One of the first things I learned about running a convenience store many year ago, is that staff are your greatest asset and biggest liability. It never ceases to amaze me how a well-oiled machine can totally fall part due to problems within the team. If these problems are not managed, then the bad feelings can result in bad service, sickness and people leaving.
The first step is always to deal with problems as soon as possible. In my experience, things rarely get better if left alone. Normally, misunderstandings can be resolved by taking the time to listen. However, the world is never this simple or easy…… So what happens when a problem escalates?
I’m sure some of you will say that your symbol group / franchise offer support in this area. This can take the form of calling their HR department where they will give you advice and help writing letters etc… This is great, but I have found to my cost, once a case starts to become a legal matter they are less happy to help.
I wanted to find a solution that offered me the level of protection that I required. So I use a company called Mentor and I completely overhauled my systems. They started by creating new employment contracts, management handbooks and staff handbooks. Think of this as your set-up and then I paid a monthly fee based on the number of staff I employ. So what do I get for my monthly fee – lots! A 24/7 helpline (I have not tried calling at 3am yet!) which is what you need when you trade like us, someone will answer your questions over the weekend. Retail does not stop at 4pm on Fridays! Additionally, there is an online resource which enables you to deal with simple matters such as short service dismissals without the need to pick up the phone.
Mentor is my HR department and if I have a staffing problem I speak to them. This can range from managing someone turning up late, performance issues, bad attitude, maternity rights, long term sick leave, theft, letter writing etc…. it’s a long list! That’s what they are paid for. I believe its makes my company more professional and my team know I play by the rules. More importantly they know I have taken legal advice, as a result I get less problems. It’s a simple system that helps me sleep a bit better and give me someone to speak too.
Is the service cheap? Well I like to think of it as good value! Trust me when I say having really good support that genuinely knows the law is invaluable. Especially when its backed up with a legal cover protection… Simply put, as I know you all do, I operate professionally. My team know this and respect the professionalism.
If I could offer one last bit of advice, when dealing with a staff problem. Don’t rush, investigate, get the facts and never deal with a staffing matter angry. Deal with it the next day if you need to, don’t make your problems worse!