The Importance of Communicating With Your Team

Communicating with your team is the grease that keeps the wheels of your organisation moving. It’s the fuel that powers forward momentum. Heck, it’s even the essential spice that transforms a boring curry into a mouthwatering masterpiece.

Long story short – communication can make or break your team.

Get it right and you will have a fantastic workplace culture, vibing together like the Spice Girls at their peak. But get it wrong, and you’ll have… well, Spice Girls: The Later Years.  No one wants that kind of drama in their life!

But when the world throws you a spanner in the form of a crisis, the potential for drama increases.

Fortunately, effective communication and empathy can help you navigate the choppy waters of a crisis. Here are some pointers to help you in these uncertain times.

The Importance of Communicating With Your Team

Why Good Communication Is Important

Communication is the glue that holds many aspects of your team together when it is business as usual. But it becomes ten times more important when your company is dealing with a crisis.

A crisis often means elevated levels of stress and anxiety that can be felt throughout the entire business. People will generally have an intense focus on the here and now, rather than looking towards the future.

Because no one knows what is around the corner, employees will be looking for clarity and transparency from their manager. Clear and effective communication can help them to feel more at ease and allow them to make sense of the situation and feel more comfortable with how they fit into the workplace.

Your words and actions have the power to put your team at ease, rather than throwing them into a panic. Good, clear communication is especially important in these unsettling times.

Delivery Makes the Difference

No one saw a global pandemic coming. And just a few short months ago, it seemed like a distant issue confined to foreign shores. But, we are now living the situation ourselves. Your communication skills are firmly in the spotlight!

Your team may be fearful for their health, but also for their jobs. The way you are communicating can help calm the situation, even if you don’t have all of the answers yourself.

The key is transparency and empathy. Be upfront with the information that you do have (within confidentiality parameters of course) and deliver it with empathy. Be mindful that every decision that your business makes will impact your people in some way.

In an already stressful time, you need to gauge how things are delivered. Sometimes it will need to be in a formal and professional sense, but at other times, your style can be more friendly and open.

Don’t fall into the trap of discussing rumours and hearsay. Stick to the facts.

The Impact on Staff Morale

In many cases, a crisis situation can build a stronger leader. It can help you to gain even more support and respect from your team. Unfortunately, there is not a definitive handbook on how to handle a period of uncertainty.

But, what you can do is pause, take a deep breath and remain calm. Your energy can impact your staff members, so always keep that in mind. If you generate negative energy, then that will ripple throughout the team. Instead of panicking, try these things:

  • Give people up to date info as often as you have it available
  • Use simple, clear communication
  • Be honest and don’t be afraid to show your own vulnerability – everyone is human!
  • Encourage good team bonds for a greater support network
  • Establish a clear collective vision for the future and share it – after all, every crisis will end

How To Be A Good Communicator

Good communication is not just about talking a lot. One of the biggest parts of communication is being able to listen. If you take the time to listen to what your team are saying, and more importantly what they are not saying, then you can learn a lot.

It is also important to read the non-verbal cues that people are giving. Body language, eye contact, hand gestures and tone of voice can provide an insight into how people are really feeling.

When you are communicating with your team, you want to be clear, concise and have a list of points to cover off so that there is no misunderstanding. Remember, that doesn’t mean you have to be super formal all the time. Be kind, speak with confidence and don’t be afraid to be human too!

Empathy and open-mindedness go a long way when communicating information. If you can model them in the workplace, then your team will have a great example to follow.

Communication can be tricky when there is a lot of uncertainty throughout the country. That is where having an independent HR support partner comes in handy. We have plenty of techniques and skills that you can use to encourage good communication at your place.

Get in touch with us today to get the communication flowing in the right way between your team members.

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.

Keeping Up With Minimum Wage Rates And Employment Benefits

Keeping Up With Minimum Wage Rates And Employment Benefits

At present, the beginning of April will see New Zealand’s minimum wage for adults rise by more than $1 per hour. Starting out and training wages will also be increased.

While this is great news for employees, there are sure to be some businesses that struggle to accommodate the wage increases. Especially with the ever-growing threat of COVID-19 looming over the labour market.

When the idea of the incremental wage increase was put forward by the government, they couldn’t have imagined that the proposed increase would hit businesses at such a difficult time financially.

With the economy teetering and 1st April fast approaching, you could be forgiven for really feeling the pressure, so we wanted to have a timely chat about the tangible benefits of keeping up to date with market rates and benefits and why regular remuneration reviews remain vital to a successful business.

Keeping Up With Minimum Wage Rates And Employment Benefits

New Zealand’s Minimum Wage Increase

The upcoming wage increase is due to take effect on April 1st, 2020. Several economists are already being vocal about the pressures this increase will bring to businesses when the global economy is being heavily impacted by COVID-19.

The proposed increase is a considerable jump of $1.20, bringing adult minimum wages up to $18.90 an hour from $17.70. It is estimated there are nearly a quarter of a million workers currently on the minimum wage.

The training wage will also increase to $15.12 per hour.

Similar increases are proposed for sometime in the next year as part of the government’s commitment to reach a $20 minimum wage by April 2021.

Late last year, Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said in a press release, “With our economy doing well, we want to make sure that our lowest-paid workers also benefit. The rise in minimum wage is estimated to boost wages by $306 million a year across the economy. That’s a good investment in local economies where workers spend their wages.”

Unfortunately, the current economy is not looking as healthy due to the downturn in global trade. So the question is being raised of whether the increase should proceed. It is not only the minimum wages workers that need to be considered. As minimum wages increase, it’s likely that all wages across the business will have to be improved to close the margin between more experienced employees and the newcomers.

Let’s dive into the concept of wages as a whole to understand this a little further.

Keeping Up With Market Rates And Benefits

From a legal standpoint, it is essential to meet minimum wage requirements across the board. But, it’s also vital that businesses ensure they are meeting – or exceeding – market rates for their industry. As wages are often the largest cost for any business, this needs careful consideration from a legal and financial standpoint.

There are a number of positive impacts when ensuring your staff receive competitive remuneration. The first is quite simple: happy staff work harder! They are also more loyal and likely to stay with the business long term when they feel they’re being paid fairly. And don’t forget that long-serving staff can save tremendous costs on recruitment.

For example, Forbes reported that a bank in the UK voluntarily decided to pay the living wage to their cleaning and catering teams. Following this, staff turnover reduced, with impressive retention rates of 77 per cent and 92 per cent. Compared to the industry averages of 54 per cent and 32 per cent, those numbers say it all!

When you offer higher salaries, you are also more likely to attract (and retain) higher-quality candidates.

Employee well-being and satisfaction play an immense role in the success of your business. And while there’s more to happiness than just money, take home pay certainly has a role to play.

The Importance Of Regular Remuneration Reviews

NZ’s upcoming minimum wage increases are still compulsory at this stage, so it’s an ideal time to review how your business approaches remuneration reviews, benefits, and rewards.

Most organisations commit to yearly review processes. You may decide to calculate the cost of living increases across the board, offer rewards based on how the company is doing, or differentiate increases from employee to employee based on performance.

Paying people fairly for a job well done is a no-brainer. The recognition alone is enough to boost productivity and efficiency. Plus, your employees will feel valued and more likely to stick around, staying invested in the business.

Sit down and compare the wages and salaries of your team, comparing them with market trends throughout the industry to make sure they are competitive. But don’t forget that as well as the dollars on the table, company culture and the benefits provided play a huge role in creating a fulfilling work environment.

Lastly, you need to ensure that your business can sustain the wage rates in an ever-changing economy.

Is your business ready for the 1st April minimum wage increase? If you are a bit worried about how you will handle the logistics, give the Spice Gals a call and we can help you make sure your HR boxes are ticked. Get in touch with us today.

How Is HR Different Today Than It Was In 2010?

How Is HR Different Today Than It Was In 2010?

How Is HR Different Today Than It Was In 2010?

Let’s ponder this: How is HR different today than it was a mere ten years ago. Even though it feels like the blink of an eye for many of us!

We have seen the meteoric rise of social media and the rapid advancement of technology. The millennials are well and truly grown up, and Generation Z is entering the workforce hot on their heels.

The way in which businesses manage and interact with their employees has had to transform to keep pace with this new culture. HR still deals with people, but the fundamental values and trends have evolved.

Let’s look into the key differences in how the approach to HR has changed in the last ten years.

A More Individual Focus

A decade ago, employee benefits tended to be “one-size-fits-all,”.  But, this has given way to a more individualised and flexible style today.

Not every employee wants or needs the same perk: while one person might value daycare facilities and family health insurance, another might prefer a remote work schedule or training and development incentives.

Employers know they need to understand individual employees’ needs if they want to earn their loyalty. So, they offer a more individualised approach to employee incentives.

More Informal Performance Reviews And Feedback

Performance reviews used to be a massive task that no one enjoyed. And they weren’t overly effective.

Thankfully, the annual, formal (and let’s face it, often tedious) performance review process is fading into obscurity. To replace it, companies are using a more flexible, frequent, and casual approach that values timely and useful performance-based conversations.

This allows both employer and employee to have open lines of communication, giving credit when it is due and addressing any issues as they arise – not 11 months down the track when they are no longer relevant!

The Rise Of The Gig Economy

In the days of the Boomer, the best way to get ahead in life was to stick with one company and work your way up the career ladder. You will see this less and less in the following generations. It is thanks, largely, to the rise of the gig economy.

Few people stay in one organisation for decades, and many even change fields several times throughout their working lives. Different experiences are more valuable to millennials than staying in one place for years.

HR has responded by providing remote positions or flexible work schedules – a trend that will only increase in the coming decade. To encourage employees to stick around longer rather than seeking new experiences elsewhere, businesses are providing purpose, variety, and growth opportunities within the existing job roles.

The Evolution Of “Culture Fit”

In the early 2010s, the buzz was all about culture fit: namely, how well an individual would slot into the company’s culture. There is less of an emphasis on this now. Businesses are more interested in a general alignment of values and intention.

It’s more about how a candidate can enhance a culture, rather than how they can fall in line with it.

A Focus On Employee Experience

Employee wellbeing is much more valued than it was ten years ago. Workplace wellbeing and employee wellness have a significant impact on productivity and profitability, which most organisations now recognise.

As technology makes it easier for us to communicate and work from anywhere, the lines between work and home have become increasingly blurred. This can lead to overwork, overwhelm and stress. Today’s HR departments acknowledge this transition and encourage work-life balance in a variety of ways.

Employee engagement is prioritised, and HR strives to ensure that employees have a positive experience within the company – from the onboarding process onwards.

In such a fast-paced world, it can be hard to keep up, particularly as technology advances in leaps and bounds. “Bots” can replace people, and AI can facilitate work processes, but there is still a need for compassion, adaptability, and understanding in the modern workforce. This is obviously an area where Human Resources can continue to shine.

If you want to shine a light on your practices and move with the current HR trends, then get in touch with us here at Spice HR.

Tackling The Beginning Of An HR Decade In Your Business

Tackling The Beginning Of An HR Decade In Your Business

Well, a new decade is underway, and you know what that means, right?

Yep; it’s now been nearly 30 years since the Spice Girls hit it big!

How time flies, it feels like just yesterday that we were listening to them (maybe that’s because it was!)

Our favourite 90s girl power band were together for less than half a decade. Poor planning, perhaps? Don’t let their tragic end be the fate of your business.

The dawning of a new decade is the perfect time to start with a clean slate, plan some long-term HR objectives, and get to work on powering towards your goals. 

Begin With The End In Mind

Someone once said that every minute spent organising is an hour earned, and we couldn’t agree more. Every successful business works from a plan, and yours should be no exception.

When you and your team are clear about the priorities for the months and years ahead, you have structure, direction, and a shared vision that just makes everything flow.

Review your company’s vision, mission, and strategy, come up with SMART objectives, review past successes and failures, and you can start charting your course to success.

Ten-Year Planning

Granted, it can be daunting for any business to try and come up with a ten-year plan. In most industries, it is impossible to predict global trends or events that might impact how things go.

Staying on top of the latest research helps, but a ten-year plan will need to be flexible and adaptable.

However, when it comes to HR, it is a little more manageable to come up with a plan for the next decade. You may already have a general idea of which key employees may retire or move on. That means you can develop a succession plan complete with training and incentives to retain and attract high-performers to keep things running smoothly.

Snack-Size Your HR Objectives

“Plan in decades. Think in years. Work in months. Live in days.” We love this quote from Nic Haralambous. It perfectly sums up how you should approach your long-term business goals.

While it’s hard to imagine what the world will look like in ten years (let alone your life), it is relatively simple to predict the next 12-24 months.

After all, it’s what you do in the next year or two that will impact that ten-year plan. Take those ten-year goals and chop them up into annual objectives.

From there, divvy those goals up into bite-sized monthly and weekly plans. This is your best way to make 2020 a stepping stone for a successful decade.

Communicate Your Mission, Values, And Objectives

Great, so you’ve done the hard work and know where your ship is sailing to for the next decade. Now it’s time to let the crew in on the plan. After all, your map is nothing if you don’t give it to the people helping you navigate.

Here’s how to effectively communicate your strategy to all employees, both existing and incoming:

  • Summarise it into easy to digest, bite-sized, consumable snippets of information
  • Tell a story to create purpose and vision
  • Make the strategy part of everyday company culture
  • Clarify every individual’s role in achieving objectives to ensure buy-in
  • Check-in regularly with your employees to review the mission
  • Engage employees in the strategic process
  • Align individual goals with broader business goals
  • Acknowledge and reward progress
  • Keep everyone updated on where you stand in relation to your objectives
  • Walk the walk at all levels

The beginning of a decade is an exciting time. The years stretch out ahead of you and you can take steps to control the outcome of those years now.

Any good business is only as strong as its team members. Ensure the success of your business with the right people culture. Get in touch with the Spice Gals today to help ensure your HR practices are on the right path for future success.