The Exceler8 HR Happenings Blog

Top 5 HR Headaches

Blog graphics

What is your number 1 business problem? If it is employing people (those HR Headaches), you probably already know you are not alone. Many business owners are card-carrying members of the “Bring on the robots” party!

53263001 260279688217514 8879413517405014457 n 9603666351

It’s also true that people are the key to growth in your business and that means that we must navigate the minefield of legislation, personalities, time and money before we think about increasing productivity to ensure sustainable growth.

So, how do you work effectively with people to grow your business without stumbling at the various hurdles along the way? Unfortunately, there is no easy answer but there is an answer. Firstly, you need to ask the right questions.

Common People Problems

Now I don’t think anyone would be surprised by these, but I see them time and time again when working with busy business owners and people leaders.

  1. Not communicating your goals/strategy/direction
  2. Assuming an award isn’t applicable
  3. Employing people without the right HR framework
  4. Not using the probation period properly
  5. Terminating someone without following a process

Let’s dive into each of these a little deeper…

Communicating your goals/strategy/direction

How involved are your employees in developing the way you do things, or in other words, your strategy? Do you have the right people in the right roles to make your strategy happen? Do your employees have any idea how your business is really travelling?

Now before you start screaming at the screen saying ‘You have to be kidding!  I don’t have time to ask those questions!’, you have come to the first hurdle. You need to dedicate time to working on your business. You need to understand your business’ story and data. You cannot formulate a plan unless you know what you are working with. Measuring what is happening in your business and with your people is vital for setting you up for success.

Copy of Copy of If you get the culture right most of the other stuff will just take care of itself

There are a number of tools available to SME’s to understand your culture, employee and employer satisfaction and in turn, your organisational capability and position for growth.  My toolkit has:

  • Staff retention interviews
  • Employer satisfaction assessments
  • Culture surveys
  • Team cohesiveness assessments

You need to align the activity in the team to your strategy. After using a few of these tools, a local manufacturer I worked with had an increase of workplace engagement by 26%, purely by aligning the everyday activity in the business to the strategy.  What did this result in?  A business owner who didn’t have to follow up of tasks, could give his staff their first pay rise in 3 years in addition to the award increase and take a holiday.

Assuming an award isn’t applicable

‘I pay above the award, so no award is applicable right?’ Wrong.  Pay rates are only one element of awards.  Conditions such as hours of work, rostering, allowances, redundancy provisions and leave, to name just a few.  Contrary to popular myth, most roles would come under one of 122 awards that make up the industrial relations framework. 

There is also the added complexity that more than one award could be applicable to your workplace.  Our IR framework is not easy to navigate but it is doable.  Get the advice you need to understand what you should look at from the start.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has a fantastic award finder for your roles.

Employing people without the right HR framework

No matter the size of the business, if you are employing people, you need policies and documents.  All people engaged in your business need a contract, even contractors.  Now I’m not talking about a ‘war-fare’ of useless documents; having guidelines and rules around what you expect and how ‘we play here’ is sound business sense.  Do you engage with customers without some service commitment or agreement?  Then why wouldn’t you with someone who is intimately involved in your business?

Download our tip sheet on Developing your HR Framework to get a great understanding of where to start, no matter the size of your business.

Not using the probation period properly

Are you still using a 3 month probationary period?  DON’T.  You can have a 6 month probation period but, again, contrary to popular belief, you can not extend probation.  So use it!  Address any performance issues or trends you are seeing straight away.  Set up a formal mid-probation review to ensure you can highlight areas you are pleased with and others where you need to see improvement.  Also don’t assume that although unfair dismissal isn’t applicable in probation, there are other avenues for employee complaints such as adverse action.  Get some advice before proceeding.

Terminating someone without following a process

office space bill lumbergh you re fired meme

I get it but let me tell you, if it all goes south when you terminate them, you want to have a sound process behind your decision.  Key things to remember are:

This is, by far, the biggest headache for business owners.  You are busy.  You just want people to do their job without having to be constantly told.  It’s just easier to do it yourself. 

Key things to remember:

  • Have a policy around Performance and Misconduct
  • Conduct performance conversations to ensure you address underperformance.
  • Document, document and document everything when it comes to addressing performance issues.
  • Provide reasonable time and training around improvement areas.

If you are looking for answers, seek out the experts but remember how long it took you to get here, don’t expect it to change overnight and without some hard work. The results however, can be astounding.

Share your people headaches in the comments below…I’d love to hear! And if you found this post helpful, please share it with your connections.

NB: this material is general in nature and does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such.  Formal advice should be sought in particular and specific matters.


Melissa Langton - Exceler8

Hi! I'm Melissa

I'm a sought-after HR coach, advisor and strategist. I'm also the director of Exceler8. My clients call me their people paracetamol because I help them say 'goodbye' to HR headaches and 'hello' to the perfect people formula to support their business. If you're ready for HR help or transformation, please get in touch. 

Unlock the code for High Performing Businesses

Assess how your business is performing and discover the five solutions that will take you and your business to the next level

Unlocking the Code - Exceler8 (1)

More reading

Blog Graphics

HR Haunts and Horrors: Unmasking Workplace Mysteries


So this is Christmas….is the (talent) war over?


Is it time to get vulnerable?

Growth starts with your

With strategic, practical advice and coaching, I'll personally support you and your people journey, so you can confidently move forward in your business