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Top Tips for Employers
Policies - They Protect You & Your Staff
One of the most important tips is to make sure you have some basic Policies and Procedures in place. Young workers have up to 3 times the accident rates of other workers; and their parents and family tend to become more involved if they suspect any 'unfair' treatment. So having Policies and Procedure in place may assist to protect you just as much as they protect the young worker, by ensuring legal compliance with OH&S, anti-discrimination and industrial laws.
Create A Job Description
A Job Description may not seem important for young staff who are often doing basic jobs, but think about the fact that you will be investing upwards of $10,000 per annum for a young worker. In most cases it goes way beyond that amount and it can be a costly mistake if you hire the wrong person! Spending half an hour BEFORE you recruit the person to get a job description together is worth the time. It makes you think about exactly what is required to do the job and what type of person - their skills, abilities and personal traits - that will be the best fit for the job and your business.
Verbal Reference Check All Applicants
Verbal reference checking is five or ten minutes very well spent and it helps to take some of the guess work out of the whole recruitment process. Don't assume because someone has a good written reference that all is fine. Whilst written references can be helpful, relying on them as the sole method of referencing is not recommended. A verbal reference check can be more reliable and gives you the chance to speak directly to their previous supervisor and ask specific questions about their work performance.
Get it Right from Day One
That means spending time to take them through the Induction process on day one; so they get a good introduction to the business, the people, their job and your expectations. Set up a basic induction process and use it for all new staff. Get it right now and it'll make the young employee feel more confident and comfortable in their environment, and save you time and potential problems later on.
It's a legal requirement that an OH&S induction be carried out for every employee; so the best time to do this is on day one. Young people don't have as much working experience as more mature workers and generally have a higher incidence of accidents (particularly young males), so it's especially important for them to have a thorough OH&S induction. Don't rush through it, explain things clearly and get feedback from the young person to make sure they understand.
Train Your Staff
Training is important, especially for young workers who can have little in the way of work related skills and experience. Don't throw them in the deep end, rather take some time early on to train them properly - explain the task; buddy them with another worker who can show them how to do it and explain it more detail; let them practice, ask questions and give them some positive and constructive feedback. Train them to do the job in the way you want so that you have a valuable, efficient and productive young worker.
Communication and Feedback
This is one of the most important tips - talk to your staff and keep communication open. It can help to build relationships & loyalty, improve motivation and identify or solve potential problems before they arise. It doesn't mean hour long conversations, rather just touching base regularly to see how they are finding the job; giving them positive or constructive feedback to let them know how you think they're doing. Regular communication will make the young person feel appreciated and more inclined to 'do the right thing' by the boss.
Keep Motivation High
Keep the communication flowing and give positive and constructive feedback. Recognise a job well done and tell them so. Give your young workers responsibility and trust. All these things can make a big difference to the motivation levels of young staff and if you have motivated workers you generally have more productive workers as well.
Don't ignore problems
Very few of us like having to deal with problems but it's important to do it early on rather than let it slide, and eventually escalate into a bigger problem. If you're not happy with a young persons attitude, attendance, work performance etc; let them know that by speaking to them about it. Don't procrastinate - be firm, fair and calm when talking to the young person and be clear with them as to your expecations. If need be, give suggestions on how to improve and if relevant, give them positive feedback when they do improve to show that their efforts haven't gone unnoticed.
Don't Dismiss Unfairly
If you are thinking of terminating a young employee, be sure to get legal advice before doing so. Remember too, that you are very likely to have the young persons mother or father on the phone wanting to know why you sacked their son or daughter. You must make sure you can prove, if need be, that you have followed a fair process and have a just reason for putting the young person off. Be aware of the requirements and follow them - but again - the best tip is to get legal advice before terminating!