The start of the year is a great time to review your HR position and move from reactive to proactive. It’s even more important now, with so many changes to your legal obligations.
As we head into 2023, I thought it may be useful to examine the things you need to consider when it comes to HR, people and culture when you move into a new year.
There’s lots happening in the compliance space in 2023, and it’s really important that businesses understand their new compliance obligations and start to prepare. In this post I’ll run through those big changes, and what you need to do about them.
But first, let’s take a look at some of the steps you can take at the start of the year to be a little bit more proactive around HR in your business.
Plan for Recruitment
I recently contributed to an article for Dynamic Business, which has some interesting and frequent articles and information for businesses. One of the things we looked at was the cost of hiring your first team member.
Budget for Hiring
At the start of the year, you need to start thinking about budgeting for recruitment. January is traditionally the time of year when you get the most resignations, along with July, which is the new financial year in Australia, when people tend to get their bonuses and move on.
In January, it’s a good idea to start asking some questions:
- do I have people who may put in their resignation in the next couple of weeks?
- do I have money set aside for agency fees if I need to get somebody in fast or to fill specialised roles?
- do I have the resources and energy right now to put out job ads, screen, shortlist and interview?
Schedule Time for Hiring
The last point above is not even necessarily a money consideration, it’s a time consideration. It can be worth making sure you’ve got some time carved out in your diary for recruitment. That might sound fatalistic, because you hope that nobody is going to leave, but . But research suggests that more people resign in January than at any other time of year.
‘Research suggests that more people resign in January than at any other time of year.’
Set up Your Bonuses, Rewards & Recognitions
If you haven’t looked at your recognition programme in a little while, the start of the year is a good time to do it. Recognition programmes are fantastic, because everybody should feel recognised and appreciated at work.
We need a process and a system to capture this. But we also know that these processes and systems get tired, they get old and people stop using them; they do need to be refreshed. If you’re not doing it this month, at least put it on your list, to look at this year. Decide what you can do to recognise your team members.
Hold Training & Team Days
In recent years, I’ve noticed a trend towards increased training and team days. As many organisations have switched to hybrid or remote working, we’ve got to find those opportunities to get together, and that costs money.
It’s worth thinking about the costs associated with that, but also about what’s the purpose of getting together. Ask questions like:
- What’s the purpose of the training?
- What’s the purpose of the team days?
- What does the structure look like?
- How often are we going to run these?
- When are we going to run them?
Schedule Team Days
I highly recommend getting these days into the calendar early in the year. When you try to get people out of the office for a half day or a full day, there are always lots of reasons why people are too busy. It helps to get the full year of dates into the calendar and make them non-negotiable so everyone can plan towards it.
‘ It helps to get the full year of dates into the calendar and make them non-negotiable so everyone can plan towards it.’
Get Clear on Purpose
It’s also important to have a think about outcomes for these scheduled days. Answering these questions will help you to understand the type of training you need to have in place.
- Why are you running training?
- What are we trying to achieve?
The same is true for team days. We don’t want death by PowerPoint! We want to be able to get together and do social things.
- What’s the outcome?
- What are we trying to achieve?
- What does the structure need to look like?
Think About Logistics
Also have a think about logistics, especially if you are planning on bringing in new staff, or you haven’t held a team day in a while:
- What’s the best location?
- Do you need to hire a meeting room?
- Do you need catering?
Evaluate Your Work Tools
If you’re looking at recruiting new staff, or you haven’t done it in a while, the new year is a good time to assess and upgrade your work tools. Do you need to upgrade any tools like:
If you’ve decided to continue working in a hybrid way, then you may have duplicate setups. Sometimes people bought things during the pandemic just as a bit of a stop gap – you may remember that time when you couldn’t get a chair or a desk or a new laptop for love or money. It’s quite possible that you have team members that are using equipment that’s actually not up to scratch and you don’t want to create risks to health and safety if they’re still using their dining chairs, for example.
‘It’s quite possible that you have team members that are using equipment that’s actually not up to scratch and you don’t want to create risks to health and safety’
Ask everybody what is your set up like at home? Hopefully you have a working from home checklist. And that’s being checked on a regular basis so you can make sure that everyone is set up right for the year.
Get Proactive with Your Employee Assistance Program
If you have an employee assistance programme, fantastic. But are you using it? Ideally, it shouldn’t just offer coverage for things like counselling. It should also include proactive wellbeing options, where people can get information on things like how to sleep better, or how to eat better.
The start of the year is a good opportunity to have a look at what you’re offering in that space. Ask questions like:
- What’s the usage rate of the employee assistance program?
- Does it have a proactive component to it?
Comply with New Legal Obligations
We have had a lot of changes over the last few months to employment legislation. In fact, these are the biggest changes that I’ve seen in a number of years to the Fair Work Act, from a workplace relations standpoint.
Without getting too technical, the main changes included
- Secure Jobs, Better Pay – the bill became an amendment to the Fair Work Act in December.
- Respect at Work – amendments also came into place at the end of last year.
- Psychosocial Risks – Codes of Practice were established in New South Wales and Queensland, and a Regulation in Victoria.
These instruments are tied together in different ways to create more compliance requirements and changes in the workplace for this year.
I’m hosting a webinar with Matthew Robinson, the partner at FCB Workplace Law. The thing that I love about Matthew is that he’s really grounded and practical. His advice is always through the lens of the best way to get things done. I was super excited that he accepted my invitation to join me to conduct a web event, it is free, and it’s live. It’s on 1 February at 2pm. You can register ahead on the Amplify HR LinkedIn page.
Changes to Workplace Health & Safety
At the webinar we’ll take you through the significant changes to your HR obligations. We’re not going to go through the pieces of legislation in detail, we’ll be looking at it through a lens of the things you actually need to change. These include changes you need to make to:
- Contracts of employment – If you’re doing any new contracts of employment, you need to make sure that they’re compliant; your current templates may not cut it.
- Family and domestic violence leave – The requirements have changed from five days unpaid leave to 10 days paid leave. People have said to me, ‘that’s okay, because no one ever uses that leave anyway.’ But perhaps people weren’t using the leave because it was unpaid. Now it’s a paid type of leave, you need to make sure that you’ve got processes in place for how people can access that leave, and how managers respond to those requests. By its very nature, that type of leave is not something you plan in advance.
- Sexual harrassment obligations – There have been large changes to obligations and requirements around training, new policies, investigations and a positive duty. This is a very large change that’s taking the owners from a business from a reactive approach to complaints to a proactive approach to actually stopping sexual harassment from happening in the first place.
- Training and policies – There have also been changes around flexible work, fixed-term contracts, unpaid parental leave and the definition of antidiscrimination, all of which affect compliance requirements around training and policies.
With all these changes, there is a strong need to conduct risk assessments and all businesses no matter what the size should be doing risk assessments anyway. It’s an underpinning fundamental of our WHS obligations. But often this is something that business owners don’t think about. They don’t understand their obligations and it gets put to the side. During our webinar, we’ll also be talking about:
- what kind risk assessments need to happen
- how we can undertake them quite easily
- how often we need to do a risk assessment.
Changes to Enterprise Bargaining
There’s also been a big change in the area of enterprise bargaining, and you may think ‘that’s okay, because that doesn’t matter to me, we don’t have an enterprise bargaining agreement.’ But the changes seem to me to be a push from the government to move everybody to an enterprise bargaining agreement. It reminds me of the Oprah meme, where she says, ‘you get a car and you get a car and you get a car.’!
There are different streams of enterprise bargaining, and you can be roped into enterprise bargaining for new reasons, including you could potentially have to negotiate an enterprise bargaining agreement with your competitors.
With so much happening in compliance, it’s really important that you start to prepare. It’s always best to be prepared, rather than have to react to an incident, and realise, ‘oh, my goodness, we should have had policies in place to deal with this a long time ago.’ That leaves you in a much worse situation.