A common mistake made by business owners in the hospitality sector is neglecting to put enough emphasis on the administrative side of their operation.

The start of the year is the perfect time to do some housekeeping and review your business’ HR processes to ensure everything is streamlined.

To help you prioritise your HR must-dos, here are the a few HR management issues that hospitality businesses should address in 2016.

1. Bring employment contracts up to date
The number one HR issue in hospitality is the exposure to legal risks. 75 percent of businesses in hospitality do not have employee agreements and employment related policies and procedures. If you are part of that 75 percent, your business is at great legal risk.

To protect yourself against costly claims, make sure all of your employees and any new members you’re thinking of recruiting have legally compliant employment contracts. This will reduce your legal risks if employee agreements end badly. Contracts should cover areas such as employee awards, work hours, leave entitlements, remuneration, compliance with policies, duties and a clear position description.

It is also a good idea to crosscheck staff awards to ensure expectations and salaries are industry standard. The current award is the Hospitality Industry (General) Award 2010 accessible at Fair Work Commission.

2. Ensure Work Health and Safety (WHS) policies are current
Check that your WHS policies are up-to-date and enforced in a legally compliant manner. This means, so far as is reasonably practicable, you must ensure the physical safety and mental health of your workers.

To do this, Safe Work Australia suggests you start by considering what could go wrong at your workplace and what the consequences might be. Then, you must do whatever you can—whatever is reasonably practicable – to eliminate or minimise the health and safety risks arising from the work your organisation undertakes.

For further information, refer to the Code of Practice: How to Manage Work Health and Safety Risks.

social-media-policy.jpgImage: ncpic.org.au

3. Review or implement your social media policy
Your social media policy is a key area to focus on this year. Social media platforms are constantly changing the way they look and function, so it’s worth reviewing any updates and adjusting your policy accordingly.

Conduct such as cyberstalking, sending unprofessional emails, viewing of pornography and other similar activities are examples of serious misconduct. Having clear workplace policies on social media and use of the internet and clearly communicating expectations is the best way to prevent workers from engaging in inappropriate activities or behaviours while at work or while using company resources.

As a guide, your social media policy should help staff feel empowered to participate online, while being mindful of their responsibilities and obligations to your company. It should also highlight the risks connected with reckless online activity such as downloading music or movies, installing unauthorised software and web browser plug-ins, opening attachments or clicking on links in unsolicited emails, or surfing pornographic or other dubious websites. Your policy should call on every employee to prevent these things from happening to your business.

waiter.pngImage: catchtherisingtide.com.au

4. Look out for important industry updates
It’s important to constantly check for updates that apply to the hospitality industry to ensure you’re not falling behind on state and industry requirements in areas such as WorkCover, awards, penalty rates and accreditation.

Failing to miss a legislative change to industry requirements can spell costly and stressful legal proceedings. For example, if an employee of 10 years leaves your company after a dispute, clauses in their employment contract may not be compliant anymore if you didn’t keep their contract up to date. This means some of the provisions could be void, increasing your legal risks if the matter goes to court.

The easiest way to do manage this is to implement a HR management system that offers automatic alerts to legislation changes in the hospitality industry and updates to affected employment contracts, policies and procedures.

5. Consider systematising your HR
Cutting back the time you spend on administration is especially important if you’re looking to expand your business in 2016. Implementing an effective HR system or software can streamline your company’s HR process and reduce the pressure of managing HR issues.

With systematised HR in place, businesses in hospitality can cut more than 10 hours a month on administration time, streamline staff scheduling, and ensure all legal requirements are up to date. Good systems will provide everything from employment contracts to workplace policies, job descriptions and performance review and management processes, which will make resolving issues such as workplace bullying easier while also eradicating any ambiguity regarding employee rights.

Barry Lehrer is founder and director of DiffuzeHR, which gives SMEs access to a cloud-based system to ensure compliance and take the pain out of managing their HR administration. 

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