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Five bad HR habits and how to break them

As we head into the last stretch of the year before the holiday period, your HR focus is probably on the end of year festivities; ensuring employees are on their best behaviour from the boardroom to the bar.

The new year is a great time to introduce new habits, or break old ones and as business activities slow down towards the end of the year, it’s a good time to get ahead by taking a look at which of your HR processes are working and which are not.

Here are five common bad HR habits and how you can break them in 2017.

1. You don’t spend enough time onboarding new employees

Time is always a challenge for small businesses, and training up new staff can be difficult if you’ve got a small team. But when bringing a new employee onboard can cost as much as 4 times their annual salary, you’ll want to make sure you do it right. Develop a clear onboarding plan that covers both the legal onboarding requirements and any training specific to your industry or business, then schedule opportunities for the new employee to learn from current employees. This has the double benefit of spreading out the training and empowering your longer-serving employees at the same time.

2. Your compliance training is out of date

Compliance training is an essential responsibility for any employer, so why does it often end up at the bottom of the priorities list? Again, finding the time to refresh existing staff as well as new starters can seem impossible when your resources are limited. As it’s a legal requirement to keep your employees aware and up-to-date on the current law and your own policies, working around time constraints is essential. Technology can make this task much easier as this sort of training can now be delivered and completed through online programs, which will save you time and keep your business compliant.

3. You don’t have a clearly outlined social media policy

Almost 70% of Australians use social media and most of them access it at  least once a day. That means it’s highly likely your employees are on social media daily. Where and how your employees use social media at work should be clearly defined to avoid any legal troubles, from or against the employee. And though your first reaction might be to ban social media at work altogether, studies have shown the benefits of corporate social media use often outweigh the risks. Instead, you should have a clear social media and electronic communications policy and ensure it is explained during onboarding and in ongoing staff training processes.

Workplace policies on the use of social media and electronic communications should generally do the following:

  • Set clear expectations about appropriate use, focusing on how it should be used reasonably in a way that does not damage the employer’s reputation
  • Explain acceptable and unacceptable use in the work context, including that it should not be used to bully or harass other employees
  • State the policy applies both in the physical workplace and to remote access to the employer’s IT systems
  • Highlight the consequences facing employees for any misuse, such as disciplinary action.
4. Staff training is limited to the onboarding process

Ongoing commitment to educating staff is a proven win for employee retention, particularly for millennials. Over  20% of millennial workers listed training and development opportunities as their most valuable work-related benefit. With millennials making up over 75% of the working population by 2025, it’s time to recognise that in your employee training plans.

In addition to including staff in the onboarding process, consider each employee’s unique skills and passions. There may be opportunities to give them additional training that will enhance these areas and add value to their work, such as a leadership program or a short course in digital marketing. Again, online learning is an accessible and cost-effective solution, with choice of online courses and platforms expanding daily.

5. Ignoring your specific Workplace Health & Safety requirements

As an employer, you are obliged to provide a safe working environment for your employees. Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws (also referred to as Occupational Health and Safety) set out these obligations. One part of this involves providing information and training to your employees about the specific hazards and risks in your workplace.

Although it might be difficult to find time to provide comprehensive WHS training to employees, the consequences of not doing this can be serious. In a recent case involving iconic Australian brand RM Williams, the Magistrate highlighted how critical formal safety training was to help prevent workplace accidents.

To ensure both you and your employees understand what WHS means for their roles and the business, set aside time for WHS training during the onboarding process and on a yearly basis for current staff. If time is an issue, then consider using an online training package to help keep your business compliant.

This will save you time and create a great new habit for the New Year.

About the author

Sarah Mateljan is the co-founder of CourseGenius, an online platform that allows SMEs to easily author and deliver their own custom training programs, including courses on WHS, bullying & harassment, and Social Media. 

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Sarah Mateljan

Sarah Mateljan

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