It’s Not My Job!

Employees that say… “It’s not my job to do that!”

Has this ever happened to you?  How did you deal with it?

It only takes the escalation of one sour day where an employee decides that today is a day of rebellion to something you have said or done.  That person may be hoping you will tell them that you are about to `help them expand their career opportunities’ elsewhere.

Yes, you have very willing and very happy little vegemites doing whatever you ask of them now in the workplace.  We are all good buddies and working as a team but there is always the chance that down the track an existing employee will change their mood.  You may even have a new employee that has the sole intention of taking their next employer to the cleaners if your business HR systems are not sharp enough.

One element of the HR system is the Position Description or Duty Statement and it is important in defining an employee’s role in the business.  However, this is where some people like to play the `Its not my job’ card.  In other words, I can get out of this because it is not in my duty statement, so I do not have to do it.

An example is a housekeeper in a motel is asked to clean some fresh cobwebs noticed in the hallway.  The response was that it is not on her duty statement to do this task in the hallways, only in the rooms.  On reviewing the duty statement document (and all other employee statements) there was a simple sentence missing at the end of the text.  It was missing from all the documents.

Now our normal reaction is to decide that we do not really want that type of attitude from our staff, where they dictate what they will or will not do.  First impulse is to send them on their way and replace them.  However, we are now in an age where even an unsuccessful `unfair dismissal’ claims can cause havoc to a business, let alone a successful claim outcome.

So what to do?

Overall, your business needs to have its HR systems and paperwork up to scratch.  Watertight.

There is a simple sentence that can be used throughout your recruitment.  It is a statement to the effect that the employee is to undertake any other duties or tasks as directed by the supervisor/management/owner etc.

You do have the law on your side.  Unfortunately, you forfeit the use of the law when your business does not have a good HR system in place to protect both the employer and the employee.

What you do have on your side is the law that acknowledges that an employee is obliged to undertake any role or task as requested or directed by the employer.  any directive or request to undertake a task is to be within the bounds of the employee’s skills and ability.

The HR system in any business can usually include the chance to culture staff as to what is expected in attitude and behaviour in your workplace and as your employee.  This culturing is preferable from the outset –  in the recruitment, formal inductions and orientation process.   It does not have to be a great tome of information as long as it sets the scene for what is expected.  You can download a proforma set from the Internet but it is best to find on the ground help.

If your business has an induction and orientation routine for new employees that covers the basics of where the tea room and emergency exits are, then you may want to consider expanding it to include a sit down talk about expectations.  Then present a document that outlines what was discussed and have the employee sign off that they understand what was discussed.  The more documents that an employee has to sign that create the full picture of your business values, ethics, standards of behaviour or code of conduct etc then the better chance that they understand exactly what you expect of them.

Another item to be signed off and helps in reinforcing expectations is the  employment contract.  It is an agreement between you and your employee and should at the very least include the employee’s:
Job title and duties
Hours of work and number of hours to be worked
Days of work and where
Rate of pay
Employment status, conditions and entitlements

The employee contract can be used to emphasise the expectations of employees by including statements that reinforce these behaviours and attitudes.

This all helps your existing and prospective employees to know exactly where they stand before any ambiguous situation ever arises.

These are simple steps to take but there is a lot more that can be done than to just add a few line sentences into your documents.  If you have any concerns about the effectiveness of your HR, take the time to find a good specialist to help get this side of your business into `bullet-proof’ shape.

You may want to consider outsourcing you HR help together with one or two other similar businesses in your area.  Ask other business owners what they are doing about it or you can find a contact by starting with your local Chamber of Commerce.

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