We were approached in recent years by a competitor that wanted to absorb us into their business. We were happy to at least explore the possibility with them.
They eventually told us that we didn’t fit in their business model, as we were “operating at too high a level” and that our clients would be tied too closely with us personally, rather than be able to be sold along with our business. Their model was built on scale and using recent graduates who were paid low wages to provide their client service, whereas we rewarded our people based on their higher levels of professionalism.
We took that as a major compliment and thanked them for their initial interest.
We have been recently doing some work on defining how we do business and what distinguishes us from other service providers. We were able to define the process we use as follows -
The first thing we need to do is listen to you, so we can identify the real problem we need to solve.
Often we find the question we need to answer isn’t the one we are being immediately asked. A common example of this will be, “I am making someone redundant and just want to check how much I need to pay”. If a redundancy isn’t “genuine”, then the employee can often lodge an unfair dismissal claim, so we will always ask why the employee is being made redundant.
The other thing we find is that dealing with a difficult employee can be a very emotional experience for employers. So we need to be calm, dispassionate and objective when you may be under a lot of pressure.
2. Assess the risks
Unlike our competitors, we find there is rarely a simple ‘cookie cutter’ or textbook solution to every situation. There is often no substitute for our decades of experience in being able to determine the real problem.
This assessment generally starts with considering what a sufficiently motivated person, who feels aggrieved by their employer actions, can do to achieve an outcome that suits their expectations.
Unfortunately, there are lots they can do, so we need to assess the likelihood of them doing it successfully.
Understanding our clients’ business is very important when considering risks that affect them as a whole. To maintain client relationships, we will often instigate face-to-face visits and for interstate clients, we like to find reasons to touch base when visiting their region.
3. Solve the problem
We recommend the best actionable solution for your business not just tell you all the possible things that can go wrong.
We are there to help you, to steer you through to resolution. Often we will take our client through the conversation they will have with a troublesome employee and consider how to react under different scenarios.
Sometimes our recommended solution is the opposite of what our clients might have originally intended taking (you can read more about how we became creators of the Employee Relations version of the George Costanza Opposites Strategy).
We can represent you in disputes as part of our included service. This includes site visits if you are an EPAS client, in which case we can assist you in those difficult discussions, or even lead them if you are particularly anxious about how events may unfold.
4. Act to prevent future problems
‘A gram of prevention, is worth a kilogram of cure…’ (modern saying).
Our retainer-based model means we are available to advise you right from the start - you get to talk to us directly when you call, we have the experience to guide you when you need the help.
We also give you the tools and systems to help prevent issues arising in the first place. Our Online HR Resources Service provides a wealth of specialised employment documentation, including letters of offer, staff policies, and forms for many important employee related processes, such as disciplinary interviews.
We have recently initiated regular training sessions for our clients around topics such as Effective Counselling and Discipline, and Conducting Successful Workplace Investigations. These can also be conducted in-house or wherever there is sufficient client demand.
Need information on how we can assist your business? Call us on 1300 55 66 37 or contact us here.