As 2020 is fast approaching us, it’s that time of the year where we suddenly have this long list of urgent matters to deal with before the end of the year. It’s the perfect time to review your HR and Recruitment needs and be prepared when you return to the office in January.
Annual Leave – how will your staffing levels look?
Have you looked at your leave planner to see who will be available to work over the Christmas period if required? Or is annual leave something that your employees usually apply for last minute?
The earlier you ask employees if they are planning leave the better, preferably October so that you can plan accordingly. Have a cut off date or a first in, first serve policy otherwise you may run the risk of being understaffed because too many people have requested leave during the same time period.
Will you be ready for Christmas shutdown?
Some businesses choose to have an enforced shutdown over the Christmas period. Whether it will be the days between Christmas and New Year’s, or a more extended break due to industry shutdowns, you need to give employees reasonable notice.
Many awards require a minimum of two months’ notice in writing to be given to employees when you are having a shutdown period, and you are expecting employees to use their annual leave to cover this time.
Don’t leave it to the last minute. You can include a note with the payslips or send out a memo or email. Be clear on what days during this period will be annual leave and which days will be public holidays.
Have a conversation with any employees that will not have enough annual leave accrued to cover the shutdown period as they may need to take leave without pay and will need to plan for this. If it is only a day or two they are short, you can decide to allow their leave balance to go into arrears. I would recommend that you just make this decision on a case by case basis as I have seen instances where an employee has resigned and left the employer short.
Public Holidays for Christmas and New Year
Ensure you are aware of what the public holidays are in your state as they may vary. If you are trading over this time, such as in retail or hospitality, you need to ensure you understand the restrictions on trading on these days. You may want to look at the costs of penalty rates to make sure it is worth opening at all. The earlier you make these decisions, the more notice you can give staff on rosters.
When it comes to rostering staff on Public Holidays, it is often worth asking who wants to work first. Some employees would choose to get the additional pay than spending Boxing Day with their family! If you are lucky, you may be able to set up a roster where everyone is happy.
The Christmas Party Minefield
Christmas parties are always a contentious issue. If you are going to have one, when? Who will organise it? Who will pay? Now is the time to start to make these decisions if you haven’t already.
Christmas time can be fun for everyone at work, but it can be a risk when it comes to managing unacceptable employee conduct after someone has a few drinks too many. Remind your staff that workplace policies on behaviour apply at all work-related functions, even if they are held off-site. An email reminder leading up to the Christmas party is a great idea. And if you haven’t conducted any training on Workplace Bullying and Harassment for a while, now may be the time to schedule some.
Always make sure that work functions are more than just drinks. Serve food and be clear about the start and end time. If staff want to keep the party going after the official festivities, encourage them to move to a new location. Consider organising transport to make sure everyone arrives home safely.
Finally, if you hear that there may have been an incident at a work function, don’t be complacent. Even if it was after employees had moved to a new venue. Small issues at after-hours gatherings can turn into big headaches for managers in the new year.
What are your recruitment plans for 2020?
Don’t wait until the New Year to look at your workforce plan. While December/January are traditionally not ideal times to recruit, February is an excellent time to source new talent.
Are there new projects kicking off in the New Year? You may need to get onto recruiting for those roles now. The recruitment process may take a few weeks, and many candidates will need to give notice. If you leave it too late, you may not have them ready to start in January.
Prepare to kick-off the new year by planning what roles you will be looking to recruit, and how you plan to fill them. You will thank yourself when you get back in the office in 2020.