Present opportunities, not ultimatums
HR managers need to think carefully before modifying a worker's role or introducing new responsibilities, says FCB partner and director, Jessica Fisher.
Some workers "lap it up", others are resentfulIt follows that HR managers should avoid "just romping in" and saying to a worker, "by the way, we're going to get you to do this now". Instead, they should "sell it to them", taking time to explain the reasons behind the modification and how it will advance the employee's career.
When it comes to change, "some people lap it up and love it" but others become resentful - particularly if they are not managed well, Fisher says. "From an employer's perspective, how much you'd push down on the person would depend partly on the legal risk," and partly on the degree of change.
Depending on the situation and the worker, an HR manager might sit them down and say, "Look, as you know we're doing some rationalisation and restructuring, and while sometimes it can be challenging, it's also got a whole heap of exciting opportunities for people. Knowing that you're an upwardly mobile and interested person... keen to enhance [your] skills and professional development, we actually want you to take on a few responsibilities," she suggests.
"You'd say 'it is peripheral to what you do now, it's not a significant change, but nevertheless it is something that will definitely be great on your CV'." Be careful not to make it sound too much like a choice (it might be turned down), or a promotion (which could imply a wage increase), she says.
Before approaching the worker, HR professionals should ask:
New rules can also incur riskA new requirement does not always involve new responsibilities.
Even something simple - like a new rule which states that wearing uniforms is compulsory - could incur legal risks, Fisher says.
In this case, HR might need to ask:
If the HR manager knows they have every right to enforce a new requirement, and tries to "dress it up" only as a courtesy, they can probably afford to side-step consultation, "cut to the chase" and say, "Here it is, your contract says that we can require [this]; let us know if you have a problem with it; otherwise this is the story".
But if an ultimatum could attract legal risk, getting workers on side will be crucial. Either way, "the challenge is not just keeping [the employees], but keeping them engaged and positive", Fisher says.