party’s Workplace Relations and Safety policy is based on a principle that businesses and the economy will be boosted by supporting workers and valuing their contribution.

Specifically, Labour’s Workplace Relations policy commits to:

  • Increasing SICK LEAVE – from 5 days to 10 days; Labour plans to do this within the first 100 days.
  • Increasing WAGES and continuing to improve PAY EQUITY –the minimum wage will increase from $18.90 to $20 in 2021 and legislation will be introduced around pay transparency.
  • Legislate and implement FAIR PAY AGREEMENTS- fair pay agreements are industry-wide agreements set by Unions and employers that establish minimum terms and conditions for workers.
  • Strengthen key EMPLOYMENT LEGISLATION – changes to the HOLIDAYS ACT are planned to simplify leave calculations, and to allow sick leave and annual leave to be taken as it is accrued.
  • A MATARIKI PUBLIC HOLIDAY will also be introduced from 2022.
  • PROTECT VULNERABLE WORKERS – increasing protections for dependent contractors (dependent contractors are workers who are under the control of an employer but who do not receive the legal protections that are currently provided to regular employees); and, raising the age for workers to be allowed to perform hazardous work (from 15 to 16 years).

If you’re a business owner, it is important to start getting prepared now for these workplace changes.

  • Think through the quality of the relationships that you have with your employees. The closer you are to them the better. The more engaged they are with you and the organisation the better.
  • Consider what changes need to be made to your employment documents and processes (e.g. employee handbooks and employment agreements) to implement the changes to sick leave, the minimum wage, and the new public holiday. Think about the cost implications of these and start to factor this into your future wage budget.
  • The implementation of fair pay agreements may mean an increase in Union presence in your operating environment. Consider how to work constructively with Unions. Get prepared for this by learning about your industry’s Union now, ensure you have a good understanding of the number of Union members in your business, and gain a good understanding of what Fair Pay Agreements actually are.

There are many workplace changes and challenges on the horizon for businesses. The impact on your organisation, however, can be minimised by planning ahead, bring prepared, and putting in place actions now that will make for a smooth transition when these changes take effect.

 

 

PositivePeople September 16, 2020 No Comments

Time to reset your business plan!

With all the employment complexities surrounding Covid-19, it is fair to say that organisations are now operating in a very different commercial environment from 7 months ago.

Whilst your Vision, Values and Purpose may not have changed, your Goals may well have to be amended or tweaked to reflect the scrambled environment in which you are now operating. In one way or another your operating environment will definitely be different.

Have you re-assessed your goals?

Having some clarity on these is useful as a driver for the whole business, and especially important to provide focus for your employees.

If you want your employees on board, then they need to know where they are going.

  • Take an hour or two to reflect and decide on what your realistic short-term, medium-term and long-term goals now are
  • Decide on the priorities
  • Communicate these very clearly to everyone in the organisation
  • Involve at least your senior team in working out and planning how to achieve these new goals
  • Set short term actions that can be easily reset due to disruption
  • Cascade these plans down so that everyone feels they are individually playing an important part in keeping your business alive and successful

These new goals are a great opportunity to provide your team with a fresh challenge and to inject some much needed new enthusiasm and energy into your workplace!

A couple of hours on your goals will be well-spent and will pay big dividends by providing a simple and clear focus for all.

Positive People has over 25 years’ experience supporting businesses to develop business plans that get you the right results. Contact us now to learn more.

PositivePeople September 16, 2020 No Comments

Now is the time to connect with your team!

It’s been quite a year, hasn’t it!

Every single person in New Zealand has had to deal with unprecedented and unexpected change. This will continue for the foreseeable future.

While we have been working together as a team of 5 million, every individual’s experience has been unique. Some have coped well in this ever-changing environment and become masters of sourdough bread – however this is not the reality for most.

Almost everyone we deal with has suffered some difficulty, whether it be the challenges of home-schooling, stress from the loss of routine, job losses or relationship difficulties. This will be the same within your team.

As employers, the challenges will continue, as we seek to manage through a global recession and pivot or improve to ensure your business survives. Now, more than ever before, it is critical you have high performing, connected and engaged teams who can operate productively in a changing environment.

Because of this it is essential to relook at your engagement strategies and ensure that you are implementing the right things for these times. This is a unique period, and we must use unique and well thought out techniques, which recognise the difficulties our teams face.

What your people need now is a deep focus on their personal wellbeing, to be heard and cared for, and to feel connected to you and your business.

Easier said than done we know. However its often the simple things which will matter most right now:

  1. Regular one on one’s – Traditionally one on one discussions have been focused on performance and held infrequently. To make sure you know and understand the ups and downs your team may be facing we recommend scheduling in short, frequent individual discussions. Changing the focus of this will also be key – try starting with asking “how are you going?” and then move onto work topics.
  2. Listening deeply – Now is the time to focus strongly on understanding your team, encouraging openness, and actively recognising when someone needs help. Listening deeply will not only help you connect with your team, it’s often all someone needs to feel better, to feel heard and to feel valued. How much do you talk in one on ones? It is time to assess that ratio and make sure you as a Manager are listening more than talking.
  3. Let your team know it’s OK to have “down” days – Every single person I know has had at least one day of Covid fatigue. They may be tired, have had something cancelled, or just feel worried. If your team understand that this is normal, and it’s OK to talk about it, then they will feel well supported and more likely to bounce back quickly. Developing a fun support framework for your team is also a good idea – and encourage teamwork and collaboration.
  4. Look out for signs of more serious mental health concerns – While it is normal to have “down” days from time to time, for some people it will become more serious than that. Watching for signs that any of your team members might need additional, professional support will be a great help to them and their family.
  5. Ensure you have 2-way communication channels in place – During the initial lockdown we all had to move at pace – getting safety measures in place, confirming pay arrangements etc. This meant a lot of business communication. Now that we have moved through this period it is time to assess your communication channels and double check that your team not only receive the information, but that the way you have communicated has resulted in them understanding your message. Can they ask questions? How do they give you feedback on what is happening?  Implementing some two-way channels will ensure your future communication is more effective and allow it to be tailored more accurately for your team’s needs.
  6. Implement small regular Pulse Surveys – Your team’s priorities and motivators will have changed during this period, and they will continue to change as we face further Covid challenges. Moving from engagement surveys to quick regular check ins via a Pulse Survey will help you keep pace with where your team is at and make sure you have your support and priorities right for your team
  7. Take time to have a laugh – They say laughter is the best medicine, and often this is all people need to have their mood lightened and feel better about their day. Encourage a bit of fun amongst your team and join in! Your team will feel a far greater connection to you and your business if they see you right alongside them sharing in their experiences.

Most of all, at the moment, your team probably just need your time and patience. Now is a time where you can strengthen your culture, gain long term commitment to your brand, and build solid team connections.

Make the most of the opportunity. A strong team connection will mean strong business results!

Positive People have over 25 years’ experience helping businesses implement the right people solutions for their teams. Contact us now to discuss a Pulse Survey, or for any HR support you need.

 

 

 

PositivePeople August 13, 2020 No Comments

Responding to Level 3 Requirements in the Workplace

Responding to Level 3 Requirements in the Workplace

Below we have set out the likely guidelines and rules at the various Alert Levels for Covid-19 in New Zealand, as well as what this would mean for most businesses and how they might handle these scenarios.

We acknowledge that in the past things have changed very quickly with Covid-19, and as such, this guidance is subject to change. However, we hope it assists you with setting out your plans to respond to changing alert levels.

 

At Alert Level 3

People must work from home unless they are essential workers OR working from home is not possible and a safe work environment can be provided.

 

At level 3 people are instructed to stay home in their bubble other than for essential personal movement — including to go to work if you have to, school if they have to or for local recreation. You may also travel to the pharmacy, supermarket and petrol station.

Keeping your team, their families and communities safe will be your priority, along with the ongoing financial viability of your business and job security for employees.

  • People who can work remotely will stay at home.
  • If workload is reduced significantly, you may elect to look at options for reducing the number of employees onsite to allow for physical distancing and to reduce costs. This may include a proposal for some or all employees to take annual leave (with employee agreement or 14 days notice) or a proposal to reduce hours for some or all employees or a temporary closedown for some or all roles, or similar.
  • Any changes to your terms and conditions of employment should made in consultation with employees and seek  written agreement where applicable
If you’re sick, stay home. Don’t come to work. If your employees need to be onsite to work or you provide an essential service –

  • Ask employees to contact you to discuss as soon as they can, and before their normal start time.
  • They must contact Healthline as soon as cold or flu symptoms present themselves. If it is recommended that they are tested, you should encourage them to do so as soon as possible.
  • Generally, this period will be treated as sick leave – including the period leading up to testing (if delayed) and as you wait for results following testing.
  • If employees do not have sufficient sick leave balance, you should discuss any relevant alternatives with them on a case-by-case basis.
  • If an employee has been unwell and Healthline recommends a Covid-19 test, you may ask the employee to provide you with a screenshot of their  test results prior to them returning to the workplace, as evidence of their safe return to work.
Physical distancing of 2 metres outside home including on public transport, or 1 metre in controlled environments like schools and workplaces. Employers are required to implement health and safety measures to ensure a 1 metre physical distance is maintained in the workplace if employees need to be onsite to work or you provide an essential service.

You should also follow and implement the latest official advice regarding hand-washing and sanitising practices, cleaning surfaces, the use of face masks, gloves, other PPE and any other recommended measures.

It is likely that schools between years 1 to 10 and Early Childhood Education centres can safely open but will have limited capacity – usually reserved for children of essential workers. Children should learn at home if possible. Childcare responsibilities may impact some employees’ ability to attend work – or even work from home in some cases. You should work with affected employees on an individual case-by-case basis to come up with an appropriate plan.
Businesses can open premises, but they may be asked not to physically interact with customers. Businesses should close their sites to all visitors – including customers, suppliers, delivery drivers. If recruiting, defer interviews or hold them via video call. Put click and collect processes in place and make arrangements for safe drop-offs of items being delivered to site.
Public venues are closed. This includes libraries, museums, cinemas, food courts, gyms, pools, playgrounds, markets. Gatherings of up to 10 people are allowed but only for wedding services, funerals and tangihanga. Physical distancing and public health measures must be maintained. Inter-regional travel likely to be highly limited to, for example, essential workers, with limited exemptions for others. These measures along with others implemented at Alert Level 3 are likely to impact on the workflow for many businesses. As a result, you may need to consider changes to terms and conditions to reduce staff at work or enforce a temporary shutdown. See top row of this table for guidance on this.
People at high risk of severe illness such as older people and those with existing medical conditions are encouraged to stay at home where possible, and take additional precautions when leaving home. They may choose to work. You should manage this on an individual case-by-case basis. Together you may agree for the employee to take Annual Leave, paid special leave, unpaid special leave (at no pay or a pay reduction), sick leave or a combination.
Known or suspected Covid-19 cases and their households are put into mandatory quarantine. People possibly exposed may be directed by the Ministry of Health to self-isolate. If your employee has Covid-19, is a suspected Covid-19 case or has come into contact with someone who has or could have Covid-19 – they should let you know as soon as possible and of course, not attend work.

If they haven’t already been directed to self-isolate (or enter a quarantine facility), they should seek advice as to what to do and let you know the outcome.

You should discuss with them how this leave will be treated on a case-by-case basis. They may qualify for the Covid-19 leave support scheme https://www.workandincome.govt.nz/covid-19/leave-support-scheme/index.html. You may agree to use sick leave to top this up to 80% or 100%, use Annual Leave to top up to 80% or 100%, or a combination of the above.

You should also agree on a return-to-work plan – this will follow official advice but may involve seeking a Covid test after 14 days  and providing evidence of a negative result before returning to work.

 

Preparing for Possible Alert Level 4

  • People instructed to stay at home in their bubble other than for essential work and essential personal movement.
  • All gatherings cancelled and all public venues closed.
  • Businesses closed except for essential services, such as supermarkets, pharmacies, clinics, petrol stations and lifeline utilities.
  • Educational facilities closed.

In the event of a national lockdown or a Level 4 lockdown of our local region, you should communicate with employees via phone calls, texts, whatsapp/messenger group chats and emails. The duration and conditions of the lockdown will dictate the actions you may take but may include:

  • Seeking authorisation to share employee information in order to apply for a government wage subsidy if applicable
  • Consulting with employees regarding how they will be paid for the duration of the lockdown period
  • Discussing expectations with regards to what work, if any, employees will complete from home during a lockdown
  • Setting up a communication system to keep in touch and ensure that all employees are well supported
  • Discussing plans for returning for work – this may include a staggered return-to-work as you account for lower workflow, allow for physical distancing and seek to ensure the financial viability of the business

 

Available Support

It is normal to experience elevated levels of stress and anxiety as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. You should advise your employees to speak to their manager if they require additional support. The government site https://covid19.govt.nz/health-and-wellbeing/mental-wellbeing/ has helpful information, tools, apps and links to a number of support services. This includes a 24/7 helpline where you can speak to a trained councillor – free call or text 1737

If Covid-19 has had a negative impact on employees individual or family financial situation, they can also access tools, apps and links to support services here https://covid19.govt.nz/business-work-and-money/financial-support/financial-support-for-individuals-and-whanau/

PositivePeople July 23, 2020 No Comments

Sourcing Talent with Strict Border Restrictions in Place

Sourcing Talent with Strict Border Restrictions in Place

Are you concerned about being able to secure the right talent and retain those on visas?

There are many businesses in this situation. There is some good news – both in terms of net migration to NZ and extensions to essential skills visas

The good news around net migration is that:

  • There was an estimated net gain of 64,300 non-New Zealand citizens in the year ended March 2020 (Stats NZ)
  • Stats NZ says taking departures into account, net migration of New Zealand citizens for the year ended March 2020 is provisionally estimated at 7,200.
  • Stats NZ are quoted as saying:
    • “This is the highest annual figure on record”
    • “It’s a reversal of the long-standing historical pattern where more New Zealand citizens depart than arrive’”
  • Since March 2020, more New Zealander residents and citizens are choosing to return with NZ seen as a safe haven Click here
  • Alongside NZ residents and citizens, Immigration NZ is working with businesses and has introduced a critical worker application process Click here
    • This is only for skills where projects would be significantly delayed without this person’s skill set

The other good news is that essential skills visas will be extended.

The Essential Skills visa will be extended for 6 months and the stand-down period delayed if the employee:

  • Was in New Zealand on 10 July 2020
  • Holds an essential skills visa that will expire before 31 December 2020.

Immigration NZ expect this will come as a relief to many businesses and will help provide certainty about business’s ability to retain existing staff in the short term.

From 27 July 2020, Essential Skills visas will no longer be assessed using ANSCO skill levels and salary. If applicants can earn at or above the median wage they can be granted a visa for 3 years. The median wage is currently set at $25.50/hour ($53,040 per annum).

Visit NZ Immigration For more information

So while strict border restrictions are in place, net migration is positive. This means we have talent with recent overseas experience returning to the country. The extension to the Essentials Skills visa provides business continuity and Immigration NZ is looking at ways to help bring in people with critical skill sets.

If you need help sourcing talent or applying for a critical worker, get in touch with us. Positive People have over 25 years’ experience partnering with medium-sized businesses. Call us 09 445 1077 or email info@positivepeople.co.nz 

PositivePeople July 23, 2020 No Comments

How to Build Empathy into your Restructure

How to Build Empathy into your Restructure

As a result of the impact of COVID 19 on organisations, the reality is that many businesses are needing to restructure to remain viable. For those employees affected, a job loss, in addition to the multi-faceted anxiety that this pandemic has created, can be devastating.   

We all necessarily have to take note of the legalities of how to implement a change process in a way that is fair and minimises the risk of any personal grievances being raised.

Rigidly following due process does minimise potential risk. It can also sometimes leave the impression, with both those affected and those employees who remain in the business, that the employer is cold hearted and uncaring. Given the COVID 19 situation, these perceptions can be especially strong.

Change processes are more successful for all involved with empathy built in along the way.

The feeling that exists within the organisation during the restructuring process and afterwards is a clear indicator of morale and also how employees view how the process has been handled and communicated. This in turn affects engagement and productivity, as well as potentially leaving an indelible mark, either positive or negative, on the organisation’s employment brand.

So, the ideal is to strike an even balance by following a fair process, but doing so with a very strong sense of caring and empathy for all of those affected, both directly and indirectly.

 

Outlined below are some practical pointers of how to show caring during the process:

  • Ensure that you plan the restructure very carefully so that it is professionally done
  • Make sure that an essential element of your plan includes a filter of empathy and caring throughout
  • Develop well thought out and carefully worded communications. As with any communications on a difficult subject, the facts have to be stated, but it is how you say and communicate them that makes the difference. Maintaining confidentiality is important. However, it is helpful to have others in the team understanding the need to be supportive of those directly involved
  • Take the time to put yourself into others’ shoes and tread lightly
  • After outlining the proposal, offer to allow impacted individuals to go home for the rest of the day or deliver the proposal mid-afternoon and let impacted employees go home then
  • Understand that different people respond differently and take that into account at the time
  • Outline access to the company EAP service or in the absence of this, the Government funded ‘Need to Talk? 1737’ service for counselling support
  • At the proposal meeting, offer time to employees during the work day to get their thoughts straight around what feedback they may wish to provide and prepare for the feedback meeting. Arrange cover if they need it
  • Realise it can be a difficult process for all concerned – CEO, Manager implementing the change, impacted employees and other employees. Be available to hear and discuss concerns from anyone throughout the process. If the issues raised are beyond your skill set, encourage people to access EAP or 1737 or seek other appropriate outside assistance
  • Sometimes the content of a proposal may take a while to process. Be available for additional questions or meetings if you think your employees require it
  • For those whose roles are disestablished, provide support with up-dating CV’s, LinkedIn profiles and practical guidelines on navigating the job market at this time

Separating from a business is counter-intuitive for a human being’s natural desire for social connection and approval. Showing caring and empathy never goes amiss, and can work towards reducing the stress for all concerned. Apart from being the right thing to do, especially at this time, it is also sets your organisation up as one that will be respected for its ethos.

This will have positive spin offs of loyalty, commitment and engagement from those remaining.

If you need help navigating restructuring, please make contact with us. Positive People have over 25 years of experience partnering with medium sized businesses. Call us on 09 445 1077 or email info@positivepeople.co.nz 

PositivePeople June 19, 2020 No Comments

Flexible Working Arrangements

Making Flexibility Work for Your Business

Are some of your team reluctant to return to the office full time or even at all? You aren’t alone.

We have been fielding a number of queries from clients who are considering working from home arrangements post-lockdown and trying to work out the best arrangement for their business.

There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach.

The reality is that every organisation is different, with varying demands and cultural norms. There will be pros and cons unique to your workplace and structure which you will need to weigh up.

So, what should you consider and is there anything you should avoid? Here are a few steers while navigating this time. 

  1. Firstly, listen to your team and openly engage in the discussion. See this exploration phase as an opportunity to create positive engagement with your team and gain work efficiencies. Even if the final outcome isn’t exactly what people asked for initially, your team will appreciate being treated in a respectful, positive manner.
  2. Consider the future but keep it simple. Whilst you may only have a couple of people asking to work from home now, there are likely to be others who follow. Plan ahead for such requests by clearly identifying the specific roles that might fall into the ‘potential work from home’ category. That way you can treat people fairly and be consistent in managing requests and reviewing success.
  3. Be upfront. Communicate about what you are considering so everyone is in the loop. However, even if a role could be undertaken from home in theory, not everyone will be suited to such an arrangement. It is important to be upfront about that from the beginning and prepared to have those frank, sometimes confronting conversations.
  4. Be clear about your expectations. This might include minimum number of days or specific days you expect people to be in the office e.g. for team/client meetings to keep the connectivity and strong working relationships going, expected methods and frequency of communication in between office days, built-in regular reviews of the arrangement and performance levels.
  5. Don’t be afraid to try things out. Even if you already have a flexible working policy in place, you can still just trial an alternative temporary approach and formally review the policy later on. In the meantime, document any temporary individual arrangements so there is no confusion about what you have agreed.
  6. You will need to consider the practicalities of any home working arrangements to ensure you are meeting your health and safety obligations – here’s a good starting point:  https://positivepeople.co.nz/covid19-guidance-for-employers/covid-19-safe-work-from-home-guidelines/
  7. Also bear in mind that you are required to consider all requests fairly and respond in a timely manner to such requests

It can take a while to get into a rhythm when working from home, so expect a settling in period while you team get used to the new routine. Honest and open communication always helps to bed things in, and after while you will find the approach that works best for you and your team.

If you need help navigating flexible working arrangements, get in touch with us. Positive People have over 25 years experience partnering with small and medium sized businesses. Call us 09 445 1077 or email info@positivepeople.co.nz