By Jessica Shanahan
HR Team Leader, Key Business Advisors
“Best Practice” is a term used often in relation to Human Resources, but what exactly is it? While there is no definitive definition, it is best described as methods or techniques which have consistently proven to be effective. Businesses that have “Best Practice” are more than just compliant – they are implementing modern HR strategies and practices that promote happier, fairer and more productive places of work.
The benefits of “best practice” are far reaching and can include increased employee engagement, motivation and productivity, reduction in employee turnover, more highly skilled team members, and a reduction of risk to the business. There are many areas of Human Resources in which best practice can be implemented, including consultation in the workplace, managing underperformance, effective dispute resolution, and parental leave.
For a business to be an industry leader in today’s work environment, it is essential to move beyond just following the letter of the law and look to implementing best-practice methods. The following are two examples of legislation versus best practice:
Consultation in the Workplace
Legislation: Consultation in the workplace is a requirement outlined in many Modern Awards and in the Fair Work Act. Employers have an obligation to consult with employees when major changes to production, program, organisation, structure or technology or the workplace occur, or when an employer intends to change an employee’s regular hours of work.
Best Practice: While not a requirement of legislation, an employer who has “best practice” should consult with employees on any changes to the workplace that may have an impact on an employee’s welfare or productivity. This process will ensure that employees are aware of any changes in advance as well as have the opportunity to contribute to any changes if applicable, and will allow an employer to gain an employee’s support of the changes.
Legislation: To avoid unfair/unlawful dismissal claims, an employer has certain responsibilities under the Fair Work Act prior to terminating an employee for poor performance in order to demonstrate that a dismissal is not harsh, unjust or unfair. This is demonstrated through training opportunities, counselling sessions, and written warnings.
Best Practice: Employers who are working towards “best practice” will be focused on retention, engagement and performance when it comes to managing underperformance. Rather than being focused on immediately terminating an employee who may be underperforming, they will be looking instead towards the cause of the performance issues and how these can be addressed. These employers are constantly looking inwards at what they as employers can do to ensure the work environment is conducive to maintaining high levels of employee performance.
While maintaining compliance with legislation as well as working towards “best practice” can be a daunting thought, the benefits are well proven and will only add to the profitability and value of a business. A business that has reduced turnover; more productive, engaged and motivated employees; and highly skilled team members will be in a position of advantage over their competitors and will be poised for success.
If you are unsure of your legal obligations, or want assistance with how to work at “best practice”, Key Business Advisors and our team of HR Advisors are experts in this field and would gladly assist you and your business towards becoming an industry leader.