Author Archives: Susan Rochester

About Susan Rochester

BSc MHRM CAHRI (Australian Human Resources Institute) Member CDAA (Career Development Association of Australia) and NAGCAS (National Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services). Distributor of Harrison Assessments in Australia.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Should You Allow Remote Work At Your Company?

This article by David Hassell first appeared on the 15Five leadership blog, reproduced with permission. Balance at Work partners with 15Five in Australia to deliver employee engagement software to businesses of all sizes. Contact us for more information and a free trial – advice@balanceatwork.com.au 

See Full Infographic Below

It’s no secret that remote work arrangements have become more prevalent over the last decade. These scenarios range from employees working from home once or twice a week, to nationally or globally distributed teams, or even companies who have no offices and operate exclusively from the cloud.

Just how prevalent is remote work becoming, and what unique challenges do remote teams present for managers? According to the US Department of Labor, over the past five years there has been a 50% increase in companies that have the majority of their teams working remotely.

We were so curious about this phenomenon and its impact on business, that we surveyed hundreds of managers, supervisors, and executives about their experiences. This included participants working in large and small businesses, in every major department, and in just about every vertical. Here’s what we discovered:

– 53% of companies continue to have standard workplaces, with nearly every employee coming into the office 4 or more days each week.

– 37% have a main office with some people working remotely.

– 10% have no office space at all.

Many people believe that this shift is being driven by millennials, who desire flexible work arrangements to optimize work-life balance. 24% of respondents agreed, saying that remote work improves the quality of life for their employees. Others like remote work because it saves on overhead and allows them to access a global talent pool.

But remote work can also be a scary prospect for managers who may feel that employees will shirk their duties or that relationships with managers and other employees will suffer. So we asked how flexible work arrangements really impact employee performance and communication.

63% of respondents said that communication with remote employees was the same or better than with in-house employees, and 21% of our respondents found that productivity and performance improved on remote teams.

The shift from clocking-in at a desk to working from home is being made possible by advances in technology. Communication and collaboration toolshelp keep teams connected and productive no matter how far apart they are geographically. Many of these tools are available on mobile devices, which have also become far more prevalent. In fact over two-thirds of respondents answered our survey on a mobile phone or tablet.

No matter what tech you use to stay in-touch, ask your remote team these weekly questions to keep relationships strong and to ensure alignment with team and company objectives:

1) How have you improved your remote working skills this month? Have you identified any challenges?

2) What has communication been like with team leaders, managers, and directors?

3) What are your primary goals this week/month/quarter?

Check out the infographic below for the latest remote work trends, and for techniques that managers can use to keep their distributed teams connected and on-task.

15Five-Workplace-infographic

 

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

What’s your story? #11: Paula Ford

What's your story?

As the next installment in this popular series, I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to introduce you to the latest addition to our team, Paula Ford. Our clients will get to meet Paula as she starts to work on a variety of consulting projects at Balance at Work. Here’s what she told us about her career to date:

Paula Ford

What’s your current position and what do you do?

I am just starting work with Balance at Work and am very excited with this new chapter in my life.  I will be working closely with Susan to deliver a range of HR projects.  In addition, I also work part-time with a small and very committed Organisation Development Team.  In this position, I work mainly on developing, delivering and measuring a range of HR/OD projects to enhance organisational performance.

What other activities are you involved in?

I have two daughters so along with work their hectic timetable keeps me fairly busy.  Over the last few years I have been involved in managing their sporting teams and volunteering at their preschool/school.  I love to get out and mountain bike ride with girlfriends when I can and living in the Blue Mountains is ideal as we have so many great rides.

Is this what you expected to be doing when you were at school?

I didn’t really know what I wanted to do at school.  I started my working life in finance in a large private sector organisation but then decided that I really wanted to work closely with employees.  From there I did a secondment in HR and loved it.  I went back to study and moved into the HR field.  The more experience I got the more I realised that the psychology side of HR was what really interested me. Since then I have focused more in this area and completed further studies in management psychology.

What was your first job?

When I was 13 I was horse mad like most girls my age.  My parents were not horsey and thought this was just a phase I was going through.  They decided that if I wanted a horse I would have to save for it and work to help pay to keep it.  I think they thought this would put me off the idea.  Well dad got me a job of washing 50 cars at the local car yard.  I washed cars every Saturday morning for 2 years with frozen fingers in winter until I got a job at Kmart.  I think this was a valuable experience that contributed to my work ethic.  The horse wasn’t such a phase I kept him for about 8 years.

Can you tell us about a significant turning point in your career/life?

Having children has been the most significant change in my life.  It made me reprioritise and become a more balanced person.  It has made me realise that not everything has to be 100% perfect or you’d never get anything done.  You just have to have the courage to admit that we are all human and be willing to learn and grown from experiences.

Who do you admire? Who has inspired you?

Dr Maya Angelou a celebrated poet, memoirist, educator, dramatist, producer, actress, historian, filmmaker and civil rights activist.  An amazing African American woman born in 1928 who faced many closed doors in her life and not only survived but thrived with passion and compassion. I think one of her most powerful quotes is “I’ve learnt that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how they made you feel”.

If there were no limitations, what would be in the future for you?

I’d spend a year or two with my family travelling, living and volunteering overseas.  Whilst my husband and I have travelled I would like to share my girls’ experience of not only seeing the world but being a part of other communities and contributing to those less fortunate than ours.

Finally, what would you tell your younger self about work and careers?

Have the courage to try different things and take on opportunities.  If they seem daunting, know that you will never fail as success is not about achieving the highest level of performance or getting things right but it is about the experiences along the way that will help you grow as a person.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Calculating the costs of hiring the wrong person

hiring

How much does it cost you to fill a vacant role by hiring someone who’s not right for the job?

Without due consideration, the expense of recruitment will be wasted.

To make matters worse, you will have the added costs of time and money to go through the process again.

Here are the things to take into consideration when considering the costs of hiring the wrong person.

Identify your direct costs

The direct costs of replacing a departing employee include recruitment costs for advertising and recruiters, plus any termination payouts.

These costs will be incurred every time you hire somebody, whether they turn out to be the right fit for your business or not. The trick is to best invest your money to make sure you can get the right person.

Recognise your indirect costs

The indirect costs are less obvious but contribute a substantial proportion of the overall expense of hiring. They are also much harder to calculate.

Loss of productivity

It is highly likely that you will lose productivity while you have a vacant position, while someone is getting used to the workplace, and when someone has decided to leave his or her job.

While you have a vacant position the tasks previously assigned to the vacant role are abandoned, or taken on by another employee whose own productivity may suffer. A new employee will take time before they become sufficiently familiar with their job to achieve full productivity. In addition, the productivity of many employees falls while they are serving out their notice period.

When you have hired the wrong person, they will likely never reach what you consider to be full productivity in their time as an employee.

In-house costs of hiring

The tasks involved in recruitment that occur in-house are numerous and varied.

The steps for hiring the right person include:

  • drafting position descriptions
  • reading resumes
  • screening applications and advising candidate
  • carrying out interviews and debriefing
  • verifying qualifications, checking references and conducting pre-employment assessments.

In addition to hiring, you will need to account for the cost of induction and training a new employee.

The cost of all these tasks can be calculated by the hourly rate of each employee involved in the process, multiplied by the number of hours they spend on recruitment, induction or training.

Termination administration

The administration involved with the termination of an employee who proved to be wrong for the business is an important but costly process.

The cost of termination administration involves:

  • pay officer time to process termination pay
  • exit interviewer time
  • employee and line manager time to finish paperwork and return and check employer’s property
  • administration time for actions such as cancelling computer access.

Hiring is a costly exercise that will be a much more expensive when you hire the wrong person. Combining the direct costs of recruitment with the indirect costs of lost productivity, in-house costs of hiring, and termination administration shows you what you’ll waste by choosing the wrong person.

It makes sense (and cents!) to invest time and money up front to ensure you attract and select people who are right for your business.

This article was originally published on MYOB’s blog, The Pulse. For more business news and tips, visit www.myob.com/blog.

 

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

7 Fascinating Employee Engagement Trends for 2016

This article by David Mizne first appeared on the 15Five leadership blog, reproduced with permission. Balance at Work partners with 15Five in Australia to deliver employee engagement software. Contact us for more information advice@balanceatwork.com.au 

According to Bersin by Deloitte, “employee engagement has become the top issue on the minds of business leaders, directing us to an entirely new model of management”. But what does employee engagement even mean?

Few business buzzwords are more ubiquitous, yet the exact definition of employee engagement remains elusive. This becomes even more problematic when you consider Gallup’s seemingly ambiguous subcategories of not engaged, and actively disengaged.

I like to define employee engagement as proactively and passionately adding value while aligning with the company mission. This can be hard to quantify, but an engaged employee wears it on their face, demonstrates it in their work and in their workplace communication. Kind of like how former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart defined obscenity: “I know it when i see it”.

Once we know what we are looking for, we need to be able to measure it, and more importantly create more of it. Here are 7 engagement trends for the coming year, and advice for you to create a more engaged workforce in 2016:

1. Engagement will go up (but just a little).

According to Gallup’s latest poll: employee engagement has been pretty stagnant. Only 32% of U.S. workers were engaged in their jobs in 2015, compared to 31.5% the previous year. Given the other trends below, and the fact that engagement has risen from 29% in 2011, we can expect to see the needle move in 2016. But probably not more than a point or two.

2. Millennials will (still) provide a challenge.

In 2015, millennials became the largest generation in the US workforce. That number is expected to rise dramatically as more boomers retire and more graduates start their careers. Some predictions are as high as 75% of the workforce by 2030! (Although that myth was debunked in this Wall Street Journal post. It’s actually more like 44%).

Whatever the specific number, Generation Y is now the majority. Businesses seeking to engage employees in their work will now have to tailor their approaches to this group. Research suggests that they are driven by open communication, a great company culture, involvement with causes, and achieving purpose and fulfillment.

3. More compassionate leadership.

People don’t quit their jobs, they quit their bosses. It turns out that the opposite is true too. An inspiring manager creates more engaged teams.According to research by leadership development experts Dr. Brad Shuck and Maryanne Honeycutt-Elliott, “higher levels of engagement come from employees who work for a compassionate leader—one who is authentic, present, has a sense of dignity, holds others accountable, leads with integrity and shows empathy”.

4. More employee feedback more often.

We conducted an employee engagement study in 2014 and found that the vast majority of employees who received little or no feedback were actively disengaged. Engagement went up dramatically when employees received feedback about their weaknesses, and even more so when they received feedback about strengths.

Data is always nice to have, but the feedback/engagement connection is also intuitive. How much more engaged are you in any relationship, when you are having open and honest conversation about what matters most?

5. Work/Life Balance will become Work/Life Blend.

The Society for Human Resource Management, found that the best companies are embracing flexibility. For many job-functions there is no longer any good reason to require people to come into the office every day, or for work to be done between the hours of 9am and 5pm. (I am writing this from my kitchen table at 7:30 at night). More companies will continue on this path as long as the numbers prove it’s working.

6. People analytics will grow.

In his article published in Harvard Business Review last month, Sean Graber argues that it’s important to look at employees’ perceptions and behaviors and their impact on performance. Managers can then decide how to shift things to increase engagement. In Sean’s consulting, he melds analytics with qualitative feedback by looking at aggregated data from surveys as well as self-reported behaviors:

Over time, organizations can track how their employees’ engagement changes and how it relates to key performance indicators (KPIs), such as sales, customer satisfaction, and attrition.

Josh Bersin also chimes in with his article, The Geeks Arrive In HR: People Analytics Is Here. According to Bersin the shift towards “big data in HR” began in 2011 and exploded rapidly. He predicts that people analytics will be its own department that will look at productivity, turnover, and the people-issues that drive customer retention and satisfaction. In the coming years businesses will rely on hard data to pre-empt disaster by determining when engagement will suffer or when people are considering leaving.

7. Technology will focus on the employee.

Bersin (I love this guy!) explains that the HR technology market moves in 5-7 year cycles of rolling-out, implementing, and replacing tech. We are now in a transitional phase between two cycles.

One of the biggest trends we are seeing is the arrival of a “new breed of pulse tools, feedback apps, and anonymous social networking tools”. These advanced methods for having regular check-ins with employees to understand where they are being challenged will eventually replace annual performance reviews.

Business is a living, breathing entity. It undergoes change, grows and recedes, gets broken and heals. The people are the individual cells that work together to ensure that the entity is healthy, productive, and thriving. In 2016, the brain (leadership) will have more tools at its disposal to predict and improve employee engagement. Maybe in 2017 Gallup’s survey will report a positive radical shift in how people show up to work.

David is not a fan of the terms “thought leadership” or “content marketing”, but he’ll keep using them…for now. Follow him on twitter @davidmizne.

 

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

What’s your story? #10: Trevor Lloyd

What's your story?

Our latest career path story is from Trevor Lloyd who was recently awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his services to the community. This achievement is simply the latest in a long list, as you’ll appreciate when you read his story.

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Trevor LloydWhat’s your current position and what do you do?

I am the Managing Director of a small property valuation company based in Blaxland, NSW. Lloyds Property Valuations employs eight people, four of whom are property valuers, the remainder being office and support staff. Our work is primarily mortgage work for bank lending purpose in both the residential and commercial sectors. In addition, we carry out family law work, compensation, investor analysis, court representation and much more.

As a leader of a team of very professional people, it is my job to ensure harmony within the team, provide professional back up where required, facilitate ongoing valuer training and ensure that clients are receiving the service they require.

We look on our employees as being members of a family.  There is no length to which we will not go to ensure that staff are being cared for. This includes generous family leave provisions, flexible working hours and conditions, and even pay in advance if necessary. Such provisions come back to the business with loyalty, honesty and output.

What other activities you are involved in?

For the past 22 years, I have been heavily involved with the Rotary Club of the Blue Mountains. I have also been involved with the Red Cross where I served for 4 years as the Blue Mountains Coordinator for Tele Cross, which is a daily in-touch telephone call to people living alone.

I was the inaugural President of the Glenbrook Toastmasters Club which trains people in public speaking. We also helped train students at local high schools to develop strong speaking skills.

Finally my involvement with the local Chamber of Commerce has enabled me to see clearly the challenges and obstacles that are faced by small businesses.

Is this what you expected to be doing when you were at school?

Most certainly not. I was keen to be a green keeper so that I could feed my fetish for the look and the smell of a freshly mown lawn. I still have the fetish but my lawn at home is smaller than I had envisaged and now I have a gardener who mows the lawn for me.

What was your first job?

I started work in 1968 at the Munitions Filling Factory at St Marys, NSW as an apprentice carpenter. It was ironic because, in my last year of school in Year 10, I had told my woodworking teacher that I no longer had an interest in woodwork and wanted to skip to a more useful subject to get m through the School Certificate.  I got through the School Certificate but only just. I ended up completing my apprenticeship with the PMG as a Trainee Technical Officer (Building).

Can you tell us about a significant turning point in your career?

On 18th January 1977, I was in the front carriage of my regular train on my way to work.  I had just completed my Building Certificate Course in 1976 but had to go back in early February to sit a post exam in quantity survey, which I had just failed to pass. I was such a lazy student.

At 8.10 am, the diesel engine left the rails and hit the stanchion of the Bold Street Bridge at Granville and bent it at almost 90⁰. As a result, it cut through my carriage leaving only a platform on wheels and killing ten people, including one lady who died in my arms. I still wonder how I survived.

At that point I realised that life had a purpose and that I should work harder to achieve the goals that I had and, with my first child on the way, to be in a better position to provide for my family.

This is not the best way to have a life changing experience. Ultimately 83 people died and 210 people were injured at Granville.

I completed the Associate Diploma of Business (Valuation) with flying colours back in 1990 and never looked back.

Who has inspired you?

There are many people in all of our lives who say something that may change your life or may be a role model we admire.

My father once said to me “if you aim for the stars, you’ll reach the clouds”. I remember I was never happy with the clouds.

One of my fellow commuters, when I told him that I was about to embark on a four-year Valuation Course – and would be 40 by the time I completed it! – simply said “What age will you be in four years if you don’t do the course?”

An old sage tradesman who was close to retirement when I started work once said to me “You will spend more time at work and see more of your workmates than you will spend at home with your family, so make the best of it and enjoy the ride”.

Lastly, my mother-in-law who grew up in the Jewish sector of Amsterdam during the Second World War said “Look what I have become in spite of my past and because of it”.

What would you tell your younger self about life and careers?

Turn your labours into challenges. When you are stuck at school and can’t understand, instead of heading for the no-hopers, turn to someone who did understand and ask them for help.

Always support and encourage those around you who appear to be square pegs. They usually become the successful ones in our society because they concentrate on what is important, which sets them up for long-term success and not short term gratification.

Everyone is capable of being a millionaire. It just requires goal setting, focus and work and it is within all of us.

Do you know someone whose career story should reach a wider audience?  Please drop us a line to let us know!

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

24,000,000 on our island

On Monday night, Australia’s population reached the milestone of 24 million people. That’s double the population when I was ten years old.

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As I sit on a crowded train, I wonder what will change in the next 48 years. Here are my simple predictions:

  • More people will use public transport
  • They will be going home to smaller dwellings
  • Work will take on new dimensions and definitions
  • They’ll be coming home from jobs we haven’t thought of yet or maybe not commuting at all
  • They will live longer but probably won’t get to enjoy the lifestyle we take for granted
  • Shared spaces will have more significance
  • Green space will become more precious
  • Private spaces will be in demand

Your turn!

  1. What would you add to this list?
  2. How do you think we can prepare our children and grandchildren for when there are 50 million people on this island?
  3. What do you hope for them?
  4. What are you doing to help build a better future?

I look forward to reading your comments!

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Please don’t say “I’m only a ….”

new employees

In many conversations I’ve heard people – often women – describe themselves in this way. Every time, I cringe because of all this phrase implies. Even if that’s not what you meant it to mean.

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When you say, for example, ‘I’m just a receptionist’, notice what you are saying to the world – and yourself. It sounds like you believe:

  1. The work of a receptionist is not very important;
  2. You think you could/should be doing a more important job; and
  3. This is not the job you would choose to do if you had a choice.

Whichever way you look at it these are negative messages if you believe them. What if you had some other beliefs instead. Beliefs like these:

  • All work is important;
  • You do have a choice – perhaps not in the short term, but definitely in the long term; and
  • How you feel about your job is affected by how you talk about it to others. You don’t need to do that to yourself!

Everyone has a handful of jobs they are ‘born to do’. If you are lucky enough to have found what that is for you and you’re in that job, no matter how lowly you perceive it to be, please don’t talk it down.

On the other hand, if you really do hate your job and wish you weren’t doing it, you can express that without denigrating the role in general or the industry you work in.

Some industries have trouble attracting younger people. Part of the reason is that people already working in those industries just don’t promote what they do in a positive way – even when they do love their jobs!

No wonder young people, if they do happen to find their way into these jobs, often have no idea of what they’re getting into. They have probably never met anyone with experience in the role who has told them what it’s really like – both good and bad.

Next time someone asks you ‘What do you do?’ please remove the ‘only’ or the ‘just’ from your answer, even if you feel your work is insignificant.

By speaking about your job as if it’s important – because every job is! – you’ll feel better about it. You might even be the catalyst to someone else finding the career of their dreams because you didn’t talk it down.

What do you think?

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

What’s your story? #9: Santa Claus

What's your story?

We have a very special guest for our December career story – Santa Claus!

Santa Claus

What’s your current position and what do you do?

My position has different titles in different parts of the world, but I am effectively the CEO of a global gift manufacturing and distribution business. This job involves a huge variety of tasks including

  • Reading lots of mail
  • Checking who’s been naughty and nice
  • Overseeing the manufacturing and packaging operations
  • Managing a huge workforce who work long hours in freezing conditions
  • Coordinating the other Santas who help out in my place leading up to Christmas
  • Liaising with retail outlets and hospitality establishments worldwide
  • Delivering toys personally using a unique form of transport
  • Training and caring for a team of reindeer

In addition to these tasks, I am often called upon for guest appearances on television, in movies, on billboards and magazine covers, in parades and advertisements. I also occasionally find time to visit Christmas parties and hospitals.

What other activities are you involved in?

With the demands of my role, I have to pay close attention to my health and fitness. It’s rather tricky to maintain my rotund shape while still ensuring I can fit in the sleigh and down chimneys. Fortunately, the hard work before December 24 keeps me healthy while the generous amounts of milk, cookies, beer and fruitcake I consume on my rounds keep me ‘in shape’.

Can you tell us about a significant turning point in your career?

After the early years, when I was less well-known in English-speaking countries, the portraits of me by American cartoonist Thomas Nast in the second half of the 19th century were a significant turning point. My appearance as ‘Jolly Old Santa Claus’ in his drawings, like the one above, led to my greater popularity and the success I enjoy today.

Who has inspired you?

In the 3rd century, a monk – who eventually became St Nicholas – started the tradition of giving in secret. Here’s the story of how it started, from whychristmas.com:

“There was a poor man who had three daughters. He was so poor, he did not have enough money for a dowry, so his daughters couldn’t get married.One night, Nicholas secretly dropped a bag of gold down the chimney and into the house The bag fell into a stocking that had been hung by the fire to dry! This was repeated later with the second daughter. Finally, determined to discover the person who had given him the money, the father secretly hid by the fire every evening until he caught Nicholas dropping in a bag of gold. Nicholas begged the man to not tell anyone what he had done, because he did not want to bring attention to himself. But soon the news got out and when anyone received a secret gift, it was thought that maybe it was from Nicholas.”

I am proud to be able to carry on his tradition!

Finally, what would you tell your younger self about work and careers?

You never know how long a job will last! I’ve been very lucky because anyone who brings joy and delight to the face of a child will always be in demand. If you are willing to give without the expectation of receiving anything in return, who can tell what sort of career may be ahead of you?

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all our readers!

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

5 easy ways to boost staff morale over the holidays

staff morale

Nothing kills a sale faster than grumpy or disinterested staff. Whatever type of customer-facing business you run, you can’t afford to have the morale of your staff turn away customers during the peak holiday season.

Here are five ideas to keep your staff motivated while they’re working hard.

1. Communicate

Let staff know what to do, how they should do it and by when. Have clear goals that are easy for all employees to understand and rules that are easy for them to follow. For example, they should know if you value efficiency above customer care or if both are a priority.

Set goals for sales figures, but remember to notice when they are going above and beyond your expectations to please your customers.

2. Educate

It’s frustrating for customers when your staff don’t appear to know their jobs or your products or menu, and it’s embarrassing for your employees. Investing time in training will result in more confident staff and better sales figures.

When you train on the job, constantly observe and assess new team members and give them constructive feedback. If you notice something wrong, correct them in private, let it go and move on.

3. Challenge

Your staff are at the frontline, so they know better than anyone what is and isn’t working. Ask them for their input and ideas. This simple form of recognition can be a big morale booster because it shows you value your employees as partners in the process. You can reward the best suggestion with a prize if competitions and contests motivate your staff.

Asking for their input also helps them to feel part of a team that is working towards a common goal — even if that goal is simply surviving the rush!

4. Appreciate

You can let your employees know that you appreciate the extra effort they put in over the holidays by rewarding them in ways additional to simply paying them.

A simple, genuine ‘thank you’ or other verbal recognition of a job well done can help them go the extra mile when needed. Other low-cost ways of showing your gratitude and keeping them energised include providing free snacks and coffee or paying for their parking.

5. Motivate

When thinking of rewards such as higher commissions or bonuses, consider how you will measure success. If you run a sales contest, for example, will all the team receive a bonus when the business meets the overall target? Consider a grand prize for the top performer in sales, customer service, teamwork or ideas — or all. One business we know even gives a prize for the person showing the most Christmas cheer on their busiest days.

Finally, if you know your team well, you can make your rewards more personal and, therefore, more motivating. Some may appreciate ‘gold class’ movie tickets over a party or public recognition. Others may get a real boost out of seeing their achievements complimented on your Facebook business page. Your cheerful, friendly and helpful staff are the key to reaching your holiday sales targets — and staying sane. By aligning business goals, personal motivation and rewards, you ‘ll find the winning combination for high staff morale.

This article was originally published on MYOB’s blog, The Pulse. For more business news and tips, visit www.myob.com/blog.

 

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

5 tips to manage your staff during the holiday rush

career help

For many businesses, including retail and hospitality, the holiday season brings many opportunities. Increased traffic, a higher turnover of stock and – if all goes to plan – higher profits. One of the challenges, however, can be managing your staff.

If the holiday season means increased traffic for your business, here are some tips to help you manage the needs of your staff – and keep customers happy so you can make the most of the holiday spending spree.

1. Plan ahead

While you probably know from past experience when to expect a rush, determine what specific days and times will likely be the busiest. Consider checking other variables, such as the schedule for nearby events or the weather forecast if they could affect your rush times.

When planning, also review the employment rules in your industry and make a list of good sources of casual and temporary staff. (Tip: Ask your current employees.)

2. Manage all leave in advance

Determine, communicate and stick to your criteria so you are not only fair but also transparent.

As far as possible ensure that:

  • Leave is taken before or after the holidays.
  • You give staff a closing date for leave applications.
  • You base the leave priorities on pre-set criteria that might include seniority, need, performance and reasons for the leave. For example, a senior level employee who wants to attend a close friend’s wedding would probably receive priority over a junior employee who asks for time off to see a concert.

3. Let your stars shine

Instead of keeping your best staff busy on tasks that don’t directly contribute to higher sales, arrange the workload to maximise their customer interaction. Chances are they’ll be happier and more productive, too, if customer service is their strength.

This may require you to rethink when and how routine tasks get done so you don’t take your stars away from serving the customers. For example, we spoke to a hairdressing salon manager who hires extra cleaning help during the busy pre-holiday rush so the stylists can focus on the clients and not on cleaning up. This has the added benefit of keeping the salon look neat and clean, even on the busiest days.

4. Make breaks easy

Your employees need their breaks – especially when it’s busy – so they can continue to provide the level of service your customers expect. Make sure you’re clear with them about how and when breaks will happen. It’s critical that you manage breaks so that your key customer contact points are never understaffed.

If you rotate breaks and encourage employees to return on time, staff will feel they’ve been treated fairly and haven’t been overworked. You can make things easier for your staff by, for example, organising food supplied to your premises during the busiest periods so employees don’t have to spend time fighting crowds.

Remind your team always to take their breaks out of sight of customers, so you avoid the unwelcome situation of customers waiting for service while they can see your employees on a break.

5. Expect the unexpected

Even the best-laid plans can fall apart in the pressure of the holiday season, so it helps to have some contingency plans when it comes to staffing. Ahead of time, work out what could go wrong and what you could do about it if it did. Even if you’ve only rehearsed a situation in your head, you are less likely to panic when things go off the rails, making it easier to get back on track when needed.

It would be great to be able to say ‘Wave my magic wand and you won’t have any problems’ but real life doesn’t usually work that way. However, by planning ahead and using your imagination, you may find can have both happy customers and happy staff this holiday season!

This article was originally published on MYOB’s blog, The Pulse. For more business news and tips, visit www.myob.com/blog.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

How to reward and keep your best employees — for free

career help

It’s tempting to say that your best employees don’t require rewards because they are probably already highly engaged. I’m sure some businesses operate that way, but it’s certainly not sustainable.

When you have employees you would like to keep, there are a few simple — and free — measures you can take to both reward and retain them.

1. Share your vision

Unless they know what they are working towards, it’s difficult for even the most highly motivated team members to stay enthusiastic and productive in the long term. On the other hand, if they expect their efforts to result in them being part of a team (or leading the team) that excels at what they do, they will work hard to get somewhere they can be proud of.

More money in their pockets — or your pockets — is not a sustainable reward and retention strategy. There’ll always be someone else who will pay an employee more if they’re a top performer. As Simon Sinek reminds us in his book Start with Why, profit is an outcome; it is not a purpose. Like you, your team want to know why they’re doing what they’re doing.

2. Keep them in the loop

How often have you set KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for staff based on your business plan, then not referred to them until their next performance review?

As a business owner or manager, you are constantly monitoring results. Are you keeping the people who are responsible for achieving those results up to date with their progress against their targets? Of course, this involves sharing the bad news as well as the good.

While it seems to come naturally to be careful about what information we share, it’s just as important to be mindful of how you share information. It’s your job to communicate. You are responsible for doing as much as you can to ensure your message is clear and appropriate for the person receiving it.

3. Challenge them

Your best employees often have the capacity to offer more, so don’t be afraid to ask them, provided the two steps above are already in place.

A sense of mastery is experienced when a new and challenging task is equal to the person’s ability to complete that task. By providing new opportunities, you are providing your best employees with the chance to experience mastery and ‘flow’ at work. This is an intrinsic reward task that can’t be counted in dollars and cents, but it will certainly have an impact on your bottom line.

Rewarding and keeping your best employees requires giving them purpose, a sense of belonging and a chance to shine. These are covered in the points above, but there is one more thing — and it’s probably the most important of all.

Your best employees achieve that status because they know their job, know your business, know your industry and know your market. By asking for their input and really listening to them, you will not only learn a lot, you will also uncover the secret ingredient to engagement and retention.

Acknowledgement and recognition are basic human needs. We can believe these needs are satisfied with a bonus, pay rise or award. To some extent, they are. However, recognising your best employee’s value by seeking and respecting their opinion can be a much more powerful reward.

This article was originally published on MYOB’s blog, The Pulse. For more business news and tips, visit www.myob.com/blog.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

New recruitment tools for small and growing businesses

recruitment

You need to recruit new staff, you have the budget and you have a plan. What’s next? In the past, you’d go straight to advertising or briefing a recruiter. Both are going to take time and cost money. New recruitment tools give you more control and streamline your sourcing and selection processes, even if you use a recruiter.

Sourcing

Job search databases: List your job on a service like Jobbed (free) OneShift (fee), Glassdoor (fee) or Jobseeker (free) instead of advertising through traditional channels to connect with candidates who have already listed their job search criteria. You can also search their databases to contact suitable recruits, for a fee. Some also provide apps for posting jobs and viewing candidates.

Applicant tracking systems: Love the idea of free postings but too time poor to set them up? There is an easier way! Services such as JobAdder or Adlogic make it easy for you to post your job on multiple free (and paid) platforms, including social media, and centralise all your applicant data for a monthly fee. Both these services include a mobile app to make recruitment even easier.

Social media: With a recent survey by recruitment agency Randstad showing that one in three jobseekers are using social media to find work, it can’t be ignored as a source of candidates especially if you are recruiting for tech-savvy employees. Facebook and LinkedIn are the main platforms for recruitment. At a minimum, you should ensure your personal and company profiles are attractive to potential new recruits. Just as networking in the real world can be a great source of good staff, networking in the virtual world is a very good way to locate candidates who might not yet be actively looking for a new job.

Selecting

Video interview software: Perfect for remote or first round interviews, services such as Vieple and TalentVX allow your candidates to record a video introduction or answers to questions you have listed for them. One advantage is the easy review and sharing of interviews to help you in your decision-making, allowing multiple stakeholders to have input without needing to be present at an interview.

Psychometric assessments: The options available to small and growing businesses are too numerous to list here, and your choice of tool will depend on where you want it to fit in your process and how much you want to spend. When selecting an assessment, look for a customisable, workplace research-based tool designed for recruitment that will answer the most important question: ‘Is this person the best fit for the job and our culture?’ Always keep in mind that a test result is just one part of your overall decision.

Background checks: Although checks on qualifications, previous employment and police records can certainly be outsourced (see Verify and PeopleCheck for example) I am not aware of tools that will fully automate this process for you. But I do recommend you check out Rapportive, a Google Chrome app, as a way of finding candidates’ social profiles and any connections you might already have to them, based on their email address.

No matter which tools you choose to use, you still have to put in time and effort to hire the right person. As in every other business activity, successful recruitment depends largely on having a clear picture of what you want before you start. None of the tools above can save you from this core business task. But they may just mean you make the right decisions along your recruitment path.

This article was originally published on MYOB’s blog, The Pulse. For more business news and tips, visit www.myob.com/blog.

"The last couple of years at batyr has seen incredible growth and the Balance at Work team has supported us along the way. They have helped us improve leadership skills across the team by helping us source and manage mentors, and even engaging as mentors themselves. As a young and fresh CEO Susan has also supported me personally with genuine feedback and fearless advice to achieve great things. "
By Sam Refshauge, CEO, batyr
"We used the Harrison Assessment tools followed by a debrief with Susan, for career development with staff, which then allowed us to work with Susan to create a customised 360 degree review process. Susan has a wealth of knowledge and is able to offer suggestions and solutions for our company. She is always ready to get involved and takes the time to show her clients the capability of Harrison Assessments. "
By Jessica Hill, Head of People and Culture, Choice
"Balance at Work are the ideal external partners for us as they completely get what we are trying achieve in the People and Culture space. Their flexibility and responsiveness to our needs has seen the entire 360 approach being a complete success. The online tool and the follow up coaching sessions have been game changers for our business. The buzz in the organisation is outstanding. Love it! Thanks again for being such a great support crew on this key project."
By Chris Bulmer, National GM Learning and Development, ISS Australia
"We use Harrison Assessments with our clients to support their recruitment processes. We especially value the comprehensive customisable features that allow us to ensure the best possible fit within a company, team and position. Balance at Work is always one phone call away. We appreciate their valuable input and their coaching solutions have also given great support to our clients."
By Benoit Ribe, HR Solutions Manager, Polyglot Group
"The leadership team at Insurance Advisernet engaged Susan from Balance at Work to run our leadership development survey and learning sessions. Susan was very professional in delivering the team and individual strengths and opportunities for growth. Susan's approach was very "non corporate" in style which was refreshing to see. I can't recommend Balance at Work more highly to lead, employee and team development sessions."
By Shaun Stanfield, Managing Director, Insurance Advisernet

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