BEST OF THE BLOGS: The delicate matter of when a hire turns into a fire

Hiring and firing is usually no easy task for SMEs. Often operating without the aid of an expert HR department at hand, small business owners have to be able to manage their staff at operational, cultural and legal levels.

SmartCompany’s HR bloggers Janelle McKenzie and Abiramie Sathiamoorthy look at what happens when an employee makes the unfortunate slide from “you’re hired” to “you’re fired” in their blog this week:

“Why can’t we just get rid of them?!”

We hear this a lot from small business owners when they discover that one of their employees is no longer cutting the mustard. In fairness, it’s a reasonable question to ask. After all, it’s your business, you pay the wages and so you should be able to say who stays and who goes, right?

But, of course, things are never that simple. As our bloggers explain, both the employer and employee need to take responsibility for poor performance and they need to take the initiative for fixing things when they do break down. There’s also the little matter of the Fair Work Act to consider.

It’s not comfortable for either party but it is something that crops up in many workplaces.

More flexibility in retail on its way

Amid the handwringing, brow-knitting and awkward collar pull gesturing of Australian retail circa 2012, some bright spots are starting to emerge.

Winning Group CEO and SmartCompany blogger John Winning has identified one of these bright spots as a move to greater retail flexibility. But this flexibility is not just in relation to old staples like opening hours. It’s also about opening up the way we retail to a host of new opportunities presented by technology and changing consumer attitudes:

Longer working hours often mean the closing times for many retailers are no longer relevant to working Australians, and quite simply more money can be made when doors are open for longer periods.

However, making shopping more convenient is only one part of the equation. The other critical factor when looking at reviving the retail climate is to improve the shopping experience. This means going beyond merely having capable and proficient staff available to help customers shop to creating a tailored shopping environment designed to make shopping fun rather than a chore.

What Winning says echoes in many ways the words of his fellow retail bloggers Kevin Moore and Brian Walker: Australian retailers face plenty of challenges but those that grasp the mantle will emerge from a difficult and transitional period as stronger local, national and, potentially, global players in retail.

The tyranny (or comfort) of distance

Speaking of matters retail, Brian Walker took to his blog this week with a rousing message for Australian retailers that the backyard fence has been well and truly kicked down and it’s time to start mixing it with the global big kids:

Being physically isolated has had its advantages for Australian retailers over the past decades. With, little choice but to spend with onshore retailers, Australian consumers have had to contend with our own DVD region codes, our own clothing sizes, our own seasons and our own internal distribution complexities due to the sheer size of our nation.

It’s no wonder then, that many Australian retailers priced their offerings higher than their global counterparts and innovation was rarely seen as a necessity, as consumer product offerings were catered and priced to capture this captive market.

Walker draws three key lessons for Australian retailers from overseas retailers that have made the foray to Australian shores – either as pure-play online, bricks-and-mortar or a combination of the two.

He also mentions that the traffic is indeed two-way, with the likes of Cotton On and others moving into overseas markets – definitely a positive sign for Australian retail’s future.

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