HR Case Studies

Addressing performance/behaviour issues

Client problem: Team leaders were finding it difficult to hold their teams to account, and to discuss problems without escalating emotions and frustrations. This resulted in issues remaining unaddressed and high performing team members became frustrated and disheartened when poor performance was accepted, reducing their own engagement. Team leader communication in general was lacking in both positive and constructive feedback, for fear of getting it wrong.

ConsultingHQ’s solution: We started communication and feedback training for everyone, running small workshops on giving and receiving both positive and constructive feedback. We introduced some simple but effective tools for ‘filling buckets’ and improving self-esteem and self-worth, personal leadership, effective communication, keeping language ‘above the line’ focusing on positive actions and how to de-escalate emotions and reduce the ‘fight or flight mode’. We then ran training workshops with team leaders covering similar content with a focus on leading teams with a human approach, being open, clear and compassionate when presented with issues. Next, we ran team leader training on holding one-to-one review meetings with individuals on a regular basis, building confidence in setting up opportunities for both positive and constructive communication to become part of everyday practice.

Outcome: The workshops received positive feedback from attendees. Team leaders are more confident having difficult conversations, they are treating their teams with more care and consistency, resolving issues and giving praise in the moment. This has enhanced team feedback, open communication and real conversations. Collaboration and personal accountability is visible within the team. Review meetings are occurring regularly, which will feed through into annual performance and pay reviews.

Excessive absence

Client problem: A warehouse team member was away on a regular basis, one or two times a week, for approximately six months, the manager raised their concern with the person on an informal periodic basis and offered support. No change occurred in their attendance, which disrupted operations and put pressure on other members of the team.

ConsultingHQ’s solution: We supported the manager by implementing a performance improvement plan, which involved documenting a timeline of the absences, informally meeting with the person to ensure a complete discovery was undertaken into the reasons for absence, options for support, rationale for improvement and time to improve. A formal performance improvement plan was implemented with regular documented check-ins. The worker had full opportunity to succeed. HR support was offered with a one-to-one meeting with the worker to ensure they were aware of the impacts of the improvement plan and that they explored all options of support.

Outcome: The worker decided that they were not able to fulfil the position requirements and resigned from the business. They were very grateful to the company for offering so much support and clear communication and left on good terms to find a more suitable position.

HR systems hadn’t kept up with company growth

Client problem: A manufacturing company experienced rapid sales growth in the last five years, but internal systems hadn’t grown or evolved – and that included HR management. The client was concerned that they were over-resourced with skilled staff and were reliant on costly contract workers, rather than directly employed staff members. They sought a better balance to allow both flexibility and sustainability.

ConsultingHQ’s solution: We completed a strategic review for the client, which included a review of HR systems, organisational structure, workforce analysis, HR audit, employee satisfaction survey, and DISC profiles for managers and team leaders. We then spent two days on site meeting with the management team and conducting one-on-one discussions with all staff members. A Strategic HR report was created with recommendations and action plans going forwards.

Outcome: The client was delighted with our recommendations, which in their words was, “Great work – smack on!”. ConsultingHQ is now working with the client on an HR Business Partner basis. Early results are positive, with improved role clarity and communications, a more positive culture, and the development of company values. Future work will include a structural review, workforce planning, finalising roles, defining KPIs, and standardising the recruitment process.

How much to pay a new employee?

Client problem: The business owner wanted to recruit an Operations Manager but was unsure what remuneration package to offer to be competitive in a tight labour market.

ConsultingHQ’s solution: We discussed the client’s requirements for the role, to understand the scope of the role and the level of experience required. We then completed a thorough New Zealand-wide analysis of total remuneration, including salary, wage benchmarks, and additional benefits. Similar calibre roles were assessed due to the complexity of the skills and experience required.

Outcome: The client received a comprehensive report detailing current remuneration benchmarks and labour market data. A recommendation was provided to ensure they captured the interest of high-quality candidates with the skills and experience they required. The client had powerful information to use in their recruitment campaign and remuneration negotiations.

Managing a prolonged medical incapacity

Client problem: An employee sustained an out-of-work injury and the employer had attempted to manage the employee’s absence for the past nine months. The employer was now exasperated with no clarity on the employee’s return to work.

ConsultingHQ’s solution: We met with the employer and employee to assess the employee’s prognosis and return-to-work timeframe. We managed to obtain medical certificates from the employee, which they had been withholding from the employer, that indicated a lengthy recovery. After further assessment and investigation, a definitive date to return to full duties remained unclear.

Outcome: We managed the process of termination on medical incapacity grounds. This means the employer is now able to recruit a permanent replacement and move forward with their business goals after months of uncertainty.

Alcohol concerns

Client problem: An employee turned up to work under the influence of alcohol. The employer sent them home and was unsure what to do next.

ConsultingHQ’s solution: We organised and supported a disciplinary meeting with the employer and employee. We explained to the employee there were health and safety risks to both themselves and the team by being at work while still intoxicated from the previous night’s social drinking. The employee wasn’t aware of the serious potential consequences and was genuinely apologetic. We arranged a follow up drug and alcohol test, through a reputable business, to ensure the employee was fit to return to work. A Drug and Alcohol Agreement was also implemented.

Outcome: The employee learnt the impact excessive alcohol consumption could have on their ability to work safely. The employer was confident they had met their Health and Safety requirements to protect their employee as well as the wider team. What’s more, the employer now feels confident to proactively manage any other drug and alcohol related concerns within their business.

Business performance declining

Client problem: Since a new Operations Manager position was created and filled, this small business had problems delivering to clients, team morale had declined, and there was a lack of accountability to move things forward.

ConsultingHQ’s solution: After discussions with the client on the nature of the issues they were facing, we confirmed it was not primarily a performance issue, but rather a structural issue whereby the new role was not able to impact the business in the ways needed. Rather, it was hindering internal processes by adding unnecessary complexity to a very simple business structure. Therefore the position needed to be made redundant and resource be placed in the right areas to support client delivery.

Outcome: We recommended and managed a small restructure of the business based on its needs, updated position descriptions, and assisted the Director in transitioning to the new model. The business now has clear accountability, more hands-on resource, team morale has increased, and it is now able to meet its goal to increase clients.

Out-of-character employee absence

Client problem: An employee began not coming to work at all and was taking a lot of shortened days. This was out of character for this particular employee, who had previously been consistent.

ConsultingHQ’s solution: Our consultant went to the employer’s site to interview the team member to understand what was going on, what had changed, and how they felt about their role moving forward.

Outcome: It was discovered that a fellow employee was bullying in the workplace and the worker felt anxious and scared to attend work. The alleged bullying employee was investigated and subsequently terminated from the place of work. The other employee now attends work regularly, and there are no further absenteeism issues.

Job abandonment

Client problem: An employee had not been at work for several consecutive days and was not responding to messages or calls from their Supervisor.

ConsultingHQ’s solution: We attempted to contact the employee and also their emergency contacts with no response. We sent a letter requesting an urgent response and their immediate return to work or the employer may consider they had abandoned their employment.

Outcome: After no response and further attempts by us to contact them, a second letter was sent outlining their employment was deemed to be abandoned and terminated. We ensured correct processes were followed so the employer’s risk was mitigated.

Overwhelmed business owner post- COVID-19

Client problem: This business owner felt overwhelmed and exhausted post-COVID-19 and was unable to get clarity on future organisational strategy and structure.

ConsultingHQ’s solution: Our consultant met with team members and asked key questions about the business strategy and direction.

In doing so, we were able to understand the business strategy, assess skills, and identify skill gaps required to move the business to the next level.

Outcome: We made a recommendation for the company’s HR Strategy for the next 12 to 24 months, with the first 12 months broken into quarters, each identifying the HR tasks required at each stage to make fluid progress forward.

Too many decision makers in a family-owned business

Client problem: There were some difficult key decisions to be made in succession planning in this family owned business.

ConsultingHQ’s solution: Our consultants went to the site, visit all the of the team, and identify key members of the business. We were then able to assist the Board by creating a future state organisational chart and help with decisions on the management team structure.

Outcome: ConsultingHQ managed a restructure of the business and ensured all position descriptions and areas of responsibility (decision making etc.) were up to date based on the most suitable people in the business. We also, assisted the newly-appointed GM on how to manage change moving forward by providing regular HR input onsite.

Workplace bullying by an employee

Client problem:  An employee made threatening remarks to their supervisor.

This employee had a history of being aggressive and threatening, to both management and other employees. On this occasion the employee had been challenged for incorrect timekeeping.

The employer had not followed the proper process in investigating and determining the appropriate discipline for the employee in any of the previous instances of poor behaviour. The company did not have HR documentation, such as policies and procedures, to support the disciplinary process.

The supervisor had made a police complaint and was reluctant to supervise the employee.

The risk and liability potential: The employer may be unable to dismiss the employee: if they did, it could result in a significant award in favour of the employee – including the possibility of the employee returning to the workplace. The alternative is that the employee remains in the workplace and the environment becomes dysfunctional and difficult to control and manage.

Outcome: We supported the employer to implement an immediate exit strategy for the employee in consultation with the employee’s representative. This resulted in a risk-free process that provided for an immediate solution freeing up managers and supervisors to focus on productive activities.

Vaccination status demanded by clients

Client problem: Business owners were getting letters from their construction clients requesting the COVID-19 vaccination status of their on-site workers. Timeframes were given from the client to have workers vaccinated or they would not be allowed on site.

ConsultingHQ’s solution: We worked with the business owners to complete a risk assessment and consult with their team on a company-wide vaccination policy. We met with individual employees as needed to address any issues and concerns. We sent letters to clients to assure them of compliance, without breaching privacy standards for individuals.

Outcome: The client can complete any work where vaccinations are mandatory. It now has an engaged team that understands why vaccinations are required, what the policy is, and feel safe that rules are being followed with their privacy being respected. Any new hires now have a provision in their contract requiring vaccination before employment begins.

Managing low staff morale

Client problem: Management felt morale was low throughout the business and wanted to understand why. 

ConsultingHQ’s solution: ConsultingHQ undertook one-to-one interviews with all team members to gain an understanding of their feedback, engagement, satisfaction, and internal areas for improvement.

Outcome: Feedback was provided to management (without disclosing employees’ names) with a report outlining prioritised suggestions for improving morale across the business. Six months later, morale was a lot higher. Staff felt management listened to their feedback and that having a third party involved has improved communication channels.

No restraint of trade

Client problem: One of the key team members left and went to the competition, taking clients and staff with them.

ConsultingHQ’s solution: We assessed what risk minimiszation tools were in place and found there was nothing in place to protect the employer – and nothing to deter any employees from doing this again in the future.

Outcome: ConsultingHQ set up the necessary tools for the business and undertook an entire review of their HR documentation. Since doing this we found there were a number of grey areas and loopholes employees could take advantage of and we have now eliminated them. The client has minimised all possible risks of this happening to them again.

Lack of HR processes in a growing company

Client problem: The business owner did not have adequate clauses in employment agreements or HR documentation in place to ensure a thorough process was followed that was legally compliant.  

ConsultingHQ’s solution: ConsultingHQ undertook a review of all of the company’s documentation and systems and found it was out of date and not suitable based on the growth of the business.

Outcome: All-new HR documentation was put into place ensuring that all recruitment and onboarding was thorough, legally compliant, and that there was a paper trail in place to protect the business.

Staff are now more engaged and more productive because their employment agreements are detailed and they know what’s expected of them.

Motivating a complacent sales team

Client problem: The seven-person sales team was not performing and the business was losing money. The team had become complacent and lacked energy and drive.

ConsultingHQ’s solution: ConsultingHQ spoke with the Sales Manager about reporting documentation and putting processes in place; how often meetings were being held (team and one-to-one sales meetings); what training was in place; and what sales results incentives were in place.

We found out there were no clear KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) in place, and no weekly activity reports being completed by the team members to hand to the Sales Manager. The team didn’t know what the focus for the quarter was and felt that no one was available to catch up with them regularly as management was so busy.

We put in place:

  • KPIs based on the annual sales targets
  • Weekly sales team meetings
  • One-to-one sales meeting with each of the team members
  • Weekly activity documentation
  • Reports from the CRM system that were easy to follow and measure
  • Team and individual incentives.

Outcome: The team is now motivated, focussed, accountable, and driven to reach sales targets.

Addressing low staff retention rates

Client problem: Staff retention was low, morale was down, and communication was inconsistent. The HR Manager approached ConsultingHQ to undertake a confidential survey of its 150+ employees.

ConsultingHQ’s solution: After meeting with the management team and understanding what their concerns were for the team, we created an online employee engagement survey that was distributed to each member of staff and management. Feedback was received in an anonymous manner, which we were then able to communicate back to management.

Outcome: Solutions were provided to the client on various areas of concern and six-monthly surveys are now scheduled until the organisation reaches a higher engagement rate. The management team meets with ConsultingHQ every quarter so we can track their progress and provide solutions on an on-going basis, to continually increase employee performance.

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