Hiring, Managing and Firing Staff

In New Zealand, only 30% of employees are fully engaged with their work. It's those employees who you want in your business because they will go the extra mile for you. Then there are ambivalent employees who make up 61% of the New Zealand workplace. Given the right management they could become fully engaged but at the moment they are just doing what is necessary. And lastly, there are the disengaged employees who represent 9% of the New Zealand workplace. They are doing the bare minimum just not to get fired. They are directly affecting your bottom line profit and you want them out as quickly as possible. This section is devoted to those three types of employees, specifically, how you can hire engaged employees, how you can manage ambivalent employees and how you can free up the future of disengaged employees.

  • Why Bullying could be costing you sales and eroding your profit
    A report released by Massey University in late 2009 revealed that 18% of persons surveyed in four industries reported that they had been the victims of bullying in the workplace. Yet anecdotal evidence tends to suggest that employers turn a blind eye, either because they are in denial that it is actually occurring (preferring instead to believe that the bully is a firm manager) or they lack the training to respond adequately to the problem. - read more
  • Workplace Survey – How Prevalent is Bullying in Your Workplace?
    This is a pre course survey run from the Approachable Lawyer website in readiness for a ‘bullying’ workshop. We wanted to know if all the bullying we were reading about in schools and the workplace were for real or just media hype. Check out some of the questions and some of the results: - read more
  • The Government’s new a trial period gives small business owners a Valentines Day excuse to start recruiting
    If you have been in business long enough, then at some stage you will have made a bad hire (and realised your mistake a month or so later). You are therefore forgiven for being a bit shy or nervous when it comes to hiring help. Well, fear no more, because the Government’s new 90 day trial period for businesses with 19 or fewer employees means that you can take a gamble on a new employee without the fear of a dreaded personal grievance landing on your desk. - read more
  • Do you have a toxic employee in your workplace?
    Does your business (or a department within your business) suffer from any of the following symptoms: (a) High absenteeism; (b) High staff turnover rates; (c) Complaints about management? If so, then these symptoms are a sign of low levels of engagement. However, contrary to common belief, the problem may not lie with your disengaged employee. It could lie with an even bigger problem. - read more
  • When is a fixed term a genuine fixed term?
    Subscriber Only Most people get engaged with the intention of getting married within the near future. So you can imagine the frustration of the party to the relationship whose request to set a date falls on deaf ears and consequently has to endure “the long engagement”. - read more
  • Christchurch Earthquake: advice for employers
    In the days following the earthquake, many Christchurch business owners will be coming to terms with what remains of their business and have staffing questions. The information below is designed to answer some of the more common questions that may arise. However, if any Christchurch business has a question about any employment issue arising from the earthquake they are welcome to call us before the end of this week (cob 10 September) to receive a complimentary 15 minute telephone consultation. Simply call us on 09 358 2725 or 021 320 171. - read more
  • How the new 90 day trial period can make your business more money
    Subscriber Only Business owners have known for some time that the introduction of a 90 day trial period could save them money and hassle if they end up making a bad hire. However, few have cottoned on to how the new trial period could increase the value of their business. Let me explain how by looking at some statistics. - read more
  • Getting the best from reference checking when recruiting
    So you reference checked your new employee and they're struggling on the job, so what went wrong? How can you ensure your reference check is a true prediction of performance when recruiting? Reference checks not only tell you whether to consider someone for employment but can also highlight how to manage a person, or indicate what sort of training they may require. - read more
  • New Year Changes to Employment Law
    There were two new pieces of legislation passed by Parliament in November this year but which come into force on the 1st of April 2011. I’ve set out the key changes for small businesses below so that you are up to date with the latest play. - read more
  • How to avoid a Personal Grievance when you suspend an employee
    Subscriber Only If an employee has done something which could amount to misconduct, then the last thing you want is for that employee to attempt to wriggle off the hook because you have made a procedural mistake by suspending the employee from work. A mistake like that could put the employee on the front foot and could even end up with you having to fight a personal grievance when it is the employee at fault. Strange as this may seem, this is a common occurrence in misconduct situations. Therefore, make sure you know when you can and when you cannot suspend, and then go through the process correctly. - read more
  • Boundaries and standards: why you need both in your business and how to set them
    Why is it that some teenagers are good academically and never get into trouble whereas others are the opposite? Similarly, why is it that some employees go the extra mile and are worth their weight in gold, whereas others turn up late and perform poorly? It's no coincidence that work performance goes hand in hand with conduct and I'll explain why. - read more
  • Is slash and burn the right strategy for your business?
    Subscriber Only When the economic downturn first started to impact John’s business he was quick to act. First signs that turnover was dropping caused John to focus on his biggest overhead – the wage bill. A swift round of redundancies gave immediate relief and he was able to sustain profit levels on an even keel. Six months later, however, turnover had dropped even further and he was facing a personal grievance claim from one of his employee’s with a possible payout of $1000s. - read more
  • Get Recruitment Savvy: phone screening
    Ever had a candidate look great on paper but been a dud at interview? Or have you made an offer only to have the candidate turn it down for money or something that should have been discussed sooner? An early phone conversation with a candidate, or what we recruiters call a ‘phone screen’ is a massively valuable weapon in your recruitment arsenal, ideal for shaping your short list. - read more
  • How to choose the right employment agreement for your business
    Just like cars, not all employment agreements are the same. Try telling a Ferrari owner that he could get just as much pleasure driving a Hyundai Lantra. Now that’s not to say that the Hyundai Lantra won’t get you from A to B, but let’s get real – which would you rather drive? Now I am not saying there is anything wrong with the Hyundai Lantra (I drive one) or that all Hyundai Lantra drivers would rather drive a Ferrari (although I would) but whereas a Hyundai Lantra owner probably couldn’t afford a Ferrari, every business owner can afford an employment agreement that delivers the driving experience of a Ferrari. The problem is that most business owners don’t know that their employment agreement performs like a Hyundai Lantra. So let me explain the difference. - read more
  • How to navigate the redundancy minefield
    “It’s not you, it’s the economy” It is much less confrontational to dismiss an employee this way than embarking upon a long list of performance concerns or misdemeanours which have wound you up to the point of no return. That’s why redundancy terminations are the preferred route of many employers. However, the door may have been closed by a recent case in the Employment Court which has put an interesting twist on the existing law. - read more
  • Why you must choose the right employment agreements for your staff
    Most business owners know that it is against the law not to have a written employment agreement with their staff. However, what many business owners don’t know is that there are 4 different types of agreement to choose from... - read more
  • Why Santa was sued for a personal grievance when he changed the Elf roster
    Even Santa wasn’t immune from the recession. The global credit crunch had affected his long term investments in reindeer stock and commodities, which meant that the income from those investments had taken a tumble. Santa knew that he could not cut back on Christmas presents for the kids, so something had to give. He felt the only option was to cut some hours out of the Elf roster. - read more
  • Are your employees spending too much time on Twitter and Facebook?
    When the internet was introduced to offices over a decade ago, employers were worried that employees would spend more time surfing the internet than they did working. The expression "cyber slacking" was born. In 2009, social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook have taken the internet to a whole new level. No longer is the internet just used for reading content, now people can interact with their friends in real time whilst sitting at their desks. To further promote interaction, developers have come up with a vast array of applications where users can play games, send virtual gifts or compare themselves to a celebrity. Hey, you can even run your own virtual farm from the comfort of your office cubicle. Therefore, it is not surprising that employers are worried that no work will get done. - read more
  • How to stop social networking sites killing your restraint of trade clauses
    Dave knew that he had a problem when he came into the office one morning to see a LinkedIn update saying that one of his former employee’s had taken a senior position with his major competitor. But it wasn’t the fact that Mandy had moved to his competitor that started the alarm bells ringing, but that he had received a notification of the move in his inbox – he knew that 70% of his client base would have received the same email and may flock towards her. - read more
  • How to get rid of the employee that doesn't fit
    He was tall, dark and handsome and a great lover. From the outside, he appeared to be the ideal date and partner. But after 3 months of living together, Jenny realised that her ideal mate was less than ideal. Whilst he could turn on a charming personality, he liked drinking with the boys each night while she preferred walks in the country. She liked a tidy house and he preferred to live in a mess. - read more
  • How to act with good faith towards your employees
    Good faith is not about going to Church every Sunday. No, it is about how you treat your employees and here is the bad news: what amounts to good faith changed in December 2004 when the Employment Relations (Amendment) Act 2004 became law. Prior to that good faith was some airy fairy concept dreamt up by Parliamentary legislators to even up the playing field between employers and employees and by employment lawyers to give weight to otherwise tenuous personal grievance claims (or is that just me being cynical?!). - read more
  • Are you making these mistakes when dismissing staff?
    Amanda produced the print outs from her time and attendance system and showed them to Kim. The printouts proved the Kim had consistently been turning up late for work as the weeks and months went on. Amanda then showed Kim the quarterly results which showed a decrease in profits consistent with Kim’s increasing lack of punctuality. Amanda knew something about employment law and realised that she must give Kim an opportunity to respond. However, in her own mind Amanda was decided. - read more
  • How to require your employees to go on holiday and avoid a huge wage bill
    Subscriber Only Bill was a conscientious employee of MNO Investments but over the last 3-6 months he had started making stupid mistakes which were costing the company money. Those who worked with him were becoming concerned that he wasn’t looking well and wasn’t his usual happy, cheery self. There was speculation that there may be problems at home contributing to his present state. However, the main problem was at work and was one MNO could have avoided and at the same time saved them a lot of money. - read more
  • Why having a good reason to dismiss an employee may not save you from an employee claim
    Their relationship had been deteriorating for some time. It stemmed from an inappropriate remark made by John at an office party last year about Geoff's current girlfriend which in a drunken haze seemed to find its way back to Geoff and her. So when Geoff heard that John had been arrested on Saturday night with a group of friends for being drunk and disorderly after a rugby game he seized his moment - read more
  • Why you can't just fire an employee at the end of a probationary period
    Subscriber Only Bob was fed up with hiring the wrong staff. Twice he had his fingers burnt. The first time he ended up defending a personal grievance and the second time the employee in question made a number of very costly mistakes before eventually resigning. This time was going to be different: now Bob had an employment agreement which contained a 1 month probationary period. - read more
  • How to protect your IP being stolen by your employees
    Subscriber Only How would you feel if someone broke into your house and stole your TV, stereo, DVD player, furniture, CD collection and some very personal items of jewellery? Initially you would feel shock…then once that had passed, rage and an immense desire to bring the perpetrators to justice... and then regret that you didn’t install a burglar alarm.You get exactly the same feelings when an employee steals your intellectual property and sets up in competition down the road. - read more
  • Why not having a contractor agreement could cost you thousands of dollars
    Subscriber Only Normally a letter postmarked “Employment Relations Authority” would fill Peter with dread. But this time it could only be good news as Peter has successfully fended off a spurious claim brought by an ex-contractor who claimed he was an employee. The only outstanding issue was how much this contractor would be paying him in costs. Peter scanned the decision...everything looked good until he reached the final line. His heart sank: "$100!! That's not even half of my lawyer's hourly rate". - read more
  • Why no employer should dismiss Kiwisaver as just another piece of red tape
    Anna was on the verge of making a decision. "What are the benefits of joining your superannuation scheme and do you contribute?" - read more
  • How to use Kiwisaver to get ahead of your competition
    Subscriber Only Are you failing to attract the right people into your business, or are you losing valued employees to your competition? One of the fundamental principles of creating a great business, according to Jim Collins - author of Good to Great, is to get the right people on the bus (in other words, having the best employees). If you have the wrong employees, then you will never have a great business. - read more