Financial Support For Business During Covid Lockdown

Financial Support For Business During Covid Lockdown

Wage Subsidy Scheme

The Wage Subsidy August 2021 is a payment to support employers, so they can continue to pay employees and protect jobs for businesses affected by the move to Alert Level 4 on 17 August 2021.

You can apply for a contribution towards the wages of your employees (or yourself, if you are self-employed) for a two week period. You can’t apply for the same employee twice for the same period.

We also have the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme and the Short-Term Absence Payment available to employers and the self-employed. Employers cannot get the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy August 2021 and Leave Support Scheme simultaneously for the same employee, at the same time.

  1. Who can get it

To get the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy August 2021 you must:

  • operate a business in New Zealand that employs and pay the employees named in your application, and
  • meet the revenue decline test set out in the declaration, and
  • meet the other eligibility criteria set out in the declaration.

The declaration lists all the eligibility criteria in full, and you need to agree to this when you apply. You must meet all these criteria to get the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy August 2021.

The declaration will be available on our website from 9am on Friday 20 August 2021.

2. Application

You’ll be able to apply online from 9am on Friday 20 August 2021, and applications will be open for two weeks.

3. Payment rates

The Wage Subsidy August 2021 will cover a two week period at the rate of::

  • $600 a week for each full-time employee retained (20 hours a week or more)
  • $359 a week for each part-time employee retained (less than 20 hours a week).

You can’t get a Wage Subsidy for an employee for the period they’re covered by a Leave Support Scheme or Short-Term Absence Payment.

COVID-19 Resurgence Support Payment

The COVID-19 Resurgence Support Payment helps businesses directly affected when there’s an increase to Alert Level 2 or higher for 7 day period (or more). The payment is in place to help cover wages and fixed costs for businesses directly impacted.

To be eligible, your business must have experienced at least a 30% drop in revenue or a 30% decline in capital-raising ability over a 7-day period, the decline being directly attributable to increased Covid Alert Levels.

Covid Resurgence Support Payment is available nationally.

What you can receive

  • $1,500 per business plus $400 per full-time employee (FTE), up to 50 FTE.
  • The maximum payment is $21,500.
  • If you’re a sole trader, you can receive a payment of up to $1,900.

Find out more information about the COVID-19 Resurgence Support Payment and how to apply

COVID-19 Short-term Absence Payment

The COVID-19 Short-term Absence Payment applies to employers of people who are required to be absent while they await Covid tests, and are unable to work from home. This includes employees on casual contracts.

Specifically, the payment helps businesses keep paying employees who:

  • Cannot work from home, and
  • Need to stay at home while waiting on a COVID-19 test result.

This must be in line with public health guidance.  A one-off payment of $350 is available for each employee. You can apply for it once for each eligible employee in any 30-day period.

However, you can re-apply if a health official or doctor tells them to get another test.

Your business should encourage employees to call Healthline or talk to their doctor if they are unwell.

Find out more about who is eligible for the COVID-19 Short-term Absence Payment, and how to apply.

COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme

If any of your employees have been advised to self-isolate, and cannot work from home, you can apply for the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme for them. You can also apply if you are self-employed.

The scheme means employees and self-employed people receive an income if they cannot work from home while they’re self-isolating. This includes employees on casual contracts.

The Leave Support Scheme is paid at a flat rate of:

  • $585.80 a week for full-time workers who were working 20 hours or more a week
    $350 a week for part-time workers who were working less than 20 hours a week.
    Employers, including self-employed people, and employees need to meet certain criteria to apply for the Leave Support Scheme.

Find out who is eligible for the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme, and how to apply.

Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme

Organisations and small-to-medium businesses, including sole traders and the self-employed, may be eligible for a one-off loan with a term of 5 years if they have been adversely affected by COVID-19.

The Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme provides assistance to businesses employing 50 or fewer full-time equivalent employees. Bear in mind that only one amount can be drawn, to a maximum of $10,000 plus $1800 per full-time-equivalent employee.

Loans will be interest-free if they’re paid back within 2 years. The interest rate will be 3% for a maximum term of 5 years. Repayments are not required for the first 2 years. Applications are open until 31 December 2023.

Please contact us if you require advice around HR processes in relation to Covid-19

Employee Rights in NZ During Natural Disasters & Emergencies

Employee Rights in NZ During Natural Disasters & Emergencies

Employee Rights in NZ during emergency and disaster management.

Do employee rights in NZ change in the situation where you are managing a civil emergency?

The Canterbury area is currently welcoming dry weather following the devastating floods they have just experienced. This impacts business owners and employees, particularly in the area of employee rights in NZ where there is a natural disaster or emergency to be managed.

This weather event was so severe, the MetService issued a rare ‘Red Warning’ – which means an event is expected to be among the worst that we get. This means the weather will have a significant impact and the possibility that a lot of people will be affected.

In situations such as these people have to take immediate action with no time for giving consideration to matters such as ‘what are employee rights during flooding events or other natural disasters’.

The Heath & Safety at Work Act 2015 requires employers to put the safety and wellbeing of employees before all else.

With infrastructure such as roads and bridges destroyed, causing disruption to transport – along with businesses and schools potentially being closed, and homes being damaged – this could leave some workers struggling to get to work.

When natural disasters or other serious events occur, the primary concern of all employers and their employees is the health, safety & security of people.

This comes before thinking about the interests of the business or organisation and during these events employers and employees should try to keep in regular contact and deal with each other in good faith.

Things for employers to consider in the face of a natural disaster:

  • Take care of the health and safety and wellbeing of your team, yourself, and your customers/clients.
  • If the workplace isn’t safe, don’t require your staff to work there. Make sure it’s safe first. Employees can stop work because of health and safety concerns under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. It’s primarily the building owner’s responsibility to ensure that buildings are assessed to determine whether they have withstood the event and remain structurally sound (in accordance with the Building Act 2004). Employers who occupy the building should follow the owner’s advice and be satisfied that the owner is performing their role. If an engineer or other competent professional advisor advises to not re-occupy the building, the building should not be re-occupied.
  • Proactive communication and support following a disaster are key to getting the business up and running again as quickly as possible. Contact your employees as soon as possible to advise them of the workplace situation and your expectations of them. Give them updates even if they are not required to be at work so that they know what is going on. Use texts and social media where possible to minimise overload of the telecommunications network. Remember your team could be under additional stress, provide them with support and help and show your concern. This could include access to an employee assistance programme for counselling, having a team debrief, daily blog or email.
  • If public transport is unavailable or reduced, think about facilitating carpools among team members. Smaller business owners could organise carpooling with other employers nearby. Consider any impact on employees getting to work on time and whether you can be flexible.
  • Consider wider infrastructure issues (e.g., road closures, power outages or water restrictions) and the impact of these on team members getting to and from work and whether you can be flexible.
  • In an extraordinary event, you may need to approach things differently. This may include temporarily changing your leave policy, letting employees work flexibly, or adopting a flexible approach to employees making personal phone calls to check on family during the workday.
  • Think about any negative impact on pay (e.g., processing of payroll) and try to minimise this.
  • Be up front and honest with the team about the situation and give them the opportunity to ask questions and raise any concerns they may have.

 

Pay and leave during a civil emergency

Employees may not be able to attend work for various reasons including:

  • An employer may be unable to provide work for employees who are willing and able to carry out their agreed hours of work.
  • An employer may be unable to provide a suitable and safe workplace for employees who are willing and able to carry out their agreed hours of work.
  • Employees can’t access the workplace because of restrictions not directly related to their own workplace and out of their employer’s control (e.g. road closures, safety issues relating to adjoining buildings, evacuation due to flooding or tsunami risk).
  • An employee (or their dependant) is sick or injured and unable to work.
  • An employee has to care for a dependant because usual care is unavailable.
  • An employee is willing and able to work but their usual mode of transport is unavailable.

Check force majeure clauses in employment agreement(s) and workplace policies to see if the specific circumstance is covered.

Without being clear about what these documents include, employers and employees cannot just assume that time away from work in these circumstances would be either paid or unpaid. If these situations are not covered, then it is up to both parties to talk about it in good faith and agree on how the time away from work will be classed.

If an employee’s partner or dependent family member isn’t injured or sick but he or she requires care, e.g., because their child’s school is closed, the employee cannot take sick leave. In some cases, employees may be able to continue to work while caring for their family, if the employer and employee agree to this arrangement. If it is not appropriate or possible for staff to continue working, employees and employers will need to agree on what basis the employee is off work.

Leave and payment options to consider in disaster management:

  • Annual holidays
  • Anticipated annual holidays or additional annual holidays
  • Using an entitled alternative holiday
  • Special leave, either as provided for in employment agreements or workplace policies or by agreement between the employer and employee
  • Leave without pay
  • Employees can take sick leave if their partner or dependents are injured or sick and they have sick leave available, or the employer agrees to extra sick leave
  • Other paid or unpaid leave either as provided for in employment agreements or workplace policies or by agreement between the employer and employee
  • Advance on wages

Whichever option the employer and employee agree on may depend upon the circumstances, including the nature and extent of the disaster and how long it lasts.

Once all leave entitlements under the Holidays Act 2003 and any negotiated additional leave or any anticipated leave entitlements run out, employees and their employers will need to consider further options in good faith (and consider the impact these options will have on business recovery later).

NB: There are special rules for shift workers relating to the cancellation or early ending of a shift. (Seek HR advice from ConsultingHQ if you have shift workers and you are unsure of what it means for your business).

Employee dismissal for missing work during a natural disaster or emergency.

In situations such as the Canterbury flooding, an employee may not be able to come to work for a variety of reasons e.g., they cannot access work due to circumstances out of their control, telecommunications systems are down and they cannot contact you, or they themselves are injured or sick.

New Zealand employment legislation is very clear that employers must follow a fair and reasonable process in disciplinary matters, and keep an open mind when dealing with problems, and act in good faith before dismissing an employee. The reasons that an employee could be dismissed for during a disaster or emergency are very specific.

If your business is faced with a potential disciplinary situation, we recommend you seek advice from ConsultingHQ Consultants before taking any action.

Quarantine Free Travel Impact On Business..

Quarantine Free Travel Impact On Business..

QUARANTINE-FREE TRAVEL AND THE POTENTIAL IMPACT ON YOUR BUSINESS

ConsultingHQ has recently received enquiries from clients about how the new quarantine-free travel affects their business and employees. The details below are correct as of 12 May 2021.

Quarantine-free travel

New Zealand Citizens may now travel to all Australian states and territories and the Cook Islands (from 17 May) without having to go into a managed isolation facility on arrival in Australia or the Cook Islands – or on return to New Zealand. All other standard border clearance requirements (health, immigration, biosecurity etc.) still apply.

Border requirements and travel arrangements can change at short notice

Since implementing the quarantine-free travel arrangements with Australia on 18 April there have already been hiccups, with travel paused for several days while outbreaks have been investigated and contained. Therefore, given the contagious nature of the COVID-19 virus, border requirements and travel arrangements can change at short notice. Australian states and territories can have different entry requirements and rules, so travellers should check the conditions and requirements in each state that they intend to visit prior to booking and travelling.

Get the latest NZ health advice at the Unite Against Covid-19 website

For any international travel, even between NZ and Australia, travellers should check the latest Government guidance and register their details with the NZ Foreign Affairs and Trade Safe Travel website so they can receive up-to-date travel advice.

Travel insurance: International travellers should ensure they are covered by comprehensive travel insurance and that they have a good understanding of what their policy covers.

Asking about employee International travel plans

An employer is entitled to ask employees if they are planning to travel to Australia, the Cook Islands, or any other international destination during annual leave – however, employees are not legally required to tell you. The law recognises that employees have a right to privacy, and to not have the reason they are requesting leave prejudice the granting of leave.

There is some risk to a business if an employee travels to Australia or to the Cook Islands, and border regulations change due to an outbreak of Covid-19 resulting in the employee is potentially being away from work longer than intended.

Therefore, because of this, it is reasonable for an employer to ask their employees if they are planning to travel to Australia or other quarantine-free locations, and it is reasonable for employees to confirm whether they are or are not.

Can an employer decline a request for leave on the basis they intend travelling to a quarantine-free location?

Our view is that an employer could not do that. As the NZ Government has opened quarantine travel it is perfectly legitimate for a person to travel to Australia or to the Cook Islands and technically, they are no different to an employee who requests leave to travel within NZ (or to stay at home for that matter).

For an employer to decline a request for leave to travel to Australia or the Cook Islands, the employer would need to demonstrate that they were in a high-risk workplace where employees were in close contact with other people, or that the workplace cared for vulnerable people.

Of course, as per normal circumstances an employer can decline a request for leave if it does not suit the needs of the business or if the employee does not have enough annual leave entitlement available.

If you are concerned about business continuity and the potential for an employee to get caught in Australia or the Cook Islands due to a lockdown or that they might have to go into managed isolation on return, you can limit the amount of leave that you approve in any given period.

Contingency planning for employees who travel to quarantine-free locations for their leave

It does make sense to prepare a contingency plan to manage the risk of your employee(s) getting stuck in Australia or the Cook Islands or going into managed isolation for 14 days – the best outcome would be if you did not need to use it! At this early stage in the quarantine-free arrangements we do not know what impact there would be on these arrangements if there was a serious Covid-19 outbreak and lockdown in a country an employee was visiting.

Any policies you develop should be broad and general, so your people are aware that the business intends to closely monitor and manage the situation, and to support people as far as practicable if the worst occurred and they had to stay in Australia or the Cook Islands or complete a period of managed isolation on return.

As always, any impacts on an individual’s employment should be addressed on a case-by-case basis with that employee and the outcome would depend on their individual circumstances.

Team Communication about quarantine free travel is essential.

If you have concerns about your employees travelling to quarantine-free countries for their leave it is recommended that you talk to them about this. New Zealand Citizens often have close family and friends in Australia and the Cook Islands and it is expected there will be a lot of travel between the countries involved.

You should talk to them about the potential worst-case scenarios and what plans you have put in place, and if there would be any company support available for employees if stranded or having to undertake managed isolation.

If in the case of changes to quarantine-free travel, discuss with them what the employee might do if they had to take extended time away from work or perform their role (or some of it) remotely.

These are the sorts of things you could cover:

  • Whether the person is able (and willing) to work remotely if they are unable to return to work as intended.
  • How much of their role could be done remotely.
  • Whether they have the resources to do so (devices, equipment, internet connection etc).
  • The hours and schedule they might work.
  • How any period of absence or hours not worked will be treated, i.e., paid leave or leave without pay.

Paying people absent due to border closers

If an employee is either unable to return to New Zealand from Australia or the Cook Islands or must complete a period of managed isolation, and they can work remotely, you should pay them as usual.

If they can do some but not all their work, pay them for the work they can do and agree on an alternative arrangement for them for the rest of their time.

This might be:

  • alternative duties that they can do remotely.
  • a period of unpaid or paid leave.
  • a period of annual leave.

If they cannot do any remote work, discuss how a period of extended absence will be treated, as either paid or unpaid leave.

If away for an extended period, you may need to consider how long you can reasonably keep the employee’s job open for them and how long it may take for them to return to work. If the period of absence extends unreasonably, you must consult with the person about their ongoing employment.

If the employee needs to complete managed isolation on their return to New Zealand, and cannot work remotely, there is a good argument that they are not able to work and therefore not entitled to be paid.

Health and safety consideration for employees absent due to border restrictions

The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 requires all employers to ensure the health and safety of their employees and others who come to the workplace. This includes ensuring that staff or customers are not put at risk by an employee returning to work without completing the isolation requirements that may be stipulated by the Ministry of Health.

Employers may require that an employee stay away from work until Ministry of Health guidelines have been met.

Please get in touch if you have a question that we have not covered here.

 

Leadership Style Matters

Leadership Style Matters

Leadership skills can make a difference to your business.

Leadership qualities are the very cornerstone of success.

Almost every great accomplishment has at its core, solid leadership. When everything is going well it is leadership that keeps people from getting complacent. When things are going poorly it is leadership that guides and encourages people, it is leadership that sets the new course, and it is leadership that provides hope for positive future outcomes.

Leadership style refers to a leader’s characteristic behaviours when directing, motivating, guiding, and managing groups of people. History has shown how great leaders can inspire political movements and social change.

Great leaders can also motivate others to perform, create, and innovate. In the past, managers used to operate with a rigid, bottom-line focussed, heavy into a command-and-control style of leadership. However, in most situations that style does not work now. Values have changed.

Research by psychologist Kurt Lewin in the 1930s identified three major leadership styles:

  • authoritarian (autocratic)
  • participative (democratic)
  • delegative (laissez-faire).

While subsequent research has identified other more defined types of leadership, this early work provided a catalyst for the identification of other characteristic patterns of leadership including the transformational leadership style which is often identified as the single most effective style.

Leaders adopting the transformational leadership style tend to be emotionally intelligent, energetic, and passionate.

They are not only committed to helping the organization achieve its goals, but also to helping group members fulfil their potential. Research shows that this style of leadership results in higher performance, more improved group satisfaction than other leadership styles as well as leading to improved well-being among group members.

However, it is not easy being a leader, especially these days when we are living in times of continual and, at times, exponential change.

The social and economic crisis caused by the current global pandemic is an extreme but relevant example of the types of challenges leaders face today.

Like any other crisis, the disruptive force and major social impacts were entirely unexpected and during the early days of the pandemic the most urgent objective of leaders would be to safeguard the future of the organisation and by adopting a more autocratic approach, making quick decisions for today while also considering what will be the “next normal” for tomorrow.

The “next normal” is the opportunity for organisations to emerge from this crisis stronger than before and in the post-pandemic world, smart leaders will need to adapt their leadership style.

Covid-19 has changed what business leadership looks like now, and for the foreseeable future. The more directive leadership style adopted in the early days of the pandemic would be perceived as an overly directive, actionist one-leader show during business as usual.

Leaders will need to be flexible enough to adapt leadership style to the situation as it evolves.

  • An article in Forbes Magazine describes the “7 Leadership Traits For The Post COVID-19 Workplace” required to restore and revive stressed and flailing supply chains, product lines even entire industries” as being:
  • Candour/openness/honesty – Possibly the best antidote for a workplace climate of anxiety and cynicism is openness and honesty. People respond so much better to the known (even if the news is not great) than the unknown (which tends to fuel more anxiety) or even worse misleading half-truths or irresponsible optimism (which can irreparably damage trust long term).
  • Regular, reliable fact-based communication – regular, reliable fact-based communication goes a long way to bringing people together and reducing workplace anxiety.
  • Empathy – some people are still feeling fragile and concerned about Covid-19. There has been a loss of sense of community and cohesion among staff from the isolation experienced e.g., loss of shared office space when working from home and ongoing concerns about things like job security and sick leave balances. Even just providing some heartfelt encouragement and recognition for a job well done goes a long way.
    Intergenerational and managing a remote and distributed workforce – Gen Zers and millennials require a different style of management (ethical).
  • Virtual and distributed teams also require a different style of leadership. You still need to bring these employees together regularly or work streams may fall apart.
  • Flexibility and adaptability – Covid-19 has taught us that businesses need to be flexible and adaptable to changing situations. Faced with unprecedented uncertainty, leaders need to avoid the temptation to “stick with the decision” and change course if necessary.
  • Humility / modesty – whether its knowledge related to public health, statistics, human resources or even legal issues, leaders will undoubtedly find themselves needing to rely on expertise that they do not themselves have to make the best decisions for the broader organisation. As a result, humility is a huge asset. It takes a strong leader to respond to a difficult question with “I don’t know, but I’ll find out”.
  • Active listening – while leaders certainly need to make hard decisions that will not, please everyone, making well informed decisions is still key. Indeed, there is a difference between listening and waiting to talk and for many leaders, their ability to shift gears into “listening to understand” versus “listening to respond” will be a key ingredient for their success.

Smart leaders need to adapt and be prepared to change their leadership style in the post-pandemic world and as Michael Dell (the founder of Dell Computers at age 20) said “I’ve learned that you have to take advantage of change and not let it take advantage of you”.

Vaccinations in the Workplace

Vaccinations in the Workplace

Covid-19 vaccinations in the workplace

COVID-19 vaccines will play a critical role in protecting the health and wellbeing of people in New Zealand which will enable our social, economic, and cultural recovery.
Workplaces in New Zealand will be essential in making access to vaccines as easy as possible for all those employed in them – including employees and independent contractors. To help New Zealand’s COVID-19 Immunisation Programme succeed, the Government is recommending employers encourage and support their workforce (including part time, casual and independent contractors) to get vaccinated.

This could include:

  • facilitating on-site vaccinations
  • allowing workers to get vaccinated during work hours without loss of pay, and
  • providing workers with relevant and timely information from the Ministry of Health about vaccination and its benefits.

What are my responsibilities as an employer in relation to the Covid-19 vaccine?

The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 states that employers have an obligation to ensure a safe workplace, as reasonably as they can, and vaccinations can be critical to this. Therefore, an employer must do what is reasonably practicable to reduce the likelihood of infection in the workplace.

As it is not mandatory, what can employers do to get their employees vaccinated?

Ideally, all the workforce would choose to be vaccinated to control the risk of infection, some may not, therefore a business must have additional health and safety plans in place to manage these circumstances.

Can an employer request its employees to be vaccinated?

The employer can request but cannot require an existing employee to be vaccinated.

If an employee refuses to be vaccinated, what can an employer do?

In relation to health and safety in the workplace, a PCBU (person conducting a business or undertaking) must ensure health and safety as far as reasonably practicable.

Given the current state of transmission in New Zealand, where workplaces have been able to operate safely without vaccinated staff, it will currently be hard to argue that a person being unvaccinated is a significant health and safety risk but that will depend on the industry and any further changes (such as borders opening).

The employer can ask employees whether they have been vaccinated for risk assessment purposes. If an employee declined to provide the information, the employer should proceed as though the employee has not been vaccinated but should first inform the employee of this assumption.

If workers in the workplace are not vaccinated, the PCBU should do a risk assessment to decide if further control measures are needed to reduce the risk of transmission. Alternative control measures could include (but are not limited to): lower risk duties or worksites for the worker; eliminating or limiting close or face to face interaction with others; working from home where possible; increased social distancing requirements; increased hygiene and cleaning practices; additional training and posters; temperature checks; and additional PPE.

If an employer believes on reasonable grounds that there is a real and imminent risk to health and safety which can only be adequately addressed by vaccine (this is only likely to be in very limited situations where close contact is unavoidable and PPE not wholly effective e.g. health care situations) the employer must consult with the employee and explore all reasonable alternatives and it will only be when all other options are exhausted, that termination of employment would be justifiable. The employer should take specific expert advice on the health and safety requirements, risk and employment implications.

If your employee refuses to be vaccinated, taking no further action to prevent infection in your workplace will not satisfy your legal health, safety, and wellbeing obligations.

Can I make vaccinations a condition of recruitment?

Employers can require vaccination as a condition for new employees, but only where this is reasonable for the role e.g. where the employer has identified real and imminent risk to an employee working without vaccination and has considered alternatives. This is only likely to be reasonable in limited circumstances such as nursing homes.
Employers need to be careful that they are not exposing themselves to discrimination claims by rejecting an employee based on the candidate’s decision to refuse vaccination. That decision could be based on a pre-existing medical condition or religious grounds. Given the current state of transmission in New Zealand, where workplaces have been able to operate safely without vaccinated staff, it will currently be hard to state that a person being unvaccinated is a significant health and safety risk unless the business is particularly high risk or there is a law change. However, when NZ’s borders reopen, this may create a different situation.

Can employees take leave when they get vaccinated?

If an employer is asking an employee to receive the vaccine, then the employee should be paid for the time it takes to get the vaccine. If the employer is encouraging employees to receive the vaccine, the employer should discuss time off work and whether the time will be paid with the employee and come to a mutual agreement. Employers should consider whether allowing paid time off work will help encourage staff to receive the vaccine.

Vaccination Policy – Our Recommendation.

Start now by thinking about factors specific to your particular workplace including:

  • What do your employment agreements include? Requiring a new employee’s agreement to be vaccinated as a condition of commencing employment is likely to be lawful in most circumstances, However, employers must exercise caution when deciding not to hire an employee whose refusal to be vaccinated is linked to a human right such as religion or disability.
  • What risks are you managing in your workplace by seeking to require vaccinations?
  • Are you providing a safe and healthy workplace if you don’t require vaccinations?
  • Are other steps being taken to achieve the same outcome of minimising the spread of the virus, such as physical distancing, mask wearing and/or sanitising?
  • Is it relevant what the prevalence of the virus is at the time vaccinations are being required?

Commence conversations with your employees about COVID-19 vaccinations as soon as possible. The consultation and support approach is the best way. Remember that all discussions about COVID-19 vaccination must be fair and reasonable and done in good faith.

Keep up to date with information that is provided on NZ government websites and think about where your business and workers fit in the vaccine rollout. Share information with your team.

Make vaccination as easy as possible for your people.

If your business is considering a vaccination policy for employees as part of your response to Covid-19, please feel free to contact us for advice specific to your situation.

Managing Employee Engagement and Productivity Post COVID-19

Managing Employee Engagement and Productivity Post COVID-19

Managing Employee Engagement and Productivity Post COVID-19

Managing Employee Engagement and Productivity Post COVID-19 – As many employees return to offices, employers should expect to notice some subtle changes in employee behaviour that may warrant focus for the early weeks back at work – particularly in light of potential restructures.

While the closedown has been stressful for employers, so also has the sudden separation from peers and adjustment to working remotely, in some cases under revised employment conditions & pay rates for your employees.

Employees are well aware of the challenges that employers face in the current uncertain environment – and they are aware of what that may mean for their future employment – creating a potentially stressful return to work environment for many.
Anxious employees are generally more distracted, make more errors and have less energy overall. This is a normal human response to increased levels of anxiety.

Here are our recommended actions for employers in the early stages to reassure and refocus employees.

Speak to your team as a group and as individuals.

While this may be a drain on your time, employees are reliant on you for their income and they need to know where they stand.
Commence restructure conversations as soon as possible, and be decisive about your actions and communications in this area.
People would rather know and make plans than not know and worry. The processes for restructure and redundancy is clear – the consultation & communication process takes a number of weeks, so it really is better to get your plan sorted, then executed. Be sure you remain compliant with all processes – the regulations around employment remain in place as pre COVID. Employers are obliged to follow a process with consultation & consideration.

Consider training & development opportunities

In considering your succession plan and skill gap map as part of your overall restructure planning, a period of reduced productivity for your business may be an excellent time to consider skill training for some employees to close skill gaps and test aptitude in new areas.

Enable input to innovation or pivot ideas

While this process needs to be carefully managed for expectations, high performing employees will relish the opportunity to contribute to pivot concepts for your business – these employees have most likely spend some time considering areas of opportunity during the close down. It will be fantastic for them to brainstorm ideas under supervision – and who knows, some of the ideas might be fabulous suggestions that you had not yet considered.
Enforce your operational and behavioural standards
All your employees have been absent for a lengthy period. Make sure your standards of behaviour including dress code & working hours are back in place immediately – this will give employees a sense of ‘normal’ that will help them click back into gear.
This will be reasonably easy to slide into the conversation as you reinforce new distancing & tracking protocols in place for the return to work safely guidelines.

Be available

Unless you have a reason to be absent from the workplace – and of course distancing protocols will be required, but make sure you are available for your team. While employers have had a hugely stressful time – don’t forget your entire team has also been stressed – and many of them will have been worried about you, your business and their employment. Allow people to chat and reconnect with you in their own time.

Managing Employee Engagement and Productivity Post COVID-19