Most industries in Perth will slow down or even come to a complete stop during December and January. If you have a growing business, it is likely you have been very busy all year working in the business with little time to work on the business.

The slower time of December and January can be a great opportunity to reflect on how your business has grown in the last 12 months and turn your mind to what you might need to put in place to manage your risk – particularly if you have employed more people.

Here are four practices that might assist with retaining your staff:

1. Formalise any agreements you have in place

With more staff comes the risk of workplace disputes such as bullying or underpayment claims, but you also now face a challenge of retaining the staff you have spent time, effort and money recruiting and onboarding.

Taking basic steps like providing your staff with carefully drafted employment contracts and workplace policies may seem an unnecessary task compared with getting more clients or customers and keeping work rolling in the door. But unfortunately, when there is no written contract it can create ambiguity, which inevitably leads to dispute.

2. Cultivate your culture

In addition to contracts, as your business grows, it’s important to build the foundations of a strong workplace culture.

Workplace policies can act as directions to employees and set out the rules of your workplace. They can be invaluable tools in shaping the culture to align with the ideals and values you want your business to have. This, in turn, will help you retain the staff that you are recruiting.

However, simply having policies is unlikely to be enough to create a positive workplace culture. You will also need to ensure employees understand and comply with those policies and that you apply the rules contained in them consistently and fairly, otherwise they are nothing more than pieces of paper on a shelf somewhere.

Some ways in which employers can do this include:

  • a well thought out onboarding and induction process that clearly articulates to new employees what the business’s values are

  • workplace training for staff and supervisors when implementing policies and procedures

  • thorough induction procedure for any new employees entering your workforce

  • regular reviews of existing policies and procedures to ensure they are up to date

  • ongoing engagement with supervisors to ensure they are consistently applying the policies and procedures in the way they are intended.

3. Train and up-skill your staff

Again, December-January is a great time to send staff for training if you are in an industry that has a downturn around this time.

Training your staff is a real win-win scenario. It not only improves their skills which can give you a competitive edge in the market, but also makes people realise they are working for a business that is willing to invest in them and their development. This can assist with retaining your staff.

4. Conduct a pay audit

Another item on the to-do list during a quiet period is to ensure that you are paying your staff the correct rates and entitlements as this can be another way to ensure staff satisfaction, engagement and retention.

Some simple ways to do this include:

  • conduct an audit of your payroll against any relevant Award or Enterprise Agreement

  • benchmark salaries and wages against your competitors

  • conduct 360-degree performance reviews with your team to increase engagement and ensure high performers are happy with their remuneration and working environment.

It is also important to remember that staff retention is more than just creating policies and procedures and having adequate wages. It is also about ensuring you are recognising and rewarding high performers and communicating with your staff to ensure you are aware of any dissatisfaction. You want the opportunity to rectify it instead of your staff spending their Christmas break looking for a new job – potentially leaving you behind the eight ball in the New Year.

Ryan Martin is the Manager of Workplace Consulting.