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June Newsletter

Are you prepared for Performance Review season?

Now, don’t get us wrong, we say ‘season’ loosely, as we all know by now that regular, targeted performance conversations are the way to go. However, it’s still common in most small and medium businesses we work with, to have a more significant review around EOFY. So, as we approach performance review ‘season’ we have come up with our top tips to help you and your team get the most out of these important conversations.

1. Make it a priority. There are few more effective ways to make an employee feel de-valued and disengaged than treating their review like another task you begrudgingly need to tick off your list. Show them how important they are to your business by scheduling the review in advance (without moving it unless you have a really good reason!), preparing thoroughly, and turning up on time.

2. Choose wisely. Choose somewhere comfortable and quiet to have the conversation, where you won’t get interrupted (perhaps this is even a good opportunity to meet face to face if you haven’t in a while). Choose a time of the day where both you and your employee have good energy levels, can really focus, and you don’t need to cut it short to rush off to another meeting.

3. Focus on the future. Yes, it is still important to provide feedback on past performance – but really this part of the review is just a chance to recap on feedback that was given proactively, in real-time (there shouldn’t be any surprises!). The focus should be on the future – understand their career aspirations, identify opportunities for training and development, set meaningful goals and performance targets.

4. Listen more, talk less. This is just as much an opportunity for your team member to provide feedback to you. Great performance conversations facilitate space for highly collaborative, transparent, two-way conversations. When your employee walks away they should feel heard, valued, and excited about their future in the business.

5. Set clear actions. Both you and your team members should walk away from your conversation with a clear action plan for what they need to do to improve performance, progress their career, gain new skills, or anything else that is important to them! Ensure these actions are clearly set out with timeframes, responsibilities, and support so they, have a roadmap and the support needed to achieve their goals!

6. Check in regularly. Lastly, and maybe most importantly, don’t wait 12 months, or even 6 months, to check in with how your team member is going working towards their actions. Ensure you have scheduled time to catch up on how they’re progressing at least quarterly, or (better yet) incorporate a check in on their performance review actions in your regular 1-1 meetings.

In the current business climate, strategies to manage employee engagement and retention are key to the success and growth of your business, and performance reviews are a wonderful tool at your disposal. Make now the time to revaluate the positive impact good performance conversations can have on the future of not only your team member, but your business.

Australian Government Changes - What can we expect from the ALP?

The dust has settled from the 2022 federal election, and the Australian Labour Party (ALP) have taken the reins for the first time in almost 10 years. What does this mean for employers you ask? Well, we are likely to see some fairly significant changes to the employment and industrial relations landscape in Australia, with the ALP having made a number of promises in this space during their election campaign.

It's extremely important for businesses to remain up to date with these changes as they may require quick, and substantial, updates to policies, procedures, and employment contracts. Below, we have laid out some of the changes you can expect:

Casual Employment. More changes are likely to take place in this space, with the ALP likely to restore a common law definition of casual employment, with a focus on the pattern, duration, and consistency of work. The definition is yet to be determined but it is likely to mean that fewer employees will meet the definition of ‘casual’ and will need to be offered permanent work.

Sexual Harassment Reforms. ALP have promised to adopt all of the recommendations that were made in the Respect@Work report in 2021, the most significant being a positive duty being placed on employers to take reasonable and proportionate measures to eliminate sex discrimination, sexual harassment, and victimisation in the workplace.

Gender Pay Gaps. The Fair Work Commission are set to have a strengthening of powers to reduce the gender pay gap (currently 13.8% according to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency). This could see them with the power to order pay increases for workers in low paid, female dominated professions, legislate large companies to report on their gender pay gap, and prohibit secrecy clauses in contracts so that employees can openly discuss their pay.

Gig Economy Regulation. The gig economy (made up of contractors, short or fixed-term contracts, freelancers, and other such workers), are set to have greater regulations imposed with the Fair Work Commission likely to take on the power to set minimum standards for ‘employee-like’ work and expand the definition of an employee.

You may also see a reinvigoration of good faith bargaining, a strengthening of sham contracting and wage theft prevention laws, and the introduction of a portable leave scheme for workers in insecure or transient industries.

Although we don’t know when these changes are coming, we do know, it will be essential for employers to respond quickly and appropriately to minimise risk and avoid claims.

Men's Mental Health Week

With International Men's Health Week wrapping up last week, here are a few quick reminders for employers to continue to support the cause and promote awareness around the challenges that many men face in the community, and workplace:

1. Promote a workplace culture that is open, and transparent, so that all employees feel comfortable raising concerns from simple illnesses through to more serious mental health concerns.

2. Educate yourself, and your workforce, on the bias still associated with a man’s role in the family and workplace. Men may still hold the pressure of being the ‘breadwinner’ resulting in long hours, extra work, and not speaking up when it gets too much.

3. Look for opportunities to implement flexible working arrangements that are transparently targeted towards all employees across your business, regardless of how they identify.

4. Consider implementing an Employee Assistance Program, providing health incentives and benefits, or regular time off, to promote a healthy workplace for all team members, all year round.

5. Make sure policies relating to health and wellbeing are reviewed and re-implemented regularly so they continue to be front of mind for your team and are up to date with the latest best practice, and legislative requirements.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to refer your team to a support service – this may include their GP, or organisations such as Lifeline, Lifeline Aotearoa Black Dog Institute, This Is A Conversation Starter (TIACS) and Beyondblue.

New Zealand Government Responds to Cost-of-Living Pressure with increases to Paid Parental Leave

From 1st July 2022, new parents can expect a 6.3% increase (or about $40 extra a week), if

they are on government paid parental leave. "We know things are tough right now for many families as global inflation affects prices here at home, today's announcement will help ease some of that pressure by putting an extra $40 a week in the pockets of those new parents," said Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Wood on Monday.

This increases the weekly before tax amount from $621.76 to $661.12 for the duration of the 26-week paid parental leave period.

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