Two common issues facing small business owners

By Russell Drake


Despite business owners enjoying a favourable economic climate we have noted two regularly occurring issues which are affecting both business productivity and customer service.

Employee Attitudes and Complacency

Some employees have adopted a ‘convenience’ attitude towards their attendance at work, deciding when they will or will not go to work. This attitude is often supported by competing demands in the employee’s lifestyle that takes preference over their desire to attend work on an ordinary working day and good pay rates that enable an employee to take an unpaid day off every 1 – 2 weeks without this impacting on their lifestyle.

Many employers are struggling with this imbalance in the employment relationship where they are obligated to pay an employee to be at work for a certain number of hours each week, but the employee can decide on a whim whether they are going to attend work or not.

Employers are increasingly being confronted by increased ‘unauthorised’ absences, over and above the employee’s entitlements, with the employee adopting the attitude “what’s the problem?, you aren’t paying me for the day”. Such ‘short notice’ employee absences also impact on the remaining staff, customer service and productivity/profitability.

The only option open to the employer in addressing any instances of regular “unauthorised” absence is from a formal disciplinary perspective – holding the employee to account for the breach of their contractual obligations to attend work (as defined in the hours of work clause within their employment agreement).

Casual Drug Use

Employers are being confronted on a regular basis regarding suspicions that a staff member may have “used” during the weekend or prior to coming to work. Many employers are not skilled in identifying potential drug use only becoming aware after an incident or accident has occurred or when reported by another staff member who has suspicions regarding the uncharacteristic behaviours being exhibited by the employee following abusive, hostile or aggressive confrontations.

These increasing occurrences are having profound effects on the business through increased absenteeism, more frequent ‘employment relationship’ problems with other staff, low productively and increased damage to plant and equipment.

The challenge is to detect potential drug use at an early stage and then effectively addressing this through a robust employment (disciplinary) process. To tolerate the effects of causal drug use may render the employer open to significant health and safety prosecution if the ‘drugged’ employee is involved in an accident or incident, where it could be shown that the employer was aware of the employee’s propensity to casual drug use and they elected not to address this prior to an incident occurring.

Surprisingly, neither of these two problems are restricted to young people entering the workforce, with the demographic most represented in both cases being the 30 – 45 year age group. 



The latest statistics show that 90-day Trial periods are being used by many employers with success.

New Government research shows the 90-day trial employment period is encouraging business to take a chance on new employees, says Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson.

The research confirms surveys by EMA.

The new study by the Department of Labour shows that 60 per cent of employers had used trial periods, and 40 per cent of employers who hired someone on a trial period would not have taken on that person without it.

80% of employers using the trial retained their staff once the trial period was over.

“Research by NZIER has previously told us that 90-day trials led to 13,000 new jobs in small and medium sized businesses,” Ms Wilkinson says.

“This latest research confirms trial periods allow employers to take on new staff, with the majority retaining their staff after the trial period is over. That’s great to see.

“The 90-day trials have been especially beneficial for young people and the long-term unemployed. It's of clear benefit to both employers and employees.”

The research also shows around 70 per cent of employers intend to use trials in future.

The 90-day trial period was introduced to small and medium enterprises in 2009 and extended to all businesses in 2011.

For more information on how Russell Drake Consulting can assist you in regards to  90-Day Trial  periods please contact us.

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