Christmas Is Coming: Let’s Wrap The Year Up Positively

 

Christmas is just around the corner. 

While you might not be ready for it yet, the silly season will stop for no one!

That means there is only so much time to get everything wrapped up before the end of the year. But there is also a silver lining to the situation. 

The good news is that Christmas creates a great opportunity to celebrate the successes of the year and signals an appropriate time for a well-deserved break.  

So, how do you make sure everything is wrapped up in time and you are ready for Christmas? 

We’ve got all the info you need right here. 

Celebrate the Year 

As the year draws to a close, it is the perfect time to celebrate all the great things that have happened in the last 12 months. These achievements don’t all have to be enormous ones, it is appropriate to celebrate all the small things as well. 

Thank your team for all that they have done this year. After all, it hasn’t been an easy one. With the pressures of Covid, rising inflation, and the ongoing navigation of a new normal after the last couple of years, they deserve a giant thank you! 

Don’t worry about it feeling cheesy. Sometimes a bit of cheese is worth it! Especially as it will remind your team that they are respected and valued by you.  

It is also vital that you create the right kind of feel moving into the new year. It’s time to look forward with a positive outlook. So, finishing this year on a positive and celebratory note will help set your team up for a great year ahead.  

A cool way to do this is to help your team members set goals to work on in the new year. They should be positive goals that focus on moving forward – perhaps career progression, training and development, or project work. 

Is it Time to Party? 

The annual Christmas party used to be a staple in everyone’s calendar. Then, 2020 rolled around, and the obligatory Christmas party took a backseat. You can revive it again this year or take a different approach to bring everyone together. 

We know budgets are tight, so it doesn’t have to be an expensive event. A casual team BBQ, a potluck dinner, a round of mini golf, or a trip to the bowling alley can all be fun. It’s simply about marking the end of the year and giving your team the chance to connect socially. If your team enjoy some time together in a relaxed and neutral setting, it will only help to build great morale and teamwork in the workplace. 

Don’t forget those team members who are working remotely. Round everyone up and regroup with an end of year get-together. And if it’s not possible to get everyone together in one location, what about an online Christmas party via video conference? Take your party connections to the next level by delivering little gift boxes of treats that can be opened and enjoyed while everyone is “partying”. 

Wellbeing Check 

After a draining year, it is timely to check in with all the members of your team to see how they are really doing. Christmas might not necessarily be a merry time for everyone. So, it is a great opportunity for a wellness check with your team. 

We spend such a large portion of our lives working, so it is important that your team feel mentally safe and valued at work so they can perform at their best. A wellness check can help you determine if that is the case for your people. 

This process is about honest and open conversations, as well as actively listening to what your team members are saying and what they might be reluctant to say. Remind your team of available support options – like speaking with HR, anonymous feedback, or any EAP avenues. 

Christmas Break 

Many businesses will choose to close for a period over Christmas. Will your business be one of them? If so, you will need to ensure you notify all your employees of the closure at least 14 days in advance. 

As part of that conversation, it is helpful to communicate what options your team have for leave. Obviously, they can take this as annual leave if they have enough available. But it is important to provide options for those without an adequate leave balance. You may choose to let them take leave in advance or require leave without pay. 

You can find more information about how to handle an annual closedown period here

The Christmas holidays also mean there are plenty of public holidays to observe. You’ll need to make sure you are following the correct public holiday guidelines for your staff in terms of wages and rostering. This applies regardless of whether you are having an annual closedown period or not. Make sure you are following the rules by checking out the public holiday guideline info here.  

Ready to close the book on 2022? You are not alone there! And if you need help tying up any loose ends or planning for a productive 2023, then the Spice Gals are here for you. 

We can help you navigate the guidelines around public holidays and annual closures or set up the ultimate wellness program for the new year ahead. For any and all HR queries, get in touch with our Spicey team! 

It’s All About Job Descriptions

Let’s talk about Job Descriptions…

They are vital documents within your business, not just for your team members.

They are obviously key for employees as they detail the tasks involved within a job and help to set expectations about what is involved with a role.

But they are equally important for employers.

Integral to the recruitment and onboarding process, these documents perform an essential settling role. And by keeping your job descriptions regularly updated, you can maximise the talent in your team and even boost employee engagement.

Want to find out how to do all of that with one little document? Then, keep reading to discover the power of a great JD.

The Importance of Good Job Descriptions

A good job description is more than simply a list of tasks for an employee to perform. It is an opportunity to create a valuable resource that will further the success of your business.

We know, it sounds like a lot of responsibility for one document. But we promise you, a JD is up to the task if crafted correctly!

Job Descriptions should have plenty of thought put into them to ensure they are accurate and that they align with your company values.  By compiling all the information about the role, your expectations and the skills required, into one place, you have a centralised resource that your employees can engage with and follow.

Having this resource on hand can mitigate risk as your employees will always know what is expected of them. This, in turn, can boost productivity and support greater employee accountability. It’s a win for everyone!

Not Just for Recruitment

A job description is obviously a key resource when recruiting. It helps a potential team member gauge whether the position is a good fit for them and produces quality candidate options for employers to choose from.

But, while a job description is a great resource for attracting the right talent to your business, it is so much more than that too.

It can also form an integral part of your onboarding process. By having this resource on hand, your new team member can become familiar with and engaged with their new role quickly as they know exactly what is expected of them.

It also gives you, as the employer, an opportunity to review the job role through a fresh set of eyes to ensure you are maximising the skills of your people and that the role remains effective within your business structure. 

3 Key Ways A JD Can Boost Business

Extended DISC ® Recruitment

When recruiting for a role, you don’t only hunt for the right skills and experience. You also want to ensure the candidate that you choose is the right fit for your team, personality wise.

A great way of doing that is by using Extended DISC®profiling. What is it? Well, Extended DISC®profiling begins with a short personality assessment that determines an individual’s personality type. Each person will show a different dominant trait – dominance, influence, steadiness, or conscientiousness. Obviously, some of these traits are better suited for certain roles than others.

You can use the information gathered from the Extended DISC®profile to see how suited a person will be to the particular role you are recruiting for. You can make the profiling process more powerful by linking the job description, ensuring you get the right fit for your team and the role. This is something our Spicey team specialises in, so reach out to us for help with this process.

Updating and engaging

Job descriptions only remain effective if they are updated regularly. They should be updated annually to capture any changes that have occurred in the last year. This is a process that should be done in consultation with your employees to ensure the details of the actual role (not what you think the role might be) are captured accurately.

By involving your team in this process, you are putting in the groundwork to retain good people and keep them engaged with your business. When your employees are involved in decisions like job design, they often feel more committed to the role and its success. It can also assist in shaping the position to their personal strengths.

Expectations and performance

It is hard to excel at something if you aren’t sure what is expected of you. Accurate job descriptions fix this problem as they help people understand exactly what your expectations are surrounding their role. This allows them to take greater accountability. When people know the specific demands of their role, they are also able to be more productive.

On the flipside, if your employees are not motivated and not meeting expectations, a detailed job description can help you to manage their performance. It can form the basis of the documentation for performance reviews, open conversations and, if needed, resulting disciplinary actions.

So, how are the job descriptions looking in your business? Are they detailed and effective? Are they relevant? Are you combining them with Extended DISC®profiling to find the most ideal candidates?

If you are feeling a bit sheepish about the answers to some of these questions, then reach out to our Spicey team now. We are experts on all things job descriptions and can help you get yours nailed today.

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Staff Recognition: Recognising Your Greatest Asset

What would your organisation be without your staff?

In business, your people are far and away your greatest asset. Ensuring they get recognition benefits not only them, but you. In fact, it literally pays to be good at employee recognition.

Businesses with a solid strategy to recognise team members enjoy stronger engagement, increased employee morale, better customer service, and lower turnover.

Acknowledging achievement can have a serious return on investment, resulting in higher productivity and better business outcomes.

So, what is employee recognition and how do you show it? Let’s explore the concept now.

Staff Recognition: Recognising Your Greatest Asset

What Is Employee Recognition?

Employee recognition is all about acknowledging the hard work and accomplishments of the individuals and teams in your business. It’s about creating an emotional connection between your employees and your business and supporting the work your people do.

Well-thought-out recognition can make your people feel valued, respected – even loved. Obviously, that is not only great for your team as a whole, but great for your business too.

Effective Recognition Can Benefit You Too

If you can manage to get your employee recognition right, it can contribute toward your business being seen as an employer of choice. This is great for a number of reasons as it puts you in the driver’s seat for recruiting, hiring, and retaining the best people.

While the job market is as competitive as it is, having potential employees seek you out is the ideal position to be in. But getting there requires a thoughtful and strategic approach that begins with understanding what people value most at work. Research (and evidence!) shows effective employee recognition is something employees truly value.

A New Way Of Working Needs A New Kind Of Recognition

Since the beginning of the pandemic, there’s been a greater sense of urgency around showing employees they’re valued. Many of us have moved work into our homes for at least some of our work week, creating a major lifestyle change.

Whilst working from home has introduced greater flexibility and autonomy for the employee, it also means juggling home life with their online work persona. This can lead to employees feeling like they’re living at work. It can be tricky to get a true definition between work and home, so it can be helpful for managers and team members to modify traditional working habits.

To make remote work function well, a shift in mindset from hours on the keyboard to an output focus can help. Boost that concept with recognition strategies that are effective at appreciating both those who are off-site and those who are in the office, and you’ll be onto a winner!

Employee Recognition, 2022-Style

Employee recognition in 2022, might look a little different to your usual strategies. This is especially true if you have some team members working from home for some of their work week. So, what can recognition and reward look like for those not based in the office?

You guessed it: it looks kind of screen-based! In addition to traditional means of recognition, rewards and gifts, here are some new trends to consider in the employee recognition space:

  • Digital recognition platforms like Bucketlist can make it easy and fun for fellow employees and managers to recognise and reward one another for milestones, achievements, and a job well done.
  • Gamification: make things competitive! Use point scoring, competitions, and leader boards to recognise your true stars.
  • Try ways to apply peer-to-peer recognition between your staff – instead of just managers handing out rewards.
  • Go old school by picking up the phone to chat and connect with your people to say a personal ‘thank you’ from time to time. Also, make sure you catch up with each team member face to face when they are actually in the office to recognise their contributions.

Balancing Digital And In-Person Recognition

For many of us, it feels like we’ve spent the last few years staring at various screens both in work and personal life. So, it is important to get a good balance between your digital and in-person employee recognition strategies.

As working environments continue to evolve, we need to make sure our strategies evolve with them. In-person recognition can be trickier with the popularity of remote working, but it isn’t impossible to achieve. When setting your recognition strategies, ensure you are mindful of this balance.

Rewarding your workforce creates a constructive company culture of engaged employees, which is the key to business success and profitability. If you’d like to know more about the many different ways to effectively recognise your well-deserving staff, talk to one of the Spice Gals today.

How To Boost Workplace Wellness This Winter

Winter wellness – it’s all about rugging up warm, getting that flu jab and staying home from work if you’re unwell, right? Well, that’s part of it.

But have you thought about how you’ll care for the mental wellness of your team this winter – particularly at work?

Deadlines, demanding customers, COVID-19 worries, long hours, remote working – the list of things that can knock our wellbeing at work is endless. And the long, grey winter months can make it all feel so much worse. But improving our mental wellbeing is priceless.

So, how can you ensure you are being an ethical leader and creating an environment of winter workplace wellness? Read on to find out.

How To Boost Workplace Wellness This Winter

Why Workplace Wellness?

Good mental health at work and good management go hand in hand. There’s evidence that workplaces with high levels of mental wellbeing are more productive. According to WorkSafe NZ, focusing on mental health in the workplace is essential because:

  1. It’s good for business. When people are happy in their environment, they are more productive, take less sick leave, and are more likely to remain in their jobs for longer.
  2. It’s a legal obligation under the Health and Safety at Work Act (which is as much about mental health as physical health!)
  3. It’s a moral and ethical obligation for all of us to do the right thing by one another.

Workplace wellness creates a better working environment for everyone, so it becomes a pleasure to be at work despite the dreary weather outside!

Navigating The Winter Blues

The winter blues are a well-known phenomenon. They are most heavily felt throughout the workplace. As the temperature drops and the weather worsens, it is harder to get those sunlight hours that our bodies desperately crave.

As a manager, it is your responsibility to acknowledge that your team may be feeling those winter blues and have a plan to combat their impact as much as possible. One of the easiest ways to do that is to regularly check in with your team – individually and in a group setting.

Encourage open lines of communication so that your team can discuss issues or problems they are facing, have constructive conversations so that they can build resilience, and develop perseverance.

A Guide To Improving Mental Wellbeing In The Workplace

Here at Spice HR, we believe that good mental wellbeing at work is crucial, which is why we support the Five Ways to Wellbeing developed by New Zealand’s Mental Health Foundation.

Whilst these are general principles, they can be practically applied in the workplace. Here are the five areas your team should focus on for great workplace wellness this winter:

  1. Connect

Listen and talk, be present, feel connected. Speak up when you need to, and listen to others. Keep the communication lines open by encouraging discussion

2. Give

Give your time, knowledge, and presence – an essential part of connecting!

3. Take notice

Recognise the good things that your team are doing and the things that spark their creativity and joy. Even the little things count. Appreciate them!

4. Keep Learning

Embrace new experiences, see development opportunities, and provide ongoing learning experiences for your team members.

5. Be Active

Encourage your team to keep active throughout the day even if their role requires them to be at a desk. Do what you can, help them enjoy what they do, and don’t forget to move your mood and your body! Just move – no matter how you do it!

Here at Spice HR, we think that number 1 is particularly crucial: Connect. Many struggling with mental wellbeing try to hide their feelings, afraid of other people’s responses. If you create workplace cultures where people can be themselves, they will speak more freely about mental health concerns and reach out for help when needed. It all comes down to open lines of communication.

Are You An Ethical Leader?

Part of supporting good mental health in the winter workplace is ensuring you behave like an ethical leader. That means taking the time to build a healthy workplace environment for all of your team members.

Ethical leaders tend to choose people over financial reward. While economic growth is essential for many businesses, you will struggle to achieve your goals if you don’t have the buy-in of your people. That means balancing your decision-making to ensure you are doing the right thing by your employees and doing what is best for the business.

There are plenty of ways you can do this. But ultimately, it comes down to creating an environment in which people want to work. An environment that embraces excellent communication. One where people’s opinions and ideas are respected, management show transparency and shares information, and staff feel heard.

Ensuring your team leaders and management have a sense of empathy is vital to supporting their staff appropriately.

Ready To Spice Up Your Workplace Wellness?

Achieving great workplace wellness can be challenging at any time of the year, yet that challenge increases significantly during the winter months.

Need more guidance to improve mental wellbeing in your workplace? Reach out to the Spice Gals!

Spice HR support small and medium businesses who need help getting HR frameworks in place – and we love helping businesses boost staff wellbeing.

So: stop right now, thank you very much – and drop us a line!

The Benefits Of Cultural Diversity In The Workplace

It takes all types to make the world go around.

This statement couldn’t be more true. And it is especially important to embrace “all types” and diversity in your workplace – if your team members were all the same, there would be no such thing as innovation or progress!

By embracing diversity, you can build an agile and effective business.

But, when you have a diverse team, you need to ensure that you have built an equally diverse workplace environment and have effective management practices in place.

Let’s look at how you can do that.

The Benefits of Cultural Diversity In The Workplace

New Zealand is one of the luckiest countries in the world. Our little Aotearoa attracts people from all over the globe for a wide range of reasons. And these people from every corner of the world contribute to our workforce. It gives NZ businesses the opportunity to be incredibly culturally diverse.

Diversity covers several different aspects. In the workplace, diversity can include “race, ethnicity, age, ability, language, nationality, socioeconomic status, gender, religion, or sexual orientation.” As you can imagine, such a huge range of people can have different ideas, perspectives and viewpoints that your workplace can capitalise on to do things better.

Having a culturally diverse workforce helps you to maximise skillsets, recruit and retain amazing talent, boost your team creativity and engagement, all while improving your organisation’s reputation as a great place to work.

Avoiding Unconscious Bias

Despite all the benefits a culturally diverse workforce brings, unconscious bias still exists. Very closely related to stereotyping, unconscious bias is where we hold a perceived idea about a group of people that is reflected in our attitude, behaviour, decisions or treatment of them.

Basically, people have underlying beliefs that a person will behave or act in a way that is specific to the “group” we have assigned them to. For example, the belief that mothers will take a lot of time away from the workplace due to their children.

This sweeping generalisation is unconscious bias. It is a snap judgement made without considering the individual attributes of the team member. The thing about unconscious bias is that these ideas are so ingrained in society that often we aren’t even aware that we are using them!

Avoiding unconscious bias is all about checking perceptions at the door and embracing the different backgrounds, thought patterns and innovations that cultural diversity can bring to your workplace. You can do this by focusing on the individuals, rather than the group you might think they belong to.

Tips For Managing A Culturally Diverse Team

Having a culturally diverse team gives you lots of opportunities for thinking outside the box. Why? Well, if you have a varied number of backgrounds in your team, it creates a broad knowledge base to pull ideas from. This could be a huge competitive advantage for your business!

However, the ability to tap into those ideas relies on the effective management of multicultural teams. Here are some tips to allow you to do that:

Don’t Aim For Equality

Take a look at the below image. When you strive for equality, you assume that everyone benefits from the same support. In practicality, everyone has different needs, so different levels of support are necessary in a well-functioning business.

But rather than simply providing tailored support for each team member in a quest for Equity, look at how you can remove barriers in general. If the cause of the inequity is addressed and removed, then reactionary support is not required.

 

Create Awareness

One of the best ways to tap into the power of the cultural diversity in your workforce is to create awareness around it. When people are aware of cultural differences, they can problem solve ways to manage these differences and improve the cohesion of the team.

It’s also helpful to emphasise the strengths that different cultures and members bring to the team, so that everyone can capitalise on them! By setting ground rules around team interactions and expectations, everyone can benefit from individual and cultural strengths.

Integrate Diversity

When people bring their differences together, real magic can happen. So, managers should create teams that have a mixture of cultures, age groups, expertise and status to allow everyone to learn from each other. Each member of a diverse team will have different knowledge and skills that can contribute to overall progress and growth.

Build Effective Communication

When multiple cultures converge, communication is a key aspect to get right. It requires empathy and compassion for those who are still learning English. And you will also need awareness around the nuances of NZ business – globally, things might be done in a different way.

Here are some ideas for building culturally diverse communication channels:

  • Be aware that English may be a second language for some people – they may still be learning how to understand Kiwi accents and non-verbal cues.
  • Adjust your management styles to accommodate different cultural dialogues to minimise the potential for conflict arising from communication. Understand that some cultures can be very direct whereas others are more subtle and implied. Everyone should have a chance to be heard regardless of their communication style.
  • Provide meeting topics ahead of time so that all team members can have time to prepare their contributions and ideas.
  • Issue clear instructions around tasks including what is involved and when they are due. Delegate these out accordingly with clear expectations on how the task should be completed.

Hire Without Bias

Obviously, you want the best talent for your team regardless of their age, culture or background. A great way to allow hiring to occur without any bias is to remove any identifying factors from the recruitment process. Let your hiring team look at an anonymous CV with an identification number, rather than one that contains personal information. That way, they can assess skills and experience without any form of unconscious bias creeping in.

Embracing Cultural Diversity

Navigating cultural diversity in the workplace is not something that you want to get wrong. So, it can be helpful to have expert assistance to call on.

Here at Spice HR we specialise in building strong teams no matter how diverse they are! Get in touch with the Spice Gals today and we can help you build a powerful and diverse team.

How To Tackle Hiring and Onboarding New Staff Remotely

Many things became redundant during a pandemic – travel, music festivals, alarm clock sales (yes, really!) and for many, the good old office work environment.

But businesses still need to keep moving forward. They still have to serve their customers, source their supplies, and recruit and train new staff – only, all these “business as usual” processes look a lot different now than they did pre-COVID.

At Spice HR HQ, we’ve experienced changes too: our dynamic duo has become a beautifully rounded team of five.

We personally experienced what it’s like recruiting, hiring, and onboarding new staff remotely – a process that may be daunting for those new to the world of managing remote employees.

In this blog, we’ll explore how recruiting and onboarding are done differently over lockdowns and post-COVID and offer some insight on how to approach it with your business.

But first, we’d love to introduce you to the newest Spice Gals on our team.

How To Tackle Hiring and Onboarding New Staff Remotely

Let’s Talk About Spice

2021 was a year of growth for Spice HR, which meant we were able to bring a few fresh faces onto our team.

Pre expansion, you would be communicating with the original Spicey duo, Nicole and Nichola – but now, your documents and emails may be crafted by Justine, Bianca or Nina.

Let’s do a brief intro so that you can put a face to each new name:

Justine

Justine has more than 20 years of management experience, bringing a wealth of knowledge to the team. She has a passion for helping others thrive and for encouraging equity and inclusion. She believes there are always opportunities for improvement, continued personal growth, and doing the right thing, even when no one is looking.

Nina

Nina has a new HR degree under her belt, along with a past life as a manager. She has a passion for all things HR and has come on board to help our clients with their HR projects. When she’s not neck-deep in HR, Nina is running around after her toddler or out and about exploring the best places to grab a bite to eat.

Bianca

Bianca is our Spicey queen of all things admin. With 20 years in the workforce to back her up, she’s the one taking care of all the details and making sure everything runs smoothly. Like any good Spice Gal, Bianca is always up for a challenge and will often dive into the world of HR to lend the rest of us a hand. Like most Aucklanders, Bianca is looking forward to jumping on a plane and travelling again when the opportunity arises.

There you have it – with five members, we’re now officially as big as the actual Spice Girls and well on our way to Spice Gal World Domination!

Our newest team members have been onboarded and enveloped in the warm glow of our spicey culture. If you’re wondering how that works in times of lockdown and remote work, keep reading for some insight.

Things To Consider When Hiring and Onboarding New Staff Remotely

While the fundamentals of recruiting and onboarding remain the same, the process may look a little different. Due to lockdowns or location, some managers may not meet their employees in person before hiring, but that doesn’t need to be an issue.

In fact, thanks to digital advances driven by the pandemic, it’s now easier than ever to take care of hiring and onboarding new staff remotely. Let’s take a closer look at each part of the process.

Recruiting Remotely

The right fit remains one of the most important aspects of recruitment. And getting the right fit means effectively marketing your employee value proposition. To attract an employee who embraces and enhances your culture, you must be able to describe and demonstrate that culture.

This goes further than just your job advertisement or position description. Put some thought into how your brand appears from the outside looking in, via social media, your website, and word of mouth from previous and current staff.

Share pictures and videos online of how your team collaborates, even in a remote work environment. Talk about your camaraderie in an authentic way, and work on building genuine connections between your existing employees to organically build a great culture that’s visible to all.

Virtual interviews are often more efficient than in-person interviews and can be less daunting for candidates. Zoom or Teams are usually the go-to methods here, and most people are more than familiar with how they work by now!

When it comes to paperwork, it’s now possible to do it all digitally. Even contracts can be signed virtually using a tool like DocuSign or HelloSign. That means a faster, more efficient hiring process. And if you’re lucky enough to have an HRIS, then it’s all automated for you!

Onboarding New Staff Remotely

How does onboarding new staff remotely work? You can’t give them an office tour and introduce them to your team during a morning coffee break, so what’s the procedure?

Well, setting expectations is still crucial, so it’s important for managers to communicate with a new hire before their first day on the job. This is an opportunity to provide any documents or materials that they need to understand how your business works.

Share your values and culture in ways that feel appropriate; written documents followed up with a Zoom call for a more in-depth chat is a good start.

You’ll also need to share copies of your code of conduct, employee handbook and any other documents that can help your new hire integrate into the business smoothly.

How Do You Onboard Remotely?

One on one and group video calls will be needed to introduce the team, and these should continue regularly to ensure that camaraderie and connection develops between your employees.

You may even want to set up a mentor or “buddy system” so your new hire has a closer relationship with a specific person (whether that’s their direct manager or a colleague) – someone who’s on-call to help them navigate their new role.

Bear in mind that it can take a little longer for someone to integrate into a new work environment remotely. They don’t have the opportunity to interact with managers and colleagues as organically as they would in an office environment.

Give them the time and resources they need, and don’t assume that if they’re quiet, they’re doing just fine. Managers must be proactive and check-in, ask for feedback, and be ready to provide more support if needed.

Spicing Up Your Hiring and Onboarding

It can be tricky to navigate the process of hiring and onboarding new staff remotely in this world of post-pandemic business.

If your business needs some support to recruit and onboard new team members – remotely or otherwise – the Spice HR team are here to help.

Contact us to find out what we can do for you.

How to Keep On Top Of Health and Safety at Work

 

With a recent move back to Red, and confirmation that the dreaded Omicron has arrived in NZ, it’s time to revisit your Health and Safety guidelines to make sure you’ve dotted all the I’s and crossed all the T’s.

Health and safety at work has sure got more complicated over the last few years. But as we try to settle into the new normal  it could be time to get back to basics.

If some of your health and safety tasks disappeared off your radar as you dealt with a million other things, you’re forgiven. We’ve all been rather busy just trying to stay afloat. But health and safety at work isn’t something that should be neglected, especially now.

Health and safety at work can feel like an overwhelming task, but really, it’s not so daunting if you take it one step at a time.

Let’s help you get back on track by going through some of the basic checks you need to do to get health and safety sorted at your workplace.

How To Keep On Top Of Health and Safety at Work

Stay On Top Of The Rule Changes

So much has changed over the last few years, and it may feel like the rules evolve every couple of weeks, but one thing has not changed – and that’s your obligation to provide a safe work environment for your employees.

Granted, that may be more complicated than it used to be, but the law is still the law, and there’s no excuse for failing to comply with it.

As such, it’s vital for employers to know the latest rules around COVID-19 for their specific industry and business.

Make sure you get clear on PPE guidelines and regulations at different traffic light levels, and be proactive about reaching out for advice if you’re confused.

There are plenty of great websites out there packed full of information. Here are some excellent resources to get stuck into if you need a little extra insight:

Addressing health and safety concerns

Employment New Zealand’s guide for workers at different COVID-10 alert levels

Vaccinations and work – Unite against COVID-19

Managing health and safety – Worksafe

Health and safety during COVID-19

Get Your Docs Up To Date

We know that paperwork is not everyone’s favourite thing, but it is an essential part of effectively managing health and safety at work.

While the law doesn’t specifically say you must have H&S documents, the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 does require you to take all reasonable steps to provide a safe working environment for your staff – and your documentation is a key part to being able to show that’s just what you’re doing.

This also means communicating effectively and keeping everyone informed, and if your docs aren’t up to date, they’re not going to do the job. So now’s the time to review your policies, info sheets, signs, flowcharts, and procedures to ensure they are updated, clear, relevant and accessible to your entire team.

For guidance on writing H&S documents, check out this great resource from Worksafe NZ:

Writing for Health and Safety 

Train Your Staff

Staff training is an essential factor in taking care of your employees’ health and safety at work. This is stated in the H&S in Employment Act, which states that you must ensure your workers have the appropriate knowledge and experience to do their job.

Training your staff in health and safety isn’t just about ticking the boxes, though. Equipping your team with the skills and knowledge they need to do their jobs safely and effectively reduces workplace accidents and injuries, enhances productivity, boosts morale, and saves your business money in the long run.

If your H&S training has fallen through the cracks, this is the perfect time to get to it!

Be Mindful Of Mental Health

Health and safety at work isn’t just about eliminating or minimising the risk of physical harm. Employers must also take steps to support and manage their employees’ mental health.

Many people are experiencing increased anxiety over returning to on-site work, so it’s crucial that organisations prioritise psychological safety alongside physical safety in the workplace.

As you welcome your employees back to on-site work, find ways to help build resilience, create wellbeing, add flexibility into their routines, and provide resources to those who need extra support.

Our blog Let’s Talk Mental Wellness at Work has lots of spicey info and valuable resources if you’d like to know more about supporting mental wellness in the workplace.

 

Feeling a tad overwhelmed about health and safety in covid times?

Never fear; the Spice HR team is here. We can help you get your head around workplace H&S and find your new normal. Get in touch today to find out more.

How To Find The Elusive Work Life Balance

How To Find The Elusive Work Life Balance

 Rollercoasters can be a lot of fun, but imagine if you were forced to ride one when you weren’t really in the mood for excitement.

You’d probably be more stressed than excited, but you’d tolerate it, dust yourself off and move on.

But what if someone forced you onto that rollercoaster again and again, never giving you time to prepare and never telling you how many times you’d have to go around the loop-de-loop before you were allowed to disembark.

Even a resilient lover of thrill rides would tire of that vicious cycle, becoming worn out, anxious, and just plain over it.

That’s where we’re at, folks. We’ve been riding the COVID rollercoaster for nearly two years. And even though New Zealand had a pretty decent break, we find ourselves thrust back onto the ride, whether we like it or not.

So, what can we do?

How To Find The Elusive Work Life Balance

Prioritising What’s Important

Uncertainty takes a toll on our ability to work, parent or even just do what needs to be done around the home. That’s why mental wellbeing is more essential now than ever – and finding work life balance plays a significant role in our mental health.

Let’s talk about why it’s so important to switch off from work and how to separate home and work life.

We’ll also share some valuable mental wellbeing resources to help you and your team survive the COVID rollercoaster together.

Climb aboard and buckle up!

Why Finding The Work Life Balance Is More Important Than Ever

If your resilience and tolerance are wearing thin (or long gone), it’s understandable. The uncertainty of being in and out of lockdown, working from home, parenting from home, and living under social restrictions is stressful for everyone.

Work life balance has been a hot topic for years, but in the current pandemic climate, it’s a lot more complicated than it once was.

The lines between work and home are becoming increasingly blurred. While that’s particularly true for those working from home, it’s still relevant for essential workers who need to leave the house.

Partners or flatmates may be working from home, changing the home environment completely, and if you have kids, the juggle struggle is real, regardless of whether you work from home or not.

On top of all this, we’re trying to cope with worries and fears about illness, sick friends and family, and an uncertain future – both personally and professionally.

That’s an awful lot to deal with.

The Mental Wellness Discussion

With everything that is currently going on, mental wellness has become a crucial conversation.

If we don’t prioritise work life balance and take care of our mental health, we’ll find it hard to cope with any aspect of life.

The ongoing stress can result in unproductivity, loss of motivation, depression, and anxiety. And if we don’t find ways to mitigate the demands of work and home, we’re likely to experience that stress physically, too, with fatigue, headaches, digestive issues, and long-term health issues.

Not only do we need to take responsibility for our own mental health, but we need to support those around us too – our friends, family, colleagues and employees.

It may have been said so much that it’s become something of a cheesy cliché, but we are all in this together!

How To Separate Home And Work When Working From Home

How’s the productivity going now that you’ve been working from home for a while? Should be a piece of cake, right? Do you have your routine sorted? Do you knock off on time every day? Are you more productive than ever?

If the answer is yes, then virtual high five for you – you’ve nailed the demands of WFH.

But for so many workers, the struggle continues. Working from home isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and it can be hard to separate home and work.

If that’s you, here are some tips to help you regain that work life balance.

Stick to a morning routine

Resist the temptation to get straight on the laptop to start work the minute you wake up. Try to stick to the same kind of routine you had before COVID. Maybe you’re a morning person and used to exercise and shower before heading to work. Or perhaps you grabbed a coffee at the gas station and sat in traffic every day.

Either way, create some kind of routine to separate your home life from your work life. Get up, get ready, walk around the block, then arrive in the “office” and get to work.

Create a dedicated workspace

If possible, devote an area of your home to your workspace. Resist working from the bed or couch – it’s too distracting (and horrendous for your back!). If you have a separate room to work in, fantastic! Set that area aside and only use it for work.

If not, make do with what you have, but make it your designated work area. You may have to work at the dining room table, but choose a special chair or cushion, and only use that for work and nothing else.

Leave the Office at the End of the Day

Create an end of work routine to separate your workday from home. Don’t sit and browse your laptop once you are finished. Instead, get up and leave – even if it’s just to walk around the garden!

Establish boundaries – and stick to them

Make sure you, your manager, your colleagues (or clients) are clear on your work hours. Agree that work emails or phone calls only happen between those times, and resist the temptation to fire off a “quick” email outside of those hours.

Don’t forget to set boundaries with your family or housemates too. Let them know that when you’re working, that’s work time, and you’re not available for chores or chats. The best way to get the time you need is to communicate that you need it.

Take breaks

Schedule a lunch break and stick to it. Don’t spend that lunch break on your computer – step away! Go outside and take some deep breaths, grab a book to read while you eat, or chat with the family. Take regular breaks away from your workspace during the day, too.

Ask your employer for support

If you’re struggling to cope, be open with your employer. The best organisations will have strategies to address health and wellness. Ask for resources to help you manage overwhelm.

Go easy on yourself

You know those people you see on social media who are nailing their careers, baking delicious meals, home schooling their kids and doing yoga every day? Forget about them.

Even if their posts accurately reflect their lives (and chances are, they don’t), you are not them. You don’t have to do everything perfectly. It’s ok just to cope. It’s ok if you’re not coping. Give yourself a break and focus on what you are achieving instead of what you’re not.

Take care of your physical health

Your physical health directly impacts your mental health, and vice versa. It’s important to prioritise habits and activities that improve both. That means finding time to exercise (even if it’s dancing around the house) and eat well.

Oh, and don’t forget to laugh! Find things that make you smile and forget about the rollercoaster for a while.

Health And Wellbeing Resources

Rather than you having to trawl the internet for resources that might be helpful, we have compiled a handy list:

Mentemia

App and Website – Tried and tested tools to help promote and manage well being. Free for general use, but with tailored options available to businesses.

Mental Health Foundation

Practical wellbeing tips and advice based on the Five Ways to Wellbeing.

Working Well Guide

Resources for workplace wellbeing.

Getting Through Together

A pool of resources, tips and inspirational stories focused on health and wellbeing during COVID-19.

Working Well

A guide to mental health in the workplace.

Staying on Track

A free e-therapy course teaching you practical coping strategies for the COVID rollercoaster.

Small Steps

Digitally-based tools to help you maintain mental wellness.

Whakatui Mai – The Wellbeing Sessions

Free virtual community events aimed at supporting well being in real-time.

A Mental Health Guide for New Zealand Leaders

Comprehensive document aimed at leaders and managers to help them support the mental wellbeing of their teams.

And, of course, if you are feeling stuck, overwhelmed or unsure of how you can support your team with creating a good work life balance, then get in touch with the Spice Gals today. We can help you create a plan that supports your team remotely or in-person.

How To Handle Having Difficult Conversations Remotely

One of the most daunting parts of people management is having difficult conversations. Even with preparation, diplomacy, and an ideal setting, things don’t always go as smoothly as we would like.

But what happens when these difficult conversations need to happen remotely?

How do managers handle disputes, disciplinaries, or even redundancies with someone who isn’t physically present?

Social distancing and a move to remote work have created an entirely new HR climate, and managers must adapt their communication methods to suit different set-ups.

Let’s explore some of the best ways of having difficult conversations remotely.

How To Handle Having Difficult Conversations Remotely

Choose An Appropriate Communication Channel

Visual contact plays a crucial role in communication. Without it, we lose the nuances of body language and facial expressions that we have been taught to subconsciously react to from a young age.

Even though video calling can still provide those visual cues, they are less clear virtually than they would be if the person were in the same room as you. There may be delays or technical issues, and interaction doesn’t flow quite the same way as it does when we are physically face to face.

Effective communication is even more critical when conducting emotionally challenging conversations. Without it, things can easily be misconstrued, sending the interaction in the wrong direction.

Chatting over video is still preferable to a phone conversation – especially when the subject matter is charged. A definite no-no for a difficult conversation is to try and hold it using written communications – it’s all too easy for people to interpret the tone or message differently than intended, and there’s no chance for immediate clarification if there’s a misunderstanding.

However, it is appropriate to follow up a video or voice call with an email or letter to confirm what has been discussed and what will happen next.

If the conversation is part of a formal disciplinary investigation or meeting, then it’s also really important to make sure that you’re following the correct process, based on the ‘offence’ that is being discussed.  As a minimum, for any ‘formal’ discussion there’s a requirement to allow the person involved the opportunity to bring a support person or representative with them.  If you don’t have a formal disciplinary process in place, we’d recommend you get in touch with us – this area is a potential minefield!  But back to the  conversation at hand…

Remove Potential Distractions

The beauty of technology is that you can have meetings from almost anywhere – a café, a beach, or in your kitchen. But just because you can doesn’t mean you should. A tough conversation requires all your attention, so ensure you are making the call from a quiet spot where you won’t be interrupted.

Your employee deserves your undivided attention, so turn off any notifications, silence your phone, and don’t be tempted to multitask by reading emails or ticking off other tasks during the call.

Take Your Time

While any issues with your employees should be handled promptly, that doesn’t mean you should jump into a confrontation without adequate preparation. You need time to assess the situation and develop a plan of how to approach the interaction.

You may also need time to gather evidence, check procedures, and ensure you are handling everything appropriately.  Your disciplinary process should serve to guide you here.

Regardless of the formality of the meeting, make sure you prepare appropriately, by outlining for yourself what you want to talk about and the outcome you would like to reach. Remember, your intention is not to blindside your employee and catch them out. Give them some information on what you need to talk about in advance so they can also prepare (this will also form part of your formal process).

Encourage Two-Way Tough Conversations

Regardless of the nature of your tough conversation, your employee must be given the opportunity to respond. Often these discussions can pave the way for a coaching experience rather than be a one-sided “telling-off.”

Leave time and space to hear their side of the story. Remember, these meetings are challenging for both parties, so encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings about what is going on. You may gain insight that can help provide a resolution.

Consider Their Needs

Choose a time and communication method that suits you both. Bear in mind that remote workers may be in different time zones or have commitments in the home to work around. Some may use their communal living spaces as an office, so will need to choose a time where they can be alone and focus on your meeting.

Everyone has different comfort levels when it comes to communication and technology so you do need to be aware of this and take that into account when arranging for these conversations.

Adjust Your Communication Style

Managing tough conversations is never easy, particularly if you are overseeing a remote team. But there are ways to make the process easier and increase your chances of a positive outcome.

One of the best ways to approach any conversation, be it unpleasant or otherwise, is by understanding other people’s communication styles and adapting yours accordingly. Extended DISC gives you insight into the way people act, how they communicate, and what drives them, empowering you to nurture and build relationships effectively – even virtual ones.

If you would like to know more about Extended DISC profiling in the workplace, need help with a formal performance management process, or want to create a plan for having difficult conversations remotely, then connect with us at Spice HR today.

Individual Employment Agreements: Are Yours What They Should Be?

Times they are a-changing – and quite rapidly, thanks to advances in technology and the impacts of COVID-19.

In spite of that, some things will always remain the same when it comes to people management. One of those is the legal need for individual employment agreements for each of your staff members.

But even these standard documents need to evolve with the times. With flexible work arrangements and lockdown restrictions becoming the norm, it’s essential to modify your individual employment agreements (IEAs) to reflect any changes to salary, hours, location or job description.

So, let’s look at why IEAs are so vital, what changes you may need to make to them due to the evolving workplace climate, and how to modify them.

Individual Employment Agreements: Are Yours What They Should Be?

The Value of Individual Employment Agreements

Employment agreements can be collective or individual, but the bottom line is that they are a legal requirement under the Employment Relations Act. If you employ someone without a signed agreement, you could face fines of up to $20,000.

Beyond legal compliance, employment agreements provide enormous value for both employer and employee. The same can be said about job descriptions (JDs) and employee handbooks. Although a handbook isn’t a legal requirement, all these documents help outline the expectations for both parties.

Clear communication is vital in any working relationship, and these documents set the scene for effective communication from the beginning. They outline exactly what is expected for the employer and the employee, including the rights, obligations and responsibilities of each.

New employees know exactly what’s expected of them, and there’s no confusion. This enables them to perform to expected standards, and simplifies the performance management process for managers.

The Benefits to Both Parties

The IEA and accompanying documents cover things like job performance and indicate what actions could result in a termination, guiding employees on how to act appropriately to align with your organisation’s workplace culture.

When these conditions are clearly stated, employers have recourse to take disciplinary actions if they are breached.

With salary, benefits, time off, work hours, and general expectations clearly outlined, everyone is on the same page, reducing the chance of conflict and miscommunication. These documents really do form the backbone of a positive work relationship and workplace culture.

Modifying Employment Agreements

In today’s working climate, it’s quite likely that an employee’s role or working conditions will change at some point during their time with your organisation.

More people are already working from home or considering flexible working arrangements thanks to COVID-19.

As such, it’s vital to modify individual employment agreements to reflect these changes. But as with the initial agreement you made when hiring, these changes can’t just be decided by the employer and forced upon an employee.

They must be mutually agreed upon, and there is a process to follow, even amidst the uncertainty of COVID-19.

Any modifications should be preceded by a consultation period, where managers clearly explain the changes and why they are being proposed. Employees must then be allowed time to consider the proposal and given an opportunity to provide feedback or offer alternative suggestions.

Any adjustments to the IEA must be made in good faith, agreed to in writing, and signed by both parties, regardless of whether it’s a temporary or permanent change to the agreement.

The key words here are “good faith”. We understand that everyone is under increased pressure during lockdowns, and many are facing hard times, but none of this removes the need to treat each other fairly and kindly.

Accommodating Different Ways of Working

Of course, it’s not just employers who can instigate a change to IEAs. Employees also have the right to ask for flexible work options, including changes to their hours, days, and place of work.

If employees are shifting to remote work or working from home, even temporarily, it’s still the employer’s responsibility to protect them from workplace health and safety risks – both physical and mental.

Due to restrictions around COVID-19, businesses may have to find different ways to operate to keep everyone safe and comply with regulations, such as staggering start times or offering work from home opportunities. These changes may be permanent or temporary, but the length of time should be outlined in the IEA.

Any change in hours – whether a reduction or a return to normal hours – must be stated in writing in the employment agreement or variation to agreement and signed by both parties, after the employee has had time to consider the changes.

In some cases, an employee might agree to a change in job description where necessary. As with any other modifications to the IEA, the employer has to follow the correct processes for these changes.

An individual employment agreement is a vital document that protects you and your employees, provides clarity, and ensures everybody is treated fairly. Right now, and perhaps for years to come, the workplace is rapidly evolving, so your employment agreements must evolve too.

If you need support or advice about how to handle your IEAs, contact Spice HR today.