Mistakes made by small business

Many small business owners might feel out of their depth when managing employee performance and conduct issues in the workplace. It’s not surprising, as the Fair Work Act is a daunting document even for many experienced human resources practitioners.

At Industryus HR, we specialise in realising great outcomes for employers but we are often engaged months after the performance problem first appeared and in many instances the action taken to date is not quite in alignment with Fair Work obligations. When this occurs we can assist with rectifying any concerns and setting up employers with compliant processes for better management of performance issues.

Here are four common mistakes that small business owners should be mindful of in the management of performance (and conduct) in the workplace.

  1. Performance issues that haven’t been addressed

We see many employers battling on for months, and sometimes years with a problem employee before taking any real action. The sooner action is commenced the sooner the issue will resolve, so employers who are burying their head in the sand about an issue are not doing themselves any favours. If you are not sure how to start, get some help from a HR professional so that you can confidently move forward.

2. Flimsy discussions

From time to time we are contacted by business owners who tell of their frustration about having had numerous discussions with an employee about an issue but the employee never shows any improvement. Often when we delve deeper however, it becomes apparent that these discussions haven’t been firm enough, and expectations and consequences for failure to improve were never discussed. A successful discussion about poor performance will cover the issue, why it is an issue, the expectations moving forward and what action might happen if the issue continues.

3. Nil documentation

Taking adequate file notes of performance discussions had with staff should be seen as an essential staff management function, but it is often overlooked. Without documentation such as file notes, it is much more difficult to prove that the employee was previously cautioned about their performance. No documentary evidence of previous discussions can equate to a greater employment relations risk for the employer if they ever need to defend their own actions.

4. On the spot warnings

This practice is one of the riskiest we see but is quite common. The employer becomes unhappy with the employee’s performance and decides they will issue a warning to the employee. So, the employer holds a meeting with the employee and issues a warning on the spot without considering the employee’s view of the situation. The problem with this scenario is that because natural justice has not occurred the employer is now exposed to a greater risk level if an unfair dismissal claim is made.

If you are a small business owner considering taking action against an employee, or have already and recognise some of the mistakes listed above, Industryus HR can assist to ensure Fair Work obligations are met and your risks are reduced. Call us on 07 5655 4047 or click here for a confidential discussion.

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