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It’s not unusual for a business to reach out to me knowing that they don’t have a good handle on the ‘people’ piece of their business. It’s something that happens for a variety of reasons, rarely malicious and usually by accident as a business grows and scales and the people function happens by default and on an ad hoc basis. This is so limiting to a business’ ability to scale and grow and in some cases it could be incredibly detrimental, particularly if obligations are being breached. But what are the people fundamentals that businesses should have under control?

Before we get stuck in, I’d like to offer a quick reminder/disclaimer that this blog post is general in nature and doesn’t constitute legal advice! The legal ramifications of getting the people piece wrong are insignificant, and so as always, speak to your legal team!

Right, now that’s out of the way, legislation is dynamic and ever-evolving. For example, as per this article, new sexual harassment and discrimination legislation around policies and procedures relating to compliance training and education indicate they need to be renewed.

That’s just one example, but it’s a good one in that it highlights that getting the foundations right (including meeting obligations) is critically important for brand reputation, both from a client or customer perspective but also as an employer. A solid employer brand makes activities such as selective sourcing so much more effective and seamless.

So what are the bare bone fundamentals for a business?

OK there’s the basics – employment contracts, correct award identification, policies and procedures. There’s compliance training – and a training calendar full stop that allows people to be set up to do their work safely, efficiently and effectively, not like my early career days where the training was non-existent and every day I thank my lucky stars that nothing went wrong in terms of occupational health and safety.

There’s also the dollar and cents part of the equation. This is making sure people are paid (super basic!) but also Superannuation is taken care of as well as Worker’s Compensation and the plethora of leave entitlements. There’s payroll recording, taxation info, privacy around collection of banking details and overall personal information and data storage.

When people actually join the organisation in a role, we need to know their right to work in Australia, their qualifications which includes background checking and depending on the role, working with children and police checks. There’s onboarding them in a way that aligns them to the role and the organisation as well as notice periods and standard entitlements. Depending on the role there may be non-compete disclosures. Of course, this is an opportunity to link back to culture. Some businesses do an offer letter with a legal agreement. Not a whole lot of warm and fuzzy with that, is there? Instead give people a warm welcome with instructions for their first day and have on hand a checklist of what they will need to be set up for their first day. I’d love to tell you that it’s rare for someone to turn up to the first day and not only is nobody there to greet them (including virtually), but there’s no workstation set up for them – unfortunately this is not the case, and it doesn’t bode well for a long and healthy working relationship.

Stress leave, bullying and occupational health and safety legislation and practices aren’t new, but it blows my mind how often they’ve been left off the people table. Even though I’ve been working and promoting remote working for over a decade, for many businesses it’s a brave new world of work, with working from home being unavoidable for non-essential workers. This leads to a whole new minefield of challenges and so fundamentals may include employees having a support network as well as managers being unskilled in tools to effectively identify and elicit when employees are struggling.

As I said at the top of this piece, this post is about a quick overview of the fundamentals for a people function – my health check looks at all the fundamentals and recommends a path forward.

The first step is a call with me – book it here – and let’s get your fundamentals down!

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