It is your responsibility as an employer to manage and anticipate worker leave, and on occasion to initiate the need for it to be taken. This usually presents as a challenge as we head into the peak season for the majority of businesses. Whilst some workers are prepared and apply for leave early, others forget and are required to work through. This can be quite troubling, often causing burnout, a decrease in product quality and service, and a rift within workplace culture.
This is not completely avoidable, but employers can make efforts to reduce the impact by taking action to manage and prepare for worker leave and the anticipated peak.
Our team of specialists have determined a few key areas that employers should consider as they look to do this:
Forecast Peak Season
If you do not already know when your business experiences a peak season, then look to prior year’s sales data to determine this. Notify your workers of this busy period and initiate a discussion surrounding leave and any anticipated or desired intentions within this period.
Prompt your workers to input requests at the earliest convenience, which will allow you to forecast what is needed to maintain your productivity and service quality in these times.
You may find that hiring casuals is necessary to support your team through your peak season. This can greatly reduce the pressure and stress being felt by your workers and ensures that everyone has the opportunity to be well rested without guilt or burden.
If you choose to do this, it is important that you do so in a timely manner, as new workers that lack competence and skill can greatly decrease productivity, product quality, and workplace morale. Our tip here, is for you to think ahead, hiring at least 3 – 6 months prior to peak season, and to upskill these workers where possible.
There is much to know in hiring casuals, read more here or call us on 1800 577 515 for a free consultation.
Performance Management Reviews
Performance Management Reviews provide an employer with many opportunities to learn about a worker’s satisfaction, goals, and needs. When conducted, they can be helpful to determine ‘what’ and ‘how’ each worker could improve to see your busiest periods run more efficiently.
This becomes particularly important when a worker with a unique skillset is taking leave, and therefore you must upskill another worker to take on additional responsibilities in their absence. Please note here that it is an employer’s responsibility to increase worker skills and renumeration if they are expected to take on responsibilities that extend beyond those within their contracted position description. Failure to do so may result in your having to reimburse the worker, or having a substantiated compensation claim on your hands as a worker suffers from a workplace incurred injury. For more information regarding this, see our recent article on Excessive Workloads and Psychological Injury.
Review Leave Accruals
Last but most importantly, as an employer you MUST manage and regularly review leave accruals of all workers to remain compliant within your duty of care to maintain workplace health and safety. In most awards there is a provision for an employer to direct a worker to take leave should they reach a ‘specified’ number of accrued hours, usually 8 to 10 weeks (this will differ between industries and awards).
It is your responsibility to check in with workers and to ensure that they take adequate leave to avoid injury, such as burnout.
You can prevent hours from getting this high by regularly reviewing and managing individual leave accrual, and then prompting conversations with workers when you notice this rising. These conversations can be used as opportunities to discuss the peak season and to prompt early submission of requests.
Workers may request to have accrued leave paid out, which is allowed within some Awards. If actioning this, it is important to consider a workers need to have a break and rest, and the risk of worker burnout and injury that could result if not received. Remember, it is your responsibility to check in with workers and to ensure that they take adequate leave to avoid injury. This could lead to many issues down the track, and we would advise you speak to one of our HR specialists prior to initiating such.
The AHR team can equip you with the advice, tools, templates, and checklists required to see you navigate and manage HR concerns. We can do it with you, working together to develop systems that will allow you seamlessly manage your peak season. For example, implementing a ‘Blackout’ or ‘Shutdown’ period within policies and ensuring that this is communicated to workers appropriately, or by assisting you to recruit, onboard and train casuals. OR, we can do it for you, stepping in as your Recruitment Specialists and HR Department, hiring, interviewing and onboarding on your behalf, whilst reviewing and managing leave requests, leave accrual and rosters in a fair, compliant, and supportive manner.
The Christmas period is a stressful time all round, regardless of a peak or wind down. It is a time when people become easily frustrated and generally feel the need for a break, which unfortunately transfers into the workplace and culture. Call the Assurance HR specialists on 1800 577 515 today, and we can discuss your specific needs, ensuring that you and your workers remain happy, healthy, and productive this season!