Your business is what you do best, it’s what you know and what you work hard at. But, managing people and being faced with employee HR questions? Some of them are tricky, difficult and in most cases not something that business owners know enough about to give the right answer. Infact, many business owners/managers will pretty quickly turn the other way when the topic of Human Resources is raised.
So, how do you deal with employee relations questions? What do you do when you don’t know the answer? How does that affect your business?
HR is becoming more and more complex. Whilst large corporations and enterprise groups can afford to employee an HR professional or even an entire HR department, it’s the small to medium businesses that require the most support and generally don’t have the knowledge and resources to manage the multitude of HR questions that come their way. It’s not a given that a business owner is across all things HR.
Running a business is an exhaustive list of undertakings and unless you have studied HR previously, how are you meant to be fully informed. for example, with the ever changing legislation? employee rights? YOUR rights? or successful people management skills? And not knowing the right answer but instead providing ill advised responses, or ignoring employee relations questions all together, can impact negatively on you and your business. It is vital for the success of your business that you stay informed and remain compliant at all times. If not, you may find yourself having to pay large penalties or experience reduction in morale and loss of productivity of valuable staff members, as well as the possibility of damage to reputation and business name.
So, when you are faced with more complex questions like ‘Can I take personal leave while on annual leave?’ or ‘Can I move from part-time or full-time to casual?’ how should you respond?
Here are a few key pointers to help when these situations arise:
Showing your staff that you listen and understand their concerns will encourage them to speak up instead of mulling things over and poisoning the well, so to speak. It will also help to encourage feelings of confidence and trust between you and your employees.
2. Don’t Assume
Step back and ask yourself what the employee is actually asking you. An employee asking how much personal leave they have, does not always mean they are planning on leaving. It could mean that they are planning some surgery, or they need to care for a family member. Don’t overreact until you have fully understood their request/question.
3. Don’t Lie!
If you don’t know the answer it’s ok to tell an employee that you are not sure and that you will get back to them with an answer. Making an answer up can have very negative consequences down the road. Make sure your facts are correct. Research, call Fair Work or engage the services of a HR professional. There are plenty of channels to find the appropriate response/solution.
4. Provide an answer
Ignoring the question does not mean it will go away. In fact it could even escalate the concerns of the employee. Responding with “let me think about this and I will get back to you before the end of the day.” (and making sure you stick to your word) will have far more beneficial results than not responding at all.
5. Use your tools or seek help
Using the right tools for the right job sounds logical, of course. So using tools and resources around you to help you through the landscape of HR is no different. When you are not aware of your obligations and responsibilities, it is paramount to seek the right help. Every business owner and manager has access to the right advice and tools to help answer any possible HR question, whether it be industry bodies, specific departments, government support, external consultants and even software solutions.
If you feel that you are faced with questions that you are not sure of how to answer, call HR Central. We have a team of HR Specialists that are available to you to help you manage every aspect of your HR, so you can get on with running that business!