Supporting your staff to boost performance

21 May 2020

How can you support your staff  and boost performance?

Following on from Robin Wilson’s tips for staying well and building resilience, this blog gives
you helpful strategies about supporting your team and how that will boost performance and
staff longevity, naturally. We’ll break this down by looking at ideas towards being a ‘great
employer’, communication, team morale, performance and leave entitlements.
First up, did you know that a full-time employee (40 hours a week) will be with you 2/3 (or 67%)
of their time? 1 That is a significant amount of time and someone once said to me, “It pays to be
nice to your staff because I’m effectively buying a huge portion of their life to work for me”. I
tend to agree with this.

So let’s get started, here are my helpful strategies, as promised:

1. How to be a ‘great employer’. Sometimes it’s the little things. Engage with your staff,
find out about them and their personal lives. There is no cookie-cutter approach, so ask
them what makes a great work environment. You should consider things like
remembering their birthdays and work anniversaries. Celebrating professional and
personal success and milestones. Acknowledge when things don’t go to plan – let
Johnny know you’re sorry that his grandmother passed away by leaving a card on his
desk. Be flexible where you can, people need doctors, dentists and banks – life happens.

2. Communication. This seems like an elusive creature at times, with many exit interviews
showing staff want ‘better communication’. Talk to your staff and find out what they
would like from you and, with this information, you will be on the right track.
Whatever you do, make sure you are honest, active, and communicative in establishing
and maintaining a productive employment relationship. Do not do anything that will or
has the likelihood to mislead or deceive your employee.

3. Workplace culture and team morale. This will differ from organisation to organisation
and that is ok. There is no set rule or magic solution as to what you should establish.
Spend time with your staff – what values do they want to see embedded in your
workplace? How do they want colleagues to interact with them? Do these values fit with
the overall strategy and direction of the business? Will they add to the employee
experience or detract from the purpose of your company? Finally, nip issues in the bud.


4. Performance. When I talk to staff about their preferences for rewards and recognition,
they often say “tell me when I’m doing a good job”. Give positive feedback when it is
due, not when it is too late.
You need to define exactly what you expect from your employees, so they have all the
available information. This is part of your good faith obligation under the Employment
Relations Act.
If you have concerns with staff performance you need to be able to demonstrate what it
is you require so they understand the gaps, give them reasonable support to improve
(training, mentoring etc.) and give the employee a reasonable time to improve.

5. Ensuring staff are well-rested and ready to work. There are entitlements to leave,
(annual leave, sick leave, family violence leave, bereavement leave, and public holidays).
Whilst most employees will apply for leave as and when needed it should also be your
job, as an employer, to recognise when an employee needs leave. After all, staff who
are not well-rested and ready to work could pose a health and safety risk to themselves
or to others, which you will wear the brunt of.
There are also entitlements to flexible working arrangements – knowing what staff can
take will better prepare you for the request.

You can do better than the Holidays Act too, so if you think discretionary leave is
important for someone suffering mental health, coupled with an EAP program, go for it.

As we move through the COVID-19 levels many staff will be feeling unsure and will need your
steady guidance. Every little bit of support you can give them at this time will help build a loyal
workforce for years to come.


1 This is based on non-weekend time spent awake for an 8-hour working day, having discounted public holidays, sick
leave, and annual leave.