5 HR things to action before the end of 2020

As we watched fireworks bring in the new year, did we ever really think this is how 2020 would play out? Now with just three months left before 2021 is here, what should your business be doing to make sense of the commercial reality we’re living through? We share with you five human resource-related things that every business owner should consider before 31 December comes around.

HR tip 1: Review your organisational structure

The pandemic is forcing many businesses to change how they operate from an HR perspective. So how’s your organisational structure looking? Roles have morphed into new ones, employees have taken on different tasks and some may be performing more work than ever before. All of this means that the next three months are a good time to think about your structure – how do you want this to look moving in 2021? What’s working? What’s not? And how can you make your organisational structure more efficient and effective?  In fact, with no clear end to this ‘coronarecession’ in sight, making this a priority is a business-critical way to look after your business. 

HR tip 2: JobKeeper 2.0 and JobMaker

The original JobKeeper scheme ran six months between March and September 2020. And, now it has been extended in the form of JobKeeper 2.0. Full-time workers receive a subsidy of $1,200 and part-time workers a subsidy of $750 a fortnight until the end of 2020. Subsequently, they’ll receive $1,000 and $650 moving into 2021. This compares to the flat $1,500 a fortnight subsidy under the original JobKeeper, which applied regardless of how frequently an employee worked.

Just like the old scheme, your ability to qualify generally depends on showing a revenue drop of 30 per cent. This will be based on your September GST reporting when compared to a similar period (i.e. the September quarter last year). If you received JobKeeper but now don’t qualify for JobKeeper 2.0, you may need to consider taking some HR measures. Will you need to stand staff down? Reduce hours or even make some redundancies? This is a bitter pill to swallow, and if you’re faced with these scenarios as your only option, then it’s imperative that you comply with the Fair Work Act. It’s also important to follow any awards and agreements. 

In the recent Federal Budget the JobMaker scheme was introduced to increase the employment of people under the age of 35 as well as trainees & apprentices. Eligible employers will receive $200/week for each new hire aged between 16-29 years of age and $100/week for each new hire aged between 30-35 years of age. 12 months of credit is available for the above hires and will expire on 6 October 2021. The subsidy is capped at $10,400 per new hire.

Eligible employees are those that have been employed for at least 20 hours of paid work per week on average received either the JobSeeker payment, Parenting Payment or the Youth Allowance payment prior to being hired began employment between 7 October 2020 and 6 October 2021.

We suspect there will be some fine-print once these provisions are actually passed.

HR tip 3: Work out your flexibility policies

COVID-19 encouraged businesses to allow more flexibility in the workplace. As things seem to be returning to normal, ask yourself if your organisation needs this flex to stay?

If you are going to let people continue to work remotely, what conditions will it be under? Do you need to rethink your HR policies? And, how will this all work? Will you expect them to come into the workplace on a regular basis – i.e. a day or two a week? Will you expect them to keep timesheets or to check-in via Skype at a regular time each day?

Just remember there are the positives and negatives for having people come into work, just as there are positives and negatives to staying at home. Getting your flexibility policy right will be one of the most vital things you can do as we move into 2021.

HR tip 4: Invest in your culture

Are your teams feeling burnt out? Tired? Disconnected? The 2020 pandemic has had an incredibly impactful effect on people, with thousands of Australian’s mental health tested. Can you be lifting the spirits of your team? Take a fresh look at your business culture and put in place some initiatives that will energise and inspire. Does this look like a celebration? A (socially distanced) team lunch? Even a small token or gift to show your appreciation? Think about what you can do to be inclusive and lift employee spirit. Show your people that you’re supporting them wherever you can.

HR tip 5: Think wellbeing

I believe mental health and wellbeing initiatives will be one of the biggest areas of interest for the HR community in 2021. You only have to look at the dramatic increase in psychological distress, anxiety and depression to understand the devastating effect COVID-19 has had on people’s mental health. Related to this, how do you manage performance in a pandemic-affected world? Business owners will need to find a balance, with empathy, compassion and understanding coming to the fore. And, if you’re worried you or your managers don’t have the skills to implement this, it might be the right time to invest in training.

Make sure you’re HR ready as we enter the next chapter

These are strange and uncertain times and 2020 has been a rough year for all. But, you’re now presented with an opportunity to prepare yourself, your business and your teams as we approach 2021. 

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