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.

Beginning A Different Kind of New Year

New years roll around at an alarming pace.

The year only just seems to start and then before you know it, you are singing Auld Lang Syne, raising a glass, reviewing the year that has been and preparing your business for another trip around the sun.  

But this new year feels unlike the others we have experienced before. 

2021 was meant to be our fresh start after a rather trying 2020. Then, it pulled a total fast one on us and turned out to be worse!  

So, as we cautiously begin 2022, we have none of the lofty ambitions of last year. This will not be our year to return to life as it was before COVID. 

This will be a different kind of new year. But, we are no less optimistic about it! 

Let’s explore how you can make the most of another uncertain new year and prepare your team for the next 12 months. 

 

Beginning A Different Kind Of New Year 

Acknowledge The Year That Was 

It is pretty tempting to sweep the events of 2021 under the rug and pretend that they didn’t happen. Not only were we dealing with potential threats to our health, but we all had an additional layer of stress created by working from home. Juggling home schooling, the endless quest for uninterrupted work time, worries about job security and toilet paper shortages were no joke! 

So, now is the time to congratulate your whole team for making it out the other side. 

Look back on the year and celebrate the things that went well. Thank your team for their dedication in tough times and congratulate yourselves for making it work. While the year was hard, it taught many businesses that work conditions could be flexible. Now, we can continue that flexibility and use it to our advantage. Allowing your team to continue embracing flexible hours and working locations where practical, will be a great morale booster. 

 

Maintaining Mindset 

All the stresses of the last two years might have had a negative impact on your staff morale. And when morale is low, so too is productivity and output.  

Helping your team maintain a positive mindset despite everything that has happened is an essential new year task. The right mindset will boost productivity, increase employee engagement, and help to retain valuable team members. 

With a new protection framework now in place, we should hopefully see fewer disruptions to life and business operations. So, capitalise on that positivity by allowing your team to work when they are most productive.  

Physical safety has been a huge focus in the last two years and we have the masks and hand sanitiser to prove it. But, mental wellbeing and safety are just as important. Help your team manage their schedules to prevent burnout, connect with each individual to check how they are coping, and encourage the whole team to take their breaks and holidays. 

 

Keep The Comms Flowing 

Your team have dealt with a lot of uncertainty lately and we are not out of the woods yet. It would appear COVID is here to stay, so make sure you are communicating well and often with your team. 

Give them as much information as you possibly can as this will reduce some stress and build an important level of trust. While targets might move, dates might change and the goalposts might shift, your team will appreciate the transparency of regular updates and receiving up to date information. 

By establishing open lines of communication from your side, your team will also feel as though they can share concerns or suggestions they might have. This allows them to feel as if they have some control over an uncertain situation. Of course, that will only mean good things for their overall morale! 

 

Unifying Under A Collective Vision 

No one can possibly predict what will happen this year, the last two years have certainly proven that! Yet, you can establish a vision for how you want your business to operate, the characteristics you value and the impact you want to make. 

By creating this vision, you are providing your whole team with a roadmap for the year. While there might be some unexpected potholes to navigate or bridges to build, the end destination remains the same. 

By unifying your team under a collective vision they will feel valued, important and part of something bigger than just themselves. It will help you all to move forward and stay optimistic, regardless of what the year might bring. 

 

Make Time for Fun 

In the midst of a global pandemic, it is easy for work and home life to feel very serious. With restrictions to adhere to, daily news reports to read, mandates to follow and ever-increasing stress levels, things can get negative quickly. 

But, they really don’t have to. Just because there is some serious stuff going on in the outside world, it doesn’t mean your team can’t make time for fun.  

Connecting with each other in a social way can lighten the mood and build a great team culture. Whether you choose to have a monthly quiz night over Zoom or Microsoft Teams, a picnic in the park with the cricket bat and beverages, or a family friendly game of Never Have I Ever, your team will be able to blow off steam and connect. 

Laughter is the best medicine, so keep things fun and lighthearted where appropriate. 

 

Looking Ahead 

Rather than looking back on everything you have been through, look forward towards the amazing things you could achieve this year. That will keep your whole team focused on the future and optimistic about what the year will bring. 

While things might remain uncertain, you can keep your team moving forward and unified under a clear vision and collective goals. This will ensure they maintain a positive mindset and together you can overcome any future challenges. 

Want some more practical ways to maintain great staff morale during a very different kind of new year? Then we can help you do it. Full of Spice and practical, actionable strategies, our team will help your team remain strong in the year ahead. Contact us today 

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 Be An Ethical Leader During A Crisis

How To Be An Ethical Leader During A Crisis

 During times of crisis, it’s natural for our focus to become very singular. We go into survival mode, prioritising the things that will help us endure until life returns to normal.

While this is understandable, it’s often not the best course of action when it comes to people management.

Leaders who focus on saving the company at all costs may ensure it stays afloat during the storm, but end up paying the price when the dust settles and the bigger picture comes back into focus.

Ethical leadership is about balancing the needs of the business with those of your employees. It’s never an easy task, even at the best of times. But if you succeed, your team – and your business as a whole – will be stronger.

So, what does it look like to be an ethical leader? And how can you get the balance right amidst uncertainty?

Read on for our Spicey insight.

How To Be An Ethical Leader During A Crisis

Why Ethical Leadership Is Vital To Success

Can a business succeed if the leaders are unethical?

A recent study published in the Journal of Business Ethics reveals that it is possible, but only for a brief period. For long-term success, ethical leadership is vital. And this is even more important during times of crisis.

Ethical leaders are better at engaging and retaining staff, and a culture of ethical leadership ensures your business becomes an employer of choice.

People vs Profits

During the early days of the pandemic, things changed so rapidly that businesses were at risk of getting whiplash trying to keep up. And while we’re a way down the road from that now, an element of uncertainty is still present.

Decisions often need to be made rapidly, putting the pressure on managers. Amidst the unpredictability of life, employees look to leaders to provide clarity, honesty, and a sense of stability. Managers must rely on empathy to communicate with their teams, but need to retain a fact-based approach to assess business decisions.

And there are tough decisions to be made. Do you choose your employees over financial rewards? Profit over people? And where do you draw the line? How do you do the right thing when everything feels wrong?

Ethical leadership isn’t about perfection. Sometimes, the right decision isn’t necessarily the easiest or most comfortable one. But as long as managers are guided by ethics, their choices will be the right ones.

When your employees can see that you are doing your best by them, they tend to rally. There’s a bond created by feeling as if “we’re all in this together.” Instead of jumping ship during tough times due to a lack of faith in management, staff are more willing to make sacrifices to help the business survive.

Qualities Of An Ethical Leader

There’s no flowchart for ethical decision-making: every business and situation is unique. However, there are specific guidelines to help managers find their way to ethical leadership.

We love the V.I.T.A.L method referenced in an article by the Human Resources Director.

This method of crisis communication provides a roadmap to help business’s work through difficult times using five key concepts:

  • Visibility – don’t hide behind others by delegating the uncomfortable discussions. Communicate with your people rapidly and often, even if it’s to let them know you are still waiting for more information.
  • In It Together – always refer back to your business’ mission, vision and values. Create a culture of inclusion and empowerment.
  • Transparency – share what you know, don’t hide bad news, address rumours, and keep your employees as informed as possible.
  • Accessibility – be available for your people, and let them know where to turn when they have concerns or need support.
  • Listening – really hear your people when they talk to you. Understand where they are coming from, and give them an outlet to speak up.

Remember, your customers and future potential employees are far more likely to remember how your business behaved during a crisis than how high your profits were during that year.

Ethical leaders must strive to model the values of their business when making difficult decisions. This means embracing integrity, authenticity, and compassion. It’s about being real with your team, especially during hard times.

Ethical leadership is as important to us as it is to you. Which is why we want to help you embody it within your HR policies. Reach out to us today to chat about how we can Spice you up as an ethical leader!

How To Build Resilience In The Workplace

The last few years have been pretty brutal for everyone. Many people and businesses have experienced a lot of loss due to the pandemic, and the long-term stress continues to take a toll.

But have you noticed that some people seem to be able to bounce back more easily than others?

While some individuals may be struggling to cope, others are able to learn from what’s happened, grow from it, and persevere.

What does it take to do this? How do they manage so well? What do they have in their personal and professional lives that enables them to get right back up and carry on?

The answer is resilience. This quality helps people adapt when faced with adversity, conflict, and trauma.

Resilient employees are an enormous asset to any organisation, so building resilience in the workplace should be a top priority for leaders.

But what is resilience in the workplace and why is it really important? And how can leaders encourage resilience among their workers? Let’s answer those questions now.

How To Build Resilience In The Workplace

What Is Resilience

Resilience is an individual’s ability to respond to the stresses and demands of life. The dictionary definition talks about concepts such as flexibility, durability, strength, and speed of recovery.

Basically, resilience is the capacity to respond to adversity and challenge throughout all aspects of life.

So, where does resilience come from? Is it in our DNA, or can it be nurtured and grown?

Interestingly, it’s likely to be a little bit of both.

Although some people seem to inherently be more resilient, it is possible to cultivate and nurture this quality to help people not only cope, but even thrive through challenging times.

Resilience is cultivated through healthy habits and a positive mindset. There are many small yet effective ways to build your own – and help boost those around you.

The Benefits Of A Resilient Workforce

Resilience is the foundation for many desirable workplace qualities. It improves general wellbeing, helps people be more flexible and adaptable to fast-paced environments or changing circumstances, and aids in effective communication.

Research has shown that resilience can help businesses stay competitive and profitable even during times of uncertainty.

Resilient workers contribute enormously to a positive workplace culture. They are more likely to be engaged, productive and innovative, even in high-pressure situations, and less likely to succumb to burnout.

Building Resilience In The Workplace – Where To Start

Leaders have a unique struggle on their hands. They need to somehow find a balance between striving for financial performance while addressing the mental wellbeing of their team.

One of the best ways to do this is by encouraging resilience in your workers. Here are some of the most effective methods for building resilience in the workplace.

Become a resilient leader

Your own resiliency impacts the way you lead, which trickles down to affect those who work with you. Use these tips to develop personal resilience:

  • Take steps to manage your own mental and physical wellbeing
  • Work on reframing threats as challenges
  • Pay attention to your thoughts and behaviours and work on cultivating a growth mindset
  • Create (and lean on) a social support network
  • Build mindfulness and self-awareness

Support the wellbeing of your workers

Emotional wellbeing is the foundation of resilience. We all cope better when we are well-rested, healthy, and have a manageable work-life balance. Consider implementing measures that support workplace wellbeing, such as flexible work arrangements.

Foster positive work relationships

Social interaction and support are essential in building resilience. Ensure you provide your employees with the chance to bond and socialise, even if you have remote workers. This can be through organised activities within the workplace, events held outside of working hours, or simply encouraging your team to connect with each other on a social level.

Don’t neglect performance and development

Self-reflection helps cultivate resilience. Don’t let challenging times derail your performance reviews. Your people still need feedback on how they are doing and the opportunity to reflect on their challenges and successes. Make sure you provide this in a formal review setting, but also on a regular, more casual basis.

Focus on the future

As part of your performance reviews, you should be helping your employees effectively set realistic, achievable, relevant goals. The right goals can motivate people and help them focus their energy on what’s ahead of them, instead of dwelling on what’s behind them. It also helps them to look beyond the current adversity to a time that may be calmer.

Provide resources

Even the most resilient people can struggle with tough times. Our resilience changes from day to day, and sometimes we may need support to manage. Ensure your workers have access to resources to help them cope, such as employee assistance programs, stress management coaching programs, or similar initiatives.

When you are the one who is expected to lead, sometimes it can be difficult to always demonstrate resilience. So, it can be helpful to call in the experts to assist.

If you want to build resilience in your workplace (and yourself), then reach out to us here at Spice HR. We help businesses tackle the tough times so they can be ready to capitalise on the good.

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.

What The “New Normal” Means For The Wellbeing Of Your Team

Wellbeing in New Normal

With everything that’s happened in the last year, it’s safe to say that wellbeing, life – and work – as we know it has changed. Every month that passes shows us how unlikely it is that things will return to exactly the way they were.

Business looks different, work-life looks different, and these changes aren’t so temporary anymore. That means it’s time to progress out of survival mode and into thrive mode.

Organisations need to look at workplace trends and think seriously about where they should be investing their time and energy. We need to think about staff wellbeing in the context of the “new normal”, how we can retain a cohesive team environment in these times of change and uncertainty, and how to prepare for the “next normal”, whatever that may be.

We know it can be overwhelming, but keep reading for some guidance on where and how you might want to start focusing your attention.

Workplace Trends Post-COVID-19

We know the pandemic is still here, but the immediate shock of it is passing. Businesses and individuals have begun to accept how things have changed, and we have all had some time to sit down, breathe, and take stock of how much has happened in the past year.

So, what’s next?

Time to review how well your team and organisation have adapted to physical distancing/remote working, and look at the trends for 2021 and beyond. Here’s an overview.

Remote working has increased

Well, duh! Yes, clearly, any organisation with the capability to implement remote work has done so.

But what’s interesting to note is that many will continue to explore and experiment with hybrid work/remote work even once the pandemic is under control. The “office” as we knew it will probably never be quite the same again.

Increased data collection

More employers are making use of technology to monitor their employees. Everything from productivity and engagement to wellbeing and employee experience is being tracked and analysed to create safe, productive, and innovative workplaces.

Increase of contingent workers

Many organisations are reducing the number of full-time employees and hiring contingent (freelance/gig) workers instead. This allows them flexibility and helps save costs but may lead to confusion around performance management as well as a loss of team cohesion.

Emphasis on the employer’s role in wellbeing

The pandemic has seen employers playing a vital role in the health and wellbeing of their employees. The emphasis has been on the ability of businesses to provide sick leave, financial assistance, flexible hours, and support for the wider community.

A move from efficiency to resilience

Pre-pandemic, the big focus was on efficiency. Now, the emphasis is more on building resilience in processes and organisations. Systems must be responsive and flexible to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances. Employees must be adaptable and have diverse, cross-functional roles that can navigate change.

What Thinking Do We Need To Alter?

The trends reflect the changes that most organisations have experienced. That is a move away from traditional workspaces and systems, and an increasing emphasis on strong, resilient, flexible teams and processes.

This is a defining time for all of us: how we respond to the trials of the last year will impact the future. And while things have been challenging, this moment in time presents a range of opportunities for businesses.

  • Choose to be innovative. Strive for more resilient teams instead of trying to recreate what no longer works.
  • Embrace the possibilities provided by hybrid and remote work.
  • Introduce initiatives that bolster the wellbeing of your people.
  • Find new ways to create and control your corporate identity and employer brand post COVID-19.

 What Does Team Building Look Like Now?

When it comes to HR, one of your biggest challenges will be rethinking team building. With social distancing and hybrid work now par for the course, team bonding and culture development won’t happen quite so organically.

So, how can you provide spaces and opportunities for your team to bond away from the lunchroom and water cooler?

By behaving with intention and thinking outside the traditional office box.

Here are a few examples:

Host team huddles

Connect your entire team by having a regular online “huddle”. This could be for 15 minutes every morning to check-in and connect, or twice a week – whatever works for your organisation. This is not a formal meeting, but a time to chat, catch-up and check-in with one another.

Schedule virtual meet-ups

People need one-on-one time as well as group-bonding. One to one personal meetings are perfect for that. Facilitate online meet-ups for two people to chat and get to know each other better, or build on an existing established relationship.

Keep the game time going!

When our levels dictate that laser-tag or mini golf are a no-go, there are still plenty of games that can be played virtually by your team. Schedule some fun virtual activities that everyone can attend during a lockdown. Things like quizzes or online escape rooms are perfect.

Learn together

Successful teams learn new things together. Set up virtual workshops and webinars to promote professional development and facilitate online group learning.

Using Extended DISC To Get A More Informed Plan

A remote or hybrid team isn’t doomed when it comes to bonding or performance. In fact, research shows that remote teams can perform better than in-house teams if they are managed in the right way.

Extended DISC profiles can help managers understand the work style and personal preferences of their team members. They provide you with valuable insights into the best ways to manage individuals and bring them together.

You will learn how much support and contact each team member requires from you and what kind of work they respond well to.

If we have learned one thing from COVID-19, it’s the importance of a bonded, resilient team in navigating change. Challenges can bring people together or push them apart. The stronger your team is, the stronger your business is.

Regardless of what comes next, Spice HR is here to help you and your team navigate the new normal and prepare for what’s next. If you’d like advice or support about how to move forward, contact us for a chat today.

How To Become An Employer Of Choice And Showcase Your Business

How To Become An Employer Of Choice And Showcase Your Business

How To Become An Employer Of Choice And Showcase Your Business

A stellar employee (or two or three) can propel your business from average to outstanding. So naturally, you need to entice, intrigue, and retain high performers. But dangling a few carrots and hoping for the best isn’t going to cut it. These days, you must tailor your benefits and perks to the top talent and find ways to communicate why you are an employer of choice.

Not only will this help you attract high calibre employees to your business, it will also ensure you retain them long term.

Read on to find out what will give you the edge for today’s best candidates, and how to dazzle them during the interview stage.

Become An Employer Of Choice And Showcase Your Business

What’s On The Wishlist?

Most skilled professionals are looking beyond a fat salary. So don’t assume that as a smaller business with a lower budget, you can’t compete with larger organisations. Conversely, businesses with higher wages shouldn’t sit on their laurels and rely on numbers alone to attract the talent.

Here are the benefits and perks that today’s workforce value most:

  • Flexible work schedules
  • Remote work opportunities
  • Generous paid time off
  • Family leave
  • Student loan assistance
  • Education and development
  • Wellness initiatives/work-life balance
  • Health insurance

Supporting Work-Life Balance

Even before 2020 hit us with work from home rules, flexible work hours and remote work opportunities were some of the top priorities for experienced candidates. And they continue to dominate.

With that in mind, how can your business support employees to find that work-life balance? A few of the options from the list above are a great place to start, including leave and paid time off, remote working, and flexible schedules.

Other simple yet valuable options might include day care, health and wellness programs, pet-friendly offices, and firm guidelines on no-after hours emails or phone calls. This is particularly essential for employees working from home, who may find it harder to separate work and home life.

Don’t forget that you still have H&S responsibilities even when your employees work from home. Ensure you develop policies to help them manage their health and safety effectively.

Flip Your Interview Strategy

Interviews of old have traditionally been rather one-sided. It’s all about what the candidate can offer you, rather than what your business has to offer them. But, things have shifted now. Remember, you are not the only business looking to hire the most qualified and experienced applicant. You may be facing stiff competition, so take the opportunity to showcase your employee value proposition during the interview.

What sets you apart and makes you a fantastic employer over and above anyone else? Once you know this, communicate it by giving each applicant a unique and engaging candidate experience – from your first job post to the final hiring process.

Instead of whipping out the old behavioural-based questions, think of how you can show your organisation’s personality. Focus on having a conversation with each candidate, and think about culture fit as well as skillsets.

When coming up with questions, frame them around the values and culture of your business, and attach your purpose and why. This will help candidates understand your culture and help both parties figure out if the fit is right.

Welcoming the ideal candidate into your business is only possible when you position yourself as an employer of choice. Think beyond dollars to carve out your unique employee value proposition, craft a compelling candidate experience, and you will find it much easier to be united with qualified and experienced applicants who are the perfect fit for you.

If you need help with crafting the employee value proposition then get in touch with the team here at Spice HR. We can help you nail all the aspects to become an employer of choice! Reach out to us today.

How To Handle Working From Home

How To Handle Working From Home

How To Handle Working From Home

Even before 2020 brought us a global pandemic that changed everything, an increasing amount of people and businesses were embracing remote work.

After all, there are many positives to working remotely. Working from home provides flexibility, can help improve productivity and provide a healthy work-life balance.

But it’s not all sitting around in your pyjamas tapping away on your laptop! Remote work brings a host of challenges. This is particularly true if businesses have needed to pivot rapidly to adjust to new restrictions.

Whether you are a remote working pro or new to this whole work from home gig, we’re here to provide insight on the benefits and challenges of working from home remotely, plus give you some tips on how to stay productive and help your team adapt.

The Benefits Of Remote Working

For employees, the benefits are numerous. No more jumping out of bed and skipping breakfast to sit in traffic every day. Life is just better when you have a little extra time. Instead of arriving at work frazzled, you can sit down fully-fed and raring to go!

Stress levels tend to be lower as the work-life balance improves. You have more control over your work environment and can make it as pristine or messy as you like. There’s the option to work outside your “office” set up in cafes or co-working spaces (or during times of restrictions, your deck or backyard!). And best of all, your schedule can work around your lifestyle.

Employers get benefits too, such as improved employee retention, access to a wider pool of applicants when hiring, lower costs in office space, and increased employee productivity and performance, according to a range of studies.

Things To Be Aware Of

It’s not all roses and rainbows, particularly for those not used to the remote work lifestyle.

If you are a people person, working out of the office environment can be a little lonely. More effort is often needed to build a sense of community, camaraderie and engagement. The lack of interaction and human connection can be difficult for some people.

Not to mention, there are a ton of distractions at home to contend with. For those that are not used to it, there’s likely to be an adjustment period needed. You may find you aren’t that productive for the first week or two, until you find your groove.

How To Stay Productive When Working From Home

It can be very tempting to be distracted by the fridge, the couch or the call of Netflix when you are working from home. But they are all going to impact your productivity. Stay on task by following these guidelines …

  • Set up a space. Yes, it’s tempting to work from bed, but this is a no-no. Set up a dedicated workspace – whether it’s a dedicated desk space in your spare room, a stand-up kitchen bench or a corner of the dining table or bedroom.
  • Get dressed! At least, change out of your night PJs into your day PJs!
  • Set a schedule and stick to it
  • Eliminate distractions: use apps to block social media for set periods, and do not watch “just one episode” on Netflix!
  • Take regular breaks, get some fresh air, and clock off at the end of the day – don’t be tempted to work all day every day.
  • Have allocated work time. Now, this doesn’t mean you need to follow the 9 to 5 grind. If you are an early riser, then get in a couple of hours before your household wakes up. Likewise, if you are a night owl, maximise those hours too.
  • As well as that allocated work time, have allocated family or rest time too. That way, you will have a nice balance to fill your week.
  • Have a list of three tasks that you must complete each day. This will keep you progressing on the most important things on your To Do List.

How To Manage Remote Workers Effectively

Managing a team remotely is not the same as managing one in the office. You can’t pop your head into someone’s office or drop by their desk for a quick chat.

But, it is possible to still manage them remotely…

  • Provide clear expectations for communication. Do you prefer staff to email, text, or chat? Will you communicate with the wider team through video calling or mix it up and also use online tools like Slack or Trello? How should they connect with others when something is urgent? Clarify these guidelines for everyone from the outset.
  • Keep up the one-on-ones. Group video calls are great to maintain team cohesion, but ensure you schedule regular one-on-one chats with each employee.
  • Use multiple channels to communicate. Tools such as Zoom, Slack, Trello, Google Suite, Facebook Teams and more are great for planning, delegating, and keeping in touch.
  • Trust your team. Keep in touch and be available, but avoid micro-managing. Using some of the above collaboration tools will help you keep tabs on the work being done without becoming overbearing.
  • Proactively facilitate socialising. Arrange after work video drinks, breakfast catch ups, or allow extra time at the beginning or end of group video chats to catch up and bond.

While there are many benefits to working from home remotely, it can be challenging if it is thrust on you without warning. This is the case for many of us in the current situation.

An important thing to remember is to stay in touch with your experts throughout this period (and beyond!). Even though this new working situation is uncharted territory for many businesses, you still need to ensure you are adhering to process and legalities.

If you have any questions, queries or concerns about how to provide the best environment for your people during these times, then get in touch with the Spice Gals. We are operating from home during the Level 4 lockdown period and are more than happy to help you navigate these uncertain waters.