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.

Effective Decision Making for Leaders

Effective Decision Making for Leaders

Effective decision making is a key skill for everyone in the workplace, but in a leadership role it becomes vital. Whether you are deciding the best candidate to select, which marketing strategy to choose or what price point to offer to win a big piece of business, you must be able to make the best decision possible with the information you have available to you.

Although we all have different ways of thinking and approaching problems, a systematic approach is important to avoid bad decisions.

 

The steps to good decision making:

  1. Categorise

Is this a unique problem, or is it reoccurring? Here you are establishing if you have a pre-designed principle to follow or adapt, or if you need to develop the rule through this decision.

  1. Define

What is it? Where is it? Who is affected by it?

  1. Desired Outcome

What is the result you need? Who and what will be affected by that outcome and how?

  1. Decision

First, consider what decision will fully achieve the desired outcome. From this starting point, you can start to think about what compromises can be made while still reaching the outcome you need.

  1. Action

Assign responsibility for the action being carried out, as well as specifying who will actually carry the action out. This may all be the same person (you!) or you may, for example, assign responsibility to your Operations Manager and delegate the particular tasks to the relevant employees within their team.

  1. Review

Build in feedback and reporting to review the effectiveness of the decision against the results.

 

Bring in the team

It is well documented that teams make better decisions than individuals. None of us is smarter than five people! It’s generally accepted engaging a team of four to six people is the sweet spot for decision making. You will benefit from diverse skills and perspectives, without the complexity that organising a larger group brings. Next time you have a decision that you would normally make alone, consider getting a team together and working through the decision making steps together.

 

Positive People have 24 years’ experience helping leaders and teams grow and develop their skills. We can work with you to tailor a bespoke learning and development solution that will help your leadership team to build their decision-making capability.  We can also help you to introduce and integrate decision-making models into how you do business and work with you to ensure your leadership team are working together to make the best decisions for your business.  Call us today to find out more.

Employment Relations Changes

 

Employment Relations Changes:

What to Expect and When

 

Are you trying to keep up with what is happening with the upcoming changes to employment law? We’ve made it easy with a brief outline of the proposed changes and some information on what stage they are at in the process.

The key changes coming into force are:

  • Changes to the Employment Relations Act, including the 90-day trial period
  • Minimum Wage increase
  • Changes to the Holidays Act
  • Fair Pay Agreements

Employment Relations Act 2000 Amendment

The Employment Relations Amendment Act 2018 was passed into law on 6 December 2018. It introduced a number of employment law changes.

The main changes included:

  • The right to set rest and meal breaks will be restored, the number and duration of which depends on the hours worked. For example, an eight-hour work day must include two 10-minute rest breaks and one 30-minute meal break, while a four-hour work day must include one 10-minute rest break. Employers must pay for minimum rest breaks but don’t have to pay for minimum meal breaks. Employers and employees will agree when to take their breaks. If they cannot agree, the law will require the breaks to be in the middle of the work period, so long as it’s reasonable and practicable to do so.
  • 90-day trial periods will be restricted to businesses with less than 20 employees.Businesses with 20 or more employees will not have access to 90-day trial periods. They will be able to use probationary periods to assess an employee’s skills against the role’s responsibilities. A probationary period lays out a fair process for managing performance issues and ending employment if the issues aren’t resolved. However, it is a much more complex and protracted process to use to terminate employment than a trial period.
  • Strengthening collective bargaining and union rights
  • Restoring protections for vulnerable workers, such as those in the cleaning and catering industries, regardless of the size of their employer

More information on these changes can be found here

Timing

Most of the changes relating to strengthening union and collective bargaining rights were implemented on 12 December 2018. Changes to rest and meal breaks and 90-day trials will come into effect on 6 May 2019

 

Minimum Rate Increases

The Government has announced it will increase the minimum wage to $17.70 an hour on April 1 2019, with further increases to take it to $20 by 2021.

 

Changes to the Holidays Act

A review was commenced following several high-profile cases where employers have failed to pay their employees the correct rate for annual leave.

The current Act states that holiday pay can be calculated two ways; either on the basis of ordinary weekly pay at the beginning of the holiday period or on the average weekly earnings over the previous 12 months, and that employers must pay whichever rate is the highest. Where employees are part time, have overtime rates or have bonus or incentive payments these rates can be significantly different. The practicality of calculating this every time an employee goes on leave is very difficult and many payroll systems are not set up to do this correctly. The review will cover this, as well as the full Holidays Act with the aim of simplifying the regulations, ensuring the act is fit for purpose for the current work environment and making it easy for both employers and employees to ensure that correct entitlements are paid.

Timing

The review commenced in August 2018 and is expected to be completed by August 2019. The terms of reference also stated that an interim report would be issued within 6 months to inform the public about the progress of the review, so we should see this released soon.

 

Fair Pay Agreements

A working group was established in June 2018 to consider what a Fair Pay Agreement would cover and look like, with the aim of providing recommendations on how these may work in the future.

Fair Pay Agreements, as outlined as one of the Governments election promises, would be collective agreements which cover whole industries and set out the minimum requirements for that industry. The Government  indicated that it expected Fair Pay Agreements to be used in occupations where there is already a high level of Union membership (like nursing, teaching or manufacturing), and that once a Fair Pay Agreement is in place, it would be compulsory for all employees in that industry to be covered.

There was some discussion around small employers being exempt from Fair Pay Agreements and this was part of what the working group considered. They were also tasked with looking into whether regional variations should be allowed in Fair Pay Agreements, how often they should be renegotiated and if they should apply beyond workers (for example to contractors.)

The working group delivered 46 recommendations in their report. One of the recommendations is that workers should be able to initiate a Fair Pay Agreement bargaining process if they can meet a minimum threshold of 1000 people, or 10 per cent of workers in the nominated sector or occupation.

The full report from the working group was released on the 31st January 2019 and can be found here

Timing

The Government is now taking time to consider the recommendations and comments from the report before undertaking policy consideration and consultation.

Many of these changes will require updates to your employment agreements and could also mean changes to your current practices. Positive People can help to keep you ahead of the game and make sure you remain compliant. Contact us to talk through how you can prepare for the upcoming changes.

HR Trends in 2019

HR Trends in 2019

Becoming an Employer of Choice

Increasingly, building an Employment Brand is essential to attract and retain the type of employee you want. Taking action to enhance your organisation’s ability to become an Employer of Choice stands at the centre of attracting and retaining the people who have the skills to advance your business. This involves developing and implementing a deliberate strategy to build an Employment Brand that sees your organisation established as a sought after employer. Having employees lining up to work for you is the goal.

Values Stand Tall

Values in the workplace matter more than ever. Having organisational values that stand tall in the market place encourages potential employees to self-select your Company as a place to work. This makes your job of ensuring the “fit” is right so much easier.

Collaboration

Employees expect to be consulted with and involved on projects. This is particularly the case at senior levels. Collaborative platforms allow for connection between team members, which improves both effectiveness and efficiency of operation, as well as improving morale.

Total Wellbeing

Having a Wellness program that includes exercise and diet is no longer enough. Total wellbeing is now holistic and includes the complete wellness of each employee, including looking after the mental health of employees. It has elements of inclusiveness and belonging.

The March of Technology

Technology in the HR space continues to advance, none more so than the practical application of AI, with a blend of humans and robots being the trend where it makes sense. Also under the technology umbrella, recruitment technology has blossomed. People analytics is a focus along with the increasing use of data for decision making. Digital workplace strategies are increasingly common.

Recruitment

New levels of recruitment experience are emerging. With the skill and talent shortages there is a battle to win over passive candidates and LinkedIn has become a key tool for recruitment. Allied to this is the importance of the Employment Brand. Building a talent pool waiting in the wings is also favoured

Atypical Working

Flexibility is mainstreaming. All organisations need to creatively develop working patterns and approaches that accommodate the flexibility of work that employees now expect.

Individual Learning and Development

An individualised learning and development experience is what employees want. It has to suit their needs and aspirations.

 

Working with Positive People will ensure you are ahead of the curve when it comes to HR. Contact us on 09 445 1077 or info@positivepeople.co.nz to start implementing proactive HR initiatives that really work.

Reflecting for personal growth

Reflecting on 2018:

Getting ready for the New Year

 

Why take the time to reflect?

Reflection is the engine room of personal growth.

  1. It helps to detach ourselves from rigid ideas and reminds us that we have the ability to make independent decisions that will lead to better outcomes
  2. It develops self-awareness of our own emotions. This helps us to understand how and why we have responded in certain ways to various situations, and how we can change this
  3. It allows us to see that we usually already have the answers and the knowledge we need to make the best decision, to change or to grow. We are our own best source of learning to enable personal growth

Challenge yourself!

Take 30 minutes (outside if possible) and think back over the year that has been and the year that is ahead.

The Personal and Work sections will probably overlap to a certain extent.

Personal

  • What were my biggest achievements this year?
  • What were my biggest mistakes this year?
  • What would I do differently if I could travel back to any point during the year?
  • What have been my personal strengths and weaknesses this year?
  • What were my goals and have I achieved them? Why or why not?
  • If there is one thing I wished I’d achieved, what was it?
  • What have I learnt?
  • What do I want to learn to do better next year? How can I do this?

Work

  • What new thinking and ideas am I bringing to my work?
  • How can I regularly make time for deeper thinking about my job and how to do it better?
  • How could I up the productivity of my team by 10%?
  • How could I better meet deadlines?
  • What do I need to do to be acknowledged as a genuine top performer?
  • What do I need to improve in my leadership style?
  • How can I better connect with what the future holds?
  • How can I better engage and communicate across the organisation?

We hope this exercise puts you in a great state of mind and good space to welcome in a successful 2019 with a bang!

Bullying and Harassment Investigations

Bullying and Harassment Investigations:

The Do’s and Don’ts

 

Bullying and harassment complaints and investigations are always difficult to navigate. However, if the #metoo and related news coverage throughout the last year has taught us anything, it is that every complaint requires considerable care and attention to ensure a fair and thorough process and appropriate outcome.

We’ve compiled some of the most important Do’s and Don’ts to keep in mind when commencing an investigation.

Do

  • Have a policy that provides definitions of bullying and harassment, outlines the processes for making a complaint and for investigating
  • Use an impartial investigator – if you do not have the appropriate person internally, use a third party
  • Respond quickly, and complete the investigation as soon as possible. This can take significant time. If capacity is an issue, using a third party to conduct the investigation for you will help to make sure it is done correctly and in a timely manner
  • Consider the legal risks – the health and safety of employees comes first and bullying & harassment is covered by the Health & Safety at Work Act, so you must be mindful of your legal obligations. There is also a risk of a Personal Grievance being raised, breach of contract and/or good faith provisions, and claims of discrimination under the Human Rights Act
  • Balance the rights of the complainant and the respondent – you have a duty of good faith and confidentiality to both.
  • Offer support – provide links to support services and check in with the employee throughout regarding their wellbeing
  • Keep meticulous documentation. Most investigators now audio record meetings (after seeking permission) to save time on note taking and to ensure an accurate record. Alternatively, get the notes checked and signed at the end of the meeting
  • Communicate – you should keep all parties updated on the timeline and the process you’re following

Don’t

  • Have the investigator also be the decision maker – these must be two separate roles
  • Do nothing just because the complaint isn’t in writing
  • Leave the status quo in place while you investigate – you need to consider at the beginning if either the complainant or the respondent should relocate to a different work space, team or shift for the duration of the investigation
  • Default to a full-scale investigation. Regardless of whether you receive a ‘formal’ or ‘informal’ complaint, you will need to assess the complaint and decide whether it requires a ‘formal’ or ‘informal’ investigation and communicate this to the complainant, including the rationale
  • Withhold information – providing the respondent with the relevant information is an important aspect of natural justice. They need to know the identity of both the complainant and witnesses. In some cases, withholding certain information may be justified – but only when it is not prejudicial to the respondent
  • Don’t use a mixture of written statements, phone calls and meetings – choose one method (ideally face-to-face) and use it for the respondent, complainant and all witnesses
  • Engage in ‘off the record’ conversations with witnesses
  • Consider any information in the investigation that is gleaned from “secret” witnesses unless they are prepared to share their identity
  • Draw inferences from demeanour – people react differently to stressful situations so it’s important to only analyse what they say and not body language or facial expressions

 

Positive People are experienced in conducting independent third-party investigations for bullying and harassment complaints. Call us on 09 445 1077 or email info@positivepeople.co.nz

Employer Responsibilities ‘After Hours’

What are my Employer Responsibilities for “After Hours” Employee Activities? 

 

With the Christmas season upon us, celebrations underway and festive cheer being spread, now  is a good time to be aware of your employer obligations, not only for workplace conduct, but for all the happenings that may occur outside of work hours….

Many of your staff will not only attend your official Christmas party, they will celebrate with customers, with suppliers and have “unofficial” celebrations amongst themselves.  This stretches the potential for inappropriate conduct far wider than only being confined to the official two hours of Company celebrations.

Here are some key things to be aware of:

 

Getting to and from the Company Christmas party

As a function promoted and paid for by your business you must ensure, as far as is reasonably practical, the health and safety of your team. This extends to the responsibility for making sure your team are safe getting to and from the event. The biggest danger is drink driving. Make sure you have set clear expectations and communicate in advance the need for safe travel. Its also a good idea to have someone monitoring staff as they leave and taxi chits on hand to use if you think someone is at risk.

Questionable acts during a Christmas function

Just like at work, at the Christmas party you still have the responsibility to ensure your team are safe from sexual harassment, bullying or discrimination. It makes sense to designate some of your team to take on a hosting role to ensure that bad behaviour doesn’t occur and educate them on what to do if they see or hear something that shouldn’t be happening. Music and Christmas cheer do result in more casual behaviour, so have a sound plan in place to keep your team safe.

Behaviour at unofficial celebrations or after the Christmas party

At this time of year “unofficial’ celebrations start as well – whether it’s team drinks after work, Secret Santa’s or carrying on after the Christmas party. Key with any of these is to be clear with your Managers about what is a work function and what isn’t. If an employee in a leadership position organises or promotes the event, if the Company pays for it or if it’s advertised using the Company name, then your business is likely to have health and safety responsibilities.

Celebrations with customers or suppliers

During an event with customers or suppliers your team members are still representing your Company, and as such there is a safety consideration and a need to adhere to your Code of Conduct. Educating your team on this will help to save any embarrassing complaints about their behaviour after the event…

Social Media

Social media has blurred the line for many people around what’s private, what’s public and what thoughts and feelings are OK to share. At any time of the year any public post which impacts negatively on your business or could be perceived as bullying or harassment of a team member should be investigated. It may be made outside of work time, but the impact will be felt during work hours, so you must address this and educate your team on the impacts of their actions. Having a clear policy on posting photos during Company events also helps.

People don’t want everything they do live streamed on Instagram!

 

In todays environment, where the health and safety of our teams is paramount it is no longer acceptable to say “If it’s 5pm, our employees aren’t our responsibility”.

 

Being knowledgeable about your responsibilities will help you minimise risk and keep your team safe – a win/win for all.

 

Positive People have 24 years’ experience helping organisations understand and manage their HR obligations. Call us today on 09 445-1077

Positive Reinforcement

Positive Reinforcement – Why managers should prioritise praise

 

“If each of us was to confess our most secret desire, the one that inspires all our plans, all our actions, we would say “I want to be praised”” – Emil Cioran, Philosopher

 

When we see an outstanding leader in action, one of the first things we notice is their ability to recognise achievement and celebrate success in a way that feels genuine. This has an uplifting snow-ball effect on the team.

This is evident in data gathered from global engagement survey providers, which consistently tell us that there is a direct link between enhanced retention, productivity and revenue and employees receiving praise and recognition at work.

But even when we know that praising employees for their work and commitment has a positive effect on our bottom line, it can still be something we struggle with.

 

Practice makes perfect.

Knowing you should give positive reinforcement, and actually doing it are two very different things. Also, saying the same thing on repeat will quickly lose its impact. So not only does it need to become a habit but you also need to mix it up.

 

“The way positive reinforcement is carried out is more important than the amount” – B. F. Skinner, Psychologist

 

  1. Find out what motivates each member of your team and tailor your positive feedback to drive their performance
  2. Use different channels. Some people prefer one-on-one, others in front of the team, or in an email. Most people will respond well to praise, however it is delivered, so use a variety of forums to keep it fresh
  3. Remember your introverts. You may not hear as much about their accomplishments so make the effort to dig a little deeper to find out how they are going. If they’re delivering great results, let them know
  4. Commit yourself to never forgetting to praise a team member who you see going the extra mile. Discretionary effort is the hallmark of engaged employees and these are the people you need to retain.
  5. Remember, it is far easier to spot mistakes than it is to focus on what is right with a piece of work. Keep this in mind when delivering feedback and make sure it’s balanced.
  6. If you have a consistently high performer, don’t forget to consistently praise them for their efforts. Sometimes when a high level of performance becomes the norm from someone, it can be easy to let the positive feedback slip off the radar
  7. Performance reviews are the ideal opportunity to link an employee’s efforts with the bigger picture. Tie their achievements to the strategic goals of the organisation – this reminds them of the ‘why’ and the important part they are playing
  8. If you’re working on an area of development with an employee, take every opportunity to positively reinforce behaviour or actions that show they’re improving in this area

 

Positive People can help you to develop your frontline leader’s ability to recognise their team and elevate performance. Contact us today at info@positivepeople.co.nz or 09 445 1077.

 

Verbal Warnings

Verbal Warnings – Do they have a place today?

 

As the disciplinary process evolves, it is helpful to reflect on your own organisation’s process and make sure it is up to date, current, fair and reasonable.

A key part of a traditional disciplinary process is the verbal warning – a step Managers can take when they believe an employee’s actions are serious enough to warrant more than an outline of expectations or a coaching session, yet not serious enough to warrant a Written Warning. Frequently these warnings are given by Managers without following a full process, and Companies often then mistakenly rely on them as the first step in a progressive warning process for misconduct.

A general rule of thumb for misconduct is that the progressive disciplinary processes should allow for three formal warnings for the employee prior to dismissal being considered. It’s important to consider whether a verbal warning forms part of the progressive disciplinary process for your organisation, and if so, specify this in your Code of Conduct.

For a verbal warning to be part of a progressive disciplinary process:

  1. It must be confirmed in writing, outlining the breach of policy and procedure and future expectations, and ideally have the employee’s signature
  2. You must still conduct an investigation, allowing the employee to respond after having the opportunity to prepare, have a support person present, and have access to all the information you have gathered about the misconduct

To be utilised and considered as part of a progressive process, the process you follow before issuing a verbal warning must be the same as if a written warning is given.

If you do not follow this process, then a verbal warning may be considered as part of the investigation into further misconduct but cannot be relied upon as one of the formal steps. It is instead background information confirming that the employee was aware of the Company rules and the impact of their actions.

If you do not follow this process, details of the verbal warning should not be stored on the employee’s personal file. Instead it would be considered the same as a coaching session, a letter of expectation or a Manager’s diary note.

For many Companies this requirement for a full process has meant that verbal warnings have become a thing of the past.

A more current approach is to streamline the process, doing away with verbal warnings altogether:

  • First instance of the behaviour – Informal discussions reflecting concerns. The Manager would be advised to keep “diary notes”
  • Second instance of the behaviour- Issue a Letter of Expectation alongside conducting a Coaching session driven by a Performance Improvement Plan (if appropriate). This is an informal process which does not require a formal investigation. The Manager outlines the impact of the behaviour and uses a coaching approach to help the employee identify ways they can improve. This is documented by the Manager and kept as part of the Performance Improvement Plan
  • Third instance of the behaviour – An investigation is initiated, which can then set off the formal disciplinary process, inviting the employee to respond. It also includes the other requirements of a full process. A possible outcome could be a first written warning.
  • Continuation of the Disciplinary process

Having a process which is sound, streamlined and allows for the employee to have an opportunity to change their behaviour is critical to minimising the risk of any comebacks on the process.  

This area can be a minefield, and is not easy to get right.

Positive People are experienced in developing performance management frameworks which are legally compliant, understandable and practical for both managers and employees. Contact us today and we can help you review yours.

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.