1. Make your end of year performance reviews count
Employee performance management has never been so crucial, especially with the extended distance between teams. Whilst the prolonged lockdown and pandemic proved that hybrid work can be effective, individuals have missed the opportunity for regular face-to-face feedback and even the non-verbal body language and cues that reassure them that they are doing a good job. With the proliferation of messaging tools like Microsoft Teams and Slack, it has been easy for people to be misinterpreted and take things the wrong way. For example, that positive feedback you shared was lost in translation and was interpreted as you saying ‘this is mediocre’, leaving your colleague feeling deflated and undervalued. Don’t let employee evaluation and appraisals slip by the wayside this Christmas, especially as it’s a time when people start to think about their plans for 2022.
There are various ways you can make performance reviews and appraisals more valuable for both you and the people that report to you. First of all, link employees’ key performance indicators to the most important business objectives in your organisation. When people can see how their outputs fit into the bigger picture, they are much more likely to feel engaged and really connect with the purpose of what you’re trying to achieve. Keep goals and KPIs simple and understandable. We’re all so guilty of using such a complicated mass of fancy acronyms. Turn everything into the simplest possible meaning — so there’s a shared understanding for all.
Have you thought of giving your people the chance to shape and influence the framework and measures that they will be assessed by? Actually, giving employees a say means they feel they are being measured fairly and that the system has not been stacked against them. And finally — capture employee feedback in your performance management software, so you can successfully map progress little and often.
2. Can your payroll system take the pressure this Christmas?
Whilst many teams are laughing and joking about their secret Santa gifts, payroll are busy rolling up their sleeves and downing red-bulls in anticipation of their busiest season. Not only are they often dealing with the ramifications of extra seasonal workers (if you’re in retail or customer service for example) but trying to process everything in time. You’d be amazed at how many organisations resort to spreadsheets to process their pay. It’s often because their payroll software is so out of date that it can’t get its head around how people actually need to get paid. Perfect examples are companies that are split into different legal entities, or those that have people on different contracts, with different payment frequencies (e.g., monthly, weekly, etc.). To complicate things a step further, think about those on piece-rates in manufacturing or the new gig-economy. When the modern world of work sits outside the parameters that older payroll software was designed for, payroll teams have no choice but to start building their own hacks in Excel. Not ideal.
This Christmas, be aware of the pressures facing your payroll team. You may be reliant on a single person who knows how to do it. Have a backup plan in case they need to take urgent leave and if your payroll software is on-premises or locally based, make sure you have physical access to the office to get everything ready on time. Don’t leave it to the last minute this year.
3. Use any quiet time to get ahead in 2022
Whilst your equivalents in retail or operations are battling to get enough seasonal recruits onboarded and trained, in some other sectors, Christmas means a gradual wind down to the only time of the year when you can hear yourself think. People are having their department Christmas parties. The salespeople normally calling you are having a breather and you have literally a few days to take some quiet me-time. Why not reflect on the past year and do some serious planning for next year. If you have a planning wish-list that you never actually get to, you’re not alone. Use these few days of quality time to think about your strategic people planning for 2022. Think about the whole holistic HR team and processes within your organisation. What are the gaps and how could they be filled? How could you change the way you work for the better? It might be a time to think about how you can onboard people faster and more successfully, giving the warmest of welcomes when they join you. Or you may think you want to invest more in learning and development. The famous saying goes “if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got.” Given the fierce competition for talent right now, it’s important you have a real learning and development strategy in place. People will arrive hungry for development, looking for genuine opportunities for growth and tangible ways to learn new skills. If you’re not going to do it for them, there’s sure to be someone out there who will.
4. Take a safety-first approach and look after your people in the lead up to the new year
If you are recruiting an army of seasonal workers, be sure they are completely ready before you let them loose across the business. A little extra thought in your employee training programs (and in your HR onboard) will pay dividends. Those working on the front line will be under pressure to work fast and Christmas can be a relentless period. It’s why there’s typically a spike in at-work accidents during this period. It could be anything from a trip or a fall, to something more serious (e.g., when moving and handling goods). Don’t forget your health and safety responsibilities this Christmas. With such a volume of people being trained and onboarded at the same time, it can be easy for essential content and training modules to fall through the cracks — and you can lose track of exactly who has completed what.
The good news is that the latest generation of cloud-based HR software completely automates the distribution and tracking of documents and training materials. People can access learning materials from the comfort of their own home via your own fully branded self-service portal. The powerful bit — you can signpost them to the important modules they need to complete and have an audit trail (and a digital signature) where they self-certify that they have been completed. To make the process even more rigorous, you can easily deploy a multiple-choice quiz to test that people understand the rules when it comes to company policy and the most important health and safety regulations. With a few changes to your onboarding and training process, you can be sure that you’re following best-practice and not opening a can of worms when it comes to company liability.
5. Over communicate this Christmas — especially if your teams have been working remotely. Think about their mental health
Christmas can be such a wonderful time for some. For others, it’s a time of dread. So many worries and anxieties can be exacerbated at this time. Think about those who will spend Christmas alone, face financial hardship in trying to deliver the Christmas their children dream of or face the anxieties that come with getting together as a family. The big Christmas rush in the workplace (and the pressure to make those Q4 numbers) can lead us to get caught up in the day to day and forget about the mental health and well-being on our colleagues. This year make a point of reminding your people about the support that’s on offer — whether inside or outside of the organisation. You may have a fantastic benefits package that provides confidential support. Whether that’s true or not, there’s nothing stopping you from using your emotional intelligence to spot people who are showing signs of stress, anxiety or burnout. You’ll have your own unique way of letting them know that they are not alone. Even the most headstrong and confident people are not immune to the challenges of life — so think about the well-being of your team as a whole. The ones potentially struggling the most could be the people who manage to put on the strongest and most confident exterior shell.
6. Is your annual leave plan all done and dusted? — and do you know how much holiday pay people are entitled to?
Let’s just be honest about it. Holiday pay and annual leave is a nightmare for HR and payroll teams in Australia and NZ. There’s that pesky NZ holiday’s act that became law in 2013. Then there’s all the complexities of the awards system in Australia. What made things even worse is the fact that even government departments have struggled to interpret the rules properly, leading to some hugely publicised cases where they are unpaid, overpaid or didn’t even pay people at all. Aside from the public holidays, Christmas is a time where people tend to take extra days either side of the main celebrations. You’ll want to be confident about agreeing the right amount of annual leave, so you don’t leave any departments short. Your payroll people will want to be certain they are following the rules to a T. It does get tricky which can make teams even more anxious about the way they handle holidays. There are the complexities around average daily pay calculations for sick leave and what happens when people change their contract or their working pattern.
If you want to lighten the load when it comes to handling holidays and leave, think about how technology could make things more straightforward (whether for this Christmas or even the next). If you’re using an HR and payroll system that is designed for Australia and NZ (particularly one that is automatically updated to reflect the latest changes to legislation), you’re going to find it easier to manage the Christmas holiday madness. If you’re still trying to calculate holiday entitlements with spreadsheets, you’re going to relish the opportunity to switch to a self-service approach where people can make their holiday requests online, using a secure self-service portal and where light work is made of actually knowing the leave people are entitled to.
However, you celebrate Christmas this year, may it be productive, restful and a great way to celebrate everything that you shared as a team in 2021. Have a good one!