June 2018 news

Read news releases and research items from our June 2018 newsletter.

Research update: employee performance management in the public sector

Tai Anh Vu, Dr Geoff Plimmer, and Professor Evan Berman, Schools of Management and Government, Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington.

Employee performance management (PM) has become increasingly popular in the last three decades. It supposedly improves individual attitudes, and then organizational performance. It does this through a continuous process of goal setting, feedback, communication, coaching and rewarding (Kinicki, Jacobson et al. 2013). Ideally, it differs from the traditional misery of annual performance appraisals by being more continuous, forward looking, developmental, job relevant and linked to rewards.

Many countries have introduced employee PM in their public services, at least rhetorically. Ideally it is a management tool to promote result-driven cultures, accountability, and transparency in order to improve public service delivery.

Despite the strong theoretical case for performance management (think goal-setting, expectancy, equity, reinforcement and social exchange theories), getting it to work is still a global challenge. Even in the most developed countries, the failure rate has been estimated at 56 percent (Haines III and St-Onge 2012). Irrespective of efforts devoted to improve this practice, 'the formula for effective performance management remains elusive' (Pulakos and O'Leary 2011 p1) and negative outcomes are still repeated (Azzone and Palermo 2011).

‘Dying for work’—workplace safety and corporate liability

Dr Stephen Blumenfeld, Director, CLEW.

Police announced late last year that they would not be bringing charges in the death of the 115 people killed in the collapse of the CTV Building during the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake. Key to that decision was that, under section 162 of the Crimes Act, no one can be held criminally responsible for the killing of another more than a year and day after its cause. Owing to the fact the building was designed and constructed in the mid-1980s and collapsed around twenty-five years later, in the words of the Deputy Solicitor-General, the law was likely to be a “complete bar” to prosecuting the two engineers who designed the building.

Although the current public and political exchange over increasing penalties for breaches of employers’ duty of care resulting in death may appear on its face to be a knee-jerk reaction to recent tragic events including the collapse of the CTV Building, the Pike River Mine disaster three months earlier, and the rising number of fatalities in the forestry industry, this debate is in fact not new. For that matter, nearly 30 years have passed since the Crimes Consultative Committee suggested the government ditch the “year-and-a-day” law. In the meantime, several other countries, including the UK, Canada, and most Australian states, have dropped similar restrictions.

Legal update: Labour Inspector v Smiths City Group Ltd

This case was a successful challenge to an Employment Relations Authority determination regarding whether pre-shift morning sales meetings were “work” under the Minimum Wage Act 1983 (“the Act”). This case has caused significant public comment as many retail employees are required to attend work before or after their scheduled work hours to set up, cash up or attend meetings.

Peter Kiely, partner at KielyThompsonCaisley and the presenter of the legal update of our annual Employment Agreements and Employment Law Update seminars reviews the decision of the Employment Court.

Workshops on dealing with damaging behaviours in the workplace

In February this year, we held a seminar in our 'Short seminar series' on 'Bullying and violence in the workplace—intervention and prevention'. We had an overwhelming response and were given a clear indication that more training and information was needed around this issue. We are therefore pleased to announce a workshop that focuses on interventions—mediation and restorative processes—to assist people to better understand what they can do in situations of harassment, bullying, and other damaging behaviours in the workplace.

We are partnering with the Employment Mediation Service of the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and the Chair for Restorative Justice at Victoria University of Wellington in the presentation of these seminars. The presenters are Judy Dell, principal mediator at the Employment Mediation Service; and Jon Everest, a senior consultant with the Chair of Restorative Justice at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington.

The workshop will be available in Christchurch (26 July), Auckland (2 August) and Wellington (9 August) in the afternoons (1.30–4.45 pm) of our annual Employment Agreement Update seminars. The cost is $260 + GST and includes lunch prior to the seminar start.