Working with leading tradies from across the country has taught me many things as an HR professional. Yet probably the greatest lesson of all is that when it comes to HR and fixing your people problems, tradies want No Nonsense HR – easy-to-apply HR solutions that fix the sleepless nights and help their people and their businesses to grow.

So what are some of the ways that you can apply No Nonsense HR to get some more sleep at night? Here are the common aspects my clients regularly put into place to change their people landscape, and keep it easy to understand for everyone at the same time.

#1: Identify what’s keeping you awake at night

This is my first question to most clients – what’s been keeping you awake at night? What’s the people stuff that pops the eyes open at 3am? Whatever your answer is, this is what you’ll need to tackle first.

Recently, I had a client who had been sitting on an employee issue for more than three months – his budding apprentice was coming to work late again and again. It was confusing because this young rising star had talent, and would grasp things quickly but, for some reason, just couldn’t get their punctuality sorted. What’s worse, it was the business owner’s best mate’s son, making it even more complicated.

This is the people stuff that causes loss of sleep, and was the first thing I worked on with this client. I asked my client, have you asked your employee why they are coming in late? He said “not really” – and his reluctance for not simply asking was because he was afraid this employee would leave.

I recommended that when the employee came into work late again that the client pull him aside privately and talk to him about it. I helped him frame up this conversation so that my client was asking the right questions and “seeking to understand”, before deciding on the next steps.

It came out this employee was having to help look after his father who had got sick, and was getting him settled before he set off for work. My client and his employee worked out a plan – he is still there to this day, and is one of the best in the team.
By solving the sleepless night issue first, it means you can then have space to work on other aspects, such as retaining your people and getting your HR policies in place and up to date.

#2 Add 1-2-1s

If you’ve been reading my articles for a while, you know I keep talking about the power of 1-2-1s. Why? Because they work. They really do.

They work to transform your managers and their teams into strong, effective groups that get the job done. It opens up a conversation where issues get caught early, and it enhances a two-way conversation to empower everyone in the business.
So how do you do these? Again, adopt a no-nonsense approach. Each manager sets up a regular 1-2-1 catch up with every employee, at least once a month.

The employee does most the talking about what’s happening for them at work – the good and the bad. The manager dials up the listening, asks more questions than talks, and makes sure there’s a safe space in which to have this conversation.

You don’t have to dive deep into emotions – it’s just a regular check-in on how their work is going. Even if you just spend your time as a manager listening (which is recommended), the amount of trust between you and your team member will go through the roof. And when trust is high, people stay, and they stay engaged.

#3 Keep It Simple

With whatever you’re going to do in the people space, whether that’s looking at how you hire them, grow them or keep them – keep it simple.

When it comes to hiring new people, get your ducks in a row. Have a simple and easy recruitment and induction process to understand, and make sure your employment contracts are easy to read and are fit for purpose. And yes, employment contracts are a must have.

For growing your team, add in your 1-2-1s. Check they’ve got something to learn about, or roll up their sleeves and make sure they’ve got some learning to practice.

Sometimes all it takes is putting them on a different project or job – one that challenges them, and develops their skill set. You don’t have to give someone a promotion to grow them. Provide something that challenges them, ensuring you provide regular feedback and support

For keeping your people, take time to check in with how they’re going. Take a real interest in their employment journey with you.

Remember, everyone wants to know that what they are doing is adding value and making a difference.

Recognise their efforts with positive feedback ,and maybe go beyond just one celebration a year – the annual Christmas party – and diarise a gift box to go out in the middle of the year to keep up the connection, and to also show your thanks.

One employee recently was buzzing for the whole day when his boss sent a simple gift box saying “you’re awesome”. It was a simple gesture to keep a valued employee on track and on board.

Add In Some No-Nonsense HR

Looking after your people to bring out the best in your business doesn’t need to be a complex formula with multiple policies and complex words.
If you’re keen to take a no-nonsense approach to HR, and get some sleep at night, book in for a chat with Tradie HR to explore how we can support you and your people for the rest of the year.

This article is not intended to be a replacement for legal advice.