Understanding The Compliance And Ethics Involved With AI

Let’s talk AI.

One of the most impactful business innovations of the last few years, you are probably already enjoying some of its power in your workplace.

But, like Uncle Ben said to Spiderman, with great power comes great responsibility!

Yep, it is your responsibility to ensure your business is utilising AI without breaking any rules, laws or regulations.

It’s time to consider whether you are using AI ethically and in compliance with privacy legislation.

Let’s look into these key aspects to see if you are playing by the rules.

What Is Considered AI?

What exactly is considered to be AI? In the workplace, artificial intelligence (AI) is the use of computer systems or software that perform tasks that typically require human intelligence. Because they are designed to mimic human behaviour and automate processes for efficiency, they improve accuracy and overall business performance.

These are some common examples of the kind of AI found in a standard workplace:

  • Chatbots or AI-powered Assistants: The components that handle routine customer or internal queries and admin tasks.
  • Automation: Software solutions that handle mundane or repetitive tasks like data entry, calendar management, triggered communication and more.
  • Machine Learning: Software that focuses on the use and analysis of data, along with algorithms to learn in the same way a human would, to improve its accuracy over time. Examples of machine learning can be as simple as product recommendations based on previous purchases, or as complex as talent acquisition and employee retention software.
  • Data Analysis: By using certain algorithms, AI can analyse large amounts of data quickly and accurately to identify patterns and trends that can be used for business improvement.
  • Predictions: The analysis of historical data can help to form predictions or forecasts for the future, allowing for insight into staff turnover, financial performance, or inventory management.

Your Responsibilities

By utilising AI in your business, it is your responsibility to ensure it is being used both ethically and legally. That means paying attention to these areas in particular:

Privacy

New Zealand has very strong privacy laws under the Privacy Act 2020. Among other things, the Act regulates how you collect, use and handle personal information. This applies to the data belonging to every individual who interacts with your business, including employees, team members, contractors, suppliers, clients, guests and inquiries.

The Privacy Act states that you need to gain consent from the people whose data you are using and only use the data for the purpose that it was collected. You also need to protect that data. So, you need to ensure that any AI tools comply with these principles.

Be mindful that simply uploading people’s private information into an AI data system may breach privacy laws. Before doing anything, check the security and privacy parameters for each individual AI tool to confirm it complies with NZ privacy standards. You might have to gain consent to use any personal data within AI technology systems.

Intellectual Property

One of the major things individuals use AI for in the workplace is content creation. Emails, marketing posts, images – all these things can be created by AI. But is it ethical to do so?

By the nature of what AI is, it draws information from many sources on the internet to form your content. That means, it harvests thoughts and ideas, even direct quotes, from content that has already been written and published. What takes seconds to pull together with AI took the original authors hours to craft. You are benefiting from their hard work before you.

Not only is this ethically questionable, it also puts you in danger of potentially breaching copyright. While New Zealand does not yet have specific laws relating to content created by AI tools, it’s important to recognise how the content is formed. Rather than copying and pasting the content that is generated by a tool like ChatGPT, it is best to use it for idea generation or a content starting point.

Business Assets

Speaking of intellectual property, it is vital that you take steps to protect your business’ own intellectual property when using AI. As many AI software solutions are new to the market, we don’t fully understand how they process the data that is input or who can access that information in the future. That’s why you and your team should be cautious about what you load into AI programs.

It’s best to avoid inputting extremely sensitive business information. Translation: don’t put your trade secrets into AI as you don’t know where they might end up! After all, we highly doubt the Colonel is going to be loading his secret ingredient blend of 11 herbs and spices into ChatGPT! That info is just too precious to risk getting into the public space.

Using AI Responsibly

How can you ensure you are using AI responsibly in your business? These are some of the ways:

Policies

Rather than blindly using AI in your business, you need to form policies around what tools you will utilise and how they will be used. Think consciously about which ones you intend to use and how they will impact the data you have an obligation to protect. Are there any risks that need mitigating or could a non-AI tool be used instead?

Then, choose tools that do not jeopardise privacy laws and be transparent about their use by documenting everything in an AI-specific policy. Once the policies are in place, the job is not done. Technology evolution always moves at a lightning fast pace, so you need to instigate human reviews regularly to ensure your AI tools are not retaining or disclosing data incorrectly.

Team Training

Your policies are only going to be effective if your people understand them! So, you will need to arrange training for your team members to ensure they are aware of their obligations when using AI tools. They need to be able to use the tools effectively and responsibly and understand their limitations.

Training should be practical, showing your people how to physically use the tool, such as inputting data and examining the results generated, along with the AI-generated decisions. But training should also delve deeper, highlighting that AI should still respect an individual’s privacy rights, their intellectual property and that it should avoid discrimination and harm.

If they feel that AI is creating any negative impact within your business, encourage your people to speak out so that it can be remedied.

Help And Support

In the greater scheme of business, AI is a relatively new technology that we are all learning to navigate. If you have concerns about the potential impact on your business, now is the time to take action. Reach out to our team if you would like assistance in forming the policies and training program surrounding AI in your workplace.

Effective Onboarding: What It Is And How To Do It

Got a new person joining your team?

Then you’ll want to make sure you have an onboarding plan in place.

Onboarding is a vital aspect of making sure a hire is successful long term. Having a plan in place can help your new team member feel welcome and comfortable from day one.

Of course, that will mean great things for the relationship they have with your business long term and the impact they can have on the workplace as a whole.

So, how do you master onboarding?

Well, first you need to understand how important it is, then you need to know how to effectively create an onboarding plan. Luckily, we are covering both of those things in this blog. So, just keep reading!

Effective Onboarding: What It Is And How To Do It

The Importance Of Effective Employee Onboarding

Every successful hire starts with a good onboarding programme! Why? Well, not only is onboarding the way to introduce your new team member to the environment they will be working in, but it is a critical part of the settling-in stage and helps set both employee and business up for overall success.

Here are some of the ways onboarding can help:

Improved Engagement

A well-designed onboarding process helps your new team member feel valued and supported. In turn, this can increase their engagement and satisfaction with their role (and your company). Of course, this is all round good news for you and the new employee, as you will both be getting the most out of the working relationship.

Increased Performance

Effective onboarding can help your new team member to understand their role and responsibilities. But, more than that, it also helps to clarify what is expected of them and what they should expect from your organisation. Having this clear grounding can lead to higher levels of productivity and better job performance as your new team member will have a complete understanding of how things work.

Reduced Turnover

Once you go through all the trouble of hiring awesome talent, you want to make sure you keep them! Effective onboarding can help retain your new hire by providing them with a positive first impression of your business and setting clear expectations from the outset.

Better Cultural Fit

We all know that a successful hire does not rely on skills alone. Cultural fit is a huge factor also. Onboarding helps new team members understand and align with your company’s values, culture, and norms. Having a cause to champion and collective goals to work towards creates a more positive work environment for everyone.

Ticking the Legal Boxes

Depending on the industry you work within, there will be legal requirements to meet with each role. Onboarding can help to ensure that new hires are aware of and understand important policies and regulations. Once they have a good understanding of the legalities, it reduces the risk of non-compliance and potential legal issues.

How To Onboard A New Team Member

Now that we know how valuable onboarding can be, let’s explore how to effectively onboard a new employee so that they can hit the ground running and you can maximise their impact!

Here’s the steps to follow:

1: Be Prepared

While you can follow the same basic format for onboarding new team members, the actual onboarding plan should be tailored to each role and each successful candidate. That way, you can acknowledge the different experiences and strengths that each person brings. Plus, you can ensure the specifics of each role are covered.

2: Set Up

Before your new employee arrives, ensure their workstation is set up with any necessary, equipment or supplies – that includes a desk, chair, computer, stationery, phone, tools etc. They should also have logons and access to all the software systems they will use along with any specific resources or uniform items.

3: Welcome!

Starting a role with a new company can be overwhelming and nerve-wracking. So, make sure their first day is a good one. Start on the right foot by warmly welcoming them and introducing them to their team. You’ll also want to conduct Manager meet and greets and explain the chain of command.

4: Comprehensive Orientation

Your new employee might know a little about your organisation already, but they won’t necessarily know about the parts that matter – the culture and your key values. Providing a comprehensive orientation that includes an overview of the company, its culture, policies and procedures, as well as an introduction to their role and responsibilities will set them up for success.

5: Assign a Mentor or Buddy

Consider pairing your new employee with a mentor or buddy who can provide support and guidance as they settle into their new role. It doesn’t have to be a manager or direct colleague. It’s better to get the right personal fit so that everyone feels comfortable.

6: Go on Tour

Now it’s time to go on a comprehensive tour of the workplace. This should include facilities like the bathroom and lunchroom, along with key areas within the company. Don’t forget, there will be a lot for your new hire to remember, so refreshers on where everything is, can be invaluable. If you work remotely or have a hybrid dynamic to your work environment, then your tour should be focused around the communication tools, channels and processes you as a business use to ensure success. In person is best so jump online and share your screen to ensure an interactive experience!

7: Training Material

Explain how their training programme will take place and make sure you include information about where the training material, Standard Operating Procedures, Health and Safety information and other resources can be found. Have an onboarding checklist ready to work through so that nothing gets missed.

8: Set Clear Expectations

Clearly communicate expectations for performance, working hours, and any other important details related to the role. This is also the opportunity to discuss flexible working conditions and locations, potential paths for advancement, and what the plan is for ongoing development.

9: 30, 60, 90 Day Touchpoints

Onboarding does not end once your new employee has been trained for the job. Schedule regular check-ins to ensure the new hire is settling in well and provide opportunities for feedback and support. Scheduling 30, 60 and 90 day check ins helps to provide a comms point during the ‘cone of silence’ gap when people are working out their trial period.

10: Encourage Feedback

Encourage your new employee to ask questions, provide feedback, and communicate any concerns they may have. This will help them to feel more involved in the business and can also help to point out any gaps you might have in your onboarding process.

Remember that plans are living documents and should be continually updated based on employee experience and feedback.

Want to ensure your new employees feel supported and valued when they start their new role? Then, chat with the Spice Gals about devising an effective and comprehensive onboarding programme now.


How To Perfect The Hybrid Working Experience

There aren’t too many good things that came out of the pandemic. But, there is one thing in particular that was positive – and that is an evolution of thinking about the way we work.

By being forced to stay in our homes throughout the lockdown period, we proved that we didn’t necessarily have to be in an office space to work effectively.

And as the restrictions eased, hybrid working became a thing.

Now, more than a year on from lockdown, people are still embracing hybrid working to achieve better balance and to better utilise company resources.

With a new way of working on the table, you have probably had to examine your traditional processes. Hybrid working is here to stay, so it’s time to perfect the experience for your team and your organisation. Here’s how you can do it.

A New Way Of Working

What is hybrid working? Well, you’re probably already doing it with your teams without using the fancy term!

Hybrid working is a flexible working arrangement where your staff work some of the time in a traditional office space and some of the time at a remote location, usually their home. The degree of flexibility should be based on the needs of the organisation and the individual workers.

It is this varying level of flexibility that makes hybrid working so amazing … and also quite hard to manage – especially if everyone is operating on different hours and days!

That’s why it is vital that you master and perfect the hybrid working experience so that it operates well for your business and for your employees. Here’s the steps to follow to do that:

Step 1: Review Current Arrangements

If you are like most New Zealand businesses, you probably threw together some basic hybrid working parameters back in 2020 and have been weathering the storm ever since. Chances are, those hastily set up working arrangements could do with some updating by now.

The first step is to review what you already have in place and assess how it has been functioning. Is it serving your business well and are your employees benefitting from the flexibility? What’s working really well and what could do with some refining?

Have a chat with key management and some of the employees who are using the flexibility of hybrid working to get their input. That way, you’ll have information from both sides of the working arrangement – business and individuals.

Step 2: Make A Plan

Now that you have your feedback, it’s time to create some clear guidelines about how hybrid working will function going forward. While the specifics might be slightly different for the individual depending on their role and level of responsibility, having some guidelines lets everyone know what the expectations are.

Remember that you want to create an arrangement that works for both the business and your employees. You want your employees to still feel like they have autonomy over their workload, but at the same time, working hours need to be productive and produce the right results for the business.

Step 3: Document It All

Once you have created your plan, it is important to document the hybrid working parameters so that they are widely understood and can be enforced.

Things that should be discussed and documented are start and finish times/working hours, the locations used for working (and if team members have all the resources they need at each location), and expectations around how working from home should be – dress standards for meetings, digital security etc.

Other Considerations

Another thing you might want to offer your team is ‘Flexications’. Working from home is one thing, but could your team work from a different country? A Flexication is the opportunity to work from anywhere in the world, mixing holidaying with work. It allows location-independent work conditions so that your employees can work from literally anywhere, completing their work obligations while adventuring in their downtime.

In terms of remote working, a Flexication doesn’t have to be much different to working from home from a business perspective. You just need to be clear on employee expectations like time zones and how this will be managed, ensure they are covered by Health and Safety procedures, that reliable WiFi and server access is available, and that privacy policies are met.

Why Go To The Trouble?

Setting up hybrid working parameters may feel like a lot of work. And you might wonder if it is worth all the trouble. We can assure you, it is if you do it right.

Offering hybrid working can help your staff to feel valued and respected. This often means that they are more engaged in their work and ultimately, more productive. It also helps you to be recognised as an employer of choice and encourages great staff retention. All of these things help to create great results for your business.

Perfecting Hybrid Working

To harness all of the positive aspects of hybrid working, you need to make sure you address the potential negative aspects. With people in the office at different times throughout the week, it can have a negative impact on company culture and how your team interact with each other.

It’s important to keep your employees engaged despite the distance. You can do this by planning deliberate social connections such as regular virtual or on-site team meetings and regular one-to-one check ins. Encourage collaboration with cloud based communication and document sharing tools to actively keep teams connected.

Make mental health a priority as it is easy to feel isolated when you are predominantly working remotely.

Also, ensure the current workspace is an enticing place to return to so that your staff actually want to be in the office as opposed to the comfort of their own homes.

Hybrid Help Is Here

Here at Spice HR HQ, we embrace hybrid working for our team. So, we’ve personally been through the process of setting hybrid working parameters that suit everyone, but still generate great company results.

So, if it’s time to review your current hybrid working arrangements, you can count on the Spice Gals to help you create parameters that are good for your business as well as your team.

Reach out to us today to chat about perfecting hybrid working at your place.

Future Proofing And Upskilling Your Team For The Year Ahead

The new year is always a great opportunity for a new start. 

It is a time when most businesses set goals. But this year, your goal setting might look a little different. 

2022 was a more challenging year than anyone anticipated. We were expecting it to be our return to normalcy and a time to find our feet again. 

Instead, it was something quite different. Many of us reached the end of the year tired and burned out. 2023 looks like it may hold a whole new set of challenges, so let’s explore how you can future proof your business and your team by having a people focused approach for the year ahead. 

Future Proofing And Upskilling Your Team For The Year Ahead 

Set Your Focus 

In previous years, your business goals were probably based on practical elements like growth and revenue targets. While you might still be setting these kinds of goals for 2023, it is also important to think about your key asset – the people element of your business. 

Everyone has experienced a rough couple of years. While Covid restrictions have been lifted, life has not returned to the way it was before. As a result, people are tired and they are looking for more in their lives than simply going to work to earn a living. So, you’ll need to keep this in mind when setting your focus for the year ahead. 

Your workplace should be a destination that people want to come to each day. Consider how you can make it a great, welcoming space and uphold a positive team morale. One way to do that is to build a focus on investing in your internal staff to retain the great talent you have. 

Here are some ways you can do that. 

Invest In Your Team 

If you have amazing people in your team, your 2023 focus should be retaining and developing that talent. Why? Well firstly, you want to keep that great team! 

Obviously, it is far easier to retain the amazing staff you have than it would be to hire new employees. Apart from the monetary cost to your business of advertising, hiring and training new staff, there is also an opportunity cost of losing great people. You may not be able to recruit others of the same caliber or those that work together as well as your current team do. 

Plus, investing in your team is greatly rewarding. Not only do the employees you know, like, and trust gain greater skills and further their professional knowledge, but they also become more productive, loyal and motivated. This can only mean good things for them and for your business. 

So, how do you do it? 

Upskilling For All 

In the last few years, it hasn’t felt as if there’s been much time for progression. The focus has been more about treading water and staying afloat to weather the current storm.  

With many businesses starting to look to the future, what do you want that to look like for your team?”

The answer should be a happy, healthy, empowered team who enjoy their work. Some of that comes down to creating a great team environment to work in. But, another element is the chance for progression. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean promotions for everyone. Progression of skills and opportunities is also really attractive. 

Types Of Upskilling 

This 2023, factor in how you can upskill your staff. This can include team-wide skills training via workshops, conferences and training days. But, it can also include encouraging your staff to pursue individual interests via short courses and study programmes. These could be both free and paid courses to support the progression and growth of your team. 

A vital area to include in your training programme is financial literacy. While this might not be pertinent to an employee’s professional role, it will certainly help them in a personal capacity.  

Current economic predictions are quite bleak, so helping your team navigate the impending situation is not only responsible, but helpful for maintaining a calm workplace that is free from as much stress as possible. 

Training The Trainers 

Much of the internal training within a company falls to leaders and management. So, don’t forget to factor in training for the trainers!  

Of course, that means the usual forms of professional development that you would usually have in place for your leaders. But, it also means exploring what it means to manage a team in a post-pandemic environment. 

Consider what new ways of working mean for your company. Things like handling hybrid working and leading a remote team might be new for some of your management team. They might have leadership skill gaps that need plugging.  

Implement training and development to address these areas and support them to confidently lead hybrid or remote teams and everything that comes along with working in 2023. 

Ready to tackle 2023 head on? As we mentioned above, this year is likely to be a lot more people-focused than in previous years. You may find you need to revisit your HR policies and procedures. 

If you need help with policies and procedures, upskilling, engagement or any other HR related questions the Spice Gals are here to help you

How to Keep On Top Of Health and Safety at Work

 

With a recent move back to Red, and confirmation that the dreaded Omicron has arrived in NZ, it’s time to revisit your Health and Safety guidelines to make sure you’ve dotted all the I’s and crossed all the T’s.

Health and safety at work has sure got more complicated over the last few years. But as we try to settle into the new normal  it could be time to get back to basics.

If some of your health and safety tasks disappeared off your radar as you dealt with a million other things, you’re forgiven. We’ve all been rather busy just trying to stay afloat. But health and safety at work isn’t something that should be neglected, especially now.

Health and safety at work can feel like an overwhelming task, but really, it’s not so daunting if you take it one step at a time.

Let’s help you get back on track by going through some of the basic checks you need to do to get health and safety sorted at your workplace.

How To Keep On Top Of Health and Safety at Work

Stay On Top Of The Rule Changes

So much has changed over the last few years, and it may feel like the rules evolve every couple of weeks, but one thing has not changed – and that’s your obligation to provide a safe work environment for your employees.

Granted, that may be more complicated than it used to be, but the law is still the law, and there’s no excuse for failing to comply with it.

As such, it’s vital for employers to know the latest rules around COVID-19 for their specific industry and business.

Make sure you get clear on PPE guidelines and regulations at different traffic light levels, and be proactive about reaching out for advice if you’re confused.

There are plenty of great websites out there packed full of information. Here are some excellent resources to get stuck into if you need a little extra insight:

Addressing health and safety concerns

Employment New Zealand’s guide for workers at different COVID-10 alert levels

Vaccinations and work – Unite against COVID-19

Managing health and safety – Worksafe

Health and safety during COVID-19

Get Your Docs Up To Date

We know that paperwork is not everyone’s favourite thing, but it is an essential part of effectively managing health and safety at work.

While the law doesn’t specifically say you must have H&S documents, the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 does require you to take all reasonable steps to provide a safe working environment for your staff – and your documentation is a key part to being able to show that’s just what you’re doing.

This also means communicating effectively and keeping everyone informed, and if your docs aren’t up to date, they’re not going to do the job. So now’s the time to review your policies, info sheets, signs, flowcharts, and procedures to ensure they are updated, clear, relevant and accessible to your entire team.

For guidance on writing H&S documents, check out this great resource from Worksafe NZ:

Writing for Health and Safety 

Train Your Staff

Staff training is an essential factor in taking care of your employees’ health and safety at work. This is stated in the H&S in Employment Act, which states that you must ensure your workers have the appropriate knowledge and experience to do their job.

Training your staff in health and safety isn’t just about ticking the boxes, though. Equipping your team with the skills and knowledge they need to do their jobs safely and effectively reduces workplace accidents and injuries, enhances productivity, boosts morale, and saves your business money in the long run.

If your H&S training has fallen through the cracks, this is the perfect time to get to it!

Be Mindful Of Mental Health

Health and safety at work isn’t just about eliminating or minimising the risk of physical harm. Employers must also take steps to support and manage their employees’ mental health.

Many people are experiencing increased anxiety over returning to on-site work, so it’s crucial that organisations prioritise psychological safety alongside physical safety in the workplace.

As you welcome your employees back to on-site work, find ways to help build resilience, create wellbeing, add flexibility into their routines, and provide resources to those who need extra support.

Our blog Let’s Talk Mental Wellness at Work has lots of spicey info and valuable resources if you’d like to know more about supporting mental wellness in the workplace.

 

Feeling a tad overwhelmed about health and safety in covid times?

Never fear; the Spice HR team is here. We can help you get your head around workplace H&S and find your new normal. Get in touch today to find out more.

How To Build Resilience In The Workplace

The last few years have been pretty brutal for everyone. Many people and businesses have experienced a lot of loss due to the pandemic, and the long-term stress continues to take a toll.

But have you noticed that some people seem to be able to bounce back more easily than others?

While some individuals may be struggling to cope, others are able to learn from what’s happened, grow from it, and persevere.

What does it take to do this? How do they manage so well? What do they have in their personal and professional lives that enables them to get right back up and carry on?

The answer is resilience. This quality helps people adapt when faced with adversity, conflict, and trauma.

Resilient employees are an enormous asset to any organisation, so building resilience in the workplace should be a top priority for leaders.

But what is resilience in the workplace and why is it really important? And how can leaders encourage resilience among their workers? Let’s answer those questions now.

How To Build Resilience In The Workplace

What Is Resilience

Resilience is an individual’s ability to respond to the stresses and demands of life. The dictionary definition talks about concepts such as flexibility, durability, strength, and speed of recovery.

Basically, resilience is the capacity to respond to adversity and challenge throughout all aspects of life.

So, where does resilience come from? Is it in our DNA, or can it be nurtured and grown?

Interestingly, it’s likely to be a little bit of both.

Although some people seem to inherently be more resilient, it is possible to cultivate and nurture this quality to help people not only cope, but even thrive through challenging times.

Resilience is cultivated through healthy habits and a positive mindset. There are many small yet effective ways to build your own – and help boost those around you.

The Benefits Of A Resilient Workforce

Resilience is the foundation for many desirable workplace qualities. It improves general wellbeing, helps people be more flexible and adaptable to fast-paced environments or changing circumstances, and aids in effective communication.

Research has shown that resilience can help businesses stay competitive and profitable even during times of uncertainty.

Resilient workers contribute enormously to a positive workplace culture. They are more likely to be engaged, productive and innovative, even in high-pressure situations, and less likely to succumb to burnout.

Building Resilience In The Workplace – Where To Start

Leaders have a unique struggle on their hands. They need to somehow find a balance between striving for financial performance while addressing the mental wellbeing of their team.

One of the best ways to do this is by encouraging resilience in your workers. Here are some of the most effective methods for building resilience in the workplace.

Become a resilient leader

Your own resiliency impacts the way you lead, which trickles down to affect those who work with you. Use these tips to develop personal resilience:

  • Take steps to manage your own mental and physical wellbeing
  • Work on reframing threats as challenges
  • Pay attention to your thoughts and behaviours and work on cultivating a growth mindset
  • Create (and lean on) a social support network
  • Build mindfulness and self-awareness

Support the wellbeing of your workers

Emotional wellbeing is the foundation of resilience. We all cope better when we are well-rested, healthy, and have a manageable work-life balance. Consider implementing measures that support workplace wellbeing, such as flexible work arrangements.

Foster positive work relationships

Social interaction and support are essential in building resilience. Ensure you provide your employees with the chance to bond and socialise, even if you have remote workers. This can be through organised activities within the workplace, events held outside of working hours, or simply encouraging your team to connect with each other on a social level.

Don’t neglect performance and development

Self-reflection helps cultivate resilience. Don’t let challenging times derail your performance reviews. Your people still need feedback on how they are doing and the opportunity to reflect on their challenges and successes. Make sure you provide this in a formal review setting, but also on a regular, more casual basis.

Focus on the future

As part of your performance reviews, you should be helping your employees effectively set realistic, achievable, relevant goals. The right goals can motivate people and help them focus their energy on what’s ahead of them, instead of dwelling on what’s behind them. It also helps them to look beyond the current adversity to a time that may be calmer.

Provide resources

Even the most resilient people can struggle with tough times. Our resilience changes from day to day, and sometimes we may need support to manage. Ensure your workers have access to resources to help them cope, such as employee assistance programs, stress management coaching programs, or similar initiatives.

When you are the one who is expected to lead, sometimes it can be difficult to always demonstrate resilience. So, it can be helpful to call in the experts to assist.

If you want to build resilience in your workplace (and yourself), then reach out to us here at Spice HR. We help businesses tackle the tough times so they can be ready to capitalise on the good.

What is the Gig Economy?

Today’s workforce is a different beast than it was even one generation ago. The rapid advancement of technology and the power of the internet has transformed the way many people approach their careers.

It is interesting to think that digital nomads and remote workers will soon outnumber traditional office workers. This will create the “gig economy”.

What is the Gig Economy?

Well, it is a marketplace where people choose the freedom of short-term contracts or freelance work over permanent jobs.

With an estimated 35 percent of the US workforce and up to 70 percent of Australians working remotely at least some of the time, most businesses will be faced with a mixture of in-office staff and gig workers.

So what does it all mean?

For a start, it will provide some new challenges for managers as they adjust to a rapidly changing and flexible workplace and juggle the different requirements of each type of worker.

But it’s not all bad! As they say, variety is the spice of life! Learning how to manage your entire team — remote or otherwise — will enhance your communication and management skills.

Let’s dive in and look at some tips on how to integrate the freelance or remote members of your team.

Be Available

In a physical workspace, it is easy for workers to pop in and see you, stop you in the hall to ask a question, or catch up with you over lunch. But if you aren’t in the office, you don’t have those opportunities. Instead, you will need to make a conscious effort to ensure your remote workers have a similar level of access. Do this by responding to messages promptly and make yourself available as much as you reasonably can.

Stay in Touch

Don’t get sucked into the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. Your remote employees still need to feel included and important in order to be engaged and invested in their tasks and your business. Set up short daily check-ins and longer catch ups at a time that suits you both. If your worker’s feel like they are less important or forgotten about, you will find it hard to get the level of buy-in you are after from them.

Upgrade Your Tech Tools

There is no excuse to have poor communication, even if your team are spread all over the globe. With excellent collaboration tools to keep everyone up to date and engaged with projects, nobody needs to be excluded. Try applications like Slack, Trello, or Google Hangouts to enhance the efficiency and organisation of your team.

Forge a Connection

Positive work relationships contribute hugely to employee engagement. Think how much more you enjoy going to work if you have some good workmates to interact with during the day. Remote workers often miss out on this kind of camaraderie. Put some effort into building personal connections with your freelancers. Instead of being all business during your catch-ups, take the time for some meaningful small talk.

Get Some Face Time

A vast amount of communication between people is non-verbal. We pick up cues on mood and hidden nuances through facial expressions and body language. Sometimes, emails or online messages can be misinterpreted. But it is not always possible to get face to face with people. Thankfully, technology comes to the rescue again! Schedule video chats with your remote workers regularly to overcome these hurdles.

Using the Gig Economy To Your Advantage

The emerging gig economy is great for business. It means you can hire the skills and expertise you need in the here and now. By using digital nomads or freelancers to cover high season or specific projects, you won’t need to employ unnecessarily.

Making your workplace an attractive place for remote workers means you can attract the best of the best from around the globe. You may need to adjust and upgrade a few practices, but the effort you put in will be reflected by the commitment and engagement brought to your business by your entire team.

If you are intrigued to know how you can utilise the gig culture in your business, we’d love to help. Book a time to chat with us face to face, by phone, or by video call today!

Our Spicey Perspective on the Domestic Violence – Victims Protection Act

We’ve recently heard some negativity around the new Family Violence legislation.  There seem to be concerns that this legislation is unnecessary, will end up being costly to employers, and is open to abuse, much like sick leave can be seen by some as an extra 5 days of leave, a given right.  Here’s our thoughts on this which will hopefully provide a little perspective.

The Statistics

Family Violence is a very real problem in New Zealand.  We have the highest rate in the developed world, our police attend around 200 family violence incidents a day, and despite this they estimate that only 18% of family violence is actually reported.  About half of the homicides and violent crime in NZ are due to family violence.

The Reality

However, people who are impacted by family violence mostly don’t talk about it.  It is extremely difficult for them to ask for help.  They often feel shame, and believe they are at fault.  If they have reached the point where they are asking for help, you can be sure they are pretty much at the end of their tether.

In terms of the risk of false claims, we believe this is extremely unlikely, mainly because of the stigma associated with family violence.  Whilst it’s true that some people fake illness in order to take sick leave, we believe the likelihood of people faking being a victim of family violence is minimal. For most people, this is as hard to imagine doing as lying about having cancer.  And remember, employers still have the right to ask for proof if they have genuine doubts.

We believe that in reality the impact on businesses will be minimal.  Certainly the businesses that already offer this support (e.g. The Warehouse Group and ANZ) report that employees do not lie about being victims of family violence.

More importantly though, what’s the impact if we don’t offer this support?  If you have provided a safe enough environment that someone being abused feels they can ask for help, your actions may end up saving their life.  If you don’t, one of your staff members could become another statistic.  It’s real.  These are your people.  Keep them safe.

If you’re keen to make this legislation change into a positive for your workplace, then feel free to get in touch with us here at Spice HR.  We can help you to establish a policy and processes that work for you.  Drop us a line today.

What Is Your HR Data Telling You About Your Business?

Data. Many people think of it as numbers that someone rapidly types into a spreadsheet and then uses a complicated formula to calculate something.

But data comes in many forms. Including HR data. That is data that you can use practically in your business to tweak processes, increase staff morale and look after your people better.

We tend to think that if the Spice Girl’s management team had spent more time analysing their HR data, the band would not only still be together today, they would have a level of success to rival the Beatles…

Okay, maybe not. BUT they may have been able to stretch the gig out a little longer, keep their most talented members – ahem, yes, there were a couple! – from jumping ship early and had a much more positive team culture.

How are the Spice Girls relevant to your business? Well, HR is so much more than just crunching numbers, dealing with disputes and endless piles of paperwork. In fact, HR analysis is a rapidly growing field of expertise that modern, successful businesses are using to their advantage.

Let’s look into how you can use this data in your business.

What Is HR Data And How Can You Use It?

There is plenty of useful information in your HR functions if you know where to look for it. Using the data you collect from performance reviews, exit interviews, training information, staff satisfaction surveys, staff retention and even sick days, you can make smart decisions that add immense value to your business.

HR data collection is not a new thing, but utilising it effectively – if at all – is a relatively recent advancement. It is all well and good conducting exit interviews and monitoring sick days, but what is the point if you don’t use that information? It’s like buying a rack full of spices to improve your cooking and leaving them sitting in the back of the cupboard.

The key to using this information to drive success is knowing what to look for. Is there a specific issue or question you want an answer to? Do you want to know how to reduce absenteeism, evaluate staff training, or predict which new hires are going to stay the distance? HR professionals can nail down the questions, use the freshly gained or existing data to do all of these things and more.

Here are just three things your HR data will tell you if you know how to ask:

How To Retain Your Top Talent

Does your data suggest that once your employees become proficient at their jobs and reach a certain level, they will leave? Then it is time to dig a little deeper to find out WHY this happens. Then you come up with solutions to keep your top achievers on board, such as more opportunities and training, or a better work environment.

You will only find out the reason for their departure by asking them. We suggest conducting an exit interview with each team member that leaves the company. Not all will be leaving because of the happenings at your business, some will leave for personal reasons. But, you can find out a lot about the culture, processes, work environment and available resources by asking people their opinions.

 

How To Keep Your Employees Happy

Everyone knows that a happy employee is a productive, loyal employee. Do you really know if your top performers are satisfied with their work?

If not, find out. You can look at absentee rates between departments or individuals, assess who your most efficient team members are, then use those insights to make improvements. The bonus of a happy workforce is staff retention, which saves big money on recruitment and increases efficiency.

You can also ask your team to answer some survey questions. To find their true feelings, you can make it anonymous. You just need to ensure that you are asking the right questions to get the targeted data that you need.

 

Assess Performance

Did Posh Spice work harder than Baby Spice? Did Sporty bring in more money than Ginger?

They are important questions to ponder within your own team. If you know which employees work faster and produce a higher quality of work, you can aim to replicate that productivity across the board. A key thing to understand is, what is making them so much more efficient than the rest of the team?

Once you understand that, you can act accordingly. It might mean offering further training for underperformers, boosting staff morale, offering flexible working conditions, team building, or any number of other things.

 

If you would love to access the hidden gems in your HR data but you aren’t sure where to start, then give us a call here at Spice HR. We can help you sift through the information and boost business at your place. Get in touch today.