vRunning a business can be difficult and sometimes so is managing employees. HR Maximised gets that. You employed staff so you could grow your business. The plan was that you would then have more time to focus on the business rather than in it. This week we touched base with the Vanessa from HR Maximised to get some great insight into the HR concerns for businesses in 2022.

The Process of Onboarding New Employees

There’s a large percentage of people at the moment who are in a recruitment drive. And part of that recruitment drive is then onboarding employees. This is a really crucial time for employees. They’re coming into an organisation thinking that this is going to be a job that they’re going to be passionate about, that’s going to contribute to either their personal or professional development, or it’s going to give them some sort of fulfilment. That’s the majority of the reasons why people are looking to change positions at the moment.

-Preparing For A New Employee

A big factor that we see at the moment is that everybody is busy being busy. So they’re not prepared when that employee starts. This is a really vital time for employees. They’re excited about this new opportunity, they’re pumped, and then they get to the office, and their laptop isn’t set up, or we don’t know what the access is. We don’t have their password set up, and they don’t have an email account yet. This really takes the shine off of that employee’s enthusiasm for their job very, very quickly. It also then impacts on training and development and the onboarding that they’re going to get into your organisation.

-Partnering With An IT Company

Partnering with an IT company like Tech Cover is incredible for onboarding new employees in terms of being able to just send them an email saying, ‘Hey, we’ve got a new employee starting on the 13th of June, we’ll need this, this and this for them. They’re going to have a similar setup to Jane. Can you make sure that the permissions, accounts, and access is there and then have that laptop delivered with everything set up and ready to go’. Then when the employee turns up on Monday, it’s all there.

This allows the new employee to start in straightaway with a really great feeling about the organisation. This is an organisation that is organised, that is systemized, and that it’s clear how they’re going to be able to get in and make their mark in the role. As HR consultants , we’re really grateful for Tech Cover to be able to provide that service to our mutual clients. It just makes the onboarding of new employees really simple and really easy.

-The Importance Of The Onboarding Experience

Whilst we think it’s just that first day, we do a lot of exit interviews at the end of the employee lifecycle, and that first week matters to employees. It is quite often mentioned in an interview how they felt on their first day and their first week, and one of the big impacts on that is the IT setup and were they ready for me to start. When Tech Cover’s involved, that’s nice and easy, and I know that we’re not going to have that issue down the other end of the employment lifecycle.

Helping Employees Perform

-Being Busy Doesn’t Mean Being Productive

Everybody is really busy right now, and we get busy being busy, which can impact our productivity. We think by being busy, we’re being productive. But a lot of the times that we’re busy at work, we’re busy because we’re inefficient or we don’t have the right systems or processes in place. Or we’re sitting there waiting for our computer to do an update at 11 o’clock in the morning when we could otherwise be productive. Or we’re trying to find a document or go through an email trying to find an answer to a question.

-Increase Productivity With Quality IT Systems

When we have really good IT systems set up, and everything is where it needs to be, then we’re able to collaborate better with our colleagues, we’re able to respond more quickly to client enquiries, and we’re able to be a lot more productive, efficient, and accurate in our work. This is because we’re not relying on slow systems that we can’t access lost files that we can’t find and emails that haven’t been put through into the correct system. There are so many different ways where IT, as much as we can sometimes complain about it, actually makes our lives easier.

-Working With Tech Cover To Improve Performance

When we work with Tech Cover, we know that they are putting in really good IT systems and processes that make collaboration and productivity easier and help us to make sure that we’re focusing on the right areas with employees and being able to improve productivity and performance, rather than an employee coming back and saying, ‘Yeah, but have you worked on my system? It’s really slow.’ Or ‘I can’t find those documents because nothing’s filed correctly.’ ‘I need this information, but I’ve had to ask four people for it because I can’t access that myself.’

When Tech Cover’s involved, they’re able to map all of that out. They’re able to utilise the access levels and permission levels and make sure that employees are able to access anything they need. And then we’re able to work with employees to take them to that next level in terms of their performance and productivity.

Working From Home

-The Benefits Of Working From Home As An Employee

The hot topic at the moment is working from home (WFH). Everybody wants to work from home. And COVID had a massive impact on that, where we all worked from home, which led to employees thinking actually, ‘Why do we go into the office?’ I’m much more productive at home. I have more time. I don’t need to commute. I don’t need to get dressed. I’m saving money on both commuting and clothing. I’m able to manage my work-life balance better. I’m able to manage my caring responsibilities better. I’m not getting distracted by the office gossip. I’m able to focus when I need to focus.

Everybody has different prime or genius zones when they work better. For me, my genius zone, or when I work best, is actually 5am to 7am. That’s where I’ll really hit the hard-hitting stuff. Where I don’t work great is three o’clock in the afternoon, between three and four, I’m not so good. So when I work from home, I’m able to really structure my time a lot better to make sure that I’m doing those really high attentive, detailed tasks in the morning when I’m super focused. And in the afternoon, that’s probably when I’m going to schedule more catch-ups and one on ones. Of course, I wasn’t going into the office at five o’clock in the morning, so being able to work from home gives me that flexibility. So that’s great from an employee side.

-Working From Home Is A Big Factor In Today’s Job Market

We know that all employees are asking for the option to work from home at the moment. If you’re recruiting at the moment and you don’t have a work-from-home option, chances are you are seeing the impact of that in the number of candidates that you’re getting through in your system. Because we know that as soon as we put work from home options available in a job ad, we are just inundated with candidates because it is really important to people right now.

-Maintaining Productivity & Security As An Employer Offering WFH

From an employer perspective, you want to make sure that you’ve still got productivity being covered, you want to make sure that you’re still getting what you need out of your employees and their job, and making sure that tasks and responsibilities and deadlines are being met. But you’ve also got to come up with a safe and secure system. You’ve got to make sure that your intellectual property and your confidential information, and your client information or employee information, which is heavily regulated by the Privacy Act, is being accessed by the right people. And that it isn’t being compromised by people working from home.

So for an employer, they have great concerns over the work-from-home option in terms of both productivity and protection of their confidential information and IP. And that’s where Tech Cover is awesome. They understand that. They’re a small business too. They have workers who are working inside the office and remotely as well. And they’re dealing with a number of different industries and business sizes. So when we talk to them about what sort of solutions may be available for work from home, they’ve always got ideas.

-Tailored IT Solutions With Tech Cover

We work with some really rural and remote organisations where the internet is not great at all. And Tech Cover was able to put in place solutions for us that have been able to manage that for our clients, which has meant that they can be confident that employees are being productive whilst working from home. It also provides confidence that their confidential information and intellectual property is protected as well.

So this is an area that is a really hot topic right now. And for employers, if you are not looking at how you can do a hybrid method of working from home, at least, then this is something that you’re really going to need to address. I highly recommend talking to Tech Cover about that and seeing what solutions are out there because there are some amazing solutions in that space.

Employees On Leave

-COVID Restrictions Have Impacted The Workforce

We’re tired as a workforce. We’re really, really tired. The last couple of years has taken it out of us, and we haven’t been able to get away and go on those holidays and those breaks. I’ve got a couple of friends or colleagues at the moment that are over in Italy, and I’m about to block them on Facebook because I’m so tired of seeing them sitting in the sun, drinking wine and having cheese.

But it’s really important that we do get away, and as the country and the world starts to open up, we’re going to start to want to get away, and we’re really going to want that break. Because, whilst working from home is great, it does also mean that you’re never really away from work as well. Work is always there. So home may not be as relaxing as it used to be for us. We may just jump in and jump on emails on a Saturday or Sunday, or we may work longer than our 38 hours because it’s readily available.

So we need to make sure that we’re providing space for employees to go away and have a break. It’s really important for mental wellbeing, physical wellbeing, and productivity as well, and performance. We need to have that mental and physical break from work.

-Set Up IT Systems To Avoid Disruptions When Employees Are On Leave

Unfortunately, what happens at the moment if we don’t have the system set up, is when somebody goes on leave, they’re inundated by calls and emails because a client’s called in asking for something. We don’t have access to their inbox, or we don’t have access to client information because it’s all kept on a local desktop, and it hasn’t been logged through SharePoint or OneDrive or whatever system that an organisation uses. This means that we have to contact the employees to find out that information so that we can respond to the client or to the deadline that’s needed.

We’re currently seeing a real rise in that being interpreted as bullying harassment. And so if there is a risk there that employees are feeling that they are being harassed by their manager for information, or it may play into a WorkCover claim, in terms of if we’re not able to take those times of rest and relaxation, our stress levels are going to increase.

If an employee was able to demonstrate that they were getting to breaking point and they took leave, and they were contacted three or four times a day whilst on leave, it would be fairly reasonable then that that WorkCover claim may be accepted because their mental stress has been attributed to their workplace or to their job. And it may not be seen as being reasonable that they were contacted multiple times when they were supposed to be on holiday.

So, if we have good IT systems set up, we’re able to go in and access emails. We’re able to put forwards on and get those emails coming into different inboxes to be handled. If we’ve got good communication systems and data set up, then we’d be able to go into SharePoint and find that quote that we need to find or find that client communication or project outline that we need to find. We don’t need to go back to the employees because our IT systems are set up for that.

Data Monitoring

-Provide Clear Data Monitoring Policies

So, we’ve covered a little bit about looking at your employees’ inboxes and checking on that. It’s important that the employer provides clear policies regarding monitoring. So that might be acceptable use of the computer. Is it okay to jump on and do your banking and have a look at Facebook or Instagram on your computer? Is that okay? Or is that not okay? Is it okay to do that during your lunch break or designated break period? Or is it known that this computer is completely for private use and that no personal use is allowed? So you need to have policies around that.

You also need to know that if your employee goes on leave, that they understand that their inbox will be managed, that their emails will be forwarded, or that you may be going into their sent items to have a look at the communication that’s going on between the employee and a client. If you don’t have that communication in there in the beginning, then that can raise your risk of your action being seen as unreasonable and may be classed as either bullying harassment, adverse action, or contributing to a mental health or injury claim.

We want to have clear guidelines from the outset, so employees understand what is going to be monitored at work, and what data will be captured. If I connect my phone to the office Wi-Fi, are you capturing any data from that usage? Because the fact that I’m using the company’s internet system means that my data is being captured. You also want to have policies on how that data is going to be used.

-Outline How The Monitored Data Will Be Used

So if I have an employee who I find that has maybe accessed client information that they were not authorised to do, or I access their internet history, and I find out that they’ve spent six hours on Facebook. And I can see that the computer has logged that they were continuously on Facebook, and they didn’t open any other applications during that day. What can I do about that as an employer?

If I don’t have policies in place that tell that employee that I’m monitoring that data and that I can use that data for disciplinary action, and that’s key that you have to state that it needs to be used for disciplinary action, it is unlikely that I can utilise that information in a disciplinary action.

-Using Monitored Data For Disciplinary Action

There was a case a few years ago that went through fair work, where an employee was a manager of a premise, and the manager organised for security cameras to be installed in that workplace. Now, the owner or the director of that business, when reviewing that camera footage, found that the employee had been involved in some pretty serious misconduct and created a real risk from a health and safety perspective. So the employer terminated the employee on the basis of the footage that they had seen.

Now, that case went to fair work as an unfair dismissal case, and the commission found in favour of the employee in that case because whilst the employee was the one who organised the cameras and so knew that they were being recorded, their employer had not specified that that information would be used for disciplinary purposes. And so that employee was reinstated to that position and back paid.

The same principles apply in terms of making your employees aware of what information is being captured, why the company is capturing that, how they’re going to utilise that data, and whether disciplinary action applies. If these policies aren’t laid out from the beginning, you may find yourself unable to utilise that information which can have a huge impact on a business, particularly if there is serious misconduct involved. You should definitely be monitoring that information, but just make sure you have clear policies and procedures around them.

Ending The Employment Relationship

Most employment relationships end at one point or at another. Sometimes it’s because that employee has a lifestyle change. Maybe they’ve been offered a new position or promotion. And sometimes, it ends at the instigation of the employer, so it may not be an amicable resolution of the employment cycle.

-Protecting Your Intellectual Property

In that case, you want to be sure that you’re able to take swift and appropriate action to protect your confidential information and your intellectual property. I’ve probably dealt with more cases of intellectual property theft in the last 18 months than I have in the last 18 years of my career. So this is something that is really prevalent right now. Or it was probably always prevalent, but it’s just that employees right now are taking more action to protect their intellectual property and their confidential information.

By the time an employee resigns, they will have given it due consideration for the last couple of weeks, if not couple of months. They may have already accessed your systems to be able to take with them some client information or some intellectual property information that they think will be useful to them later down the track in their career.

-Put Protection In Place Before You Need It

Once an employee resigns, it’s actually too late to take back that communication or take back that information. So having good protection and insight into who is accessing what documents and when, and why means that you can protect your intellectual property or realise that it’s at risk. But it also means that if some intellectual property or confidential information has been misappropriated, you have the proof and the records to be able to back that up.

So when you come to somebody like me and say, ‘Joe’s left, he resigned, we logged on to his computer that afternoon and see now that he has emailed all client contracts and he’s downloaded our CRM into Excel spreadsheets, and he’s emailed that to himself. What can we do?’ By the time you come to me with that, it’s a little bit too late. Joe already has that information. But what we can do is then launch a legal case to say we have proof that Joe has accessed this information. We have proof that he accessed this information two hours before he handed in his resignation, so it’s very unlikely that it was used for business purposes, and that it was used for malicious reasons.

-Quality IT Security Management With Tech Cover

Having somebody like Tech Cover in your corner, who is able to provide you with that security, and that peace of mind is absolutely paramount and makes that process a lot easier. Quite often, when the employment relationship ends, particularly if it’s at the employee’s instigation, the employer is scrambling to think, ‘How are we going to handle this?’, What are we going to do?’, and then the next thought is, ‘I need to lock down my data’, ‘I need to make sure that this is not happening’.

Already the feeling of the employee and the employment relationship has started to change a little bit further, to sour a little bit. The employer has started to change their thought process around that and consider that they could be out to steal information. But if you know that you already have all the best systems and processes in place to protect that because you’ve got someone like Tech Cover in your corner, then it’s more likely that you’re able to end that employment relationship on positive terms. You’re able to shake hands and wish each other well, at the end of the period, rather than being concerned about what they may have accessed or stolen.

HR Maximised

Need help aligning your team’s daily activities with your business goals? Contact Vanessa from HR Maximised today on 0418 190 106 or connect with her on linkedin

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