PositivePeople July 3, 2019 No Comments

Managing your Team with Empathy

Managing your Team with Empathy:

Providing real support during traumatic times

 

Life events wash over all of us.

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

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

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

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

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

 

To do this well we suggest:

  1. Know your team

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

 

  1. Encourage the use of EAP or specialist support services

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

 

  1. Allow Management discretion in the application of policies

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

 

  1. Consider extensions of leave entitlements for special circumstances

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

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

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

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

Winter Wellness and Managing Sick Leave

Winter Wellness and Managing Sick Leave

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

Our advice is twofold: 

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

Ideas for Promoting Wellness

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

 

Managing Sick Leave – Answering your FAQs

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

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

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

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

Payment for part days off Sick

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

Medical Certificates

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

Sick Leave while on Annual Leave

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

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

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