Open door to staff
BUSINESSES are being urged to discuss employee expectations with their staff to increase productivity and to avoid perceptions of personal intimidation or discrimination.
A report released by specialist recruitment firm Robert Half reveals poor productivity and staffing inefficiencies are two of the most hidden and costly problems facing Australian businesses.
The report coincides with warnings from lawyers that businesses monitoring performance standards may be subject to legal action if proper guidelines outlining work expectations are not in place.
Nichola Constant, a senior associate at Harmers Workplace Lawyers, says that in workplaces where poor performance management guidelines exist, staff may be left feeling intimidated or discriminated against, leading to claims of unfair dismissal or breach of contract.
She says it is vital that work expectations are communicated at a com- pany, or firm-wide, level to avoid perceptions by individual employees that they are being unduly targeted.
Scott Way, from organisational psychologist PKF, says discussing work performance with staff is a delicate issue for employers.
‘‘Australia doesn’t have a great culture of receiving feedback . . . so people are still learning how to do it and don’t always do it well,’’ Mr Way says.
He advises companies to ensure their staff are well versed in what is expected of them and that performance reviews be undertaken regularly – at least twice a year.
Mr Way says performance reviews are an important tool for improving staff contributions but should never be used to taunt workers with threats for dismissal.
‘‘You’re trying to get better performance out of staff, so let’s engage with staff and get them on board,’’ he says. ‘‘If you’re using this information to beat people over the head with, then you’re going to get resistance.
‘‘It should be about how staff can improve their performance. It’s not as if we look forward to hearing negative feedback about our performance but if we can receive some advice as well about how to improve, then there’s less likelihood for people to see it in a negative light.’’
Robert Half director Andrew Brushfield says open communication is the key driver to maximising productivity. Mr Brushfield recommends bosses take a keen interest in their staff, at both a professional and personal level.
He says praise is also an important motivation tool because it empowers workers and recognises their contributions.
‘‘ Productive workplaces publicise their goals,’’ he says. ‘‘Their staff are kept informed, praised and the door to the boss is always open. While small, these tactics signal to employees that they can openly express concerns and ideas and therefore feel properly engaged.
‘‘Unproductive employees continue to cost businesses time, money and effort. It’s important that employers draw their attention to this now, to ensure top talent is retained.’’