Employed but not engaged
Employed but not Engaged – How to break up with your employees and hold on to the ring.
By Michael Smyth
From advertising a position through to ending it, lawyer Michael Smyth uses a novel approach to recommend how employers can ensure each stage happens as smoothly as possible.
Smyth, who came to New Zealand on a working sabbatical from London in 2001 and is still here, looks at how to handle complex employment issues by comparing them to managing personal relationships.
In both the personal and business arena, Smyth points out how the parting of the ways can be very involved, expensive and reputation damaging if not handled properly.
In ten chapters, taking us from ‘The Dating Game’ and ‘Pre-Nuptial’ to ‘Breaking the Vows’, ‘The Split’ and ‘Heading to the Divorce Court’, he outlines what an employer can do in advance to avoid or reduce problems when the employment honeymoon is over.
With several plain language legal guides for business to his credit, Smyth says one of the biggest dangers to business is posed by ‘disengaged’ employees, who are neither satisfied with their work, nor committed to their organization. They do the bare minimum to get by and not get fired. Alarmingly, they make up 28% of the workforce. Another 46% are ambivalent, holding back and not prepared to go that extra mile.
The trick is to turn the ambivalent into ‘engaged’. Research suggests engaged employees offer an overall return on assets of 54% compared to the ‘disengaged’ who return only 9%.
One significant way employment problems can be avoided, is by having the job description committed to paper. It is also important the right type of compliant agreement is used. The situation that arose between Susan Wood and her employer TVNZ, is an example of the this not being the case.
Other issues covered include dismissal and the warnings process, facts on bereavement and medical leave, an explanation showing not all workplace stress causes harm and the three main elements to a termination letter. Personal grievance and mediation are also dealt with in some detail.
Although, according to Smyth the lawyer always wins, Smyth, Employed but not Engaged, will helps us have an understanding of the issues when talking with a lawyer. Following its advice may even help to avoid the need for one.
© 2008 L Donald
all rights reserved
appeared NZ Business November '08