Remember that board game? You know, the one where you get cards that ask if you would keep extra change a cashier handed you, or lie to the police to save a friend. The game that helps us understand if we would do the right or moral thing if no one was watching or if there were no consequences. I’ve been thinking about that game recently as I consider the legislative changes coming for employers after the passing of Bill 17.
HR professionals haven’t seen significant changes to employment legislation in a very long time and we are working hard to get our minds around the impacts to our clients’ businesses. These thoughts prompted me to think about whether speaking to employers about being legislatively compliant (following the law) in and of itself is enough to encourage employers to make some pretty significant changes to how they do business, especially if these changes may in fact hurt their profitability.
There are many elements to Human Resources that assist businesses in being successful and profitable through the effective attraction and retention of staff. We must be aware of what the business is trying to achieve, be knowledgeable in employment legislation and human rights, and then…. we have to be human. So how do we effectively help business owners and employers do all of those things together and abide by the law without ‘hitting them over the head’ with a metaphorical legislative hammer? How do we help employers do the ‘right thing’ by their employees, knowing that it will cut into their profits?
I have been hearing from my clients and friends that they have been struggling with the higher minimum wage for service staff, concern about eligibility for leaves after 3 months of employment, and new overtime rules, just to name a few. If small employers have to spend more on their resources, and have operational needs that they cannot ‘tighten’ any further, how do they continue to operate without spending more? And when the time comes that they must be compassionate to employees’ needs outside of work, how do they best absorb those costs without losing progress in their business or profit goals?
I’ve worked with employers who attempt to retain organizational profit though terminating employees, reducing their workforce, finding ways to hire lower cost (and perhaps less skilled) employees, or stopping hiring altogether and overburdening the existing staff until they break; employers who chafe at the legislative restrictions and try to work around legislation or provide the minimum that they must. I believe that strategy is flawed.
Work smarter, not harder. Build a comprehensive organization that invests in the whole employee: meaning you build in the resiliency to absorb the inevitable life challenges that pull employees away from work. Do that by communicating regularly and clearly, building a trust based work environment, prioritizing effort, rewarding good work, and correcting and retraining employees who aren’t performing within a reasonable timeframe. Follow defined people processes and don’t delay in replacing workers who don’t fit organizationally or in terms of skills and aptitude.
There is just a little more urgency to your HR practices now and a little more kick in the legislative consequences. We need you to stay in business. Do the right thing for your employees because it’s the right thing to do – not because the legislation or your HR person says you must. Put your efforts where they will best cushion your organization. Stop thinking you can make up for poor recruitment process by fast ‘hire and fire’ methodologies and letting moderate employees just float. That strategy won’t work in the redefined ‘family friendly’ work world. Plan and prepare for humanity and compassion in your workforce.
Don’t know how to do that? Salopek & Associates have a strong team of Human Resource Consultants that can help you identify where the gaps are in achieving your most effective organization structure and policies to address the family friendly workplace requirements. We are preparing thorough compliance audits to help employers understand what legislative changes will impact how they handle their resources. Contact us today to explore how we can support your organization in understanding and implementing Bill 17’s employment legislation changes in a way that they will positively impact your people and business.